Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

mp3 audio – Machine Transcript follows [Better transcript, via a kind reader PDF]: I’m Carousel Baird and we have a fabulous and exciting show lined up today. Such a fabulous guy sitting right across from me right here in the studio. Is Madison metropolitan school district current superintendent? She still here in charge of all … Continue reading Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience

Paul Fanlund, in an interesting contrast to recent Isthmus articles: She said Madison should look beyond simple metrics and keep working to “create a liberating experience for students where they’re valued, where they’re seen as fully human and complex. That’s what this community needs to hold at the center as it’s making its decisions in … Continue reading 2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience

Jennifer Cheatham resigning as Madison school superintendent

Dylan Brogan: Jennifer Cheatham is expected to resign as superintendent of the Madison school district at a news conference Wednesday. Isthmus confirmed the news with three members of the Madison school board and other sources. It is not known when Cheatham, who has led the district since 2013, will step down. Rachel Strauch-Nelson, district spokesperson, … Continue reading Jennifer Cheatham resigning as Madison school superintendent

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham “exceeds expectations” in school board’s first evaluation

Molly Beck: Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham has “brought a fresh lens to the district,” and exceeded the School Board’s expectations, according to her first evaluation by the board. The work completed in the district under Cheatham is “moving in the right direction,” board members wrote in a seven-page evaluation. Cheatham was hired in … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham “exceeds expectations” in school board’s first evaluation

“More Rigor is Needed” – Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham; Possible?

Pat Schneider: Middle schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District have become caring environments for students, but aren’t rigorous enough to prepare them for high school academic work, says Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. “We know there are quite a few things that highly effective schools do that we have not been doing in both our middle … Continue reading “More Rigor is Needed” – Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham; Possible?

A Positive Madison Magazine Article on Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Deanna Wright: Last April, and to a remarkable amount of fanfare, Jennifer Cheatham became the superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District. From the very start, the community has opened its arms to welcome her. When I interviewed her for Madison Magazine TV last month, I was aware that the community, especially parents of color, … Continue reading A Positive Madison Magazine Article on Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Contract



630K PDF Contract between Superintendent Cheatham and the Madison School District.
The lack of Superintendent oversight was an issue during the Rainwater era. Superintendent Cheatham’s contract includes this:

14.01 At least once each year, the BOARD of Education will provide the ADMINISTRATOR with an evaluation
a. The annual evaluation shall occur in closed session.
b. Prior to the BOARD conducting the SUPERINTENDENT’S evaluation, the SUPERINTENDENT shall provide the BOARD a self-appraisal. The BOARD shall take this self-appraisal into account in conducting its evaluation
c. All forms used and report formats requested as part of the evaluation process shall be collaboratively developed and mutually agreed upon by the ADMINISTRATOR and the BOARD.
d. While individual opinions may be expressed in the evaluation process, the final written record of performance evaluations shall include only narrative statements or opinions endorsed by a majority of the BOARD. The written evaluation shall be considered confidential to the extent permitted by law

Related: A Look At Compensation Packages for Wisconsin School District Superintendents.
Yet, reading, an issue for years in the Madison School District, remains a disastrous problem.

A few “Tweets” on Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Meeting with the Wisconsin State Journal


I’m glad to see the apparent focus on doing a few things well. This is the only way forward given the District’s disastrous reading results. That said, I was disappointed when the new Superintendent largely continued the “same service” budget approach during the 2013-2014 financial discussions.
The District’s 2x per student spending (above the national average) has supported numerous initiatives, likely preventing a focus on those that are truly meaningful for our students. For example, Kerry Motoviloff noted that Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”. Steven Sinofsky’s latest is also worth reading in this context.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham proposes $31 million, five-year technology plan

Molly Beck:

All students in the Madison School District would have their own tablets or notebook computers by the 2018-19 school year under a five-year, $31 million plan proposed by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.
If approved, the plan would increase the district’s current
$1.5 million annual technology budget to $4.2 million in the 2014-15 school year to start upgrading the district’s network infrastructure, upgrade or equip classrooms and libraries with new technology or computers, and provide notebook computers to all district teachers and administrators. Elementary teachers also would get tablet computers under the plan.
Costs to upgrade are projected to increase each of the five years of the plan for a total of $31 million spent in that time. Afterward, the annual budget for technology would be about $7 million per year going forward.
…..
Madison School Board members, who formally received the plan at their meeting Monday, were mostly optimistic about the plan. Board member T.J. Mertz questioned whether the program needed to be as extensive as it’s proposed given what he said were other unmet needs in the district and given research that he called “universally disappointing” surrounding such initiatives.
Mertz said in an interview after Monday’s board meeting that he agrees with the majority of the investments in technology under the plan, “but then there’s a third or a quarter where I think it’s going overboard.”
As an example, Mertz said he questions whether every kindergarten student needs their own tablet computer.

Prior to spending any additional taxpayer funds on new initiatives, I suggest that the District consider (and address) the status of past expensive initiatives, including:
Infinite Campus: is it fully implemented? If not, why? Why continue to spend money on it?
Standards based report cards“.
Connected Math.
Small Learning Communities.
And of course, job number one, the District’s long term disastrous reading scores.
Madison already spends double the national average per student ($15k). Thinning out initiatives and refocusing current spending on reading would seem to be far more pressing than more hardware.

Jennifer Cheatham’s Chicago contingent well received in Madison

Pat Schneider:

Kelly Ruppel grew up on a dairy farm outside Racine, headed to the west coast for college and worked in Washington D.C. before moving back to the Midwest and becoming a private consultant to the embattled Chicago Public Schools system.
When she received a job offer from new Madison Schools Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, whom she met when Cheatham was a top administrator at Chicago Public Schools, she and her husband packed their bags.
Today Ruppel is Cheatham’s chief of staff, one of five top administrators hired by Cheatham with ties to Chicago since taking the reins of the Madison School District in April.
In addition to Ruppel, a former principal at Civic Consulting Alliance, they include:
Alex Fralin, assistant superintendent for secondary schools and former Deputy Chief of Schools for CPS
Rodney Thomas, special assistant to the superintendent and former director of Professional Development and Design for the Chicago Board of Education
Nancy Hanks, deputy assistant superintendent for Elementary Schools and a former Chicago public elementary school principal
Jessica Hankey, director of strategic partnerships and innovation, formerly manager of school partnerships at The Field Museum in Chicago.

Fascinating. Are these new positions, or are the entrants replacing others? 10/2013 Madison School District organization chart (PDF).
Related: “The thing about Madison that’s kind of exciting is there’s plenty of work to do and plenty of resources with which to do it,” Mitchell said. “It’s kind of a sweet spot for Jen. Whether she stays will depend on how committed the district is to continuing the work she does.”

Jennifer Cheatham takes charge of Madison schools

Catherine Capellaro:

Jennifer Cheatham doesn’t have the countenance of someone who has stepped into a maelstrom. Madison schools superintendent since April, Cheatham, 41, has already visited every school in the district and rolled out a “Strategic Framework” to tackle some of the district’s thorniest issues, including the achievement gap. So far she’s generated considerable excitement around her plans and raised hopes, even among skeptics.
Kaleem Caire has even put off plans to file a federal civil rights complaint against the district for the school board’s rejection of a charter school geared toward low-income minority students. The CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, which spearheaded the proposal, says he’s now content to play a “facilitative, supportive role” and get behind Cheatham’s plan to “bring order and structure” to the district.
“Personally, I’ve been hanging back, letting her get her space,” says Caire. “The superintendent should be the leader of education. All of us should be supporting and holding that person accountable.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham cites previous lack of “long-term vision” in presenting 2013-14 budget for Madison schools

Bennet Goldstein:

Cheatham said Madison schools have already implemented a variety of initiatives to increase student achievement but have not seen “measurable improvements.”
“It isn’t for lack of working very hard and doing a lot of things at once,” she said. “I feel pretty confident the reason that hasn’t occurred is because of the lack of long-term vision.”
Cheatham recommended the board focus on strengthening existing programs and infrastructure, which would not require new expenditures.
“I want to be more strategic and thoughtful about this than how we did it in the past,” she added.

Much more on the Madison School District’s planned spending & property tax increases via the 2013-2014 budget, here.
Related: Analysis: Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap.

New Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham calls for accountability across the board in Madison School District

Pat Schneider:

Fresh off a two-month tour to observe the operations of all 48 schools, various programs, and the Madison School District’s central administrative offices, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham is promising to “ensure accountability at every level.”
Accountability as Cheatham describes it will include student achievement on standardized tests of the type that current school reform movements emphasize, but will go far beyond that to a new understanding of educators’ roles, the support they need to master them, and refined local measures of progress, she said.
“I worry that people perceive accountability as standardized test results, for example, and what I’m talking about is accountability for everybody playing well the function they are best positioned for in the service of children learning well,” Cheatham told me Thursday in an interview. “Educators at every level of the system lack clarity on what that particular function is for them.”http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2013/06/deja_vu_a_focus.php”>Accountability was one of five priority areas Cheatham identified in anEntry Plan Report released Wednesday. The others are: well-rounded, culturally responsive instruction; personal educational pathways for students; attracting, developing and retaining top-level talent; and engaging families and community members as partners.

Related: Deja Vu: A Focus on “Adult Employment” or the Impossibility of Governance Change in the Madison Schools.

Jennifer Cheatham and community can support racial equity

Rachel Krinsky:

f you are tired of all the talk about the achievement gap in our school district, take heart. Newly appointed Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s entry plan is a promising beginning.
From racial disparities in academics to the race politics in the School Board primary election, the feeling of frustration has been palpable. The YWCA Madison suggests the reason this talk hasn’t created much tangible progress is that these issues are part of a larger system of racial inequalities. Individual strategies, action plans or initiatives are less likely to be successful if they are not part of a larger racial equity strategy.
So we are delighted to see Cheatham’s plan is based on values including commitment to equity and systemic improvement. If our community is serious about racial equity in education, we will join Cheatham in learning what kids of color need to be successful, and then making those resources and solutions the priority.
We will also consider every education-related decision and discussion with racial equity in mind. We will think holistically about Dane County’s future as a more racially diverse community and welcome and retain professionals, including educators, of color.
Let’s be part of a community-wide commitment to equity, and let’s remember that we’re doing it for the kids.

Related: And, so it continues.

Madison school board candidates Wayne Strong and Dean Loumos discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 3, former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos is running against retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong. The winner will replace retiring school board member Beth Moss.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison school board candidate TJ Mertz discusses superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
TJ Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and education blogger, is running unopposed after Sarah Manski dropped out of the race for Seat 5 following the February primary. Her name will appear on the ballot, but she is moving to California. Mertz will replace retiring school board member Maya Cole.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison school board candidates Greg Packnett and James Howard discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections here.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham to start April 1 after contract OK’d

Jeff Glaze: Incoming Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham will begin her new role in just a matter of weeks. April 1 is the start date specified in Cheatham’s contract, which the School Board unanimously approved Wednesday evening. The date is significantly earlier than the July 1 start date of her predecessor, Dan Nerad. School … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham to start April 1 after contract OK’d

Why did Jennifer Cheatham change jobs so often?

Michael L. Gourlie:

The hiring process for Madison School District superintendent had its strange twists, but it appears all are euphoric with first impressions of Jennifer Cheatham. Our new superintendent received the School Board’s blessing, commendations from the mayor and community support for her pedigree and ability to relate to others.
However, one question that jumped out and either was never asked or not reported is why she never held a job longer than two years since she advanced to administration from a teacher position in 2003.
It’s not as if she was upwardly mobile within one school district, but rather she switched cities and districts at every stop except the first. Madison is her fifth change of city in 10 years, according to a Friday article.
Generally candidates with this type of resume are either opportunists jumping at the next ladder rung, or they move on before their performance catches up with them.

Much more on Jennifer Cheatham, here.

Citizen Dave: If Jennifer Cheatham is right for Madison schools superintendent, just hire her already

Dave Cieslewicz:

Madison has many wonderful traits. This town’s obsession with process is not one of them.
All indications are that the one remaining choice for the Madison public schools’ new superintendent, Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, would be a great pick. I’m told by people close to the decision that the Chief Instruction Officer for the Chicago Public Schools has been the top candidate all along, and that she is a “rock star” in the education world.
There is no job harder or more important in our city than being its schools superintendent. This is a city full of education experts whose child is clearly a genius (just like them) and yet isn’t being challenged enough by their teachers. At the same time, we have a growing number of poor kids who come to school without the basics, even a good breakfast. So, the challenge is to meet the high expectations of highly educated parents, while trying to give underprivileged kids the best chance possible to succeed, all in the context of constricted budgets.
At the same time, the stakes for our whole city are enormous. Failing public schools have been the downfall of dozens of American cities.

Much more on Madison’s most recent Superintendent search, here.

Positioning and Promotion: A Vacant Taxpayer Supported Madison School Board Seat

Negassi Tesfamichael: Some observers said the unique vacancy is a chance for a newcomer to serve. “I would really love to see another black mother on the School Board,” said Sabrina Madison, the founder of the Progress Center for Black Women. “Especially a mom who has been advocating for her kid recently around some of … Continue reading Positioning and Promotion: A Vacant Taxpayer Supported Madison School Board Seat

Lead by example: If you teach children to disrespect teachers, they will do so

Michael Cummins: aybe kids are disrespecting their teachers because adults have taught them to. If, as Muldrow asserted during her campaign, the “theme” in Madison education is “how do we blame black children, how do we hurt black children, how do we get rid of black children, how do we not listen to black children,” … Continue reading Lead by example: If you teach children to disrespect teachers, they will do so

Ethics violation alleged in Madison School Board president’s vote to keep police in schools

Logan Wroge: Three former elected officials are alleging Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes violated the body’s ethics policy when she voted in favor of a contract that would keep Madison police officers in the district’s high schools. On Tuesday, former City Council members Andy Heidt, Brenda Konkel and Andy Olsen, who also served on … Continue reading Ethics violation alleged in Madison School Board president’s vote to keep police in schools

Superintendents’ group should spend more time on academics, next leader says

Jeffrey Solochek: “In the last two years, we have had very little conversation at our meetings about student achievement,” said Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning, who assumes the leadership post in July. “We need to bring it back into balance.” Browning noted the state has taken an increasing tough line with schools that do not … Continue reading Superintendents’ group should spend more time on academics, next leader says

Madison K-12 Superintendent’s School Board “weekly Update” – via open records (!)

Jennifer Cheatham: Dear Board Members: As you know, we have already begun on boarding our three new board members who will be sworn in later this month. Congratulations to each of them! I want to thank TJ, Dean and James for their service to the Board all these years. I appreciate you so much…your time, … Continue reading Madison K-12 Superintendent’s School Board “weekly Update” – via open records (!)

Commentary on the UW School of Education and The taxpayer supported Madison school district

David Blaska: The school district lives and breathes identity politics because they teach it at UW-Madison and at all leading schools of education across the country. That includes Harvard, from which superintendent Jennifer Cheatham received her doctoral degree and at which she will grow future crops. Even at a school as left-wing as UW-Madison, its … Continue reading Commentary on the UW School of Education and The taxpayer supported Madison school district

Madison School District plays the ‘long game’ in training students to become teachers

Logan Wroge: Four years into a program designed to diversify the Madison School District’s teaching pool by encouraging students to enter the profession, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham sees “the potential for real impact” from the couple dozen participants who have signed up. The TEEM Scholars program, which stands for Tomorrow’s Educators for Equity in Madison, launched … Continue reading Madison School District plays the ‘long game’ in training students to become teachers

Classrooms in chaos? Kids running amok? We want you at Harvard!

David Blaska: Jennifer Cheatham will leave but nothing has changed. Madison elected, if anything, an even racialized school board, a school board content to evict its school resource police officers despite increasing disorder. Helzz bellz, the school board can’t even maintain order at its own meetings. Related: Superintendent Cheatham’s 2013 Madison Rotary Club speech and, … Continue reading Classrooms in chaos? Kids running amok? We want you at Harvard!

Madison schools test limits of open government with private board member meetings

Chris Rickert: Individually or in pairs, Madison School Board members spend hours each year in private “board briefings” with Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, discussing matters soon to come before the full board for votes that must be held in public. Cheatham instituted the briefings after she was hired in 2013, and district administrators and some board … Continue reading Madison schools test limits of open government with private board member meetings

In interview, former Madison Whitehorse staffer speaks publicly for the first time since altercation with student

Negassi Tesfamichael: Whether Mueller-Owens will be able to find a place in the community remains to be seen, as he has kept a low profile since media reports surfaced last month about the Feb. 13 incident and sparked a flurry of outrage in the community. Mikiea Price, the girl’s mother, has said she believed Mueller-Owens … Continue reading In interview, former Madison Whitehorse staffer speaks publicly for the first time since altercation with student

Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

2013: What will be different, this time? Incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Madison Rotary Talk. December, 2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic” 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end … Continue reading Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

Commentary on Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Discipline and Achievement Climate

Kaleem Caire: Our School District has an obligation to learn from these incidents and to ensure that our staff, students and parents have clear guidelines about how to address similar situations when they arise, and how they can also avoid such challenges as well. After reading the police reports, it is clear to me that … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Discipline and Achievement Climate

Madison schools superintendent pens open letter following Whitehorse incident, calls for action

Negassi Tesfamichael: In an open letter to the community released Thursday morning, Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham acknowledged that the district “cannot be silent” on issues of racial justice. The letter comes eight days after media reports surfaced regarding an alleged assault at Whitehorse Middle School. In that incident, which is still being investigated … Continue reading Madison schools superintendent pens open letter following Whitehorse incident, calls for action

K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results

Chris Rickert: Endorsements in this month’s School Board primary from the influential Madison teachers union include one for a candidate who sends her two children to the kind of charter school strongly opposed by the union. Madison Teachers Inc. this week endorsed Ali Muldrow over David Blaska, Laila Borokhim and Albert Bryan for Seat 4; … Continue reading K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results

2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability

I’ve added the following audio recordings to the 2019 Madison School Board Candidate page. WORT FM Candidate discussion 2.5.2019 Cris Carusi and Kaleem Caire [mp3 audio] Mr. Caire: “If we don’t reach our benchmarks in five years, they can shut us down”. There is no public school in Madison that has closed because only 7 … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability

Meet the ‘crazy’ moms saying one of Pa.’s top-rated school districts can’t teach reading

Avi Wolfman-Arent: The small parent rebellion forming in one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest school districts began at a Starbucks in suburban Chester County. Over coffee, three moms — Kate Mayer, Jamie Lynch, and Wendy Brooks — swapped stories about how their kids struggled to read as they moved through the Tredyffrin/Easttown school district, located about 30 … Continue reading Meet the ‘crazy’ moms saying one of Pa.’s top-rated school districts can’t teach reading

Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance

Negassi Tesfamichael: MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement. “Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said. Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early … Continue reading Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance

Minnesota’s persistent literacy gap has lawmakers looking for ways to push evidence-based reading instruction

Erin Hinrichs: “Minnesota has a state of emergency regarding literacy. I’m very disappointed with where we’re at right now with the persistent reading success gap between white students and students of color,” he said Wednesday. “We are not making adequate progress, and the future of tens of thousands of our students is seriously at risk … Continue reading Minnesota’s persistent literacy gap has lawmakers looking for ways to push evidence-based reading instruction

UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

Chris Rickert: According to emails released to the State Journal under the state’s open records law, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham on Sept. 10 asked her chief of staff, Ricardo Jara, and other front-office officials whether Arbor was “worth trying to stop? Or change somehow? If so, how?” Cheatham expressed the district’s opposition to the school in … Continue reading UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

“One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”

Christopher Osher: But districts are free to use their READ Act per-pupil funds on whatever curriculum they want, even on interventions researchers have found ineffective. “Typically, as with any education policy, we’re only given so much authority on what we can tell districts to do and what we monitor for,” Colsman said in an interview … Continue reading “One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”

2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

Negassi Tesfamichael: Nearly all current candidates for the Madison School Board have started to make their case to voters and potential endorsers as the primary election heats up. That included answering questions from Madison Teachers Inc., the city’s teachers’ union. Nine candidates are running for three seats on the seven-person School Board. MTI executive director … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Laurie Frost and Heff Henriques: Children who are not proficient readers by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Additionally, two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare. Though these dismal trajectories are well known, Madison School District’s reading scores for minority students remain unconscionably low and … Continue reading deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

2019 Election: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? (Curious statute words limiting legislation to Madison)

Negassi Tesfamichael m: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? The answer lies in state law. Tucked into a section of state statutes about how school boards and districts are organized is a requirement that applies directly to MMSD. The requirement says that unified school districts — such as MMSD — “that … Continue reading 2019 Election: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? (Curious statute words limiting legislation to Madison)

Re-thinking integration, Parents and the Madison Experience

The Grade: There are two main reasons why Eliza Shapiro’s New York Times piece, Why Black Parents Are Turning to Afrocentric Schools, is this week’s best. The first is that it’s a really well-written piece of journalism. The second is that it addresses an important and previously under-covered topic: parents of color interested in alternatives … Continue reading Re-thinking integration, Parents and the Madison Experience

Madison Teachers Union and the 2019 school board election: Commentary, Spending and Academic Results

Chris Rickert: The questionnaire also includes several questions about teachers’ ability to have a say in their compensation and working conditions, and asks whether the candidates “support the reinstatement of collective bargaining rights for all public employees (currently prohibited by Act 10)?” Act 10 is the controversial 2011 law passed by Republicans that stripped most … Continue reading Madison Teachers Union and the 2019 school board election: Commentary, Spending and Academic Results

Skylar Croy withdrawing from 2019 Madison School Board race, name will still appear on ballot

Negassi Tesfamichael: Madison School Board candidate Skylar Croy said in an interview with the Cap Times Friday that he would suspend his campaign and withdraw from the Seat 3 race, citing personal reasons. Because Croy turned in his verified nomination signatures on Wednesday to the city clerk’s office, the third-year University of Wisconsin law student’s … Continue reading Skylar Croy withdrawing from 2019 Madison School Board race, name will still appear on ballot

“Perhaps the real pipeline is that the Madison School District is unable to teach too many students of color basic reading skills”

Merrilee Pickett: I attended a Madison City Council police oversight committee meeting and was surprised that I was one of only a handful of citizens in attendance. The others in attendance were the usual people who are quoted in the local media, and who evidently have great influence over members of the City Council. Was … Continue reading “Perhaps the real pipeline is that the Madison School District is unable to teach too many students of color basic reading skills”

2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!

Seat 3 Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison Seat 4 David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison Seat 5 TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!

Madison School Board needs Blaska’s voice (2019 election)

Gary L. Kriewald: It appears we are headed toward a School Board election that promises something new: a candidate whose voice will do more than add sound and fury to the liberal echo chamber that is Madison politics. David Blaska has the background, experience and most importantly the courage to expose the abuses and neglect … Continue reading Madison School Board needs Blaska’s voice (2019 election)

Organization vs Mission: Madison’s legacy K-12 Governance model vs Parent and Student choice; 2018

Chris Rickert: Meanwhile, in a sign of how the Madison district is responding to subsequent charter applications, former Madison School Board member Ed Hughes said he went before the Goodman Community Center’s board on the district’s behalf on Sept. 24 to express the district’s opposition to another proposed non-district charter school, Arbor Community School, which … Continue reading Organization vs Mission: Madison’s legacy K-12 Governance model vs Parent and Student choice; 2018

Two Madison schools held an active shooter drill and students and staff didn’t know it was a drill

Negassi Tesfamichael: Principals at O’Keeffe Middle and Marquette Elementary schools are facing criticism after a Code Red drill — a procedure designed to help students and staff prepare for threats such as a school shooting — was not conducted in accordance with Madison School District guidelines. At both O’Keeffe and Marquette, teachers and students did … Continue reading Two Madison schools held an active shooter drill and students and staff didn’t know it was a drill

Madison’s Sherman Middle School focuses on new energy after blog post leads to principal’s departure

Jenny Peek: Just three months ago, the school community was roiling over a blog post penned by teacher Karen Vieth about Sherman and its former principal, Kristin Foreman. “I am leaving this district, because I cannot serve the children I love in the current climate,” Vieth wrote. “I have never seen a building as deeply … Continue reading Madison’s Sherman Middle School focuses on new energy after blog post leads to principal’s departure

Madison School District vows to do better for African-American students

Kelly Meyerhofer: The Madison School District’s new long-term plan looks vaguely similar to its predecessor, a strategic framework produced in 2013. Two of three overarching goals share similar language. The third goal, however, stands out from its 2013 counterpart by explicitly vowing to do better for African-American students. Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said she attended nearly … Continue reading Madison School District vows to do better for African-American students

“And I am going to call it Madison Prep.”

Amber Walker: Critics were also concerned about Madison Prep’s operating costs — totaling $11,000 per student — and its reliance on non-union staff in the wake of Wisconsin’s Act 10, a state law that severely limited collective bargaining rights of teachers and other state employees which passed early in 2011. Caire said despite the challenges, … Continue reading “And I am going to call it Madison Prep.”

Madison School District Spending June 25, 2018 Update

Madison School District Administration (4.7MB PDF): Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham: In the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), we have a common vision. We want every school to be a thriving school that ensures every student graduates ready for college, career, and community. Thanks to our community’s support, we are in a sound financial position to make … Continue reading Madison School District Spending June 25, 2018 Update

Written Off

Amber Walker: Reese’s experience raises broader questions about what information is shared between MMSD and the Dane County Juvenile Court when it comes to youth in their care. While the district insists it was an isolated incident, juvenile court staff, like Smedema and her supervisor, Suzanne Stute, said collecting statements from school staff is a … Continue reading Written Off

Additional Property Tax Increase Discussion on Madison’s $494,652,025 2017-2018 K-12 Taxpayer Budget

Amber Walker: Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said the stories about shortages were “hard to hear” after the district continued investment in staffing. “We made some (strategic choices) that we were going to invest more in teachers and shift the balance from SEAs,” she said. “I wonder if that is the pain we may be experiencing and … Continue reading Additional Property Tax Increase Discussion on Madison’s $494,652,025 2017-2018 K-12 Taxpayer Budget

“We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades”

Paul Fanlund: For example? “If you’re looking for the simplest examples, we weren’t consistently teaching students the fundamentals of reading in the earliest grades. We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades, and then you wonder why students aren’t attaining the skills, the basic skills … the foundational skills of reading. We still have … Continue reading “We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades”

Madison School District Mid Year Review

Madison School District Administration: We’re halfway through the school year and have some exciting updates to share with you. In this mid-year review, we’ll start by revisiting our vision for all Madison students (you can hear Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham describe that here), catch up with the graduates featured in our 2015-16 Annual Report, hear about … Continue reading Madison School District Mid Year Review

Commentary On The Legacy Government K-12 School Climate

Jennifer Cheatham: With a contested race for state superintendent of public instruction and a legislative session that is swinging into gear, much is at stake for public education in Wisconsin. One of the fundamental issues at the center of the debate is the potential expansion of “school choice,” which is the term used to describe … Continue reading Commentary On The Legacy Government K-12 School Climate

As vote nears on Montessori (Instrumentality) charter school, questions remain on cost, staffing

Doug Erickson: The Madison School Board is poised to vote Monday on whether to create its first public Montessori charter school, a decision that appears to hinge on the level of risk board members are willing to accept. The district’s charter review committee says it cannot recommend approval of the proposal from Isthmus Montessori Academy … Continue reading As vote nears on Montessori (Instrumentality) charter school, questions remain on cost, staffing

As charter renewal looms, Badger Rock Middle School pledges to improve its performance

Doug Erickson: A small, environmental-themed charter school in Madison with a substandard academic record is facing heightened School Board scrutiny as its charter comes up for renewal. Badger Rock Middle School, 501 E. Badger Road, opened in 2011 amid great enthusiasm for its emphasis on urban agriculture, environmental sustainability and project-based learning. Last month, though, … Continue reading As charter renewal looms, Badger Rock Middle School pledges to improve its performance

Madison’s Badger Rock Middle School Achievement Analysis

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): BRMS was founded to empower its students to thrive as citizens, entrepreneurs, leaders, collaborators, and innovators, working to restore the natural world and to better the cultural environment while creating just, nourishing, and sustainable communities. Today, BRMS embraces this through an urban agriculture lens and a philosophy of participatory, place-based learning … Continue reading Madison’s Badger Rock Middle School Achievement Analysis

Madison’s Wright Middle School Achievement Review

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): Wright was founded to successfully educate all students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence required to participate fully in an evolving global society. The school was created to be a pioneer in the use of thematic integrated and multi-cultural curricula as a way of connecting with the lives of its students. … Continue reading Madison’s Wright Middle School Achievement Review

Madison Schools 2016 Property Tax Increase Referendum – Let’s Compare: Madison and Middleton Property Taxes

The Madison School District is considering another property tax increase referendum for the upcoming November election. We’ve long spent more than most districts (“plenty of resources”), despite challenging academic outcomes. I thought it might be useful to revisit the choices homeowners and parents make. I’ve compared two properties, one in Middleton (2015 assessment: $257,500.00) and … Continue reading Madison Schools 2016 Property Tax Increase Referendum – Let’s Compare: Madison and Middleton Property Taxes

Let’s Compare: Boston, Long Beach & Madison

Enrollment Staff Budget Boston 56,650 9,125 $1,153,000,000 ($20,353/student) Long Beach 78,230 6,515 $1,133,478,905 ($14,489/student) Madison 25,231 4,081 ? $421M + “Construction” and ? (at least $17k/student) SIS: In 2013, Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said “What will be different, this time“? The Superintendent further cited Long Beach and Boston as beacons in her Rotary speech. However, … Continue reading Let’s Compare: Boston, Long Beach & Madison

Madison’s Trickle-Down Theory Of Education

David Blaska: You want local control? The ultimate local control pushes decision-making down to the family kitchen table. The Republican state government gave the UW System authority to create charter schools that are independent of the school district. This is something that the Madison School District asked for, however unknowingly, when it denied Madison Urban … Continue reading Madison’s Trickle-Down Theory Of Education

Madison Adds Another Program: Community Schools

Doug Erickson: Madison has so many organizations that want to do good for the community and that offer programming; the problem is that the coordination is really hard,” Sloan said. “That will be the real benefit of this: coordination that’s focused and centralized.” Mendota Principal Carlettra Stanford said the school currently does not offer programming … Continue reading Madison Adds Another Program: Community Schools

Reviewing and Renewing Madison’s Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School “Charters”

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): Issue: The charter contracts for Badger Rock Middle School (BRMS) and James C. Wright Middle School (Wright) expire on June 30, 2016. Per respective contracts, the Board is required to make a decision whether or not to renew Wright’s contract at least six months before the contract’s expiration and BRMS’ contract … Continue reading Reviewing and Renewing Madison’s Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School “Charters”

Madison high school student arrested for having a loaded gun at Lapham Elementary

Jason Joyce: “Students in the alternative program have their classes on the third floor, separate from the elementary students,” said Rachel Strauch Nelson in an email. “I would note that we have already been considering other possible locations for these programs as our district works to strengthen our alternative program options.” Strauch Nelson added that … Continue reading Madison high school student arrested for having a loaded gun at Lapham Elementary

Commentary on Madison’s Growing Outbound Open Enrollment Count, despite substantial spending growth

Doug Ericsson: The financial ramifications are significant. A school district gaining a student receives a share of the student’s home district’s state aid to help pay for educating that student. The Madison School District will lose about $6.5 million in state aid this school year because of open enrollment, the report said. “Obviously, I am … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Growing Outbound Open Enrollment Count, despite substantial spending growth

For now, district drops Thoreau Elementary as site for dual language immersion program

Doug Erickson: Responding to public feedback, Madison school officials said Monday they have taken Thoreau Elementary School off the table for now as a potential site for a Spanish dual language immersion program. Additionally, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said her administration will recommend delaying the start of a Spanish dual language immersion program at Falk Elementary … Continue reading For now, district drops Thoreau Elementary as site for dual language immersion program

Reviewing the Madison Government Schools Superintendent

Doug Ericsson: This year, she exceeded expectations in her relations with the board, her management of the district’s budget and operations, her management of the district’s talent pool, and her relations with the community and schools. She “met expectations” in instructional leadership and in the district’s organizational climate and culture. According to the board, highlights … Continue reading Reviewing the Madison Government Schools Superintendent

Former Chicago Public Schools chief to plead guilty to bribery scheme

Jason Meisner and Juan Perez Jr.: The 23-count indictment alleges that almost immediately after Mayor Rahm Emanuel installed her as public schools chief in 2012, Byrd-Bennett began scheming with Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, co-owners of SUPES Academy, to secure the contracts to train principals and school administrators. In return, Byrd-Bennett was promised a “signing … Continue reading Former Chicago Public Schools chief to plead guilty to bribery scheme

Madison’s Schwerpunkt: Government School District Power Play: The New Handbook Process is worth a look

Wisconsin’s stürm and drang over “Act 10” is somewhat manifested in Madison. Madison’s government schools are the only Wisconsin District, via extensive litigation, to still have a collective bargaining agreement with a teacher union, in this case, Madison Teachers, Inc. The Madison School Board and Administration are working with the local teachers union on a … Continue reading Madison’s Schwerpunkt: Government School District Power Play: The New Handbook Process is worth a look

Madison Schools’ Annual Report

WORT-FM How is the school year going? What about the behavior improvement plan, community schools, teacher diversity, racial equity, test scores, white flight, and school voucher schools? Today Carousel Bayrd talks with Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cheatham today to discuss the upcoming year and her vision for the future.

Wisconsin Task force for urban education schedules first public hearing

Annysa Johnson: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ special Task Force on Urban Education will hold the first in a series of public hearings — this one on teacher recruitment, retention and training — at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the State Capitol, Room 412. The panel will take testimony from the public after hearing from invited individuals … Continue reading Wisconsin Task force for urban education schedules first public hearing

Change in teaching philosophy yields positive results for Madison schools

Dave Dleozier: Elementary schools in the district saw an almost 10 point gain over two years in literacy and math. “Our high school graduation rate continues to move in the right direction almost across the board for every student group,” MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said. “In addition, there are pockets of accelerated results. When it … Continue reading Change in teaching philosophy yields positive results for Madison schools

Common Core Flop/Flip & Flip/Flop

Wheeler Report (PDF): For this reason, many of us were initially encouraged when you indicated that you would defund Wisconsin’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) via your proposed 2015-2017 biennial budget. We hoped for substantive movement, at long last, on an issue that affects most children, parents, and teachers in Wisconsin. However, … Continue reading Common Core Flop/Flip & Flip/Flop

K-12 Governance: Proposal May Change Madison’s Non-Diverse School Governance/Choice Model

Molly Beck: “We are confident the proposal can fundamentally transform the educational opportunities that are available to students in Wisconsin’s two largest school districts,” he said. Delaporte pointed to Department of Public Instruction data that shows less than 40 percent of Madison students have tested proficient in reading in recent years — slightly higher than … Continue reading K-12 Governance: Proposal May Change Madison’s Non-Diverse School Governance/Choice Model

Development of the Madison School District Employee Handbook

Deirdre Hargrove-Krieghoff (PDF): We know that our vision as a District doesn’t come to life without a thriving workforce. That is why we are working hard to provide our employees with the resources and support they need to do their best work. To be successful for all students, we must be a District that attracts, … Continue reading Development of the Madison School District Employee Handbook

Madison Schools’ Leadership has allowed students to protest

Richard Berg: The Young, Gifted and Truant crowd really “jumped the shark” when they blocked all traffic on East Washington Avenue recently. But let’s not forget who helped to enable this crowd of malcontents. The Madison Police Department has bent over backward to accommodate this sort of action. And Madison School Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham helped … Continue reading Madison Schools’ Leadership has allowed students to protest

Madison School District keeps education, ahem, old school

Chris Rickert: Finances are always a consideration; they can also be an excuse. The district has cried poor at budget time for years, and yet somehow continued to find the money to, say, cover the full cost of union employees’ health insurance. Board member Ed Hughes said he wouldn’t vote for Madison Prep because the … Continue reading Madison School District keeps education, ahem, old school

Madison’s Staffing Compared to Long Beach & Boston

In 2013, Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said “What will be different, this time“? The Superintendent further cited Long Beach and Boston as beacons in her Rotary speech. However, based on recently released 2015-2016 budget slides (PDF) and Molly Beck’s summary, it appears that the same service, status quo governance model continues, unabated. A focus on … Continue reading Madison’s Staffing Compared to Long Beach & Boston

Madison School District Superintendent “Reverts to the Mean”….

Via a kind reader’s email. Despite spending double the national average per student and delivering disastrous reading results – for years – Madison’s Superintendent pushes back on school accountability: The Wheeler Report (PDF): Dear Legislators: Thank you for your efforts to work on school accountability. We all agree that real accountability, focused on getting the … Continue reading Madison School District Superintendent “Reverts to the Mean”….

Madison Superintendent’s Perspective

Jennifer Cheatham: Our strategy is no longer a laundry list of ever-changing “initiatives,” but instead a set of inter-related, long-term work aimed at eliminating the gaps in opportunity that lead to disparities in achievement. It is directly focused on the day-to-day work of great teaching and learning. Put differently, our strategy directly impacts the daily … Continue reading Madison Superintendent’s Perspective

Election Grist: Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for too long

David Blaska: Teachers are some of our most dedicated public servants. Many inspiring educators have changed lives for the better in Madison’s public schools. But their union is a horror. Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for decades. Selfish, arrogant, and bullying, it has fostered an angry, us-versus-them hostility toward parents, taxpayers, … Continue reading Election Grist: Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for too long

Commentary on Madison Teacher Evaluation Concepts

Chris Rickert District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson acknowledged that some teachers had been evaluated “inconsistently” but noted that the new evaluations, while time-consuming, will be limited to once every three years. School Board President Arlene Silveira also said the board has made it clear to Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham that evaluations are a priority and “the hope … Continue reading Commentary on Madison Teacher Evaluation Concepts

Madison’s Lengthy K-12 Challenges Become Election Grist; Spends 22% more per student than Milwaukee

Madison 2005 (reflecting 1998): When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As … Continue reading Madison’s Lengthy K-12 Challenges Become Election Grist; Spends 22% more per student than Milwaukee

1 in 3 Black Students Chronically Absent from Madison Schools

Molly Beck, via a kind reader: One in three black students was chronically absent from school during the 2013-14 school year, according to a Madison School District report. Thirty-six percent of the district’s black students have an attendance rate lower than 90 percent. That corresponds to missing, on average, one half day of school every … Continue reading 1 in 3 Black Students Chronically Absent from Madison Schools