UW-Madison’s Julie Underwood says controversial teacher education rankings “don’t mean much”

Pat Schneider: “So whether the ratings are lackluster, or horrible, or great doesn’t mean much to me,” she said. UW-Madison School of Education programs in secondary education were deemed to be in the bottom half nationwide and were not ranked. Underwood is not the only educator skewering the NTCQ ratings released this week that discredit … Continue reading UW-Madison’s Julie Underwood says controversial teacher education rankings “don’t mean much”

An Interview with UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood

Todd Finkelmeyer:

It’s an unprecedented amount of change, honestly,” says Julie Underwood, the dean of UW-Madison’s highly ranked School of Education.
Consider:

  • The state this year will start rating each school on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student test scores and other measurables. The idea, in part, is to give parents a way to evaluate how a school is performing while motivating those within it to improve.
  • Several schools across the state — including Madison’s Shorewood Elementary, Black Hawk Middle and Memorial High schools — are part of Wisconsin’s new teacher and principal evaluation system, which for the first time will grade a teacher’s success, in part, on student test scores. This system is to be implemented across Wisconsin in 2014-15.li>And instead of Wisconsin setting its own student benchmarks, the state is moving toward using Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted in 45 other states. State schools are starting new curricula this year in language arts and math so students will be prepared by the 2014-15 school year to take a new state exam tied to this common core and replacing the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.

Although Underwood says she generally backs most of these changes, she’s no fan of the decision announced last month that makes it easier for a person to become a public school teacher — even as those who are studying to become teachers must now meet stiffer credentialing requirements. Instead of having to complete education training at a place like UW-Madison en route to being licensed, those with experience in private schools or with other teaching backgrounds now can take steps to become eligible for a public teaching license.
“I think that’s really unfortunate,” says Underwood, who first worked at UW-Madison from 1986-95 before coming back to town as education dean in 2005.

Related:

Julie Underwood: Starving Public Schools; a look at School Spending

UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood, via a kind reader’s email:

Public schools,” ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, “meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone.” A better system, the organization argued, would “foster educational freedom and quality” through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this “choice”– and vouchers “scholarships”–but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.
The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he “loved” ALEC meetings, “because I always found new ideas, and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine.”
ALEC’s most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state.

Related:

Wisconsin School Report Cards and Vouchers, In the News

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: DPI-crafted school report cards are the primary means we have of discovering and comparing outcomes in Wisconsin schools. Schools in all sectors that receive public funding – traditional public, charter, and parental choice private schools – now all use the same annual Forward exam for students and will … Continue reading Wisconsin School Report Cards and Vouchers, In the News

Civics & the Ed Schools; Ripe for Vast Improvement

I have a special interest in Civics education. My high school civics/government teacher drilled the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers into our small brains. This Vietnam Vet worked very hard to make sure that we understood how the US political system worked, or not. While reading the ongoing pervasive spying news, including … Continue reading Civics & the Ed Schools; Ripe for Vast Improvement

Madison’s education academics get involved in the argument over education reform; What is the Track Record of ties between the Ed School and the MMSD?

Pat Schneider:

“I’m an academic,” says Slekar, a Pittsburgh-area native whose mother and grandmother were elementary school teachers and who was a classroom teacher himself before earning a Ph.D. in curriculum from University of Maryland.
“I understand scholarship, I understand evidence, I understand the role of higher education in society,” he says. “When initiatives come through, if we have solid evidence that something is not a good idea, it’s really my job to come out and say that.”
Michael Apple, an internationally recognized education theorist and professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison agrees. In the face of conservative state legislators’ push to privatize public education, “it is part of my civic responsibility to say what is happening,” says Apple.
“In a society that sees corporations as having all the rights of people, by and large education is a private good, not a public good,” he says. “I need to defend the very idea of public schools.”
Both Apple and Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at UW-Madison, share Slekar’s concern over the systematic privatization of education and recognize a role for scholars in the public debate about it.

A wide-ranging, animated, sometimes loud conversation with Slekar includes familiar controversies hotly debated around the country and in the Wisconsin Capitol, like high-stakes testing, vouchers and Common Core standards. The evidence, Slekar says flatly, shows that none of it will work to improve student learning.
The reform initiatives are instead part of a corporate takeover of public education masquerading as reform that will harm low-income and minority students before spreading to the suburbs, says Slekar, in what he calls the civil rights issue of our time.
A 30-year attack has worked to erode the legitimacy of the public education system. And teachers are taking much of the blame for the stark findings of the data now pulled from classrooms, he says.
“We’re absolutely horrible at educating poor minority kids,” says Slekar. “We absolutely know that.”
But neither the so-called reformers, nor many more casual observers, want to talk about the real reason for the disparities in achievement, Slekar says, which is poverty.
“That’s not an excuse, it’s a diagnosis,” he says, quoting John Kuhn, a firebrand Texas superintendent and activist who, at a 2011 rally, suggested that instead of performance-based salaries for teachers, the nation institute merit pay for members of Congress.

Local Education school academics have long had interactions with the Madison School District. Former Superintendent Art Rainwater works in the UW-Madison School of Education.

Further, this 122 page pdf (3.9mb) includes contracts (not sure if it is complete) between the UW-Madison School of Education and the Madison School District between 2004 and 2008. Has this relationship improved achievement?
Related: Deja Vu? Education Experts to Review the Madison School District and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Tougher on teachers: One in four aspiring (Michigan) teachers pass new teacher test

Ron French:

Becoming a teacher in Michigan just became a lot more difficult.
Only one in four aspiring teachers passed a beefed-up version of Michigan’s teacher certification test – an exam that teachers must pass to be hired to lead a classroom – when the new test was administered for the first time last month.
The initial pass rate for the old version of the test was 82 percent; In October, with more difficult questions and higher scores needed to pass, the pass rate was 26 percent.
That means that three out of four students who completed what is typically a four- or five-year college program will have to retake the test or find another career.
The toughened certification tests are an effort to assure that only the most highly-qualified teachers are leading Michigan classrooms.
“Just like we’d want the best and most effective doctor,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a news release about the new, low pass rates. “The same applies to teaching Michigan’s students.”
Bridge Magazine raised concerns about the ease of teacher certification tests in October. At the time, aspiring Michigan teachers had a similar pass rate on certification tests as cosmetologists.
That story was part of a series examining the crucial role of teacher preparation in increasing learning in Michigan classrooms, where test scores show students are falling behind students in other states.

Related NCTQ study on teacher preparation and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.
UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood continues her “status quo” advocacy via this latest op-ed.
Madison Literary Club Talk: Examinations for Teachers Past and Present

And Yet, Another Bomb

Madison Teachers Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

In Governor Walker’s first legislative session, using the ruse that the State was millions in debt, he proposed eliminating collective bargaining for public employees as the means to fill in the alleged budget deficit. As he described it, he dropped the bomb.
Last week, another legislative session and another bomb. Walker’s budget will hit education and educators once again. It is a giant step to privatize education. This is done by forcing pubic schools to pay tuition for children to attend religious and private schools by giving the parents of such children a voucher which forces the public school district to send money to the religious or private school. Walker and his right- wing legislators made vouchers available in every school district in the State. To this, UW Education Dean Julie Underwood said, “School Boards beware”, that this is, “the model legislation disseminated by the pro-free market American Legislative Exchange Council’s network of corporate members and conservative legislators to privatize education and erode local control.” In criticizing the legislation, State Superintendent Tony Evers chided, “A voucher in every backpack.”
Public school districts lose twice. Once by having to use money intended to educate children in their schools, and also losing State aid because they cannot count the child attending the religious or private school on which State aid is based. It is projected that this will cost MMSD $27 million over the next five years. Vouchers provide parents $4,000 per year for an elementary school student and $10,000 for a high school student. State Senator Jennifer Schilling calls it, “Vouchers on steroids!” Research shows that most voucher schools in Wisconsin underperform compared to their public school counterparts.

Much more on vouchers, here.

Fascinating: UW education dean warns school boards that ALEC seeks to wipe them out

Pat Schneider:

ALEC is still at it, Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, cautions in “School Boards Beware,” (PDF) a commentary in the May issue of Wisconsin School News.
The model legislation disseminated by the pro-free market American Legislative Exchange Council’s national network of corporate members and conservative legislators seeks to privatize education and erode the local control, Underwood says.
“The ALEC goal to eliminate school districts and school boards is a bit shocking — but the idea is to make every school, public and private, independent through vouchers for all students. By providing all funding to parents rather than school districts, there is no need for local coordination, control or oversight,” she writes in the magazine of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Underwood, who says that Wisconsin public schools already face unprecedented change, last year co-authored a piece about ALEC’s grander plans, a “legislative contagion (that) seemed to sweep across the Midwest during the early months of 2011.”
In her recent piece, Underwood argues that a push to privatize education for the “free market” threatens the purpose of public education: to educate every child to “become an active citizen, capable of participating in our democratic process.”

Related:

  • The state this year will start rating each school on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student test scores and other measurables. The idea, in part, is to give parents a way to evaluate how a school is performing while motivating those within it to improve.
  • Several schools across the state — including Madison’s Shorewood Elementary, Black Hawk Middle and Memorial High schools — are part of Wisconsin’s new teacher and principal evaluation system, which for the first time will grade a teacher’s success, in part, on student test scores. This system is to be implemented across Wisconsin in 2014-15.li>And instead of Wisconsin setting its own student benchmarks, the state is moving toward using Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted in 45 other states. State schools are starting new curricula this year in language arts and math so students will be prepared by the 2014-15 school year to take a new state exam tied to this common core and replacing the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.

Although Underwood says she generally backs most of these changes, she’s no fan of the decision announced last month that makes it easier for a person to become a public school teacher — even as those who are studying to become teachers must now meet stiffer credentialing requirements. Instead of having to complete education training at a place like UW-Madison en route to being licensed, those with experience in private schools or with other teaching backgrounds now can take steps to become eligible for a public teaching license.

“I think that’s really unfortunate,” says Underwood, who first worked at UW-Madison from 1986-95 before coming back to town as education dean in 2005.

Related:

Madison Event: Learn about attack on public schools

The Capital Times:

As Madison voters prepare to cast ballots Tuesday in important primary elections for the state Supreme Court and the Madison School Board, it is vital to recognize that the most critical challenge facing school districts across Wisconsin is the assault on public education that has been launched by out-of-state special interest groups and the politicians who do their bidding.
Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack is seeking re-election with heavy funding from Michigan, Texas and Arkansas donors with long histories of seeking to elect officials who will undermine public education with voucher schemes that divert taxpayer dollars to private schools. That should disqualify Roggensack in the eyes of any voter who wants to maintain the Wisconsin tradition of providing strong support for great public schools.
In the Madison School Board race, all three candidates express support for public schools, which is an indication that they know the community and surrounding Dane County. But, even in what has historically been a center of support for public education, it is important for voters to be aware of how and when outside groups will seek to influence local elections.
That’s why The Madison Institute’s Progressive Round Table forum on Saturday, Feb. 16, is so necessary.
The “Public Schools Under Attack: Vouchers, Virtual and Charter Schools” discussion will feature Julie Underwood, the UW-Madison dean of education, Madison School Board Vice President Marge Passman and state Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, the former chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

“Presumptions of invalidity” Closing the Window on Charters in Madison?

The Madison School Board recently discussed (first 15 minutes of this video) a new “charter school policy” drafted by Julie Mead, a UW-Madison School of Education Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis.
The following documents are worth reviewing:
Using Charter School Education and Policy to Advance Equal Educational Opportunity” by Julie Mead and Preston Green [3MB PDF pages 12-44].
Model Policy Language for Charter School Equity” by Julie Mead and Preston Green [3MB PDF pages 45-52].
Page 13 of this slide based 1.9MB PDF includes:

Rebuttable Presumptions of Invalidity
A. [A] proposed charter school that is unlikely to attract a student body whose composition of racial and ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency, and students from low-income families that is within 10% of the population for each of these sub-groups within the community or communities intended to be served by the charter school is presumed to be invalid;
B. The applicant can overcome this presumption by providing clear and convincing evidence that the charter school will satisfy the policy goal of providing equal educational opportunity for all students; and
C. Evidence of the support of parents for the proposed school approach may be considered but shall not be the primary evidence that the school positively serves the public’s interests and is therefore insufficient by itself to overcome this presumption of invalidity.

Related: Professor Mead along with School of Education Dean Julie Underwood published this paper: A smart ALEC threatens public education.
Via a kind reader.

Outlook not set in stone for Wisconsin school of education enrollment

Arthur Thomas:

For all the changes implemented in 2011, one thing hurt enrollment at schools of education more than others, said John Gaffney, recruitment and retention coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s School of Education.
“The message of teachers being the problem hurt us the most,” Gaffney said.
The Act 10 legislation affected teachers’ pocketbooks – with union bargaining largely eliminated, higher deductions for benefits were imposed – and the political firestorm that resulted put teachers at the center of attention.
Maggie Beeber, undergraduate advising coordinator at the UW-Stevens Point education school, recounted a story where she was meeting with incoming freshmen. She asked the students if anyone had tried to discourage them from becoming teachers. Nearly every hand went up. Then she asked if more than five people had discouraged them. Most of the hands stayed up.
“It’s easy to follow the public discourse about teaching right now and conclude that everything is doomed,” said Desiree Pointer Mace, associate dean for graduate education at Alverno College.

Related:

Loss of master’s degree pay bump has impact on teachers, grad schools

Erin Richards, via a kind reader’s email:

The dropping of the master’s bump in many districts is also raising new questions about what kind of outside training is relevant to help teachers improve outcomes with their students, and what those teachers – who are already taking home less pay by contributing more to their benefits – will consider to be worth the investment.
Wauwatosa East High School government teacher Ann Herrera Ward is one educator puzzled by the turning tide on advanced degrees.
Ward earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before working in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven years, then got on the road to a teaching license through Marquette University, where she got a master’s in instructional leadership.
Entering her 20th year as a teacher, she’s finishing her dissertation for her doctorate degree: a study of how kids learn about elections and politics by discussing the matters in school and at home.

Related:

Madison School District Strategic Plan Update

Madison School District 600K PDF:.
I recently attended the third annual update to the 2009 Madison School District Strategic Plan. You can follow the process via these notes and links.
I thought it might be useful to share a few observations on our local public schools during this process:

  • General public interest in the schools continues to be the exception, rather than the norm.
  • I sense that the District is more open to discussing substantive issues such as reading, math and overall achievement during the past few years. However, it does not appear to have translated into the required tough decision making regarding non-performing programs and curriculum.
  • MTI President Kerry Motoviloff recent statement that the District administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”.
  • Full teacher Infinite Campus use remains a goal, despite spending millions of dollars, money which could have gone elsewhere given the limited implementation. Unfortunately, this is a huge missed opportunity. Complete course syllabus, assignment and gradebook information would be a powerful tool when evaluating achievement issues.
  • The implementation of “standards based report cards” further derailed the Infinite Campus spending/implementation. This is an example of spending money (and time – consider the opportunity cost) on programs that are actually in conflict.
  • The District continues to use the oft criticized and very low benchmark WKCE as their measure. This, despite starting to use the MAP exam this year. Nearby Monona Grove has been using MAP for some time.
  • Three Madison School Board members attended: Mary Burke, James Howard and Ed Hughes.
  • UW-Madison school of Education dean Julie Underwood attended and asked, to my astonishment, (paraphrased) how the District’s various diversity programs were benefiting kids (and achievement)?

The only effective way forward, in my view, is to simplify the District’s core mission to reading, english and math. This means eliminating programs and focusing on the essentials. That will be a difficult change for the organization, but I don’t see how adding programs to the current pile benefits anyone. It will cost more and do less.
Less than 24 hours after I attended the MMSD’s Strategic Plan update, I, through a variety of circumstances, visited one of Milwaukee’s highest performing private/voucher schools, a school with more than 90% low income students. The petri dish that is Milwaukee will produce a far more robust and effective set of schools over the next few decades than the present monolithic approach favored here. More about that visit, soon.

More Election Tea Leaves: UW-Madison Ed School Dean on K-12 Tax & Spending: Defunding and privatization threaten public schools

UW-Madison Ed School Dean Julie Underwood:

Public education currently stands under twin towers of threat — de-funding and privatization. This is consistent with a conservative agenda to eliminate many public programs — including public education.
In Wisconsin, school districts have been under strict limits on their revenues and spending since 1993. These limits have not kept pace with the natural increases in the costs of everyday things like supplies, energy and fuel. So every year, local school board members and administrators have had to cut their budgets to comply with spending limits. Throughout these years, school boards and administrators have done an admirable job of managing these annual cuts, but taken together, reductions in programs and staff have had a significant and very negative impact on our schools and the education they can provide to children.
Unfortunately this year, these same districts have received the largest single budget cut in Wisconsin history. For example, high poverty aid was cut by 10 percent during a time when poverty in children has increased in Wisconsin. As a result, schools are cutting programs and staff. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction data, the cuts in 2012 are greater than the two previous years combined. These cuts will be compounded when next year’s cuts come due.

Related:

UW profs shed light on ALEC’s threat to public education

Todd Finkelmeyer:

University of Wisconsin-Madison professors Julie Underwood and Julie Mead are expressing concern over the growing corporate influence on public education in an article published Monday.
In particular, they are highly critical of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which connects conservative state legislators with like-minded think tanks, corporations and foundations to develop “model legislation” that can be enacted at the state level.
Underwood is the dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education, while Mead chairs the ed school’s department of educational leadership and policy analysis. The two make their opinions known in an article they co-authored for the March issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine, which serves members of the PDK professional organization for educators.
Underwood says much of the information in the article is an outgrowth of research she conducted while helping get the ALECexposed.org website up and running last summer.

Related:

Important voice missing in blue ribbon reading discussion

Susan Troller

While working on another story this morning, I kept checking Wisconsin Eye’s live coverage of the first meeting of Gov. Scott Walker’s blue ribbon task force on reading.
Sitting next to the Governor at the head of the table was State Superintendent Tony Evers, flanked by Sen. Luther Olsen, chair of the Education Committee and Rep. Steve Kestell. Also on hand were representatives from organizations like the Wisconsin State Reading Association (Kathy Champeau), teachers and various other reading experts, including a former Milwaukee area principal, Anthony Pedriana, who has written an influential book on reading and student achievement called “Leaving Johnny Behind.” Also on hand was Steven Dykstra of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition.
Dykstra, in particular, had a lot to say, but the discussion of how well Wisconsin kids are learning to read — a subject that gets heated among education experts as well as parents and teachers — struck me as quite engaging and generally cordial.
There seemed to be consensus surrounding the notion that it’s vitally important for students to become successful readers in the early grades, and that goal should be an urgent priority in Wisconsin.
But how the state is currently measuring up to its own past performance, and to other states, is subject to some debate. Furthermore, there isn’t a single answer or widespread agreement on precisely how to make kids into better readers.

Related:

UW Ed School Dean and WPRI President on the Recent School Choice Results

Julie Underwood:

The release of the results of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam, the standardized test that every state public school is required to give, is a rite of spring for Wisconsin schools.
Distributed every year, the WKCEs provide educators, parents and community members with information about how well schools and districts are performing, broken down by subject and grade level.
The WKCEs are used alongside other measures to determine where schools are falling short and what is working well. For parents with many different types of educational options from which to choose, the WKCEs allow them to make informed choices about their child’s school. For taxpayers, the tests provide a level of transparency and demonstrate a return on investment.
But while state law requires all public schools to give the WKCEs, not all publicly funded schools are required do to so. Since its inception 20 years ago, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has been virtually without any kind of meaningful accountability measures in place. Choice schools have not been required to have students take the WKCEs. That is, until this school year.

George Lightbourn:

We have all done it at one time or another — opened our mouth before engaging our brain.
State Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, just had one of those moments. In reacting to the news that, on average, students attending schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice program performed about the same or slightly below students in Milwaukee Public Schools, she said taxpayers are being “bamboozled” and the program is “a disservice to Milwaukee students.”
Whoa! Had she taken a moment to think before she spoke, here are a few things that should have occurred to her:
• Those private schools are performing about as well at educating Milwaukee children as the public schools — at half the cost. Public funding for each child in the choice program costs taxpayers $6,442 while each child in Milwaukee Public Schools receives taxpayer support of over $15,000. If all of the 21,000 choice students moved back into Milwaukee Public Schools, that would require a $74 million increase in local property taxes across the state, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Much more, here.

Education and the boiled frog

Julie Underwood:

Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-’13 budget proposal includes cuts to Wisconsin’s public schools of more than $834 million. This represents the largest cut to education in our state’s history. It would be impossible to implement cuts this size without significant cuts to educational programs and services for Wisconsin’s children.
The proposal is drastic – and that is just part of the problem. You have likely heard the old adage that a frog placed in a pot of hot water will immediately jump out to avoid harm, while a frog placed in cool water will not notice if the heat is turned up and will unwittingly allow itself to be boiled alive. Similarly, the proposed cuts are placed on top of smaller cuts the schools have taken steadily over the past two decades.
In Wisconsin, school districts have been under strict limits on their revenues and spending. These limits have not kept pace with the natural increases in the costs of everyday things like supplies, energy and fuel. So every year, local school board members and administrators have had to cut their budgets to comply with their budget limits.

UW-Madison Education school hosts ceremony to celebrate building renovations

Jennifer Zettell

Everyday masses of students march up and down Bascom Hill at the University of Wisconsin and on their way, pass a piece of history.
Many students headed to class or exams Monday however, passed festivities taking place inside the more than 100-year-old Education Building.
To kick-off American Education Week, UW’s School of Education planned a two-day event to showcase the renovation of the building, Dean Julie Underwood said.
In particular, the re-dedication of the building Monday morning brought together students, faculty, staff and alumni not only to celebrate the building, but those who made it possible.
UW alumni John and Tashia Morgridge donated $34 million to renovate the building, and those in attendance treated them to many standing ovations as well as thanks.

“We need entirely different schools to fit the needs of students, not the teachers and administrators,” – Kaleem Caire

David Blaska on the recent Community Conversation on Education:

Caire was one of four main presenters, the others being Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad, the dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, and — sure enough — Madison Teachers Inc. union president Mike Lipp.
Nerad was o.k. He got off a good line: “Children are the future but we are our children’s future.” He even quoted Sitting Bull but on first reference made certain to use his actual Native American name. This IS Madison, after all.
UW Education Dean Julie Underwood was atrocious — a firm defender of the status quo denouncing the “slashing” of school budgets, “negative ads,” and demanding that the community become “public school advocates.” I.E., the whole liberal litany.
Say, Dean Julie, how about the community become advocates for teaching children — in other words, the goal — instead of a one-size-fits-all, government-ordained delivery mechanism? Isn’t competition the American way?
Union apologist Mike Lipp reminded me of Welcome Back Kotter — looks and mien. He could be humorous (I am certain he is a good teacher) but he spent his allotted time on the glories of that holy grail of education: the union’s collective bargaining agreement. I expected an ethereal light beam to shine down on this holy writ, which Lipp lamented that he did not bring with him. His other purpose was to defuse the powerhouse documentary, “Waiting for Superman.”
Indeed, it was that indictment of public education’s “failure factories” and the hidebound me-first teachers unions that prompted Tuesday evening’s “conversation.” I wrote about it, and Kaleem Caire, here.
When Lipp was finished he returned to his table next to union hired gun John Matthews. No sense in sitting with parents and taxpayers.
When it came time for the participants to respond, one parent said of the four presenters that only Kaleem Caire took to heart the evening’s admonition to “keep students as the focus.” I think that was a little unfair to Nerad, who deserves credit for opening this can of worms, but otherwise right on target.
Caire reported that only 7% of African-American students tested as college-ready on the ACT test. For Latinos, the percentage is 14. Those are 2010 statistics — for Madison schools. In these schools, 2,800 suspensions were handed down to black students — of a total black enrollment of 5,300 students!

Related links: The Madison School District = General Motors; Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

An interview with Kaleem Caire.

Wisconsin risks stumbling in ‘Race to Top’

University of Wisconsin School of Education Dean Julie Underwood:

President Barack Obama spoke at Wright Middle School in Madison last month and urged our nation to make improving K-12 education a national priority.
The president underscored the critical link between improving education and our nation’s future economy. He called for our schools to push all students to achieve at higher levels.
The president also spoke about our need to raise the bar for student achievement and to close existing achievement gaps. He is offering the states $4.35 billion in competitive “Race to the Top” grants to try to spur improvement.
His call for reform comes at a critical time for our schools. Our graduates face an increasingly competitive world. The future of our state rests on our ability to prepare our students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.
In recent years, however, the real struggle in Wisconsin has been in maintaining the quality public school system created by previous generations. Our public schools operate under a financial system that chokes reform and chips away at quality.

Underwood’s School of Education has a close relationship with the Madison School District via grants and other interactions. Former Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater now works for the School along with former Administrator Jack Jorgenson. Underwood attended the 2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances.

Education and Educational Research in an Era of Accountability: Insights and Blind Spots

I am pleased to invite you to a conference on “Education and Educational Research in an Era of Accountability: Insights and Blind Spots“, to be held on February 7-8, 2007, at the Pyle Center [map], near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Attendance is free, and we very much hope that members of the local educational … Continue reading Education and Educational Research in an Era of Accountability: Insights and Blind Spots

Week of May 30th – School Board Update by President Johnny Winston, Jr.

Via a Johnny Winston, Jr. email: Currently, the Madison School Board is deliberating over the 2006-07 budget. Board members submitted budget amendments to the Administration last week. The strings program, library pages, funding for community groups, student fees, school programs and class sizes are among the items identified by board members to change in the … Continue reading Week of May 30th – School Board Update by President Johnny Winston, Jr.