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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 all the years ahead.”

As an example of a step in the right direction during her tenure, she pointed to the community school program, in which the school serves as a hub for health care, academic tutoring, mentoring, food access and parental involvement. Looking ahead, she endorsed integrating mental health support into all schools and expanding the “pathways” model of personalized learning and exploration.

Cheatham said she understands why some educators feel a shock after doing things one way and then being asked to change. “All of a sudden, you’re hearing from black students, black families, black staff members, for example, that the ways of working that you’ve been using are actually maybe doing damage,” she said.

“That causes a terrifying feeling of disequilibrium, and it seems natural to me that we want to blame someone, right? When I’m feeling that way, I want to declare: ‘Whose fault is it? ‘It’s got to be Jen Cheatham’s fault. It’s got to be the fault of this policy. It’s got to be someone’s fault.’ ”

All along, Cheatham said, she knew creating something new in Madison would have a cost: “As a white female, I know that it has been my obligation to use my white privilege — and sometimes burn down the capital that I have built up — so that I can make change for people who don’t have the privilege that I have, and if that means getting a crummy article written about me, if that means social media chatter that, quite honestly, I don’t look at, then so be it, because guess what?

“I am going to be able to wake up the next day and go back into the office and be OK.”

2013: Jennifer Cheatham at the Madison Rotary ClubWhat will be different this time?

2019: Jennifer Cheatham at the Madison Rotary Club

2013: “Plenty of Resources

“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”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

2019: WHY ARE MADISON’S STUDENTS STRUGGLING TO READ?




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.




Another new Madison k-12 Superintendent



Kayla Huynh

In his new role, Gothard will oversee the second largest school district in Wisconsin, which serves over 26,000 students in 52 schools and has a nearly $600 million annual budget. He’ll take over at a challenging time, with COVID-19 federal funding set to expire and the board determining the 2024-25 budget.

Gothard will also be responsible for carrying out Wisconsin’s Act 20, a law that is set to make sweeping changes across the state in how schools teach 4-year-old kindergarten through third grade students how to read. The act requires districts to shift to a “science of reading” approach that emphasizes the use of phonics. 

Using pandemic funds, Gothard created a similar program in 2021 at St. Paul Public Schools in an effort to improve the district’s lagging reading scores. The program pairs struggling students with educators who specialize in science-based reading instruction. 

——

Abbey Machtig:

He spent two years as an assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Madison and was a semifinalist in the Madison School District’s search for a new superintendent in 2013, with the board ultimately hiring Jennifer Cheatham.

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Notes on taxpayer funded Madison K-12 Governance



David Blaska

For all practical purposes, Jennifer Cheatham remains the superintendent of Madison WI public schools. She left four years ago for Harvard University (where 32 student groups announced their support for Hamas terrorism). Her mission: clone more ultra-Woke school chiefs like herself. (“Areas of expertise: diversity, equity, and inclusion.”) 

Matters not that teachers hate it, Cheatham’s race-forward Behavior Education Plan continues to undermine Madison classrooms. 

To replace whoever succeeded Cheatham as superintendent, the Madison school board contracted with a head-hunting boutique that boasts of its diversity. Don’t worry Madison progressives — it employs not a single cisgendered white male! (Discussed that here.)

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

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Analysis: Madison school district’s lenient discipline policy is a dismal failure



Dave Daley:

In 2013, the Madison school district had a zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior. Suspension was almost automatic for most violations. When Cheatham became superintendent that year, she was determined to bring down suspension and expulsion rates that she felt unfairly affected black students.

Black students made up 62% of expulsions for the previous four years compared to only 19% for white kids in a district where black students were just under 20% of the population. “Racial equity” became Cheatham’s mantra. 

She was convinced the district’s zero-tolerance approach was partly to blame — it did not give a troubled student the opportunity to learn from misbehavior or for the school to learn what was behind the bad conduct and find ways to help. 

So in 2014, Cheatham, who is white, implemented her Behavior Education Plan (BEP) geared to helping students learn positive behavior to keep them in the classroom. The district would use options such as an in-class suspension or mediation with a “restorative justice” circle to try to talk through the bad conduct with the student and the students’ peers and teachers. 

The BEP also would be “culturally responsive” — that is, take into consideration the fact that poor, black kids in challenging circumstances can behave differently than their white peers.

Mueller-Owens believed in and fervently promoted Cheatham’s discipline agenda.

“The dominant culture lacks an understanding of how other cultures interact with each other,” he told a Madison Commons writer in 2018, explaining why black students were suspended at higher rates than white kids. “The BEP comes from a heart of justice.”

Others disagreed. Some teachers and observers felt the BEP made it difficult to keep order in the classroom, gave the upper hand to students disinterested in learning and even put teachers in danger. 

Worse, some argued, the classroom disruptions were hurting black students the most — a group already struggling to close the achievement gap with white students.

One of the policy’s sharpest critics is Peter Anderson, a highly regarded Madison liberal who is leading a campaign to toughen classroom discipline. 

“The way that Dr. Cheatham chose to implement the Behavior Education Plan had the effect of undermining teachers, the end result of which — if nothing changes — will be a failed Madison school system, in which it is the at-risk students who will be trapped,” Anderson wrote in an email to the Badger Institute.

“White guilt and black rage are a toxic mix that helps nobody,” he continued, adding that with biracial grandchildren in the Madison schools, he’s “very concerned for what these policies mean both for the disadvantaged kids these efforts are supposedly intended to protect and for the future of public schools in racially diverse metropolitan areas.”

“Continuing Cheathamism cheats the black kids it purports to champion,” Anderson, founder of Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade (now Clean Wisconsin), concluded in a January blog post.

2005: Gangs & School Violence forum audio / video.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




Carlton Jenkins is named Madison’s next K-12 Superintendent



Scott Girard:

Carlton Jenkins said moving to work in the Madison Metropolitan School District would be like “going home.”

One of two finalists to become the district’s next superintendent, Jenkins was an associate principal at Memorial High School in 1993 and earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Throughout the day Tuesday, the Robbinsdale School District superintendent spoke with students and staff via video, interviewed with the School Board and participated in a community Q and A session on Facebook Live.

“You will have a superintendent, if you select me, that comes here unapologetically knowing and loving Madison,” Jenkins said. “I am a Badger through and through.”

The School Board announced Jenkins and Oak Park Elementary School District 97 superintendent Carol Kelley as finalists last Thursday. After both interview this week, the board will deliberate in closed session Thursday.

Those who have thoughts on the choice can submit comments on the district’s website by 11 a.m. Thursday. To leave comments on Jenkins, visit mmsd.org/jenkins. Kelley’s community Q and A will be 7:15 p.m. Wednesday night.

The district’s timeline for a hire outlines a potential August start date.

Logan Wroge:

Carlton Jenkins will become the next superintendent of the Madison School District, returning to the city where he started his administrative career in education more than 25 years ago.

The Madison School Board announced Friday it chose Jenkins, superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools in suburban Minneapolis, as the permanent leader of the Madison School District. He will be the first Black superintendent of Madison.

He starts the job Aug. 4.

In a second search to fill the superintendent vacancy after the initial pick fell through this spring, the board opted to go with Jenkins, 54, over the other finalist Carol Kelley, a superintendent of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 in Illinois.

“I speak for everyone on the Board when I say that we are very excited to share this news with our community,” Board President Gloria Reyes said in a statement.

Jenkins received a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis from UW-Madison in 2009 and a master’s degree in educational administration from the university in 1993.

Related:

2013 – 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020



MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [May, 2020]

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020

Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)
6. Moody’s (https://www.moodys.com/)

Much more on the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s spending, here.

Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent search.

2013-2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School Board May Retreat



Madison School Board:

Meeting Objectives

● Understand Applicable Legal Statutes that pertain to School Boards

● Develop a planned strategy to successfully transition to a new leadership paradigm with the MMSD

school board, superintendent, administration/staff, parents/guardians, and community creating a dynamic school community team.

Legal notice and zoom link.

Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent search.

2013-2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Resisting Open Records Requests at the taxpayer supported Madison School District



Scott Girard:

The Cap Times submitted an open records request the morning of Jan. 17, the deadline for residents to submit feedback through an online form, asking for “any and all public feedback on the Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent finalists, submitted online or via forms at the public forums, as of 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17.”

In late February, the district initially denied the request entirely, citing concerns about privacy and limiting people’s willingness to participate in future public input opportunities. The Cap Times said it was going to run a story about the denial and asked for comment, and the decision was reversed. The records took nearly two more months to deliver as staff redacted names and emails from the forms and then the pandemic delayed that work.

Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent search.

2013-2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison Superintendent Search Rhetoric



The Capital Times:

The decision by Matthew Gutiérrez to back out after his selection as the next superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District confirmed that he was not the right choice for this district at this time.

Now, the school board must make a better choice. That is unlikely to happen if the board conducts a national search and selects a superintendent who is looking to climb a “career ladder” from one district to the next.

The union that represents teachers and school employees, Madison Teachers Inc., makes a good point when is says that the board should focus on local candidates.

Scott Girard:

Gutierrez was one of three finalists, all of whom were people of color and all of whom were from out of state. The other two finalists were both black, and some black community leaders criticized the Gutierrez hire in a February letter, suggesting the district needed a black leader. Menéndez Coller is a member of the Latino Consortium for Action, which replied with its own letter in support of Gutierrez and asking the community to give him a chance.

“I want a Superintendent that understands equity and understands how to roll out specific initiatives that will allow Black kids, Hmong kids, Latino kids, kids of color move forward,” Menéndez Coller wrote in her email Monday.

Mirilli said the public discussion around the letters got her thinking about the challenges any new superintendent would face in Madison, but specifically one of color. She said that while it’s important to her and others to have a leader who has a different “personal experience” than has been represented in MMSD’s leadership in the past, it’s just as important for that person to “understand that they will have some blind spots.”

Related: Jennifer Cheatham (2013-2019) and the Madison Experience.

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

“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”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

2019: WHY ARE MADISON’S STUDENTS STRUGGLING TO READ?




MTI says Madison School District should reopen search, look locally for new superintendent



Scott Girard:

MTI says going through an entire school year with another interim is unacceptable, though they understand that will be required for a period of time “and want clarity around who will fill that position immediately.”

“However, there are too many critical issues facing our schools, staff, students, and community for us to have another year without a permanent leader in place,” the letter states. “While it is difficult to predict what the future holds and what the new ‘normal’ will be, we know that our public schools will be a critical part of the recovery efforts in Madison. A permanent superintendent is necessary for that work to move forward effectively.”

[Madison School District superintendent-hire Gutiérrez rescinds acceptance]

The union also shared members’ feedback on key characteristics desired in a new superintendent, which include advancing work around racial equity, maintaining high expectations for everyone in schools, making staff feel respected and supported, being present in schools on a regular basis, proposing fewer initiatives and top-down mandates and having a strategic plan to build trust in the community — specifically between educators and administration.

“We are happy to continue this conversation with you and look forward to continuing to collaborate as we serve the students and families of the Madison public schools,” the letter states.

Related: Jennifer Cheatham (2013-2019) and the Madison Experience.

“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”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

2019: WHY ARE MADISON’S STUDENTS STRUGGLING TO READ?




Madison’s taxpayer support K-12 School District Governance: “Most board members didn’t find out until a week later”



Logan Wroge:

On March 31, Gutierrez sent a letter to Reyes letting her know he was rescinding his acceptance of the job and explaining what led to his decision.

Most board members didn’t find out until a week later during a closed session Monday night, LeMonds said. Gutierrez’s decision was publicly announced after the closed session.

Castro said it was “definitely jarring” to hear Gutierrez choose to remain superintendent in Seguin, Texas. But Castro added he understood where the lifelong Texan was coming from.

“I can’t imagine the conflicting emotions he was feeling when the community that he’s in now was in a crisis and really needed important, stable leadership,” Castro said.

In the letter, Gutierrez said his choice to back out of becoming superintendent of Wisconsin’s second-largest school district, which was “to be the pinnacle of my career,” was not without “interminable personal conflict and grief.”

But the experience leading the 7,500-student Seguin Independent School District through the pandemic has changed how he perceives his job, Gutierrez said in the letter.

“The sudden necessity of coordinating in a manner that not only educates but saves and sustains lives has changed my role as superintendent of a small school district from a title and a job to something far more personal; we have become an interdependent family,” Gutierrez wrote.

Related: Jennifer Cheatham (2013-2019) and the Madison Experience.

“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”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

2019: WHY ARE MADISON’S STUDENTS STRUGGLING TO READ?




Madison School District superintendent-hire Gutiérrez rescinds acceptance



Scott Girard:

Gutiérrez was chosen from a group of three finalists in January. They each visited and held a “Day in the District” including a public question and answer session.

He visited again after being given the job and a $250,000 contract in March during Seguin’s spring break. While here on that trip, Gutiérrez spoke about his excitement to begin the job and plans to “unify the community.”

“My goal is to work to unify the community, the school district, so that we can all begin moving in the same direction and focusing on what matters; that is the 27,000 students within this organization,” he said during a press conference.

The Seguin Independent School District School Board had discussed its superintendent contract in closed session in a March 31 meeting.

Logan Wroge:

The School Board had approved a $30,000 contract for a consulting firm to help Gutierrez transition into the job by conducting a review of district departments.

At a news conference on March 10, Gutierrez said he wanted to “unify the community” during his first year in Madison.

But the task was likely to be difficult, as Gutierrez faced criticism from some African American community leaders, who questioned his qualifications. But he had received support from Latino leaders and others prominent community members.

Related: Jennifer Cheatham (2013-2019) and the Madison Experience.

“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”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

2019: WHY ARE MADISON’S STUDENTS STRUGGLING TO READ?




Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates



On January 21, 2020, I sent this email to board@madison.k12.wi.us

Hi:

I hope that you are well.

I write to make an open records request for a list of invitees and participants in last week’s “community leader and stakeholder” meetings with the (Superintendent) candidates.

Thank you and best wishes,


Jim

Hearing nothing, I wrote on February 13, 2020:

Has my open records request gone missing?

School Board member Cris Carusi emailed me, twice that day, kindly following up on this request.

I received an email on February 18, 2020 from Barbara Osborn that my “request has been shared with our legal department”.

I received this response from Sherrice M Perry on March 13, 2020:

Dear Mr. James Zellmer,

Please accept this email as the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (the “District”) response to your public records request for “a list of invitees and participants in last week’s ‘community leader and stakeholder’ meetings with the candidates.” Attached below are the records that are most responsive to your request.

With regard to the requested records, the District redacted portions of the attached records consistent with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA; 34 CFR 99.3 et seq.) and Wis. Stat. § 118.125(1)(d). The requested records contain “personally identifiable information.” Pursuant to FERPA, “personally identifiable information” is defined as “information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the record relates” or “information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.” (34 CFR 99 3). According to these definitions, the District determined that the redacted documents contain information regarding very small populations (e.g. one or two students) from a distinct group or affiliation and thus, a “reasonable person in the school community” could identify the students who were referenced in the record. Nonetheless, by providing you the record with only limited redactions, the District is in full compliance with Wis. Stat. 19.36(6).

Please note: The denials, in the form of the redacted material referenced above, are subject to review in an action for mandamus under Wis. Stat. 19.37(1), or by application to the local district attorney or Attorney General. See Wis. Stat. 19.35(4)(b).

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the District’s Public Information Officer, Timothy LeMonds, at (608) 663-1903.

PDF Attachment.

Much more on the 2019 Madison School District Superintendent Search, here.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”. 

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close. 

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers. 

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary



Scott Girard:

Tuesday afternoon, he spent 15 minutes taking questions from the press and another 15 minutes answering questions from seven students at Glendale Elementary School, where the press conference was held.

“There is some division in the community, so we’ve got to bridge that gap,” Gutiérrez said. “There is some division between the Doyle center and our campuses, we’ve got to bridge that gap. There is some division between departments in central administration, we’ve got to bridge that gap.

“My goal is to work to unify the community, the school district, so that we can all begin moving in the same direction and focusing on what matters; that is the 27,000 students within this organization.”

Logan Wroge:

On closing academic achievement gaps, Gutierrez said he wants to understand what the district has in place to support “rigorous, relevant, quality instruction.”

He added he wants to focus on early literacy and making sure students are reading at grade level.

“We’ve seen small gains but not what we have hoped to see with the investment of people and resources,” Gutierrez said about academic outcomes.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”. 

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close. 

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers. 

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School Board candidate forums begin this weekend, continue throughout March



Scott Girard:

Voters will have several opportunities this month to hear from candidates for Madison School Board beginning this weekend.

The East Side Progressives will hold a forum Sunday, March 8, at Lake Edge Lutheran Church, 4032 Monona Drive. It’s the first of four forums currently planned for the month before the Tuesday, April 7, election.

In the two contested races, Wayne Strong is challenging incumbent Nicki Vander Meulen for Seat 6 and newcomers Chris Gomez Schmidt and Maia Pearson are facing off to take over Seat 7 from Kate Toews, who is not running for re-election. Savion Castro is running unopposed for a one-year term in Seat 2, to which he was appointed last summer after Mary Burke resigned from the board.

[Pearson, Gomez Schmidt advance to general election for Madison School Board Seat 6]

Each of the elections is at large, so any eligible voter can vote for all of the seats on the ballot.

The March 8 forum, which begins at 3 p.m., will feature candidates talking about their vision for meeting the district’s challenges followed by a “speed dating” format offering the chance to meet each candidate in a small-group setting, according to the Facebook event. All five candidates plan to attend.

March 17, the Cap Times will host a forum with questions asked of the five candidates by education reporter Scott Girard and Simpson Street Free Press managing editor Taylor Kilgore. That forum will begin at 7 p.m. in the East High School auditorium, 2222 E. Washington Ave.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”. 

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close. 

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers. 

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




An interview with Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes



Henry Sanders:

This week, Henry welcomes Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes to talk about growing up on the North Side, hiring a new superintendent, the changing role of police in schools and more.

Meanwhile: Outsourcing Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School District Governance (while spending more, for less).

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




‘Unlearning whiteness’ in the Madison schools



David Blaska:

The school lesson plan is chaos

“[We] talk about race as if it was every race but whiteness. How can we support you, elevate your work around actually talking about white culture in our schools and how teachers can start doing this work of, like, unlearning whiteness.” 

  — Madison school board member Ananda Mirilli on the district’s Black Excellence Coalition, Madison Board of Education 1:58:52 into the meeting.

Once again, the Madison school board proved Monday (02-24-2020) that it cannot keep order at its own meetings. No wonder there is chaos in the classroom.

School board members had to huddle around president Gloria Reyes to be heard as the usual suspects stormed the stage of the Doyle administration building and chanted their slogans. “Don’t arrest us; arrest the police.” This being Madison’s public schools, the disrupters were not arrested. As for the police, it was a close vote.

At issue was a $35,000 appropriation to continue policing special events such as athletic contests and dances. It barely passed, 4 to 3 (Ali Muldrow, Ananda Mirilli, and Nicki Vander Meulen voting no). Roll the tape, Lester:

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2013 – 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience.




Is this the best Madison’s (taxpayer supported) public schools can do?



David Blaska:

Today’s blog excerpts Kaleem Caire’s social media thread in the wake of his letter, co-signed by other local black leaders, expressing disappointment that Matthew Gutierrez of Texas was chosen as new superintendent of Madison WI schools over their preferred candidate, Taylor Eric Thomas of Georgia. Caire expresses frustration over the virulent Progressive Dane/Madison Teachers Inc. faction of Madison progressivism that defeated him for school board last year.

Other signatories were Pastor Marcus Allen, Ray Allen, Ruben Anthony, Pastor Joseph Baring,  Carola Gaines, Pastor Alex Gee, Greg Jones, Kirbie Mack, Vanessa McDowell, John Odom, Teresa Sanders and Yolanda Shelton Morris.

Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick is the very woke, Derail the Jail enemy of police in schools, ally of Ali Muldrow, Brandi Grayson, Freedom Inc., et cetera.

Yet another example of how identity politics is roiling education here in Madison and nationwide. 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2013 – 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience.




Black community leaders share concerns about Madison School District’s superintendent hire, call process ‘flawed, incomplete’



Scott Girard:

A letter signed by 13 black community leaders in Madison expresses concerns about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s hiring of Matthew Gutiérrez to be its next superintendent.

The concerns include how much larger and more diverse MMSD is than Gutiérrez’s current Seguin Independent School District in Texas, student performance scores in Seguin and a “flawed, incomplete” process that “lacked substantive input from the Black Community.”

“We are dissatisfied with the process and how the input of the Black Community was minimized, if considered at all,” the letter reads. “Given the differences between Madison and Seguin, we expected a greater and broader background of experience, skills and abilities that would move the Madison District further in cultural competency, social justice, and academic outcomes for black students.

“Dr. Gutiérrez is woefully lacking in all of these categories.”

The signers are Pastors Alex Gee, Marcus Allen and Joseph Baring; Kaleem Caire, Ruben Anthony, Teresa Sanders, Vanessa McDowell, Carola Gaines, Yolanda Shelton Morris, John Odom, Kirbie Mack, Greg Jones and Ray Allen.

The letter was emailed to the School Board Thursday.

MMSD announced Gutiérrez as its hire Jan. 24. He was one of three finalists who visited the district last month to meet with community leaders and hold a public forum. The interviews included closed sessions with the School Board and with some minority community leaders.

During the press conference announcing his hire, School Board president Gloria Reyes said it was a “unanimous decision” of the board to hire Gutiérrez during a Jan. 17 closed session meeting pending contract negotiations.

“Whoever the choice, there will be those who with good intention say our selection wasn’t their first choice,” Reyes said at the press conference. “This is the kind of passion toward education that makes our community strong and we are thankful for that.”

Logan Wroge:

In her letter, Reyes said Gutierrez was selected as a result of “the most transparent and community-involved hiring process” ever undertaken by the district. As elected officials, it is the board’s responsibility to make the final decision, she said.

The black community leaders were critical of how the Seguin district scored on a Texas school performance report in 2018, with a higher proportion of Seguin schools rated below average compared with Texas schools at large.

Gutierrez became superintendent in Seguin, which is in the San Antonio metro area, in August 2017. It was his first job as a permanent superintendent in an 18-year educational career, all of which has been spent in Texas.

Moving forward, Reyes called for a unified approach of “keeping students at the center of everything we do.”

“As is with most larger districts, we are replete with distancing mechanisms and labels that serve to divide us,” Reyes said in her letter. “This is not a time of division, particularity when considering that (the school district) is making history in hiring the first superintendent of color as its leader.”

Kaleem Caire:

Just because we disagree with the Board of Education’s choice for Superintendent doesn’t mean we are being divisive. If the reference here is referring to perceived division along racial lines because Mr. Guettierez is Latino and we are Black, well, several Latino leaders who were a part of the same community interview that Madison’s African American Pastors arranged (and that I was present for as well) also felt that Dr. Guettierez was not the most qualified finalist candidate for the position. We also felt that the finalist candidate pool did not yield the caliber of candidate that our school district needs overall. Many of us felt Dr. Thomas was the most qualified candidate; however, some of us preferred that the Board of Education reopen the search process and try again. Furthermore, the only time many of us were involved in the hiring process was when local Black Ministers requested that we have the opportunity to meet the finalist candidates. This Board did not come to us. Given our collective experience and background in education in Madison (and some of us nationally), you would think the MMSD Board of Education would have thought to include us in this unprecedented community involved process. If you wonder why we are concerned, read the piece I wrote in last month’s Madison365: https://madison365.com/why-black-people-in-madison-are-impatientand-should-be/. This isn’t about Mr. Guettierez race. Instead, it is about our concern for the present and future of our children – and yours.

Onward.

“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”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2013 – 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience.




Nine Area School Buildings Earn Commendable Or Better Rating On 2019 ESSA Report Card (a missing topic around Madison)



Nathan Konz:

Last week, the Iowa Department of Education released the 2019 school ratings with nine of our area school buildings earning a “commendable” or better score. Each public school receives a score out of 100 based on standards laid out in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). South Central Calhoun High School was the only building in the region to earn a “high performing” classification, scoring 62.57. Audubon Middle and High School, Carroll Middle School, Coon-Rapids-Bayard Elementary, Ar-We-Va Junior and Senior High School, Greene County Middle School, Paton-Churdan Junior and Senior High School and the East Sac County Middle and High Schools all rated as commendable, scoring between 54.91 and 60.60. Only one school, Audubon Elementary, was identified as a priority under ESSA, meaning they will need to develop an improvement plan to address targeted issues. A full list of local school and their ratings can be found included with this story on our website.

ESSA is a topic rarely heard around the taxpayer supported Madison School District.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.




Notes and links on the Madison School District’s academic and safety climate



David Blaska:

Board of education president Gloria Reyes demands “the conversation around school discipline needs to be centered on race,” according to the WI State Journal.

Those who counter that school discipline needs to be centered on behavior will be asked to leave the conversation. Maybe the answer is pick out some white kids and toss them out of school. Got to make the numbers work.

So, come clean, Madison teachers. Admit your guilt. Quit suspending kids who shoot a fellow student at Jefferson middle school. Stop picking on the ring leaders of those cafeteria brawls. Allow that girl to wreak havoc at that Whitehorse middle school classroom. Maybe tomorrow she will behave. Got to make the numbers work. Don’t want to wind up like Mr. Rob, an out-of-work pariah. Keep your heads down.

More:

Do you enforce order in your classroom? SHAME! Or do you press the earbuds in tighter and ignore the chaos? GREAT!

You believe adult authority figures have something to teach our young people? REPENT! Or are you doing penance for your complicity in 1619? YOU ARE SAVED!

Demand personal responsibility and academic performance? What are you? A Republican? !!!

Inspire students to work harder to overcome hurdles? How do you light your tiki torches, fella — with kerosene or paraffin?

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.




New Madison Schools superintendent’s $250K+ contract up for vote Monday



Scott Girard:

The contract runs from June 1 to May 31 of the following year.

The agreement would allow Gutiérrez 25 vacation days each year, 10 holidays off and up to 13 personal illness days. It will provide up to $8,500 for moving expenses as Gutiérrez and his family move from Seguin, Texas, and cover “reasonable temporary living expenses” up to Nov. 1, 2020.

Gutiérrez was announced last Friday as the School Board’s choice among its three finalists for the open superintendent position, currently filled by interim Jane Belmore.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.




Madison schools’ happy talk Cheat(ham)s black kids



David Blaska:

A crusader has stuck his out out of the foxhole to take on the political correctness that is destroying Madison’s public schools. We introduced him to you Blaska Policy Werkers two weeks ago. He is Peter Anderson, an environmental activist. 

Peter has put up a website called “Durable Justice.” Bookmark it. (We’ll wait. Got it?) Anderson headlines his introductory essay, “Why MMSD has failed to help disadvantaged black students.”

It is essentially the message Blaska has been sounding these past two years and in last year’s campaign for school board. Unlike that unsuccessful candidate, Anderson is not weighed down with Blaska’s conservative activism. In other words, he is a good Madison liberal. (Remains to be seen for how long, but Anderson says his group is looking for a permanent leader). 

Anderson dares to take on the Madison establishment’s cowardice in confronting the school district’s obsession with “racial justice” at the expense of school discipline, personal responsibility, and educational achievement. We excerpt from that essay:

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.




Guilty white teacher defends Madison school chaos



David Blaska:

This trenchant observation drew a response from one Stan Endiliver, who (contrary to his intention) betrays why virtue-signaling progressives like himself are piping at-risk kids to disaster by playing the victim fife.

MMSD teacher here; relax

1. If you are a parent of a student in MMSD, you have nothing to fear.[Blaska: as long as you stay out of the line of fire.] There are many caring teachers and principals that are doing great things. Our district is not perfect, but we are doing our best to serve all kids …

3. If you are looking to Blaska as a saviour, just move. [Blaska: Which is why Sun Prairie is building a second high school] He has no idea what he is talking about. I am in a MMSD school every day, and have been for 15 years, and his vision of us is ludicrous. Leading kids out of school to squad cars is exactly why we are in the position we are in. We have a lot of kids dealing with real trauma and there are a lot of problems that are rooted in mental health issues. Give the district more resources to heal, and that would be a great place to start. 

5. It all comes to back to race. Have you done your homework on Madison? The zoning? The fact that our schools were only fully integrated in 1983? The days of blindly complying with your teacher are over, but many people would love to go back to the time when it was like that.

I hear teachers say things like “when I was in school, you would never…” well guess what, when we were in school we were being socialized into a white supremacist system. That system is coming down, and this worries a lot of people, whether they consider themselves woke or not. — Stan Endiliver

That system is coming down

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent



Scott Girard:

Gutiérrez said in the release he was “honored and humbled to be selected,” touting community engagement and support to teachers, students and families as “top priorities.”

“During my visit to Madison, I was extremely impressed with the high level of community involvement and how community members hold education as a top priority,” he said. “I realize that with this role comes a tremendous responsibility, and I will work hard to ensure that we keep our strategic framework goals and our students at the center of what we do.

Logan Wroge:

In an interview Friday, Gutierrez, 39, said he was grateful to even be considered for the job and is excited to move to Madison.

While visiting Wisconsin last week, Gutierrez said he “would be the strongest advocate for every single learner.” He said there’s still work to do in the district, but believes “all the right structures are in place.”

Throughout the summer, Gutierrez said he plans on conducting a “listening tour” to better understand the community and the district. He said he is already looking at dates before June 1 to come to Wisconsin and learn more about Madison.

As part of the listening tour, Gutierrez wants to hear from teachers about what programs and initiatives the district should focus on to prevent teachers from feeling overburdened.

“So many of the decisions that we make in central office directly impact teachers,” he said. “Sometimes we forget because we’ve been out of the classroom for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, that we continue to pile things onto teachers.”

Gutierrez said his base salary will be $250,000, slightly higher than Cheatham’s annual salary of $246,374. He has been superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District, which is outside of San Antonio, Texas, since 2017.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Matthew Gutiérrez links and additional comments.




Mission vs organization: leadership of the taxpayer supported ($500m+ annually) Madison School District



David Blaska:

Only 8.9% of Madison’s African American high school students are proficient in English, according to 2019 ACT scores. One of every five African American students never graduate. In math, 65% of black students test below basic proficiency, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Not to worry, the district now prohibits teachers from telling parents if their child wants to change genders.

Cheatham’s behavior education plan, Anderson wrote, “led students to conclude that there are no longer any consequences for bad behavior.”

The parents and teachers at Jefferson Middle School know that all too well. They are wondering how a 13-year-old boy who shot another student with a BB gun in December remained in school after two dozen previous incidents, including threatening to “kill everyone in the school.” The district is hunting down the whistleblower who leaked the student’s chronic misbehavior record.

School gag rules hide much of the chaos in the classroom, but no schoolhouse door can contain the disrespect for authority — as when 15 to 20 young teenagers busted up Lakeview Library last March, taunting: “We don’t have to listen to the police.” In December alone, 56 cars were stolen in Madison. Police arrested 15 kids (all but two younger than 17), along with three adults.

The district’s brain-dead, zero-tolerance for the N-word — no matter the educational context — resulted in the summary dismissal of a beloved black security guard and of a Hispanic teacher. The district still hasn’t done right by a dedicated positive behavior coach at Whitehorse Middle School, who school officials threw under the bus even before the district attorney cleared him of all wrong-doing. (The man is white.)

Parents are voting with their feet. MMSD enrollment is expected to decline — even though more people are moving here than any other city in the state. Meanwhile, Sun Prairie is building a second high school. Between the state open enrollment program and private schools, just over 13% of Madison’s children are opting out. Good luck convincing their parents to vote for Madison’s $350 million spending referendums next fall.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




Candidate Quotes from Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Pageant



Scott Girard:

Behavior Education Plan

Vanden Wyngaard: “Just like in previous districts I have been in, it appears we have a perception issue in the community.”

Gutiérrez: “What I’ve seen is a rather comprehensive plan. I think it may be a little overwhelming for folks. How can we simplify that to be user-friendly, easy to read, easy to follow?”

Thomas: “There’s a group of teachers who are not excited and at the same time there’s a group of kids who are not excited about it, so I’m not exactly sure how we got there. We have to create structures and strategies to build relationships.”

Charter schools

Vanden Wyngaard: “I expect us to partner with charters. I would partner with any other group so why wouldn’t I do that as well? Parents made a decision on where their child could best learn. Our job is to make sure the children of Madison can be successful.”

Gutiérrez: “There are circumstances when public schools partner with a charter system to serve students. Those are very unique circumstances. I believe that we’ve got to continue to find a way to meet the needs of our students in the public school system. It’s just part of our democratic society.”

Thomas: “I’m an advocate of traditional schools. And I’m an advocate of ensuring that every school is of high-quality.”

No budget or reading discussion?

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




Madison 2020 Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas appearance notes



Logan Wroge:

“We have a district that is successful for a group of kids. We have a different district that’s not being successful for a group of kids,” he said of the Madison School District. “That means our organization is uniquely and excellently designed to get the results that we’re presently getting. If we keep doing what we are doing … I can’t imagine why anybody thinks we’re going to get different results.”

Thomas, who goes by his middle name, Eric, said he would not just seek “buy-in” from teachers on programs or initiatives, but rather “co-create” with them changes to improve the district.

If chosen from the pool of three finalists for superintendent, it would be Thomas’ first position leading a school district.

In front of a few dozen people in the theater at La Follette High School, Thomas addressed questions submitted by those in the audience or watching a live-stream of the meeting.

More on Eric Thomas.

Certain events may be streamed (and archived), here.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




No safe space for reformers at Madison’s Jefferson middle school? “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”



David Blaska:

“Teachers are very very afraid.” — former teacher*

Parents are mobilizing for a showdown at Madison’s Jefferson middle school, which they describe as ruled by virtue-signaling administrators and out-of-control students.

The flash point was on December 3 when a 13-year-old boy shot a girl with a BB gun outside from a bus window. The student had remained in school despite a history of transgressions, include threatening to shoot up the school “and kill everyone” three months earlier.

* Former teacher Mauricio Escobedo told Blaska Policy Werkes that students at Jefferson, located on the same campus as James Madison Memorial high school on Madison’s far west side, must be bribed with candy and potato chips to follow instructions because there are no penalties for disobedience.

School district spokesman Tim LeMonds seemed to acknowledge problems at Jefferson. He told the Werkes: “We’ve been reviewing the culture and climate of that school for a few months now and we are working with the leadership at that school.” 

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

I raised my hand and said, ‘Well, I don’t agree. I don’t have skin in the game. I’m not white.’ The educational philosophy of the school district is focused on feelings of safety not on discipline.”

Mr. Escobedo told this blog: “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

Escobedo feels that school administration blamed him for leaking the disciplinary file of the December 3 shooter to Channel 3000, which he denies. “Instead of focusing on safety policies, school principal Tequila Kurth wrote memos that threatened the school employee/s who divulged this public information.” Kurth is in her second school year as principal at Jefferson.

LeMonds, public information officer for the school district, told Blaska Policy Works no one has been accused of leaking the information. “That was federally protected information, so the district has been actively investigating the release of that record. We haven’t even narrowed it down to a point where we can interview folks.”

Escobedo said: “I come from business and if you’re black or white, I don’t care what race, if you’re hired at McDonald’s and you burn the food, they’re going to fire you because you are not getting the job done. But here in this school, here in Madison WI and in the United States, schools are saying ‘alright students you are failing but we’re going to protect you from failure. We’re not going give you an F but draw you a happy face for effort.’”

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




2020 Madison Tax & Spending Increase Referendum Planning: School Board Rhetoric



Scott Girard:

During a board retreat Saturday to discuss strategies for both a capital and an operating referendum in April, board members generally agreed they wanted to vote in March — before board member Kate Toews’ term is over and a new board member takes her place.

Toews is not running for re-election to Seat 6 in April, and some board members said it could be a complex topic for a new board member to walk into. Board president Gloria Reyes also said she wants the outreach and communication process to begin as soon as possible.

“I do strongly believe that if we’re going to start a process and strategy we should all have voted,” Reyes said.

Public input on the projects, presented Monday night during an Operations Work Group meeting, shows overall support for both, though there are some concerns about how the operating funds would be used.

Board members and district staff have been working with a plan for a $315 million capital referendum to renovate the four high schools, build a new school in the Rimrock Road neighborhood and relocate the alternative Capital High School to the Hoyt building. The same ballot could ask voters for up to $36 million in operating funds over four years. That would allow the district to exceed state revenue caps by $8 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and $10 million in 2022-23 and 2023-24, though some board members asked to go lower than that at least for the first school year.

That complicates this summer’s budget process, as the board will have to approve two budgets — one for if the operating referendum passes and one in case it fails — but it also presents an opportunity for the board to show voters its priorities and the cost to the district if it fails, board members said.

Much more on the planned 2020 tax and spending increase Madison referendum.

A presenter [org chart] further mentioned that Madison spends about $1 per square foot in annual budget maintenance while Milwaukee is about $2.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas stresses success for ‘all students’ in Madison School District is key



Scott Girard:

“My background is very much anchored on supporting all students,” Thomas said. “That’s sort of why I wake up every morning. The notion that all students are able to achieve at a high level, I truly not only believe it, but I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. I know it’s possible.”

He will be the third and final candidate for the Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent position to visit for his Day in the District. Thomas will be here Thursday to meet community members, interview with the School Board and hold a public session from 6-7:30 p.m. at La Follette High School, 702 Pflaum Road.

Various news reports have listed him as a finalist for multiple superintendent positions in recent years, as well as being among 51 applicants for the superintendent position in Hillsborough County Schools in Tampa, Florida. An Atlanta Journal Constitution article says there has been “long running tension between (Thomas’) office and that of state school Superintendent Richard Woods, who has always wanted control” over the turnaround program Thomas leads.

Thomas began his career as a high school social studies teacher in Cincinnati in 1994, and after four years moved into a district coordinator position for a program supporting “overaged” eighth graders (those older than their peers) until 2002. He then moved to the nearby Middletown City School District to be an administrator at an alternative high school.

More on Eric Thomas.

Certain events may be streamed (and archived), here.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard



Logan Wroge:

She also highlighted the importance of having teachers know the cognitive process of how children learn to read to improve literacy outcomes.

When asked about school-based police officers, a divisive topic in the Madison School District, Vanden Wyngaard said she doesn’t have a problem with police being in schools but thinks they should only be involved if a felony-level crime is suspected.

She also spoke to giving teachers the ability to “fail forward” when they make mistakes, allowing them to learn and adjust.

To increase the number of teachers of color, Vanden Wyngaard said the district can try to recruit directly from historically black colleges, expand a district program that encourages minority students to become teachers and change the culture of the district to be more welcoming for teachers of color.

People can provide online feedback for each candidate until 8 a.m. Friday. For Vanden Wyngaard, the website is: mmsd.org/wyngaard.

More on Vanden Wyngaard

Certain events may be streamed (and archived), here.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Gutiérrez hopes to be ‘uniter’ for Madison School District



Scott Girard:

Are we able to be laser focused on a number of a initiatives?” Gutiérrez said. “When you really do the research, the most highly successful systems have just three or four initiatives that they’re focused on, and you can do them really well.”

He also brings recent experience with one of the likely immediate roles he would take on, having seen Seguin voters approve a bond referendum last spring. He said he learned the importance of “proactive” communication throughout a referendum process, especially given the “conservative community” that had “a large amount of distrust in the school district” a few years before the successful referendum.

“To be able to have a referendum pass with those challenges I believe is pretty huge and something I’m very proud of,” he said. “When you can really take a proactive approach to community, a transparent approach to communication, really put yourself out there to meet with people, meet with different groups, you can certainly accomplish that goal.”

More on Matthew Gutiérrez

Certain events may be streamed (and archived), here.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Vanden Wyngaard wants to focus on social justice, equity in MMSD if selected



Scott Girard:

She noted successes while she was in Albany, mentioning the graduation rate, increased attendance rate and lower disproportionality in its special education programming among them, and said maintaining the programs that helped lead to those was part of the resignation decision.

“I work from a philosophy of students first, and I always will ask the question, regardless of what the subject is, what impact will this have on student success?” she said. “When those philosophical differences started to emerge, I knew that in order for all of those programs to stay in place, in order for all of that work to be continued and in order for me to make sure my students were still successful, I had to not continue.”

‘I truly love the work’

She said her three years and four months in the Albany job showed her how much she enjoyed a position with “the ability to try and influence people, to try to help people, to gather the resources to build the networks.”

“I truly love the work,” she said. “Social justice is my passion and my calling and how I live my life. That role provided me the opportunity to do that work. For me, it showed me who I was and it showed me what impact I could have on the community at large.”

She said, while acknowledging she hopes to hear more during her visit here, that her initial impression is Madison needs to tackle trust and transparency, communication, parental involvement opportunities and “obviously equity.”

“Equity for me means that the students and the staff have what they need in order for them to be successful,” she said.

More on Vanden Wyngaard

Certain events may be streamed (and archived), here.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




Madison School District superintendent finalists visit this week



Scott Girard:

The three finalists to be the next leader of the Madison Metropolitan School District will visit the city this week.

Their “Day in the District” will begin at 8 a.m. with meetings with community and staff groups until 11, followed by lunch with students until noon. The afternoon will include school visits, meetings with the School Board and community leaders and end with a public forum from 6-7:30 p.m.

Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard will visit Tuesday, Jan. 14, Matthew Gutiérrez will visit Wednesday, Jan. 15, and Eric Thomas will visit Thursday, Jan. 16. Both Vanden Wyngaard and Gutiérrez’s forums will be at East High School, while Thomas’ will be at La Follette High School.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.




Taxpayer supported Dane County Board joins the Madison School Board in ignoring open meeting laws



Chris Rickert:

Groups of Dane County Board members have since 2014 been meeting privately and without any public notice to discuss government business — a practice that echoes private caucus meetings the liberal-dominated board has conducted in years past.

Meetings between the board’s leadership and leaders of some of its key committees, first reported by a local blogger, raise questions about whether the board is violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the state open meetings law, as well as why county leaders feel the meetings need to be secret at a time when the board has been making a concerted effort to interest the public in its work.

Notes and links on taxpayer supported school Board open meeting issues, including Madison.

Madison taxpayers spend far more than most K-12 school districts. Yet, we have long tolerated disastrousreading results.

Madison K-12 administrators are planning a substantial tax & spending increase referendum for 2020.

Commentary

Madison School District projects loss of 1,100 students over next five years, yet 2020 referendum planning continues.

Madison School Board approves purchase of $4 million building for special ed programs

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




Madison School Board races starting to emerge as filing deadline approaches



Scott Girard:

For the past seven months, Strong has been a program associate with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Strong said in an interview Thursday he considers school safety and racial disparities in discipline and achievement to be the top issues facing MMSD.

“We have to make sure that our schools are safe and that they’re safe learning environments for our kids to learn and for our teachers to teach in,” Strong said. He stressed the importance of “tackling the achievement gap and just making sure that all of our students are given the best possible opportunity to get the quality education they deserve.”

He said he dislikes having to choose a seat to run for in Madison’s at-large system, but determined Seat 7 was the “most comfortable” for him at this time. As someone who had children go through Madison schools and will have grandchildren in them in the future, Strong said he thinks he can provide leadership on the board and that he has a “passion for education.”

Vander Meulen said Thursday she was “glad to have a challenger” so that voters can make a choice based on what they value. She said the board’s three jobs are to make a budget, listen to constituents and write policies — and that they need to do more on the last of those.

Logan Wroge:

“We really at a basic level need to figure how to make sure students are gaining the literacy skills that they need to be successful students,” she said.

Pearson wants to make sure students are able to gain academic and social-emotional skills, support teachers in anti-racist work, and increase school and community collaboration. She said school safety is the biggest challenge the district is facing.

Madison taxpayers spend far more than most K-12 school districts. Yet, we have long tolerated disastrousreading results.

Madison K-12 administrators are planning a substantial tax & spending increase referendum for 2020.

Commentary

Madison School District projects loss of 1,100 students over next five years, yet 2020 referendum planning continues.

Madison School Board approves purchase of $4 million building for special ed programs

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




Maia Pearson becomes first newcomer to announce 2020 Madison School Board campaign



Scott Girard:

The Madison School Board seat left open by incumbent Kate Toews choosing not to run for re-election has a candidate.

Maia Pearson, a Madison native who has three children in Madison schools, will run for Seat 6. She filed her declaration of candidacy and campaign registration statement with the city clerk Monday and announced her campaign with state Rep. Shelia Stubbs, who is also a Dane County Board supervisor.

Pearson said at her announcement that she “really, truly cares about our children,” according to a video shared on Facebook by School Board member Ananda Mirilli.

“Me running is not just a personal endeavor, but moreso because I really want to make sure the children of Madison have everything necessary to succeed,” Pearson said. “I am a firm believer that every child is special, every child can succeed, all they need is everyone to come with them to make sure that they grow.”

Pearson was one of 29 applicants for Seat 2 earlier this year when Mary Burke resigned.

The board appointed Savion Castro to that seat. He is running for re-election to the seat and is currently unopposed. Incumbent Nicki Vander Meulen is also running for re-election to Seat 7, and is also unopposed.

In her application to the board in July, Pearson wrote that the district “faces critical issues in safeguarding our children, especially children of color, the invalidation of parents of color, and the ineffective training of the adults working directly and indirectly with students”

“There must be improved teacher training to ensure that teachers meet the needs of a multicultural student body and work effectively with parents of diverse cultures and races,” she wrote. “These and other proactive approaches are crucial to ensuring that students of color and different backgrounds feel safe and secure at Madison schools and that parents of color are validated and their concerns for their children’s safety heard, respected, and acted upon. It goes without question, after all, that feeling safe at school is a prerequisite to performing well and that we want all of our students to achieve to the full extent of their abilities.”

Stubbs offered her endorsement during Monday’s announcement.

“Maia is a young lady who is going to be a change leader,” Stubbs said.

Madison taxpayers spend far more than most K-12 school districts. Yet, we have long tolerated disastrousreading results.

Madison K-12 administrators are planning a substantial tax & spending increase referendum for 2020.

Commentary

Madison School District projects loss of 1,100 students over next five years, yet 2020 referendum planning continues.

Madison School Board approves purchase of $4 million building for special ed programs

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




Commentary on the Madison School Board’s Superintendent Search Finalists



Scott Girard:

The finalists are:

Matthew Gutierrez, the superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District in Seguin, Texas. He is a former interim and deputy superintendent in the Little Elm Independent School District and received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Texas Tech, according to the district’s announcement.

Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, an assistant professor of educational leadership at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York. She previously was the superintendent in the City School District of Albany and earned a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University.

George Eric Thomas, deputy superintendent and chief turnaround officer for the Georgia State Board of Education. He previously was an administrator with the University of Virginia and in Cincinnati Public Schools, earning his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Concordia University.

“During this process, the Board was very fortunate to have an incredibly diverse and impressive pool of candidates participate, making this a very difficult decision,” School Board president Gloria Reyes said in a news release. “With a focus on how candidates aligned with the Leadership Profile, the Board was able to select three phenomenal finalists, all with deep roots in education and instruction, and today we are excited to introduce them to our community.”

The candidates will each visit Madison next month for a tour of the district and finish their day here with a public meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. The board is expected to make a hire in February, with the new leader starting on or before July 1.

A survey designed by consultant BWP and Associates this fall helped develop a “leadership profile” desired in the next superintendent based on community responses.

Top qualities reflected in the survey included someone who has experience with diverse populations, understands MMSD’s commitment to high levels of academic achievement for all students and is a visionary team builder. Respondents also indicated personal qualities like confidence, dedication, sincerity, honesty, organization and a background as an educator were important.

The district had hoped to announce the finalists on Monday of this week, but delayed the announcement at the last minute. MMSD spokesman Tim LeMonds wrote in an email Monday it was to give more time for reviewing candidates, though he clarified there would not be a board meeting.

“Due to MMSD being fortunate enough to have an extremely strong pool of highly qualified candidates, the MMSD board faces a very difficult decision on what candidates to move forward to the next stage in the process,” LeMonds wrote. “As a result, the board decided it was in their best interest to add additional time for candidate review, and has set a new decision deadline for this Thursday, after the holiday break.”

Logan Wroge:

To help in the search process, the School Board hired an Illinois-based consultant. BWP and Associates conducted a community engagement and feedback process this fall, advertised the position, screened candidates and recommended semifinalists for the job.

The semifinalists were interviewed by the School Board last week during closed session meetings.

In the fall, BWP held 35 meetings with different groups and organizations, politicians, and community leaders to solicit feedback on the search. An online survey also received more than 1,400 responses.

Among the attributes sought in the next superintendent were being an excellent communicator, having a strong commitment to racial equity, and having experience as a classroom teacher, according to a report from BWP based on the feedback.

In all, 31 people applied for the superintendent position. During the last hiring process, 65 candidates were screened before the board chose Cheatham in 2013.

Notes and links on previous Madison Superintendent search experiences.

The taxpayer supported Madison School Board’s practices appear to conflict with Wisconsin open meeting notice requirements.

Madison taxpayers spend far more than most K-12 school districts. Yet, we have long tolerated disastrousreading results.

Madison K-12 administrators are planning a substantial tax & spending increase referendum for 2020.

Commentary

Madison School District projects loss of 1,100 students over next five years, yet 2020 referendum planning continues.

Madison School Board approves purchase of $4 million building for special ed programs

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




Jennifer Cheatham’s Harvard Lecturer Position



Harvard Graduate School of Education:

Jennifer Cheatham, Ed.M.’06, Ed.D.’10, will be joining the HGSE faculty as a senior lecturer on education and director of the Public Education Leadership Program (PELP). She was previously superintendent of the Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School District, a post she had held since 2013. Prior to that role, she had worked in various capacities in public education, including as classroom teacher, instructional coach, and director of curriculum and instruction. She has a strong commitment to research-based practice and strategy across multiple domains, including data-driven instruction, creating strong school partnerships, serving high-risk populations, and policy implementation. She will begin at HGSE on October 1, 2019.

Public Education Leadership Project:

To improve the management and leadership competencies of public school leaders in order to drive greater educational outcomes. To truly serve all students and meet the demands of the new accountability environment, leaders at all levels of a school district must work to ensure that all students have rich learning opportunities and achieve at high levels throughout a system of schools.

Related:

2005: “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”.

2013: What will be different, this time? Jennifer Cheatham’s Madison Rotary Club talk.

2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience: contrasting local cheerleading and academic results.

2019: Why Can’t Madison’s students read?




Open Records vs the taxpayer funded Madison school board



Chris Rickert:

Nicki Vander Meulen, who was elected to the board in 2017 and serves as the board’s clerk, said that in response to the union’s push, district administrators in a private “board briefing” Monday with her and another board member said acceding to the union’s demand would set a “bad precedent.”

“That’s virtually telling you how to vote,” she said.

Vander Meulen is not the first board member to question the legality of board briefings, which were instituted in 2013 by just-departed former superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and are held separately between one or two board members and administrators to go over items on upcoming agendas.

Former board member TJ Mertz stopped attending the meetings out of fear they could amount to the creation of “walking quorums,” which occur when members of a public body coordinate privately to take a certain action, thus rendering “the publicly held meeting a mere formality,” according to the state Department of Justice.

Madison has for decades spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts. Yet, we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.




Commentary on Rhetoric: Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham



David Blaska:

The news media loves to imagine itself as the afflicter of the comfortable, David with his slingshot v. Goliath. “J’accuse!” in 96-point bodoni bold type. Edward R. Murrow starring down Tailgunner Joe. Bogart starting the presses in Deadline USA. Woodward and Bernstein.

In Madison, too many news media “gatekeepers” just want to be invited to the cocktail party. The editor of The Capital Times was invited to the cocktail party. Paul Fanlund expresses his gratitude this way:

The setting was the ornate Roosevelt room at the Madison Club, where assorted community leaders were gathered for a reception to thank and send off Jennifer Cheatham six years after she arrived from Chicago to lead Madison’s public schools as its superintendent.

Neil Heinen of Madison Magazine and WISC TV-3 is also a member of the In Crowd. He penned “An appreciation for Jen Cheatham” much in the manner of Ode to a Grecian Urn.

Her Strategic Framework — that’s right “her” Strategic Framework — for the success of every child, was the most comprehensive. It was the most research-grounded blueprint for district-wide excellence I’ve encountered in more than 40 years of writing about Madison schools.

Neil is not alone in his hero worship. He name-drops an A-list of Madison movers and shakers with whom he rubs elbows in the same Group-thinking bubble:

Cheatham enjoyed the support and affection of a remarkable group of civic leaders. Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller, Urban League of Greater Madison President and CEO Ruben Anthony, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon, United Way of Dane County President and CEO Renee Moe, Madison College President Jack E. Daniels, 100 Black Men of Madison President Floyd Rose and Bishop Harold Rayford.

Oh, sure, “Cheatham is criticized for top-down management,” Neil huffs. But …

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




Mckenna Kohlenberg: Why transparency is needed in Madison’s superintendent hiring process, and how to do it



Mckenna Kohlenberg:

My concern stems from recent Board actions that I find concerning enough to warrant this stern message. As local press has noted (here too), the Board’s recent activities suggest a troublesome pattern of skirting, if not outright violating, open meetings and public records laws.

Wisconsin law requires school boards, like other local public bodies, to: a) hold their meetings publicly, hold them in reasonably accessible places, and open them to all citizens; b) have a quorum of members (usually a majority or more) before taking official actions; and c) precede each meeting with public notice, which includes to news outlets that have filed a written request for such notice.

There are narrow exemptions to the state’s open meetings laws. For example, if a school board is to vote on a motion related to considering an employee’s employment, they may be exempt and may move to convene in a closed session instead. Motions to convene in closed session can be adopted only if the body’s authority announces to those in attendance the nature of the business to be considered at such closed session (i.e. the reason the meeting should be exempt from the open meetings law); further, this information, in addition to the vote of each member of the body, must be recorded in the meeting’s records.

Two recent official actions by the Board leave me particularly wary. First, the hiring of an interim superintendent. Following Dr. Cheatham’s resignation announcement to the Board during a closed session meeting on May 6, the Board held five additional closed session meetings at which the hiring of her replacement was on the agenda.

Only after The Cap Times reported that the Board was seriously considering Nancy Hanks for the interim position did the Board hold two open “workshop” sessions, though no votes were officially taken during these sessions. And when local reporters submitted multiple open records requests related to the Board’s hiring process, including for its list of top choices and its list of all possible choices, MMSD legal counsel stated that no such records existed.

Further, in response to the reporters’ additional open records request for meeting minutes from five of the Board’s closed sessions spanning May 30 to June 17, the Board’s secretary stated that the minutes hadn’t been transcribed yet.

Second, and similarly unsettling, was the Board’s official action on July 22 — a vote — to fill the seat left vacant by Mary Burke with Savion Castro. The vote occurred during an open session workshop during which no public comment was permitted. The open session workshop immediately followed a closed session meeting (the posted agenda for the closed meeting stated its purpose was to address a teacher discipline matter).

I’ve heard local education experts, attorneys, and parents call the open workshop “choreographed” and “a performance.”

Did the Board really narrow the pool of applicants from 29 to 1 — unanimously — in a matter of 75 minutes? Or was the decision made ahead of time, during closed session meetings for which no records exist — or at least for which no records are publicly accessible, in violation of the closed session requirement that votes be kept as part of meeting records? Alternatively, and perhaps even more troublesome, was the decision the result of conversations tantamount to walking quorums?

So why hold open sessions at all? What purpose can they possibly serve you in making decisions, Board, if they’re not actually a forum for decision-making?

Related: Transparency, and Accountability, an Example: The MMSD Interim Superintendent Search Process by TJ Mertz.

Notes and links on the taxpayer supported Madison School Board’s Superintendent search expedition, and “what will be different, this time (2013)?”

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts – between $18.5k and 20k per student, depending on the district documents reviewed.




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 the fabulous thing it is. Dr. Jennifer Cheatham.

Hello, Jen. Hey Carousel. Hey everybody. It’s good to be here. Wonderful to have you and I do want to just take it off. You know, you’re leaving at the end of the summer moving on to other Adventures but to say first of all, thank you to your accessibility. We’ve had a lot of conversations. We have you and many of your leaders. They aren’t always easy going conversation there. I believe yeah. But they’re important conversations and your availability to answer questions and be on the show and come and have these conversations is really important to Madison. So thank you. Well, thank you for asking.

It’s been wonderful every time and I’m sure it’ll be wonderful again another great show. That’s right. We’re gonna make it happen. I don’t know I’ll burn down all the bridges really until nothing to lose. All right. Well, let’s sort of start with a I have very few statistics that I brought. Just a few. Okay. It’s a few there’s approximately 27,000 students career and MSD more than 50% or students of color including 18 percent that have self-identified as African-American 21 percent that have identified as lad necks. 32 elementary schools 12 middle schools six high schools. There you go. Those are the stat.

It’s big for Dane County, but it’s not it’s not huge and compared to other big cities. Does that make it more manageable? I can work with those six years ago when you showed up and not that I want to be the superintendent of Madison. Yeah, it felt like a world that you could play a role in no doubt. No doubt. I think you know this Carousel, but I worked in San Diego before coming to Madison where there are 200 schools. Then Chicago we’re at that time there were about 600 schools. And so coming to Madison. It did seem doable to the challenges seemed hard even from the outside, but they seem doable but I always imagined. Wow, I could have all 50 principles in a room together. Right right, and we can just talk real talk and that’s been true. I mean, it’s been wonderful. That way yeah big challenges but doable because of the size and the community that we had 11, so.

First of all, congratulations on your new position you’re moving off to Harvard University that I mean, I think that bodes well for us for that leader is from Madison move on to Harvard University big. So thanks for representing Madison and at Harvard. That’s that’s excellent. No doubt.

I think sometimes when we’re. In our own communities, we lose perspective on them and as much as we have challenges, we have tremendous strength and school districts outside. Of Madison nationally have looked to us right have come to us for guidance and advice for Lessons Learned some of them learn the hard way, right but important lessons that we’ve gleaned.

So I want people to know that not only have we made progress here within our community, but we’ve been already Madison’s been influencing the field of Education Beyond Madison. Is that right when we’re in it? Are we see are the challenges right? Because like okay, here’s another problem. Let’s work on that. Here’s another and you know, that’s the daily job of solving problems, but understand that it is it because we’re at least a community that is willing. To address the challenges instead of trying to ignore them. I think so. I think that’s a part of it. I had a in still have a long time Mentor named Karl Cohen. He was the superintendent in Long Beach many years ago, and I remember my early days working with Carl he called. This work. He describes it as a hard slog right the hard slog of school Improvement, right? It’s not you don’t get to spike the football much right? There’s always another challenge to address right and it’s ultimately about children, right? So it’s like schools and school districts are at the center have Humanity right in all the challenges that come with. With being alive right exist in a school in a classroom in a school district.

So yeah, it’s challenging work. But I to your point, I think that Madison has as a community right of Educators, but of people have been able I think to talk about hard issues together. I’d love to talk to you about that more actually. Okay, I think it’s a it’s a it’s a major asset that we don’t talk about enough our ability to be in dialogue with one another even if we disagree even if we don’t go the route that you know change makers want to go the fact that we’re willing to have those conversations that I do every show on the table. I do I think that that’s a really valid. Let’s talk about.

So you’ve been here for six plus years was talking about the changes that you’ve seen in that six plus years. I think there have been a lot of changes. Okay, and I I mean, of course everyone’s going to think that. But they’re for the better, but I would say it was for the better. I think most of they have been for the better when I started six plus years ago the general sentiment. It was a difficult time in Madison. By the way, the contacts Act 10 had just happened. So the education Community was feeling incredibly demoralizing of astride devastated. I mean, you don’t get over if those feelings actually, I think they’re hard to get over. Yes. What else was happening at that time the right as I was starting the race to equity report was released. So everyone was kind of grappling what the reality is of the disparities between black and white people in our community putting numbers to the communities of color new these challenges all along and no longer could the white communities of Madison deny them when the numbers were boldly in their face, right?

So think about that though. So here we have teachers staff. Educators feeling demoralized because of actin and simultaneously being faced with the reality of these disparities, right? That’s really challenging. What else was happening at that time? Oh and the Urban League proposal for the charter school, right had just been denied why that was a tough. That was a tough moment in Madison, right? It was a tough moment was a very. Conversation tell me about it. It was intense. And so that was the context that I came into welcome. Yeah, right and I’m a parent Lee a very optimistic person. So I thought yeah we can do this. This is hard but. There’s an inflection point here, right? We can come together and find a better way of doing this and I felt like the all the ingredients existed in Madison to do so, so it’s interesting.

I given all that context what came up in those first.

Few months when I was on the job was a desire for just Direction and coherence right? There. Was this feeling that the district at that point in time, which is a point of I think some chaos, right? There’s another chaotic period of. Not knowing what direction to go in knowing that we were facing challenges but not knowing how to move forward everyone just needed and wanted desperately some direction, right and some coherence around the strategies that were being put into play. So I took that and ran with it and I think over these last five or six years we’ve accomplished that meaning we have real Direction. I still get regularly criticized for doing too much. Lunch, right that’s different from not having Direction. It’s hard to do when there’s so many things to do to have I’m sure I desire to fix not everything at once and yet you have to move all the balls forward a little bit at a time. I think that’s true. So my challenge has always been well. Okay, we are going to have to do a lot because there’s urgency right and there are children who need us to make progress now. So I can’t narrow the focus too much. But at least I can make sure that what we’re doing is coherent right that it all holds together and is leading us in a Direction that’s addressing the real problems that we face not the fake problems.

But the real ones and again, I think we’ve accomplished that I really wanted for us to adopt some more discipline ways of working. I wanted us out of the gate to invest in school leadership. Team School Improvement planning data use I just wanted us to be a more discipline organization sense of structure. God have structured of systems and structures and shared leadership structures. That would help the people who work most closely with children. To be empowered to make the best possible decisions. I remember I remember that. Yeah, I remember when you moved here. Yeah. I have a 7th grader so high had just gotten to know. Ms. And Madison Public Schools, right? I was an observer on some level before before you became our superintendent and I and I remember having a conversation with Marj Passman is a mentor and good friend of mine who was a mentor member of the Madison School Board.

Yeah, but I’m talking about how my daughter’s first grade class wasn’t learning the same thing. Add another first grade class across town in still in Madison because that wasn’t the structure that we had and that on some level. There was a lot of teacher freedom, but on another level kids you you couldn’t switch schools and expect to be able to have the same curriculum and you would either be Advanced or behind depending on where you go. Just because you move departments across the city.

Well, that’s an excellent point. It’s not like that anymore. No, and so in addition to creating more discipline in the ways we make decisions and how we measure success and learn from. Our failures and make improvement over time. We insisted on more instructional coherence. So let’s get clear on what we think great teaching looks like in the classroom. Let’s get clear on.

The standards right that we have to teach especially in literacy and Mathematics that has been the major Focus for these past five six years and and we insisted on on teachers not working in isolation, but working in teams, right? So there was a big investment and not just. As a learning community understand how we teach. But knowing a little bit more about what we all need to teach and how we how we need to work together as teams to continually reflect on the effectiveness of our practice. So teachers coming together on a regular basis to talk about what we taught last week. What do we learn from it? Which kids are getting it who isn’t what does that mean for what we’re going to do next week, right? And that sounds simple but it is just essential. I mean that is the core of what. All districts do and I could see if I feel like every time you start a new initiative or change things up. Not you specifically but everyone in general. Yeah, you almost have to go all in okay. This is what we’re doing. And then once you master it, you can pull back out so I could see a lot of challenges and difficulties of teachers that were fabulous teachers. Oh, yeah that. More of course. They taught our kids, of course, they were fabulous qualified teachers, but they weren’t as interested in making sure that their first grader was doing the same as another first grader was doing they had love and nurturing and. They wanted to inspire this these students to love education and not that they have to be I can’t think of the right word come combative with each other but there were definitely teachers that thrived because of the free form that we allowed and here you are now adding adding a structure to it.

Where do you think we are in the process? Do you think there’s a point where we can say? Okay, you’ve mastered the structured and now we can pull back out.

Yeah. Oh my God, that’s such a good question. I think that both the discipline ways of working that I described first. And this work that we’ve done around instructional coherence was. For a while and for some felt really constraining write your point and it would for great principals who felt like they had a leadership structure that was working or you know, like they were principals who were feeling those constraints to and certainly teachers and I’ve talked with enough teachers to know for a fact that that is absolutely true, but I think. Foot I buy what I’ve always believed was that it was a step in the process, right? Which is I think is your point but that’s not the end goal. The end goal is something more important the end goal for those discipline ways of working at the school and District level, especially at the school level related to sit planning. We’re so that at this stage we could even further Empower schools right to make their own decisions because now sit planning, I don’t know.

I’m so. Sorry something and I will Improvement planning which is kind of disciplined way of working. We’ve adopted at the school level for decision making okay and school-level focus areas. We want now that those disciplined ways of working are pretty embedded. Like they’re part of our culture and our way of working. We can actually further Empower schools to do what they think is right for their school Community right and in collaboration with. Our students their staff their their families. We the new strategic framework kind of lays out a strategy for further empowerment of schools. Same thing for the classroom experience. Now that we have more coherence right instructionally as a system. I do think that now we’re at the stage where what we can and should be thinking about is how to ensure that those the teachers have the freedom they need. To ensure that those are not just nurturing environments that build community which is essential but that there’s deep and Rich learning happening in the classroom. Right? It’s not standards alignment isn’t enough. It’s got to be instruction that’s meaningful to the children who are in the classroom, right? It’s got to be content where students can see. Themselves represented in the curriculum I so that they can understand the world around them and interrogate it. Like I just think that we’re at poised to bring instruction to another level and Madison without losing the coherence that we’ve created right we can Empower schools to make decisions for their communities without losing those discipline ways of working that we think are essential this essay about Madison when you inherited it that it really. Didn’t have this structure.

It really was a city that you know again, I’ve only been here for I’ve been here for how long have I been here at around 20 years now. I don’t know some so I certainly don’t know the history of this of the city, but I know the gentleman before you were white men that perhaps didn’t mind that. School a was completely different than school be they didn’t think about the academics because that wasn’t they weren’t I don’t I don’t want to slam these gentlemen at all, but for some reason that wasn’t Madison’s priority, I was sort of surprising. There’s a whole lot to unpack there as their Carousel. But so I don’t know. I know all I know is what I’ve experienced and. Not just me, but the people who have led in Madison the teacher leaders who are on their school based leadership teams, the principles the senior team of Madison. We are hardcore Educators right who have put the educational experience at the center right that the theory that we have adopted for change has been. Guest on improving the experience that students have. With their teachers around content that’s worth learning, right that is that is the hard slog of school Improvement, right?

Yeah, we’re talking with dr. Jennifer Cheatham superintendent of Madison Public Schools. We’d love your questions or comments, please join the conversation the phone call. The phone number is area code 6082562001. You can also send us a tweet at wort talk or a message on our Facebook page. Our page is a public Affair 89.9 FM Madison.

So Jen. Let’s talk about race. Okay, and it seems the intersect with everything that we do big picture is I sir our president is racist. I think our I think our country is racist. It is Madison racist. Yeah. Yeah, I think every individual. I think I’m reason I live in Wisconsin. I live in Wisconsin. I live in the United States.

I’m racist I am to I’m married to a black man and I’m a bi-racial son and I’m racist it is I’ve gotten myself into so much trouble for saying those words Carousel. Really? Yeah, I think you know, it’s funny. I’ve I love saying those words, but that’s a conversation. We were talking about at the beginning. Can we at least. Are there less admit it right? I think I out of all of the challenges that I’ve experienced in Madison being able to lead. For racial Equity to try to be an increasingly anti-racist leader, which means doing my own work, right? It means doing my own inside-out work simultaneously alongside everyone else who’s an educator Madison has that has been the most challenging aspect of this work and the most fulfilling in some ways right the most important the most powerful and the most. Anjing. Yeah. That’s sort of break break it down in so many pieces. Does this fit in with the conversation about the behavior education plan. It does because of The Bravery you say suspend and expel students of color at a tremendously High rate. I didn’t I didn’t pull up the numbers from six years ago. I’m happy I didn’t because I don’t we don’t need the numbers in front of us for you and I. To admit the things that we’ve already admitted and then Along Came the behavior education plan. That was really a challenging new way to look at things. Yeah. Yeah, I think let me let me I want to zoom out before we Zoom back into this because I do think it’s a great example of this work in action. I think in my first five years. We certainly were leading for racial equity and the main approach we were taking was to let me think a couple things. We were we were certainly talking a lot about. What it means for all of us to be culturally responsive Educators, right? How do we build relationships with students of color especially in a district where most of us most educators are white and white females like me and at the central office of the district level. We were very interested in both investing resources and tackling the. Institutional barriers that stood in the way of success for students of color and their families, right? So we’ve been all along, you know working on addressing those systems and structures, you know, we rewrote our strategic framework.

A couple years ago now launched it a year ago and the fall and tried. We thought we were ready and I think we were to take it a whole to a whole nother level and be even more explicit in that commitment. Right? We use the word anti-racism right that we are as Educators obligated to be actively anti-racist. You intentionally had a piece that talked about black Excellence. Yeah. We are focusing on our black. It’s to rise them up. And even though I think there has been criticism from the community of black Excellence. Let’s see it. But that’s the whole point. You’re at least you’re putting it out there. If you never put it out there. I can’t hold herself becoming an old accountable. That’s hey and he can’t measure. Your failure is it’s so the community that wants to tell us were failing. At least we’re saying you’re eight.

We said black excellence and we’re not meeting it at all.

No doubt and both of these simple things are different but half have to happen simultaneously, right? You have to lead for black Excellence, which is I mean, what what what is implied? I hope in those words is that. That black students are already excellent, right and that it is our job to yeah to cultivate that excellence and that we have an obligation simultaneously while we’re cultivating black Excellence to recognize and dismantle. Racism in all of its forms and we’re Educators who were held to a higher standard. This is a really big deal. I think for me the that work that we launched last year. What I wish I would have done better was to kind of preview for everybody what it might feel like. Right that we would feel excited and motivated by the commitment. And then when we started actually doing more of the work and holding ourselves accountable for it every time not just sometimes. That it would create a feeling of like not knowing of disequilibrium. I’m not sure being sure about your next step what I think it’s produced a lot in Madison right now is this feeling of. Of who’s the guy on the good side and who’s on the bad side? Right like yeah, which is really lines are very drawn the very drawn it’s fine because it is a step in the process. We just can’t stay there. Right? Like what we need to do as a community is a okay. Hi, this is this is natural feeling right when you’re faced with our own right racism the racism of the institution that we work for right? Like I have this ambivalent relationship with any school district.

I love it because I’m rooting for it and I hate it because it was. Kind of born out of out of racist ideal too many it right and that’s the rest the whole concept of institutional process what it is, you’re fulfilling your actual intentional institutional design, right which leads to racism. So it is natural to go through this feeling of disequilibrium to worry that you’re not on the good side, right and. And if we stay there things we may actually we will suffer as a result. We have to pull together and how that dialogue that we were talking about earlier in the show. Like we have to not let people leave the table but bring them back in and loving and compassionate ways. I actually think that Madison and the school district. Which is a kind of at the center of Madison will be stronger as a result of this dialogue, right? We’re going to get through it and we are going to be better the hope of the future. Yeah. I have no question about it because there is a movement underway in Madison not just in the school district. I mean our educators are phenomenal people who get it in our working heart to do this Inside Out work. And make our institution a better Institution for every child. I have no doubt but we have to stop pitting ourselves against one another right we have to stop looking for someone to blame and just accept that this is our reality right? It’s not just ours is that affects it? Yeah, and and where the people who are in these seats now right where the. Were the people do or learn leaders leaders do it?

Yeah, we have a question that came in Jen had a question on Facebook. Thank you Jenn for contributing to the conversation and using Facebook. Excellent. It does get related over to me. Ye success technology. She wanted to ask you dr. Cheatham to talk about what carrot parents can do. I almost had carrots. I guess I don’t know why maybe I’m hungry. Okay start over Jen wants to know what parents can do to. Push the school’s forward and to work on race and Equity issues. Oh, excellent. And I also I’m going to put my own little spin on me before of I think they’re different conversations versus white parents parents of color. I know that there’s so much intentional effort and we can talk about the successes there of getting families and communities involved. But we also live in a time where when people say where are the parents which I hear all the time. My answer is I don’t know working three jobs trying to knock it evicted. Taking the bus that doesn’t actually get them to where they’re going. They are just hoping that their kid is safe at school. They don’t have time to meet with the teacher because they don’t have enough time and money. To fight being evicted which is what they’re working on and then those are not I don’t think that’s anecdotal as a tenant rights attorney. I think those are very real lives of many many people. Absolutely. Sorry Jen. I co-opted your question there, but can you help us understand the complexity of wanting parents involved needing parents involved and also acknowledging that parents have. Overwhelming things of basic needs on their plate. Yeah, I parent partnership has been a steady Focus for us as well. I mean it was one of the major priorities in our initial strategic framework.

Shout out to Nichelle Nichols who’s been rocking it in that role. Yeah, one of the greatest thing Madison she is amazing and in our whole Focus there has been on. Parents as partners right as full Partners in the educational process. We have always felt that parents don’t need to be present in the traditional ways, which is what you are kind of getting at a minute ago Carousel to be our partners, but they need great communication. They need to know what’s happening with their child at school so that they can play a part in the ways that they that are possible for them. Meaning sometimes the most important thing a parent can do is just to check in with their kid right to talk about it to encourage them, right? You don’t have to come to the PTO or PTA meeting it on their math tests to say. Hey, how’s school going? Did you do feel safe and I’ll be there? How you challenged? I love you. I know you’re smart. Right? It’s right. Yeah, no question. Every parent of course does every that’s what every loving parent loving parent does absolutely they have a free five minutes at the end of the day, sometimes they don’t all kinds of ways to be partners with teachers and all the I’ve talked to a lot of parents over the years and I’ll tell you that relationship between the parent and the teacher is the one that’s most important to most parents, right? That’s a relationship. They want to have be really strong. I think to the Facebook question. Yes, what I’m reading into that is how beyond the typical parent partnership can parents be involved especially around this work on race and equity and I am and I would encourage. Especially the white parents and Madison to think very carefully about and deeply about this question. How do. White parents, especially parents of privilege unintentionally kind of hold up the systems and structures that need to be disassembled of every child is going to be successful the the wrong idea as a white parent and I live I’m a white parent in a predominantly white neighborhood in a predominantly white school that. We don’t have to talk about racism right don’t talk about it. We’re not racist. So we don’t talk about race, which is actually the wrong response when we live in a racist world, right? Yeah, I mean students need to talk about it, right they need to make sense out of this world around them, especially if they’re going to make it a better place. I think that’s essential but I think I’ve seen some leaders especially PTO and PTA leaders really lead this conversation while over.

Last couple of years I’ve seen PTO and PTA leaders introducing book clubs to read. I like books like Robyn D’Angelo is white fragility right among parents to better understand why they’re having some of the responses that they’re having to our efforts to address racial Equity had on. I mean, I would encourage. Parents be thinking about that. What inside out work do they need to do right? It’s not about what we do in the big ways necessarily the big initiatives. It’s what we do in the small ways our one-on-one conversations with our fellow parents, right how we challenge one another. I think that’s really important. And do you see those changes?

There’s so much to talk about we only had I known manage which is crazy. But do you see these changes? I do happening in Madison by the conversations of of and I think that’s the natural Progressive is to start with anger what we’re not racist. What are you talking about? My kid got a great education. I love Madison schools. Are you attacking Madison School? Yeah, we need to protect our schools, too. Sort of okay. Well, actually here’s a conversation. I just gave a here’s my tangent on this. I just gave a presentation on Criminal Justice Reform to Jewish Social Services and part of a tiny piece of my talk was about police in schools, uh-huh a tiny piece and it was just acknowledging. The school-to-prison pipeline and hey, here’s the percentage of African-American students that get tickets when their police are in our schools and all of a sudden people go. Oh, that’s why you’re mad about police and schools and that people in that room actually said that to me they were ready to say we don’t need police in schools, you know, but at least there was a moment of understanding that hadn’t trickled down to them of why would people only criminals are afraid of the police kind of thing. And I think that’s what you’re getting at. Is that do you see those conversations happening? I do I mean I again, I think there is a powerful.

An exciting movement underway in Madison that more and more people not just our Educators, but madisonians are are getting into this dialogue with one another right in the small moments and in the big ones and I think that bodes well for the future of Madison, we justwe you can’t step out of it. We can’t pity each other or people against one another even the police in schools issue. I mean, it’s such a good example care. Well, I think that bye. Criticizing and raising serious questions about the issue shouldn’t be misread as as being anti-police, but it always ends up sounding that way right and there might be people on that position that are anti-police but that’s not the core of what they’re saying and you and you use the excuse of anti-police to stop listening you what they’re saying. You got it. It’s a really. Easy way to shut down the conversation and what I want us all is to stay in it together, right? Let’s not shut down the conversation. Let’s figure out what is the real problem that we are trying to solve and if we can do that we’re going to be okay and you feel like we’re moving so back to Madison schools were what talk to us about some of the programs and the initiatives that you feel are moving us.

Especially there was a collar and then he got disconnected sorry about that Dan. He had a question about the achievement Gap and I don’t know the details of what his question was but moving forward with how do we raise, you know? Address the racial Equity that exists. Yeah. Well, I think that’s what this new strategic framework is all about. I’m very hopeful board I think is very supportive of continuing to move in this direction and I would hope would find a future leader who’s capable of leading this work. But but yeah, I think we’re poised for really really powerful things what needs to happen to end racial disparities in Madison schools. Oh gosh, I mean this not any one thing right? I mean I think the center of it if I had to pick one thing Carousel it would be to for everything that we do to be ultimately aimed at. Seeing each other’s Humanity it does that sound too fluffy. That’s what we need to do. Right everything. We do the way we. Organized schools right through the school Improvement planning process and our decisions about instructional design if we made all those decisions to make sure that you experience a school day and I deeply humane way right where your sauce seen as a human being that’s seeing the teacher as a full, you know, human beings seeing every student in their full Humanity every parent. I mean, it’s interesting right like what if that were the design principle for every. Fission we made moving forward. What does that look like? They’re I know that there’s conversations about schools have become too academic Focus sometimes.

Yeah, and I don’t know how you deal with this you get it from both directions. We’re not meeting. Our academic needs were not academic focused at all. And we’re to academic Focus can my kid please take a dance class and a Ceramics class and something that makes them feel like a beautiful person. I think that the. Energies, I’m going to make some assumptions about what the caller called about the strategies that have been put into play over the last 20 years to quote unquote close the achievement Gap that term drives me absolutely crazy, by the way.

Why because what we’re talking about is racism. We’re not talking about achievement Gap. Yeah. I don’t think it’s actually describing the actual problem that we’re trying to solve. But I think that the strategies that have been put into play which have been largely about. I being more prescriptive on academics how we teach literacy? How do we teach math about intervention? So giving double and triple doses of literacy and math if it’s a student is struggling. I think that those strategies I mean we need to teach literacy and math. Well, I mean don’t get me wrong. That’s what I wanted to see. I don’t want anyone to misinterpret me here, but the the intense focus on only that has actually I think set us backwards and not. Pushed us forward. I think that if we had and this is where the district is going now building on the coherence that we’ve created if districts were more focused on deep and Rich learning experiences for students if imagine young black students saw themselves in their curriculum right from day one if they were getting access to. Historically accurate depiction right of the world in which they live if they were. How do I say this if they were consistently seen as fully human? Riot too many black students in this country are not are dehumanized on a regular basis. I think we would see those results change much much faster.

So the next level of work in Madison is all about that empowering everyone in a school Community to create a holistic instructional experience investing in teachers as culturally responsive teachers who are actively anti-racist ensuring that The Learning Experience offers one that is deep and Rich right and relevant to the students who attend our schools. I mean that work is already underway in Madison and I feel like that is the key to transformation. So all of these things sound wonderful. I know they cost money.

Yeah, let’s talk about money. Let’s talk about that, Wisconsin the United States but Wisconsin award-winning, Wisconsin, we do not fund our Public Schools know and one of the. From my perspective from what I’ve seen as a parent and someone that cares about these issues from the behavioral education plan for example was that there weren’t enough support for teachers and in our schools because we don’t have enough money to hire. A dozen social workers in every school. I mean people always talk about let’s get it our knees. I want to have social workers sitting around doing nothing because we have we’ve hired so many of them. I mean I dream of that of a school just overflowing with abundance of people ready at any moment, but that is a complete fantasy that is not based in any reality of how we fund schools in Wisconsin.

Yeah. I agree entirely. I mean the scarcity model of it. I don’t know. I’ve been an educator for over 20 years and sometimes you’ve been living in scarcity and for me working and scarcity for so long. You forget what? What’s possible Right like you you might accept it as the me accepted as the norm. I know it’s terrible and we shouldn’t accept it as the norm. I I was thrilled when Tony Evers got elected. I will not I’m not shy about saying that. And I cares about public education. He sure does he gets it. I think the proposal that he put forward was really inspired and inspiring and not and not Fantasyland. I mean he was trying to lay out for all of us. A picture of what it actually looks like to fund education public education appropriately. I was happy to see that we got a little bit of bump in per-pupil aid for next year, which is great. It’s still not enough. No, the problem is is that right if my daughter’s don’t get things in their school. My daughters have piano lesson. My daughter has, you know dance classes among our neighbors daughter has.

My math tutor all of these things that if you can’t get it at school people with money can help supplement our are excellent schools that are starved to death. We can I can supplement it but if that cost thousands of dollars a year that which what I do, so ultimately the disparities get bigger that we get it right they get worse. I think that’s exactly right Carousel. I. I mean, I’m not giving up on what governor eavers is trying to accomplish and I don’t think anyone should we should be funding full day for K in the state of Wisconsin? I mean that is an absolute must we should be funding reimbursement for special ed services. That is an absolute must. Yeah, and we we should be fully funding services for English language Learners, which is not happening. Now. I mean the list goes on and on and on I’ll tell you we make we we do a lot with very little but yeah our kids and our teachers and our parents deserve much more. There’s no doubt about that. What do you what do you hope to see in the next superintendent? What is what is your you know, the team comes together. You don’t really give a saying I don’t the TV were part of got something in it.

You know, what do you think are? The school board should be looking at when they choose. Hopefully they have many qualified applicants to choose from but everyone brings their own unique strengths and weaknesses to the table. One of the strengths you think they should be looking for. Well, I mean this superintendent. We’ll be starting from a fairly strong Foundation. Right? I mean, they’re not going on say so yourself. Yeah, I mean, they’re not going to have to redo their HR systems the budget despite the challenges we just described is. This salad we have got is a lot to work from there. So I’m part of what I just I hope is that they’re looking for someone who can lead this kind of next level of work, right? And that’s got to be someone who has a. Fairly robust vision and deep understanding of the kind of transformational change that we’re trying to make now and we’re trying to make changes in instructional design that are.

That are truly transformed of the Community Schools model, right that is a different way of doing school Pathways at the high school level that’s a different way of doing school. There’s pushback and all of them. Yeah. I’m scared of Pathways and it’s gonna be amazing. Good good. I’m scared of what West High School looks like when my kids get their will because it is a different instructor design, right? I mean, it’s weird. This is a longer conversation, but when you’re trying to change. The way schooling looks and feels for students so that they so that they’re actually thriving in school and truly prepared for post-secondary and I would hope that we would get a leader who can lead that transformational effort. I do think the district and the school board should be looking for someone who can continue to keep racial Equity at the center. I think there are many enough education leaders and superintendents who cannot just talk that talk but but walk it so I’m hopeful that they’ll look for for somebody who can continue that work as well.

Yeah, and I think the last thing I would say is there are a lot of leaders out there who. Don’t understand teaching. This is maybe what you were getting to and you talked about my predecessors a little bit but there but I would hope that they’re looking for someone who has really strong instructional leadership skills. Right who really has a mission to feels like to be in the last past. I think it’s really important. I had always wished that I could have taken a week every year and gotten back into a classroom and co-taught with a teacher. I was never able to quite pull it off. I hope that the next superintendent right to say really grounded for my work that teachers do what is happening. That’s right. That’s right.

And do you think. I know the school board has talked about for referendum, ‘s do you think those are things that we should be moving forward both. I know there’s conversation about building referendums and operational referendum. They’ve been supported in Madison. I’m hopeful I would hope that our school district if they think that’s the right thing to do would go for it. I would hope so. I mean, I we’ve been working on that long range facilities plan for years and we didn’t even talk about some of the other things that we’ve done is we’ve made some facilities improvements already. But but the plan that is shaping up on facilities, which would lead with the for comprehensive high schools the Alternative High School Capital High and address. South Madison some major gaps in learning at the elementary level. I think the package up will Shape Up is going to be powerful. Yeah, and I both the school board and the new superintendent I think needs to leave that work forward, you know, the buildings that we have our old 50 years on average. We need to take good care of them and our students deserve to learn in you know, in spaces that reflect our r value of them that are inspiring. Yeah, that’s about deep learning to. Wonderful to have you want to wish you great success as you move on to your next Adventures, but you’re you’re still here for a couple more weeks.

Oh, yeah Bennett you have I’m thrilled them transition to transition to Jane Bell more as the interim as you know, and will she serve. The goal of the setup is she’ll serve for the duration of the next school year. Yeah. Yeah, uh-huh. That’s right. And she starts August first. She was the interim when I started. So transition with her in those first months with this job she sure is and it’s been a pleasure to transition with her. I think the district will be good and very good hands with Jay next year. Thanks Carousel. Well, that’s that’s good. Maybe well, I’ll put a bug in Jane’s ear and get her on the show to talk about. I’ve been the challenges of being a leader that isn’t a permanent leader. That’s a whole new world of it, but. When do you you head off to Boston? You still have a bit a couple more weeks other anything left that you’re really focusing on that you that you hope to work on in the next few weeks. Well the next couple of weeks. I’m getting the senior team with Jane set for next year. We want to make sure that the group is ready to rock and roll. The big kickoff of the Year happens in the second week of August meaning there are big Leadership Institute, which is really the signal but the school year is starting welcoming back teachers and starting with the administrators and the leadership teams which includes teachers and then a couple weeks later all the teachers. So we’re working on making sure that that welcome back plan is strong that the team is ready to rock and roll. And they will be it said there’s a strong team here in Madison.

I’m leaving but the team that is here both the principles of leadership teams at the school level and at the district level is a very I don’t know. I mean, they’re an impressive group to say the least. So Madison’s in good hands wonderful. Well again, thank you so much. Dr. Jennifer Cheatham Jen Cheatham Madison superintendent for. Six plus years. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for facing the challenges and. And the criticism and the successes and all of that and we wish you great success in Boston things Carousel. Thanks everyone for listening today exciting news. I’m actually filling in for Ali show tomorrow. So you’re going to hear me go get you to my fabulous voice. It’s coming back tomorrow, but thank you to Tim for engineering Michelle for producing. I think Anita and Joe have been working on the phones. Thanks everyone for your great work. Have a great day. Bye.

2013: What will be different, this time? The Jennifer Cheatham Madison experience – 2019.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts ($18.5 to 20K/student, depending on the District documents). Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.




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 these issues around race and equity.”

Though Madison said she hasn’t had any conversations with people who have said they’ll apply, she has been strategically and privately reaching out to parents of students in MMSD to encourage them to consider it.

Whoever is appointed by the board would serve until an election is held in April 2020 to select someone to finish the last year of Burke’s term, which ends in April 2021.

Notes and links: David Blaska, Kaleem Caire and Ed Hughes. Interestingly, Mr. Hughes was unopposed in his first three school board elections. Mr. Hughes voted against the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Yet, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results:

“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”

Our most recent Superintendent – 2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience




Madison School Board eyes hiring consultant in superintendent search



Logan Wroge:

In 2012, the School Board hired consultant Ray and Associates, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for $31,000 to assist in the search process to replace former Superintendent Dan Nerad.

But questions around a finalist’s background left some board members at the time saying they were not fully aware of controversial issues. That finalist withdrew shortly before a scheduled visit to the district, clearing the way for Cheatham’s hiring.

To fill the superintendent role on an interim basis, the School Board last month chose Jane Belmore, a former Madison assistant superintendent, who will start Aug. 1.

Cheatham will leave for a teaching position at Harvard University at the end of August.

Notes and links on recent Madison Superintendent searches.

2013: What will be different, this time?

“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”




A rotten year Madison: teachers report from the classroom (2013 – “what will be different, this time?”)



Dylan Brogan:

But the transfrmation has been a rocky one and disparities persist. Isthmus collected over 30 hours of interviews with dozens of Madison educators over the past two months. Teachers from three elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools shared their experiences in the classroom. Most requested anonymity because of fears of retribution and were given pseudonyms.

Some teachers are frustrated by the changes they see: few consequences for disruptive and disrespectful behavior; a lack of trust from administrators; and concern that recent reforms aren’t actually helping kids of color. Others believe their colleagues need to embrace the cultural shift brought by Cheatham’s time as superintendent. They say that white teachers might need to feel uncomfortable in order to purge the schools of systemic racism.

Adding to the tension are several highly publicized incidents centering around race that have sparked renewed outrage over the achievement gap. The cumulative result is that many teachers feel stressed, unsupported and disrespected.

Jim Lister, a science teacher at Hamilton, has taught in the district for 29 years and is retiring in June. He didn’t witness the April 5 incident but says that navigating both the school bureaucracy and the sensitive issue of race can become a quagmire for many teachers.

“What’s new this year is that there’s a feeling of walking around on pins and needles for many teachers. You don’t know how an interaction with a kid is going to go or that the district will support you after the fact. What ends up happening is teachers do nothing,” says Lister. “If a kid says, ‘Fuck you’ to you six or seven times and there are no repercussions — it becomes pretty clear who is in charge.”

“She is more interested in seeming woke than supporting teachers. Downtown [administrators] just want to look a certain way and when they don’t, teachers get blamed,” Leah says. “There’s no recognition that the daily grind is just unmanageable. I suspect we will see another exodus of teachers at the end of this year. That’s at least what I’m hearing.

“Everything is being dumbed down to make the numbers look better. We’re being told that a kid that hasn’t shown up for a majority of classes needs to be given the opportunity to make up work and it’s my fault for not engaging that kid the right way,” says Rebecca, the longtime high school teacher. “So forget that that is asking a lot of teachers, we want to do the work to get students to achieve at a high level. But too often it’s a Band-Aid. We are giving kids Ds who are doing 30 percent of the work.”

Opps, from La Follette, says the scrutiny from administration is making it harder to be an effective teacher. When one of his students is found wandering the hallway he’s asked, “Why aren’t you engaging this kid?”

Related: “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”.

Related: Superintendent Cheatham’s 2013 Madison Rotary Club speech and, again in 2019.

2013: “Plenty of resources”. Indeed, Madison taxpayers spend far more than most K-12 school Districts, now between $18k – 20k per student.




Commentary on the proposed search for a new Madison School District Superintendent



Logan wroge:

Cheatham said she would prefer to know who will replace her by July 1 so that the person can attend a summer retreat with senior staff members planned for July and be around to prepare in August for the 2019-20 school year.

Cheatham, whose last day will be Aug. 30, has accepted a teaching position with Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She became Madison’s superintendent in 2013, leaving an administrative role at the Chicago Public Schools.

Whoever the board selects as the interim leader, board member Cris Carusi said she would prefer the person is not interested in seeking the position on a permanent basis.

Monday’s meeting on hiring an interim superintendent was originally scheduled to be in closed session but was later opened to the public.

A handful of people called on the School Board to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent, with one East High School junior asking the board to engage with students on what they would like to see in a new superintendent.

Much more on recent Madison Superintendent searches, here




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, did not immediately respond to a call and email for comment on Tuesday evening.

During an April 28 interview with Channel 3000’s On The Record, Cheatham said she was “really excited” about working with the new school board, which she described as a “new group of powerful women” who are going to help bring transformative change to the district. This school year, Cheatham implemented an updated strategic framework to guide district policy to help usher in that transformation.

“We have a new set of goals. A new set of core values. And a new refreshed strategy for the future,” said Cheatham. “The framework has a new set of core values that are all about voice, racial equity and social justice. Which is powerful. And we are learning how best to make decisions with those core values in mind.”

Cheatham said she planned on working with the new school board to “refresh the district’s equity tool,” which she added, “is essentially the set of questions we always want to ask ourselves when making decisions together. I think that’s powerful and has real potential for the future.”

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Cheatham’s departure leaves a slew of questions for the Madison School Board that was sworn in last month. With the exception of Burke, the other six board members have a collective five years of experience on the board. Cheatham’s administration introduced a $462.6 million budget proposal, and the board is planning to vote on a preliminary budget in June.

Hanks, MMSD’s elementary schools chief, also came to Madison in 2013 from Chicago Public Schools. She served as principal at Melody Elementary School on Chicago’s west side, near the neighborhood she grew up in. She earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Harvard. The Root previously recognized her as one of the 100 most influential African-Americans in the country.

Hanks, a black woman, would temporarily lead a school district that is majority-nonwhite if appointed. Cheatham’s “trying year” comment in a speech to the Rotary Club of Madison followed high-profile incidents this past school year, including several instances where MMSD employees used a racial slur in front of students and another involving an altercation between a black girl and a white positive behavior coach at Whitehorse Middle School that did not result in any criminal charges. In a previous interview with the Cap Times, Whitehorse staffer Rob Mueller-Owens described how he felt thrown under the bus by Cheatham following the handling of school-based side of the investigation.

Related: Superintendent Cheatham’s 2013 Madison Rotary Club speech and, again in 2019.

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”




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 members defend the practice.

But recent guidance from the state attorney general’s office cautions that such small, private gatherings of public officials risk running afoul of the state open meetings law, a current board member and attorney called them “on the line” legally, and a former board member stopped participating in them because he believes the public and board members should be able to hear policy discussions involving members and administrators.

Related:

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20k per student.
What will be different, this time?

“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”




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 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2013: “Plenty of Resource$”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20,000 per student.

More, here.

A machine generated transcript of Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Madison Rotary Club talk:

Thank you, Jason on this spring equinox. Our speaker is superintendent of Madison schools Jennifer Cheatham who has been in the role since 2013. She’s a graduate of Harvard who started her career as an eighth grade English teacher. She’s titled Her speech leading for equity. And will share her personal leadership Journey as an educator sure implications and Reflections on leading a school district for race racial equity. Join me in welcoming welcoming superintendent Cheatham to the podium.

Hi everyone. It’s good to be back at Rotary. I’m a little more nervous than usual because I have current board members and future for members of the audience. I feel like I’m interviewing today. It really is nice to be back. There is a lot happening in our city right now. There’s a lot to talk about.

I would like to recognize a couple of people before we dive in I want to recognize Gloria Reyes our newest board member who is in the audience. Can we give her a round of applause? She’s a phenomenal board member and I’m very lucky to have her as one of my seven bosses and I want to recognize James Howard. Who is here. He is our most senior board member. He only has a couple more weeks.

Find the board and I might shed a tear before I leave the podium today. He’s been the board president for five years during his nine years on the board and I pretty much talk to this guy every day for the last six years. So I just want to extend my heartfelt appreciation for your leadership. James couldn’t give him a round of applause.

I also want to recognize Reggie Cheatham who’s in the audience. Who’s my husband my rock? I love you, babe. Can we give him a round of applause? All right. So, you know, it seems right to reflect on one’s leadership at a major Milestone on April first. April fools day. I will have my 6 year anniversary in the district, which is surpassing the typical tenure for a female. Urban superintendent is want to put that out there. Thank you. Thank you. This fall we launched a brand new strategic framework that is more ambitious than ever that centers black student Excellence very proud of that. And on April 2nd as we all know.

We have a School Board Race that I believe will demonstrate the extent to which our community wants to follow through on that promise. And I want to personally thank everyone who’s running for school board. That’s a big deal. It matters to me a lot. Let’s give the candidates another round of applause. So rather than my typical update on progress that I know you guys really enjoy when I come here. I am going to do something a little different. I want to share with you a story of me. I want to share with you a story of us and the story of what I think it means for us right now. This will be my leadership story, which I do think demonstrates. How I’m becoming a stronger leader for Equity. It’s a story of confidence-building risk-taking personal identity development and teamwork. So this is me in kindergarten. I went to gray school in Chicago. I was an early reader reciting nursery rhymes for relatives begging to go to school as soon as I could talk. When asked by my neighbor’s I used to tell everyone how much I loved school and I was always surprised by the adults reaction because they were surprised by my response.

By fifth grade. I had already decided on a potential career path. I would sign all of my school papers. Dr. Jenny Perry. That’s my maiden name because I thought I wanted to be a doctor Someday My Teacher nicknamed me. Dr. J that Year little did I know I would become a doctor the first in my large extended family, but not the medical kind. Make sure I got this. These are my parents. That’s Wanda and skip my mom grew up in a humble Farm family and Whitewater, Wisconsin. She married my dad who grew up on the west side of Chicago with much without much financial means or family support but he was he was Scrappy and he was the first in our large extended family to go to college.

From their early days in Chicago and they lived in an apartment above a pet store. I live there too to their later days in the suburbs on a one-acre lot all that grass. I watched my parents grow up together. I watched them raise our family together. I watch them transform our lives together. It has been amazing for me to Bear witness to the positive impact these two people have had not just on my immediate family, but all of my cousins all of their children these this is the couple that opened the door to possibilities that hadn’t previously existed for any of us.

But what strikes me most about their parenting was their curiosity and me and my siblings the four of us, each of us were unique they expressed interest in each of our interests. They were curious about what we were curious about and they recognized our real talents and not the ones that they wished we had. Looking back for everything that they did for us. That was the greatest gift. My parents gave me their curiosity in me. This is an important lesson as a parent. I think their curiosity in me was this incredible confidence Builder from the from a young age?

I don’t actually remember them ever reading to me. I don’t remember them pushing me hard to excel which I think some people May Be Imagined happened to my family for me. It was just a blessing to be seen and that’s important. Because confidence is needed to take risks. And I’ve learned that. To teach requires risk-taking.

Well, I thought I’d be a doctor for their a while. They’re in elementary school. I changed my mind when I got to high school decided. I wanted to be a teacher. In graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where I trained to be a teacher I came to view teaching as a form of activism. This is me as a first-year teacher. I worshipped Paulo Freire e right this idea that teaching should be designed to liberate and never to oppress. I studied vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. I think Ali Mahdi. All right. We got it as a way to stretch my students thinking to their learning Edge. I remember forever being changed by reading the book Savage inequalities by.

Jonathan kozol and forever inspired by Gloria ladson-billings conception of culturally relevant teaching that was. Well over 20 years ago. I loved what I was learning about action research as a way to capture my own learning as an educator. I was absolutely convinced. This is what I wanted to do with my life. And then I started my student teaching at Wayne High School outside of Detroit where I was given three classes to teach for a full semester or two of those classes were called teen fact and fiction and it was an English class that was. For under credited Juniors and seniors essentially was the class to just get kids graduated that make sense.

I was given a poorly designed curriculum a set of Cortex that were dumbed-down inspiring. I remember one of the books was the boy who drank too much. It was turned into like some side kind of daytime movie that starred Scott Baio and was filmed here Kali. That’s right. I learned that. Yeah, it is interesting how these courses are given to the least experienced teachers, right? I was a student teacher.

Anyway, I decided that I would rework the entire curriculum with the students themselves. We took the first weeks to get to know one another and we laid out all the themes that we wanted to explore together things. That would be relevant to teenagers the group wanted to talk about race. They wanted to talk about gender. They wanted to talk about sexuality substance abuse depression. I think they were surprised when I agreed with them. I searched for high-quality literature as the focal point of our exploration. We read black literature even feminist literature. We read lgbtq literature that was before it was called that. Fine introduce a reading workshop to reignite students interest in reading right there identity as readers and I searched continually for things that I thought individual students would like based on my individual conferring with them all I did back in those days.

I had no life.

I don’t have much of what now, but outside all I did was planned my teaching teach and reflect on its Effectiveness all I did my mentor teacher. I almost let her know. I’m not going to say it. I loved her because she entrusted me with teaching this class and she sat in the lounge while all this was happening. I was crossing some boundaries you guys it was a good thing. She was in the lounge and yet students. Cooper regularly skipping school started coming back. They were sneaking into school to go to this class and I wouldn’t call it. My cousin was our class. There was a buzz about this class the kids and I were in some kind of solidarity with one another we felt like we were in cahoots, which is unfortunate, right?

It shouldn’t be like you’re having to sneak in really good high-quality instruction.

But we’ve become this community of Learners. They were learning so much. They were constructing knowledge. They were challenging each other. They were challenging me. I was learning a ton and then at the end of the semester I had a student tell me Miss Perry. I really want to recommend this class to a friend, but I know it’ll never be the same. leaving. That school was hard but fresh out of my experience with student teaching. I was just desperate to start my career.

Remember I’m from Chicago jobs were scarce at that time in Chicago and I had heard that there was a teacher shortage in California. I never planned on teaching at a junior high. No one ever. Does this just to be clear? Yeah. I never planned on leaving. Home. But I interviewed for this job over the phone as an 8th grade language arts teacher in Newark, California in the East Bay of San Francisco.

I drove 2,000 miles across the country without knowing so I arrived in California the day before school started that year my first day seeing my classroom like walking in the door was the first day of school. The kids came about 30 minutes later. It was the first major professional risk. I’ve ever taken but I was finally a teacher and my identity formed around him after a decade of teaching and teacher leadership in California working in partnership with amazing teachers amazing principles like the women in this picture. I thought I had some serious instructional jobs as what a lot of perspective on what it takes to support teachers and doing their best work passionate about our profession. I set out to take yet another professional risk and explore what it would take to lead instructional Improvement on a large scale.

Maybe even become a superintendent someday the kind that I had dreamed about someone who actually knew something about teaching. But if someone told me just recently sometimes you need to be stripped of your ego your confidence to become even stronger. I went back to graduate school this time as a member of the 16th cohort of the urban superintendents program at Harvard, which to me I got to tell you was some kind of Miracle there were Great Courses. Micro economics politics lot instruction and it was incredible. I loved it. I excelled in those courses, but I was also assigned a mentor to test and develop my thinking about leadership.

I would come to learn that that relationship with my mentor one that has lasted now well over a decade. Was more powerful than any book. I had ever read or any course I had ever taken. I was assigned to the renowned Carl cone. All right Collegiate. He’s wowing up here. Someone knows that I’m talking about. I was assigned to the renowned Carl cone Carl an African-American leader had left Seminary school to become a high school counselor in Compton at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He eventually became the superintendent in Long Beach California leading the district transformation into one of the highest performing urban districts in the country. And that is still true today. He was not an instructional leader. And he intimidated the hell out of me.

I just saw Carl this past summer and he recalled a familiar story. We’re really close till at the very start of our mentoring relationship. Carl said to me he’s got this low gravelly voice and very slow way of talking Jen white female instructional leaders. Like you are a dime a dozen. That’s what he told me a dime a dozen what makes you think you could ever gain the street credibility to lead in an urban District at this is like a weeks into my mentoring relationship with him. I think I cried when I got home did my rent. I was crushed. I remember the first wave of feelings. I felt misunderstood. I was actually kind of pissed at first right? I felt misunderstood undervalued. I felt stereotypes. I’ve felt sick to my stomach and unsettled. I felt like I was on a rocking boat. Now that feeling by the ground was not solid underneath my feet and it was because I felt that my identity as an educator does felt fundamentally threatened and that moment.

After I got over the good cry I realized the Carl was not criticizing me in that moment. He was trying to open a door to a new conversation about who I was about who I could become and what it would actually take for me to lead and it was the first time I’m a bit embarrassed to say this the first time I had to name out loud and I have been an educator for over a decade at that point the first time I did name out loud and begin to actually understand my privilege as a white woman. I would have to acknowledge that my parents success and economic Mobility which I was very proud of did not happen just because of their hard work. I would have to come to understand that my ability to pick up and pack my stuff and move across the country for my first job was not simply an act of my own bravery. I would have to see that my singular focus on instruction and instructional Improvement may have been a convenient way to avoid looking inward at my own bias or outward at the institution that was reproducing the outcomes that I said that I wanted to change all along.

I had been a beneficiary. My white privilege and Carl he was pushing me to try to figure out how to use it and uncompromising Alliance of people who didn’t have it which would mean taking real risks, right? Not the fake risks that I thought. I was taking real risks right to start risking failure my own personal failure. By the way, I hope that that song that we sing in the beginning wasn’t about me the ring of fire. So I took that a little personally I’m letting it go. Okay. Carl had I just I don’t doubt it Carl had a ton of respect for what I could do as an instructional leader.

He just knew that dramatically changing outcomes for students would require a totally new order of things and that’s when I started to begin a New Journey right to create a richer identity not just as a teacher not just as a champion for the profession, which I am. But as a faithful Ally to the children and families, we serve and someone dedicated to creating empowering spaces for teachers and students so they can change the world. I’ve learned other things too.

I’ve learned the importance of assembling talented teams. I’ve learned the importance of assembling talented and diverse teams. This is not about heroic leadership. It is about empowering capable people who have different points of view to work together towards a common goal. I’ve learned about quiet determinations and Steely resolve. I’ve learned about how to feel my way through complexity. I’ve learned about the trust and respect necessary for people to excel especially those who work most closely with children. I’ve learned about leading with more humanity and vulnerability. And most recently I’ve been learning about what it actually takes to Center the voices and experiences of the people who are most affected by the challenges.

And problems we face what it looks like to authorize the people the many people who are already out there doing the work and to pave the way for more work to be done. Now last year of this is animated this lag kind of drives me crazy you guys this is happened to me before there we go last year. I listened personally to over a thousand people in this community. In over 50 hours of meetings prioritizing listening to the voices of students staff and families of color. I wanted to know how we could build on the progress that we’ve made but more importantly what it would actually take to transform our schools into the places that we want them to be right the truly represent what we want for our community. And we use those discussions to inform the development of our new strategic framework, which I will say is on the back table if you want one on your way out. Well what I want you to know is what I heard.

When I talked to educators of color, which I did in depth over many hours, they told me that we needed to commit. Once and for all to being an anti-racist organization and learning what that actually means right to enact it from the Board Room all the way to the classroom. They told me that policy is budget Investments are long times wait ways of working. They all had to be tested deconstructed rebuilt. They also said that we had to make deep and long term investments in our staff as anti-racist Educators, right? If you sign up for this profession, that’s what you’re signing up for and then that is not just Technical Training that is about doing deep inside out work on your personal identity right for the lifetime that you’re in this career.

Students of color told me that they needed stronger more trusting relationships with staff. Right? And that’s because you can’t be in what is called the struggle of learning, right? If you’re not interesting relationship with the teachers in the the friends and colleagues that are in your learning community where you can’t actually struggle through learning without trust. They told me that they believed in their white staffs like their white teachers ability to do so they do they believe that and they need more teachers of color, right? They need more representation. They told me they needed more cultural. Well, not more they needed cultural representation and historically accurate curriculum for just fed up with it with it not being so. But not just because they wanted but it’s because they want to challenge the world around them, right? They want to understand that what they want to analyze that they want to challenge us right there desk. They’re seeking deep and Rich learning opportunities.

They want full participation in advanced coursework with their peers. Right, which is fully integrated into those courses and separate spaces to talk about racism and the micro aggressions that they’re experiencing everyday in this community. They need both. Parents of color told me that they wanted to share power with schools. Like we’re doing at our community schools. They wanted rich and deep learning experiences for their children as well. Not just more programs to support struggling students. This is important, right?

They see the path right to eliminating the achievement Gap is about rich and deep learning experiences. Not more intervention. I hope that makes sense. But that’s the only way you actually get there and they want aggressive execution of strategies and programs that ensure meaningful exploration of College and Career options for every child. The message was clear to me after all those discussions that the next level of transformation in our district would require a New Order of Things. Which is why? We’ve made such a strong commitment Central commitment to lifting up black excellence in our district. This is not a programs not an initiative, right? This is a good-sized central commitment. So we’ll learn together right about how to enact will learn with and alongside the black community that we serve because we.

And the Brilliance the creativity the capability and Bright Futures futures of black students in Madison and everywhere are measures of success is a school system have to be aimed at more than narrowing gaps.

I’m tired of that language but focused on cultivating the full potential of every child creating space for healthy identity development and new and more importantly true narratives about black youth. And this community that doesn’t mean that we diminish our commitment to other students right Latino students Latino Community ICU, right? I see you too, right? I see everyone. But that we recognize that all of our fates are linked. And of course this school year maybe that’s where the ring of fire song came from has been.

With all of its promise. It’s been trying right? That is an understatement. Yeah, it’s been trying it’s been testing our core values in our commitment. In a way that I predicted to some extent but didn’t understand until I’ve been in it. So I want to be real clear. I am extraordinarily proud of the progress. We’ve made we wouldn’t even be able to have this discussion right now without it.

But now we’re being asked by even more people to do even more and better right and we will. But we will only do so if as a community not just the school district, we are centering the lives of people of in color in a way that we’ve never done so before right. I’m going to tell you what I’ve been telling my staff all year. I have sort of a mantra that I just keep telling them. So I’m going to share it with you. I’ll try to not cry as I say it. I see the gifts and talents you bring to this work.

Let’s take more risks on behalf of the students and families we serve. Sorry, it’s been a rough few weeks. Let’s embrace our common identities as both proud Educators and consequential allies. We’ll work together as a team. remain faithful. You are enough you have to be. I know it is my honor and privilege to continue to serve alongside you especially when the boat is rocking.

Thanks everybody. Thank you superintendent Cheatham. Please take advantage to speak with our school board candidates that are with us today on your way out. We are adjourned.




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 the student’s actions and behavior leading up to the confrontation was unacceptable. As a father, I would never support my children behaving that way in school, in the community, at home or anywhere. I am left wondering what MMSD and the child’s parents have done, or could have done, together, to proactively address the challenges this student might be having that led to her inappropriate conduct. At the same time, there are other ways Mr. Mueller-Owens could have handled this situation that would have avoided him putting his hands on the student.

No matter how we look at this, the incident has been a painful and unfortunate situation for everyone involved, and for our entire community as well. The worst thing we can do is avoid talking about this incident, or worse, fighting with each about who was right and who was wrong. Madison clearly has challenges. We have to address them, not avoid them.

David Blaska:

feel sorry for the lady, I really do. It’s tough to see someone’s closely held belief system come crashing down all around them.

Madison’s school superintendent broke down in tears today (03-20-19) addressing Madison Downtown Rotary.

God knows, Jennifer Cheatham has walked through the valley of disruption. Three of the last six monthly school board meetings have broken down in chaos — the school board and its administrators driven from the meeting auditorium by raucous social justice warriors wielding the race card. Again this Monday (03-18-19), school district leadership retreated behind closed doors. Main topic on the agenda (irony alert): the overly legalistic behavior education plan — a plan that is more cause than symptom.

The school board that can’t keep order at its own meetings? No wonder the school classrooms erupt in chaos. Then again, when you throw your specially trained “positive behavior coach” under the school bus when he tries to restore order, what do you expect? (Reaction to the Whitehorse middle school incident.)

Which must just tear at Dr. Cheatham’s heart because the lady lives and breathes identity politics, repents her white privilege, and focuses Madison’s taxpayer-supported education through the refractive prism of racial equity. As opposed to more productive goals such as personal responsibility and individual achievement.

More chaos at the school board:

Go figure. The Madison school board ONCE AGAIN retreats behind locked doors. Because it cannot keep order at its own meetings

To do what? To fine-tune its cadaverous Behavior Education Plan! Oh, the irony!

The school board can’t even control its own meetings! No wonder it cannot keep the classrooms from erupting in chaos. (More here.)

2013: What will be different, this time? Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Rotary Club 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 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.




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; Cris Carusi over Kaleem Caire for Seat 3; and incumbent TJ Mertz and Ananda Mirilli over Amos Roe for Seat 5.

Muldrow was among a group of parents and other advocates for Isthmus Montessori Academy when it sought to become a district-authorized charter school in 2017, after first opening as a private school in 2012.

The School Board voted down that plan 4-3, and Isthmus Montessori Academy pursued and won a charter through the University of Wisconsin System Office of Educational Opportunity. It converted to a tuition-free, state-supported independent charter in 2018. Muldrow’s children continue to attend the school.

MTI executive director Doug Keillor said the decision to endorse Muldrow “was based on numerous factors important to Madison educators and was not dependent exclusively on the school that her children attend.”

Former Madison School Board member Ed Hughes:

“The notion that parents inherently know what school is best for their kids is an example of conservative magical thinking.”; “For whatever reason, parents as a group tend to undervalue the benefits of diversity in the public schools….”

Madison School Board candidate Kaleem 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 to 9% of black children have been reading at grade level for the last 20 to 30 years”.

Much more on the 2019 Madison school board election, here (primary February 19, general April 2)

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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 flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

2019 Madison school board election notes and links:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.

Much more on the election (February 19 Primary and April 2 general):




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 to 9% of black children have been reading at grade level for the last 20 to 30 years”.

Candidate Forum: 2.5.2019 [MP3 audio]

Thank you to those who’ve helped record and share these events.

Much more on the election (February 19 Primary and April 2 general):

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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 flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




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 Learning Center, is one of the state’s first 4K and kindergarten charter options authorized by the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Educational Opportunity.

Caire said in his MTI questionnaire that he supports public charter schools “but only those that have produced higher levels of student outcomes and attainment, or that (are) designed to meet a particular need that traditional public schools either struggle with or do not offer.”

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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 flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




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 a letter to Cross on Sept. 24 that points to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s application, and accuses OEO of not sharing information with the district about the school.

“I am writing you to formally request that the OEO immediately terminate contract negotiations with (Arbor Community School) or, at the very least, require that this school not be located in the City of Madison,” she wrote.

That same day, former Madison School Board member Ed Hughes took Cheatham’s letter to a board of directors meeting of the Goodman Community Center, where Arbor was then trying to secure space.

More, from Negassi Tesfamichael.

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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 flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.

A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.




Commentary on the 2019 Madison School Board candidates



Negassi Tesfamichael:

With the Madison School Board primary election less than a month away, a crowded field of nine candidates will make their case to voters in the coming weeks, starting with a forum on Feb. 5.

Here’s a closer look at how candidates are making their case to voters.

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, an education activist and founder of One City Schools, is calling for a focus on early childhood education. One City Schools, which he heads, is one of Wisconsin’s first 4K and kindergarten charter options authorized by the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Educational Opportunity.

Caire is running nearly eight years after the School Board rejected his proposal for another charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy.

“I would like to see stronger partnerships between MMSD and Madison’s early childhood education community that provide a sensible continuum of learning, growth and development opportunities for children from birth to age 5,” Caire wrote in a questionnaire distributed by Madison Teachers Inc.

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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 flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




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 Doug Keillor said candidates had to send in answers to the questionnaire by Jan. 11. On Wednesday, School Board candidates interviewed with the political action arm of MTI, which is comprised of 13 people who guide the union’s endorsement process during each election cycle.

Candidate Amos Roe, who is running for Seat 5, was the only current candidate who did not submit a questionnaire. Keillor said they reached out to Roe multiple times but did not receive a response. Skylar Croy, who withdrew from the race but whose name will still appear on the Feb. 19 ballot, also did not submit a questionnaire or interview with MTI.

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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 flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




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 flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




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 encompass a city with a population greater than 150,000 but less than 500,000 shall be elected at large to numbered seats.”

Madison, whose population is just over 252,000, is the only Wisconsin city the requirement applies to.

The state statute was introduced as part of a bill in 1984 under a Democratic Legislature and Gov. Tony Earl. According to state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, who served as Senate president at the time, he worked with former state Rep. David Clarenbach on an earlier bill that failed to pass both chambers but made its way under the larger 1984 bill Act 484.

Nan Brien, who served on the School Board in the 1980s, said Madison had an entirely at-large system before the state statute was put in place. Former School Board member and former state Rep. Rebecca Young spearheaded efforts to get the state statute put in place, according to Brien.

“There was a sense of, if everyone was in one general race, that it simply would come down to name recognition,” Risser said of the previous structure.

Under the old at-large structure, if three seats were up for an election, everyone would run against everyone else for those three seats. The top three finishers would be elected.

“People wanted to facilitate the opportunity for an individual to challenge a candidate based on that candidate’s position,” Brien said of the School Board before the numbered seats were introduced. “The idea was that the change in structure would become more policy driven instead of just having people who decided they wanted to be on the School Board just for the heck of it.”

A 1973 report from the Wisconsin Legislative Council, which was submitted as the Legislature considered having numbered seats for some School Boards around the state, backs Brien’s assertion.

2019 Madison School Board Candidates, notes and links:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.




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 to integrated schools.

Focused on a half-dozen or so Afrocentric schools in central Brooklyn, the piece describes a surge of African-American families choosing schools “explicitly designed for black children” rather than pursuing the elusive goal of an integrated but still supportive school environment.

“For the last few years,” Shapiro writes, “NYC’s integration debate has largely revolved around the hopes and anxieties of white parents.” Indeed, it has. By and large, the presumption has been that parents of color prioritize integration as much as or more than anyone else. But, as Shapiro’s piece notes, that’s not entirely the case. It never has been.

Even where it’s been achieved, integrated schools have not been an unmitigated success for students of color. Negative experiences with integrated schools is one factor motivating these families. Much-publicized resistance from white families to integration is another.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.




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 collective bargaining rights from most public-sector employees. MTI mounted a failed legal challenge to the law.

“School staff experienced a reduction in take home pay after Act 10 was passed and salary increases have not kept pace with the cost-of-living,” one question states. “The District is experiencing increasing difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified employees. If elected to the Board of Education, what is your plan to increase pay for school staff?”

Much more on Act 10, here.

Madison Teachers, Inc.

2019 Madison School Board Candidates, notes and links:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.




Routing Around Madison’s Non-Diverse K-12 Governance Model



Chris Rickert:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




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 name will still appear on the ballot during the Feb. 19 primary election.

“Once you turn in signatures and they’re all proper, you’re on the ballot and can’t withdraw,” Eric Christiansen, an official at the City Clerk’s office said. He noted that even if a candidate died after their nomination signatures were turned in, their name would still appear on the ballot.

Croy serves in the Army National Guard and worked as an engineer before entering law school. Croy, 26, told the Cap Times on Wednesday that he was excited to have a chance to bring a younger voice to the seven-seat School Board.

His parents worked in schools, which Croy said helped developed his interest in education issues.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




“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 the poor attendance because of the location or the time of the meetings? Are Madison residents apathetic about police issues? Or is it because the majority of residents (black, white, brown and members of the LGBT community) think the Madison Police Department is run well and well-staffed? Are they generally very supportive of a fine police department?

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.




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., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.




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 of those in charge of our schools.

Having been shouted down and bullied at several meetings of the Madison School Board over the past several months, Blaska is uniquely qualified to expose the pusillanimous hand-wringing that passes for decision-making by those who shape educational policy in this city. He has seen firsthand how a small cadre of vocal extremists, called Freedom Inc., have cowed the current School Board with their unique brand of cop-hating venom.

When ordinary citizens are afraid to attend meetings for fear of being harassed by a mob of fanatical ideologues, we are witnessing a system that has shamelessly abandoned its mandate.

If elected, Blaska may be a lone voice crying in the wilderness, but at least it will be a voice unafraid of speaking truth to power.

Gary L. Kriewald, Madison

Chris Rickert:

It starts with safety and discipline,” said Blaska, who on his blog has been sharply critical of the district’s deliberations over whether to continue stationing Madison police officers in the high schools.

Despite raucous protests by the activist group Freedom Inc., a committee of the board recommended on Sept. 26 that the police officers, called educational resource officers, or EROs, remain in the schools. Protests against EROs by the same group shut down a School Board meeting on Oct. 29 to approve the budget. It was approved two days later in a special meeting.

Blaska also criticized the district’s Behavior Education Plan as “too bureaucratic” and the “product of too many administrators and too many meetings.” The plan — which was rolled out in 2014 and runs to 77 pages for elementary schools and 82 pages for middle and high schools — is largely an attempt to move away from “zero tolerance” policies and reduce the disproportionately high number of students of color who are expelled or suspended. It is undergoing revisions this year.

He said he would try to get the BEP down to about eight pages while giving teachers and administrators more discretion over how they handle student behavior in their schools.

Incumbent Dean Loumos, who chaired the ERO committee, said he was “not at all” vulnerable to criticism about the way he has handled security issues.

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Blaska has frequently criticized members of Freedom Inc., the local social justice advocacy group that has spoken out at recent School Board meetings against the use of educational resource officers in the city’s four comprehensive high schools.

Protests that broke out during the public comment period at the School Board’s October meeting led to a vote to adjourn the meeting early. Blaska has lamented that some do not feel safe attending School Board meetings because of the “far-left mob.”

Blaska in recent blog posts has called on Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to prosecute the the protesters who shut down the October meeting.

Notes and links:

Dean Loumos

Cris Carusi

David Blaska

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.




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 was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Arbor has not entered contract negotiations with OEO yet, according to incoming OEO director Latoya Holiday, but has been approved for a charter contingent on finding a location. Goodman executive director Becky Steinhoff said the school first approached the center in early summer about using space there and possible other, later collaborations.

Hughes said he delivered a letter from Madison superintendent Jennifer Cheatham that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, and told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

In the letter to UW System president Ray Cross, which is dated Sept. 24, Cheatham points to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s application, and accuses OEO of not sharing information with the district about the proposed school.

“I am writing you to formally request that the OEO immediately terminate contract negotiations with (Arbor Community School) or, at the very least, require that this school not be located in the City of Madison,” she writes.

Steinhoff said partnering with a charter school such as Arbor would likely be controversial in Madison but that even in the absence of the district’s opposition to the school and Hughes’ appearance before the board, the board “probably” would not have authorized further discussions with Arbor.

Fascinating.

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Mertz said he will look to highlight his record during the campaign, and also talk about building trust and accountability in the Madison Metropolitan School District.

“In order for us to provide our students the education they deserve, we need to work to repair the breakdowns of trust we see manifested in the divisions within our schools, within our community, and between too many of our families and our schools,” Mertz said. “We need to respect each other, assume the best intentions, and work together with honesty and hope.”

Notes and links:

TJ Mertz

Ed Hughes

A majority (including Mr. Hughes) of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

Ed Hughes (2005): Madison Teachers union and the school board.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and ] do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.




Commentary on Madison’s K-12 spending, curriculum, rhetoric and governance practices “Plenty of Resources (2013)”



Steven Elbow:

To make their point, the couple traced reading and math proficiency rates for the class of 2017 through the years, finding that the black and Hispanic cohorts saw little if any improvements between grades three to 11 and trailed white students by as many as 50 percentage points.

“Both of these things suggest to us that the district’s efforts to educate our minority students have failed (for whatever reason or reasons),” they wrote. “Nevertheless, we are finding ways to give these students high school diplomas. But what good is a high school diploma to a young person if they cannot read or do math?”

They’re calling for more resources, especially in younger grades, like reading specialists to oversee literacy programming, and reading specialists to run intervention programs in the middle and high schools.

“Further, we need to hold those people and other school staff accountable for improving literacy in their student body — i.e., for increasing the percentage of students (in every demographic group) in their school who are reading at grade level,” they wrote.

In the Isthmus article, Henriques and Frost also accused the district of whitewashing data.

“We have long been frustrated by the way the district selectively compiles, analyzes, and shares student data with the community,” they wrote, adding, “For too many district administrators and school board members over the 20+ years we have been paying attention, making the district look good has been more important than thoroughgoing honesty about how our students are doing.”

Cheatham bristled at the criticism, maintaining that the district publicly posts all data, both favorable and unfavorable, and that there’s nothing wrong with publicizing good results.

“We’ll never hide our progress,” she said, “and it’s important to recognize the progress we have made, which is substantial.”

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20k per student.

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

2005: 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 he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.
According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

More.

2006: They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!

2013: “Plenty of Resources“.

What’s different, this time?

2017: Adult employment.

2018: Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement




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 100 meetings over the past year, receiving input from more than 2,000 students, staff, parents and community members.

“Meeting after meeting, it was crystal clear to me that this is what our community wants,” she said. “We believe at this state we need to hold ourselves accountable to more ambitious goals” for African-American youth.

The district released a 20-page report Tuesday, outlining three goals officials hope to meet by adopting a variety of strategies and meeting a host of benchmarks in the coming years.

Locally, the Simpson Street Free Press has covered the office of civil rights investigation into the Madison school District.

I’ve not seen substantive mention of this in the traditional media.

Madison, despite spending more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

2006: they’re all rich white kids and they will do just fine, not!

Small Learning communities.

English 10

Talented and gifted lawsuit




“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, building Madison Prep would have been an opportunity for the district to respond to the longstanding concerns of African-American parents for better educational outcomes for their children.

“How could (the Madison School Board) question us like that? (They) hadn’t gotten this thing right in two to three decades,” Caire said.

“Black kids were not getting what they needed. Black community members felt that and it’s real,” he said. “White community members said we were trying to tell them that their system doesn’t support black kids… a whole lot of it was about that.”

In December 2011, hundreds of people on both sides of the Madison Prep debate crowded the auditorium at Madison Memorial High School to appeal to the Madison School Board. Ultimately, the Board voted 5-2 against the charter proposal.

“It actually made me feel like Madison was no longer my home, going through that,” Caire said. “A lot of friends I had, to this day, after that experience don’t hang out with me like they used to. I miss that… unfortunately, there were some casualties with that whole episode.”

Ed Hughes, former Madison School Board president who was one of the two members who voted in favor of Madison Prep [Incorrect], agreed.

“It was an eye-opening experience for me. I had been on the board for a few years, but there was not previously an issue like that, one that highlighted the school district’s failure to educate children of color,” Hughes said.

“It took someone like (Caire) to come in, request the data, put it out, and say, ‘The school district is failing in some really significant ways and no one is doing anything about it.’ It is a real credit to him that he got people talking about the issue and starting to focus on it.”

Current Madison School Board member T.J. Mertz is an instructor at Edgewood College who blogs extensively about K-12 education issues in the city. Before joining the board, Mertz voiced his concerns about Madison Prep’s funding structure and pedagogical approach in his blog.

In an interview with the