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

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

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.

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 … Continue reading Jennifer Cheatham’s Harvard Lecturer Position

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 … Continue reading Commentary on Rhetoric: Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

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

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

Jennifer Cheatham resigning as Madison school superintendent

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

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

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

Commentary on Madison’s 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 … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s K-12 spending, curriculum, rhetoric and governance practices “Plenty of Resources (2013)”

On Madison’s Lack Of K-12 Governance Diversity: “Cheatham declined to address that question”

Chris Rockert: Attendance, graduation rates and college enrollment were generally on the upswing beginning five to seven years before Hancock started moving toward selective enrollment. More to the point for Madison and West High is that improvements began happening at Hancock before Boran took over or even worked there. Regardless of who or what is … Continue reading On Madison’s Lack Of K-12 Governance Diversity: “Cheatham declined to address that question”

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

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

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

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

A Positive Madison Magazine Article on Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

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

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Contract



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

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

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

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


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

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

Molly Beck:

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

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

2013 Madison Summer School Report

Scott Zimmerman:

The district provided a comprehensive extended learning summer school program, K-Ready through 12th grade, at ten sites and served 5,097 students. At each of the K-8 sites, there was direction by a principal, professional Leopold, Chavez, Black Hawk and Toki, and oral language development was offered at Blackhawk and Toki. The 4th grade promotion classes were held at each elementary school, and 8th grade promotion classes were held at the two middle school sites.
Students in grades K-2 who received a 1 or 2 on their report card in literacy, and students in grades 3-5 who received a 1 or 2 in math or literacy, were invited to attend SLA. The 6-7 grade students who received a GPA of 2.0 or lower, or a 1 or 2 on WKCE, were invited to attend SLA. As in 2012, students with report cards indicating behavioral concerns were invited to attend summer school. Additionally, the summer school criterion for grades 5K-7th included consideration for students receiving a 3 or 4 asterisk grade on their report card (an asterisk grade indicates the student receives modified curriculum). In total, the academic program served 2,910 students, ranging from those entering five-year-old kindergarten through 8th grade.
High school courses were offered for credit recovery, first-time credit, and electives including English/language arts, math, science, social studies, health, physical education, keyboarding, computer literacy, art, study skills, algebra prep, ACT/SAT prep, and work experience. The high school program served a total of 1,536 students, with 74 students having completed their graduation requirements at the end of the summer.
All academic summer school teachers received approximately 20 hours of professional development prior to the start of the six-week program. Kindergarten-Ready teachers as well as primary literacy and math teachers also had access to job embedded professional development. In 2013, there were 476 certified staff employed in SLA.

Jennifer Cheatham:

Key Enhancements for Summer School 2014
A) Provide teachers with a pay increase without increasing overall cost of summer school.
Teacher salary increase of 3% ($53,887).
B) Smaller Learning Environments: Create smaller learning environments, with fewer students per summer school site compared to previous years, to achieve the following: increase student access to high quality learning, increase the number of students who can walk to school, and reduce number of people in the building when temperatures are high. ($50,482)
C) Innovations: Pilot at Wright Middle School and Lindbergh Elementary School where students receive instruction in a familiar environment, from a familiar teacher. These school sites were selected based on identification as intense focus schools along with having high poverty rates when compared to the rest of the district. Pilot character building curriculum at Sandburg Elementary School. ($37,529)
D) Student Engagement: Increase student engagement with high quality curriculum and instruction along with incentives such as Friday pep rallies and afternoon MSCR fieldtrips. ($25,000)
E) High School Professional Development: First-time-offered, to increase quality of instruction and student engagement in learning. ($12,083)
F) Student Selection: Utilize an enhanced student selection process that better aligns with school’s multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) so that student services intervention teams (SSIT) have time to problem solve, and recommend students for SLA. Recommendations are based on student grades and standardized assessment scores, such as a MAP score below the 25th percentile at grades 3-5, or a score of minimal on the WKCE in language arts, math, science, and social studies at grades 3-5. (no cost)
Estimated total cost: $185,709.00
Summer School Program Reductions
The following changes would allow enhancements to summer school and implementation of innovative pilots:
A) Professional development (PD): reduce PD days for teachers grades K-8 by one day. This change will save money and provide teachers with an extra day off of work before the start of summer school (save $49,344.60).
B) Materials reduction: the purchase of Mondo materials in 2013 allows for the reduction of general literacy curricular materials in 2014 (save $5,000).
C) Madison Virtual Campus (MVC): MVC is not a reimbursable summer school program as students are not in classroom seats. This program could be offered separate from summer school in the future (save $18,000).
D) Librarians: reduce 3 positions, assigning librarians to support two sites. Students will continue to have access to the expertise of the librarian and can utilize library resources including electronic equipment (save $12,903.84).
E) Reading Interventionists: reduce 8 positions, as summer school is a student intervention, it allows students additional learning time in literacy and math. With new Mondo materials and student data profiles, students can be grouped for the most effective instruction when appropriate (save $48,492).
F) PBS Coach: reduce 8 positions, combining the coach and interventionist positions to create one position (coach/interventionist) that supports teachers in setting up classes and school wide systems, along with providing individual student interventions. With smaller learning sites, there would be less need for two separate positions (save $24,408).
G) Literacy and Math Coach Positions: reduce from 16 to 5 positions, combining the role and purpose of the literacy and math coach. Each position supports two schools for both math and literacy. Teachers can meet weekly with literacy/math coach to plan and collaborate around curriculum and student needs (save $27,601.60).
Estimated Total Savings: $185,750.04
Strategic Framework:
The role of the Summer Learning Academy (SLA) is critical to preparing students for college career and community readiness. Research tells us that over 50% of the achievement gap between lower and higher income students is directly related to unequal learning opportunities over the summer (Alexander et al., 2007). Research based practices and interventions are utilized in SLA to increase opportunities for learning and to raise student achievement across the District (Odden & Archibald, 2008). The SLA is a valuable time for students to receive additional support in learning core concepts in literacy and math to move them toward MMSD benchmarks (Augustine et.al., 2013). SLA aligns with the following Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Strategic Framework goals:
A) Every student is on-track to graduate as measured by student growth and achievement at key milestones. Milestones of reading by grade 3, proficiency in reading and math in grade 5, high school readiness in grade 8, college readiness in grade 11, and high school graduation and completion rate.
B) Every student has access to challenging and well-rounded education as measured by programmatic access and participation data. Access to fine arts and world languages, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, and advanced coursework.

Jennifer Cheatham’s Chicago contingent well received in Madison

Pat Schneider:

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

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

Commentary on New Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s “Style”….

Paul Fanlund

he gist of her framework is hard to argue. It calls for a renewed focus on learning, a school system that makes curriculum consistent across the district and better measures student and teacher performance. In sum, it is a back-to-basics approach that does not require new money, at least for now.
Madison, of course, has been grappling with its changing demographics where many students, especially minority children, struggle academically. In shorthand, it’s called the “achievement gap,” and the approach to date has been a long list of seemingly laudable, logical programs.
Now comes Cheatham saying we don’t need more money, at least not yet, but instead we need to rebuild the foundation. Might some see that as counterintuitive, I wonder?
“It might be,” she responds. “My take is that we were adding on with a big price tag to an infrastructure that was weak. … Does that make sense? The bones of the organization were weak and we didn’t do the hard work of making sure that the day-to-day processes … were strong before deciding to make targeted investments on top of a strong foundation.”
She continues: “That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some targeted investments down the line. I suspect that will be in things like technology, for instance, which is a real challenge … and is going to have a price tag later. I need to make sure that the foundation is strong first.”
Cheatham alludes to her Chicago experience. “Having worked with lots of schools — and lots of schools that have struggled — and worked with schools targeting narrowing and closure of the achievement gap, these fundamental practices” make the biggest difference. “It’s that day-to-day work that ultimately produces results and student learning.”

We shall see. Local media have greeted prior Superintendents, including Cheryl Wilhoyte with style points, prior to the beginning of tough decision-making.
Related: The Dichotomy of Madison School Board Governance: “Same Service” vs. “having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district”.
Another interesting governance question, particularly when changes to the 157 page teacher union contract, or perhaps “handbook” arise, is where the school board stands? Two seats will be on the Spring, 2014 ballot. They are presently occupied by Marj Passman and Ed Hughes. In addition, not all members may vote on teacher union related matters due to conflict of interests. Finally, Mary Burke’s possible race for the Governor’s seat (2014) may further change board dynamics.
I hope that Superintendent Cheatham’s plans to focus the organization on teaching become a reality. Nothing is more important given the District’s disastrous reading results. That said, talk is cheap and we’ve seen this movie before.

Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s Rotary Club Talk (audio & slides): “What will be different this time?”

15mb mp3 audio.

Superintendent Cheatham’s slides follow (4MB PDF version). I hope that the prominence of Madison’s disastrous reading scores – slide 1 – indicates that this is job one for our $15,000ish/student organization.





























A few of the Superintendent’s words merit a bit of analysis:
1. “What will be different this time?” That rhetoric is appropriate for our Madison schools. I compiled a number of notes and links on this subject, here.
2. “Ready to partner with local businesses and other organizations”. Great idea. The substance of this would certainly be a change after the Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school debacle (Urban League) and, some years ago, the rejection of Promega’s kind offer to partner on Madison Middle Schools 2000.
3. Mentions “all Madison schools are diverse”. I don’t buy that. The range of student climate across all schools is significant, from Van Hise and Franklin to LakeView, Mendota and Sandburg. Madison school data by income summary. I have long been astonished that this wide variation continues. Note that Madison’s reading problems are not limited to African-American students.
4. Mentioned Long Beach and Boston as urban districts that have narrowed the achievement gap. Both districts offer a variety of school governance models, which is quite different than Madison’s long-time “one size fits all approach”.
5. Dave Baskerville (www.wisconsin2.org) asked a question about benchmarking Madison students vs. the world, rather than Green Bay and Milwaukee. Superintendent Cheatham responded positively to that inquiry. Interestingly, the Long Beach schools prominently display their status as a “top 5 school system worldwide”.
6. “Some teachers and principals have not been reviewed for as long as 7 years”. This points to the crux of hard decision making. Presumably, we are at this point because such reviews make no difference given rolling administrator contracts and a strong union umbrella (or floor depending on your point of view). Thus, my last point (below) about getting on with the hard decisions which focus the organization on job number one: reading.
Pat Schneider and Matthew DeFour summarize the Superintendent’s press release and appearance.
Finally, I found it a bit curious that the Superintendent is supporting spending (and related property tax growth) for current programs in light of the larger strategy discussed today along with the recent “expert review”. The review stated that the “Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap”
This would be a great time to eliminate some programs such as the partially implemented Infinite Campus system.
Superintendent Cheatham’s plan indicates that choices will be made so that staff and resources can focus on where they are most needed. I wholeheartedly agree. There is no point in waiting and wasting more time and money. Delay will only increase the cost of her “strategy tax“.

45% (!) Increase in Madison Schools’ Fund 80 Property Taxes from the 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 School Year; No Mention of Total Spending



July, 2013 Madison Schools 2013-2014 Budget Presentation (PDF). Notes:

  • No mention of total spending…. How might the Board exercise its oversight obligation without the entire picture?
  • The substantial increase in redistributed state tax dollars (due to 4K) last year is not mentioned. Rather, a bit of rhetoric: “The 2013-14 budget development process has focused on actions which begin to align MMSD resources with the Strategic Framework Priorities and strategies to manage the tax levy in light of a significant loss of state aid.” In fact, according to page 6, the District expects to receive $46,392,012 in redistributed state tax dollars, which is a six (6%) increase over the funds received two years ago.
  • The District’s fund equity (financial cushion, or reserves) has more than doubled in the past eight years, from $22,368,031 in 2005 to $46,943,263 in 2012.
  • Outbound open enrollment continues to grow, up 14% to 1,041 leavers in 2013 (281 inbound from other Districts).
  • There is no mention of the local tax or economic base:











  • The growth in Fund 80 (MSCR) property taxes and spending has been controversial over the years. Fund 80, up until recently was NOT subject to state imposed property tax growth limitations.
  • Matthew DeFour briefly summarizes the partial budget information here. DeFour mentions (no source referenced or linked – in 2013?) that the total 2013-2014 budget will be $391,000,000. I don’t believe it:

    The January, 2012 budget document mentioned “District spending remains largely flat at $369,394,753” (2012-2013), yet the “baseline” for 2013-2014 mentions planned spending of $392,807,993 “a decrease of $70,235 or (0.02%) less than the 2012-13 Revised Budget” (around $15k/student). The District’s budget generally increases throughout the school year, growing 6.3% from January, 2012 to April, 2013. Follow the District’s budget changes for the past year, here.

Finally, the document includes this brief paragraph:

Work will begin on the 2014-15 early this fall. The process will be zero-based, and every line item and FTE will be carefully reviewed to ensure that resources are being used efficiently. The budget development process will also include a review of benefit programs and procurement practices, among other areas.

One hopes that programs will indeed be reviewed and efforts focused on the most urgent issues, particularly the District’s disastrous reading scores.
Ironically, the recent “expert review” found that Analysis: Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap. If this is the case (and I agree with their conclusion – making changes will be extraordinarily difficult), what are students, taxpayers and citizens getting for the annual tax & spending growth?
I took a quick look at property taxes in Middleton and Madison on a $230,000 home. A Middleton home paid $4,648.16 in 2012 while a Madison home paid 16% more, or $5,408.38.

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

Pat Schneider:

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

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

Madison Schools’ Budget Updates: Board Questions, Spending Through 3.31.2013, Staffing Plan Changes



Steve Hartley, Madison Schools Chief of Staff:

Attached is a spreadsheet listing questions received from BOE members to date and some of our responses. Over the course of the next two months, we will continue to collect your questions and respond at both Operational Support and Regular Board meetings.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF):

The draft budget included several new positions for the Board’s consideration. After refining and prioritizing with staff and vetting with principals, we are only asking for approval of two essential positions at this point. The position changes represent a savings of just over $2 million from the draft budget.
As we prepare for next year, we must keep our efforts and resources focused on providing supports to schools to improve instruction. We must also be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars by reducing the impact of our budget.
To get to these recommendations, we conducted a rigorous examination of positions funded in the draft budget to decide what we believe is absolutely necessary right now. Much of the work we need to do next year is about improving the systems and structures for how we serve students, not adding additional resources. It will be critical going forward that we narrow our focus to the strategies that we know work, implement them well and sustain the focus over time.
So far, we have only considered the position decisions that we need the Board to approve. Over the next two months, we will continue to work through the draft budget in order to reduce the tax impact and align with our efforts for next year. Also, we have only reviewed positions based on the draft budget. Next year, we plan to engage in a more thorough, zero-based budgeting process.
Position Additions from Draft Budget that are No Longer Recommended
There are several positions included in the draft budget that we are no longer recommending at this point. In looking at specific positions, we considered our ability to carry out necessary work through more efficient systems and in some cases, the need to pause and re-consider our approach.
With that in mind, we are no longer recommending going forward with the following position additions that were included in the draft budget. Because these were new positions in the draft budget, they do not have staff in them currently and do not require any layoffs.
Mental Health Coordinator: Through redistribution of work in student services, we will be able to provide support to implementation of the Mental Health Task Force’s work.
Safety Coordinator: We will continue to coordinate efforts across the organization to ensure safety.

Perhaps a positive sign “we must keep our efforts and resources focused on providing supports to schools to improve instruction”. Reading is surely job one, as the District’s long term disastrous reading scores illustrate.

March, 2013 Madison Schools’ financial reports (PDF).
Related: Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.
Commentary on Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes’ Teacher Salary Increase Words.

Jennifer Cheatham and community can support racial equity

Rachel Krinsky:

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

Related: And, so it continues.

Commentary on Madison’s Incoming Superintendent Cheatham

Pat Schneider:

But Cheatham, who served as what amounts to an area superintendent overseeing 25 schools and later as chief of instruction and curriculum for the entire 400,000-student, $5.1 billion-budget school system, not only got strong recommendations, she demonstrated intellect and ideas to Madison school officials, Passman said. The Madison School District, in comparison, has a $376 million budget and an enrollment of about 27,000.
Board member Mary Burke told me she wasn’t thrilled at first to be considering a candidate from the perennially troubled Chicago Public Schools. “I feel Madison is the type of district that should be able to attract people from the best school districts,” Burke said. So she used a method that had served her well in hiring situations over a career that has included executive positions in the private and public sectors: Burke and other School Board members went beyond resumes and references and contacted additional people Cheatham had worked with in the past.
“They were very consistent in terms of what they said: She’s a great instructional leader, really smart and hardworking, and the schools under her made incredible progress raising students’ level of achievement,” Burke told me.
Like the board members, I also turned to people Cheatham had worked with in Chicago to get a glimpse of how her skills and personality will dovetail with the Madison community.

Pat Schneider refers to the Madison School District’s $376,000,000 budget, yet Matthew Defour just a few days ago, put it at $394,000,000. A subsequent email from the District’s Donna Williams placed the 2012-2013 budget at $392,789,303 for approximately 27,000 students, or $14,547/student about 12% more than Chicago’s $12,750, according to Schneider’s article.
Many notes and links on Jennifer Cheatham, here.

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

Isthmus:

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

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

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

Isthmus:

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

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

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

Isthmus:

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

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections here.

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

Dave Cieslewicz:

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

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

Madison Names Two Superintendent Finalists, Public Forum on 2.7.2013

The Madison School District:

The Madison Metropolitan School District has chosen the two finalists for the superintendent position, it was announced Sunday in a press release.
The two finalists are Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, chief of instruction at Chicago Public Schools, and Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., superintendent of Springfield (Ill.) Public Schools.
The public is invited to a public forum Thursday, Feb. 7 at 5:45 p.m. at the Monona Terrace to meet and ask questions of the two candidates. If you cannot attend the forum, you can email your comments or questions to board@madison.k12.wi.us.

Much more on Madison Superintendents.
A recent look at Madison Superintendent hires.
UPDATE: Samara Kalk Derby:

According to Cheatham’s biography on the Chicago Public Schools website, her focus is on “systemic improvement in urban school districts” and her expertise “lies in developing instructional alignment and coherence at every level of a school system aimed at achieving breakthrough results in student learning.”
She has worked as a Chief Area Officer for Chicago Public Schools and the executive director of Curriculum and Instruction for San Diego City Schools, the biography said. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from DePaul University, a master’s in education from the University of Michigan, and a master’s and doctorate in education from Harvard University.
According to a personal website promoting his book, “Me in the Making: One Man’s Journey to Becoming a School Superintendent,” Milton is a native of Rochester, N.Y., who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Albany and a master’s from SUNY College at Brockport. He took post-graduate courses at the University of Rochester to receive his administrative certifications, including his superintendent’s license. He holds a doctorate of education in leadership and policy from the University of Buffalo. He has also been a teacher and principal.


Google News on On Chicago & Dr. Jennifer Cheatham
. More, here:Long on Class Time, Short on Answers .
Google News on Springfield Superintendent Walter Milton.

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

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

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 … Continue reading Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020

The fallen state of experts: How can governments learn from their expert failings?

Roger Koppl: If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you’re not paying attention to the experts. Epidemiologists tell us that if we do not hide in our houses with the door securely locked, hundreds of thousands will surely perish. Economists tell us that if we do not return immediately … Continue reading The fallen state of experts: How can governments learn from their expert failings?

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 … Continue reading Madison School Board May Retreat

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, … Continue reading Resisting Open Records Requests at the taxpayer supported Madison School District

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

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

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 … Continue reading Madison School District superintendent-hire Gutiérrez rescinds acceptance

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

As long as Montgomery County fails to teach children to read, it will have gaps

Karin Chenoweth: In the words of the report, Montgomery County’s curriculum does “not include the necessary components to adequately address foundational skills.” If you’re not immersed in these issues, you might not recognize just how scathing this language is. Montgomery County fails to do what just about all cognitive scientists and most reading researchers agree … Continue reading As long as Montgomery County fails to teach children to read, it will have gaps

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 … Continue reading Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary

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

A Conversation About the Science of Reading and Early Reading Instruction with Dr. Louisa Moats

Kelly Stuart & Gina Fugnitto: Dr. Louisa Moats: The body of work referred to as the “science of reading” is not an ideology, a philosophy, a political agenda, a one-size-fits-all approach, a program of instruction, nor a specific component of instruction. It is the emerging consensus from many related disciplines, based on literally thousands of … Continue reading A Conversation About the Science of Reading and Early Reading Instruction with Dr. Louisa Moats

“The achievement rate has gotten worse. The failure rate of kids has gotten worse. We would keep thinking that we were solving the problem, the United Way and all of these organizations jump on it, but it doesn’t change a thing.”

Steven Elbow: The problem, some say, is that disparities impact a population that has little political or economic clout. And white people, who control the levers of commerce and government, address only pieces of an interconnected web of issues that include child development, education, economics and criminal justice. Brandi Grayson co-founded Young, Gifted and Black … Continue reading “The achievement rate has gotten worse. The failure rate of kids has gotten worse. We would keep thinking that we were solving the problem, the United Way and all of these organizations jump on it, but it doesn’t change a thing.”

K-12 Governance, Spending and Student Learning: As audit looms, Boston schools brace for more bad news

James Vaznis: By many measures, the Boston schools are in crisis. Graduation rates dropped last year, while the gap between Black and white students earning diplomas more than doubled. The state last fall ordered the school district to ramp up improvement efforts at nearly three dozen low-performing schools. A Globe review revealed that fewer than … Continue reading K-12 Governance, Spending and Student Learning: As audit looms, Boston schools brace for more bad news

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 … Continue reading An interview with Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 … Continue reading Guilty white teacher defends Madison school chaos

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 … Continue reading School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent

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

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 … Continue reading Candidate Quotes from Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Pageant

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 … Continue reading Madison 2020 Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas appearance notes

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 … Continue reading 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.”

Schools without discipline will fail

Peter Anderson: Jennifer Cheatham’s tenure, to a not-insignificant extent, became increasingly defined by her efforts to deflect vocal pressure from Freedom Inc., by how those efforts affected her determination to convince opinion leaders of her commitment to racial justice, and by her inability to actually reduce the black achievement gap. To reinvigorate her bona fides, she caved in … Continue reading Schools without discipline will fail

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

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

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 … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard

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

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

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 … Continue reading Madison School District superintendent finalists visit this week

Expanding Taxpayer Supported Programs amidst long term, disastrous reading results

Scott Girard: The Madison Metropolitan School District could continue its expansion of the Community Schools program as soon as the 2021-22 school year. School Board members will receive an update on the program, which offers expanded services at four schools to help serve as a “hub” to their surrounding community, at a Monday Instruction Work … Continue reading Expanding Taxpayer Supported Programs amidst long term, disastrous reading results

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

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 … Continue reading Madison School Board races starting to emerge as filing deadline approaches

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

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 … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School Board’s Superintendent Search Finalists

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 … Continue reading Open Records vs the taxpayer funded Madison school board

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

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

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

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 … Continue reading Madison School Board eyes hiring consultant in superintendent search

“Do Your Job:’ Pittsburgh Public Administrators Face Criticism Over School Performance (!)

Andy Sheehan: The hallways of the predominantly African American University Prep are lined with pennants and banners of colleges and universities — but the promise of a college education has gone mostly unfulfilled. Students at the 6-12 public school in the Hill District have struggled academically, with less than 17% of its middle schoolers achieving … Continue reading “Do Your Job:’ Pittsburgh Public Administrators Face Criticism Over School Performance (!)

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

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

Commentary on Regional economic development

Judy Newman: The report, conducted by Market Street Services, an Atlanta business consulting firm, updates the first Advance Now plan, presented in 2012, and many of its recommendations are similar: Develop a brand identity for the Madison region — identified as Dane, Columbia, Dodge, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties — and promote it; educate and … Continue reading Commentary on Regional economic development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

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

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

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

2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

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

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

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

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

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

Re-thinking integration, Parents and the Madison Experience

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

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

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