Proposal for online early learning program could ‘supplement’ 4K in Wisconsin

Scott Girard: A bill to commit $1.5 million over three years to an online early learning program for low-income children got a public hearing Thursday from the State Assembly’s Committee on Education. The bill, AB662, and its Senate companion would pave the way for a nonprofit company to pilot its software in three urban and three rural school … Continue reading Proposal for online early learning program could ‘supplement’ 4K in Wisconsin

Report finds MMSD 4K enrollment leads to higher literacy scores, trails Milwaukee

Amber Walker: To measure literacy, MEP compared students’ performance on the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening, or PALS, an assessment of students’ familiarity with literacy fundamentals like letter recognition, spelling and sound awareness. On average, 4K students scored higher on PALS than 53 percent of their peers who did not enroll in 4K. Students of color, … Continue reading Report finds MMSD 4K enrollment leads to higher literacy scores, trails Milwaukee

Job insecurity is the new normal. Here’s how it’s affecting your family life Read more at

Lane Anderson: After World War II, there was a golden era when Americans, especially those that had an education, could expect to have a job and keep it until retirement and retire with an adequate pension. Those days, which Allison Pugh, professor of Sociology at University of Virginia, refers to as the “20-year career and … Continue reading Job insecurity is the new normal. Here’s how it’s affecting your family life Read more at

District analysis finds Madison 4K may help close achievement gap

Matthew DeFour: Results from a fall kindergarten test that gauges school readiness show Madison’s 4-year-old kindergarten program may help raise achievement levels of minority students, according to a new district analysis. The analysis found attending 4K in Madison reduced a student’s chance of being deemed unprepared for school by 5.5 percent and increased scores on … Continue reading District analysis finds Madison 4K may help close achievement gap

4K jump helps boost Madison schools enrollment

The Madison School District’s student population increased slightly this year to 26,925, including a 7 percent increase in 4-year-old kindergarten.
Superintendent Jane Belmore noted the 4K program in its second year now reaches 90 percent of 4-year-olds who live in the district.
“We are pleased that our enrollment remains stable and that our incredibly important 4K program continues to grow,” Belmore said in a statement. “Starting learning early is key to closing gaps, and this year, our 4K program will do that important work for more students.”
The district added 275 students, about a 1 percent increase, overall. The 4K program added 125 students for a total of 1,914 participants in the optional half-day program.
It is the 12th straight year that K-12 enrollment (excluding 4K) has ranged between 24,000 and 25,000 students.

Data shows Madison’s 4K program is reaching low-income families

Matthew DeFour:

When Madison’s 4-year-old kindergarten program began there were concerns about its accessibility to low-income families, but data from the first class suggest the program has been successful in serving low-income students.
Data collected last fall found 52 percent of students who participated in the 4K program this year are low-income students, either because they qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, or participate in the Head Start program. That’s slightly higher than the district average of 48 percent.
Some families, however, still weren’t able to access the program.

Proposal to nix Allied Drive Madison 4K site called short-sighted

Matthew DeFour:

Allied Drive advocates say a Madison School District proposal to abandon plans for a 4-year-old kindergarten site in the South Side neighborhood is short-sighted and potentially harmful to students.
Currently, 66 students are assigned to the Allied Learning Center next fall, including nine students from the Allied Drive neighborhood, one of the city’s poorest. But district officials have asked the school board to consider moving the students to other district sites, saying several parents had asked to send their children to other locations.
Ald. Brian Solomon, 10th District, said that recommendation is a “huge concern” touching on issues of civil rights, racial justice and the city’s efforts to improve a neighborhood once riddled by drugs and violence.
“This will have such an impact on the long-term success of these kids,” Solomon said. “Having every opportunity possible to allow the (Allied) parents to have more involvement will undoubtedly prepare these kids better for future years.”
Superintendent Dan Nerad brought the issue to the board’s attention last month after the parents of 16 students assigned to the Allied Learning Center requested different sites. In addition to the parents’ concerns, Nerad noted the $15,000 cost to add playground equipment and about $150,000 for additional staffing as other reasons not to use the site.

More than 1,700 sign up for Madison schools’ new 4K program

Matthew DeFour:

More than 1,700 students are signed up for Madison’s new 4-year-old kindergarten program next fall — many more than the district anticipated.
The district initially projected enrollment at 1,500 students, but so far has enrolled 1,730 students and counting. Parents can enroll their students in the free program at any time.
The higher number is a good thing and likely resulted from an extensive amount of community outreach, according to Deputy Superintendent Sue Abplanalp.

In response to criticism, Madison Schools will consider additional 4K sites

Matthew DeFour:

Responding to concerns that potential locations for Madison’s new 4-year-old kindergarten program are not located in poor neighborhoods where they may be most beneficial, school district officials said Monday they will evaluate additional sites.
The School Board on Monday approved 19 elementary schools with available space as potential 4K sites, but also asked the district to identify churches or community centers with space where Madison teachers could be assigned for the 2 1/2 hour daily program beginning this fall.
The district is expecting to hear back this week from 35 day care centers that were approved to participate in the program.
Not all of the 54 potential sites will end up being used, but the district won’t know the exact distribution until parents register their students beginning Feb. 7.

Much more on Madison’s 4K program, here.

Carlstedt: Time for Wisconsin to stop spending Dollarss on 4K and a Reference to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad

Rich Carlstedt:

First, the Federal Government funds a program for youngsters that need help. It is called Headstart. The cry for help for such an age group should be addressed by this program, however the schools have found a cash cow in Wisconsin’s 4 K Budget and can make extra funds this way.
Second, rather than looking to Arkansas, (or Georgia, who admit that the 4K program is a failure), we can look right here in Wisconsin. Three years ago I challenged Dan Nerad, the Green Bay Superintendent at that time, when he said, “early education promotes advancement of learning .”

“We do not need to look at studies from other communities, when we have the information right here in Green Bay! 8 years ago, we went from ½ day kindergarten to full day, and yet subsequent grade test scores failed to reflect the additional education time… in fact, scores are decreasing which is proof that extending hours does nothing.”

The charge went unanswered.
Third, I have to say that you left a very large arrow out of your quiver, as your financial equation is not correct for 4 K.
While I feel that $9,900 is closer, let’s use your $9,000 number, it is fine for expressing costs. To get funding for a student, he is counted as one FTE ( full time education) to get the 9K. 4K students however get a kicker. For 13 ¼ hours per week they are counted as .6 FTE ( .5 if less than 13 ¼). So 4 year olds are given a morning class, followed in the PM with another 4 year old. Those two half day students count as (2 x.6) 1.2 FTE or in cash terms, they bring in $10,800 to the district.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program, here.
The article’s comments are worth reading.

Madison & Middleton-Cross Plains School District 4K Agreement

Matthew Bell:
Matthew W. Bell, Legal Counsel

Attached please find a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the Middleton/Cross Plains Area School District. The proposed agreement with Middleton/Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) allows the District to establish a 4k site in a nursery school (Orchard Ridge Nursery School) that lies within the MCPASD’s border. The rationale for the District’s desire to do so is the fact that Orchard Ridge is within 1/4 mile of MMSD’s boundary and it serves primarily (70-80%) Madison residents. The agreement would also allow the District to serve MCPASD 4k students who chose to enroll at Orchard Ridge in exchange for direct non-resident tuition reimbursement by MCPASD to Orchard Ridge. Conversely, MCPASD will be allowed to establish 4k sites at two centers (LaPetite and Middleton Preschool) that are within MMSD’s border. MCPASD’s rational for wanting to contract with those sites is identical to MMSD’s desire to contract with Orchard Ridge (i.e. proximity and demographics of children already at the center). MCPASD would also serve MMSD residents who chose to attend those sites in exchange for MMSD directly reimbursing LaPetite and Middleton Preschool. The agreement with MCPASD is attached for your review and action.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program here.

Wisconsin State Senator Seeks to Stop 4K Funding Growth, Including Madison’s Planned Program

Matthew DeFour:

A Republican lawmaker wants to kill Madison’s fledgling 4-year-old kindergarten program before it even begins.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said Wednesday the state shouldn’t encourage new 4K programs — now in 85 percent of the state’s school districts and with three times as many students as a decade ago — because taxpayers can’t afford them.
“We have a very difficult budget here,” Grothman said in an interview. “Some of it is going to have to be solved by saying some of these massive expansions of government in the last 10 years cannot stand.”
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad called Grothman’s proposal “very troubling.”
“I don’t know what the 4-year-olds in Madison did to offend the senator,” Nerad said. “There are plenty of studies that have indicated that it’s a good idea to invest as early as possible.”
Last month the Madison School Board approved a $12.2 million 4K program for next fall with registration beginning Feb. 7. Madison’s program is projected to draw $10 million in extra state aid in 2014 when the state’s funding formula accounts for the additional students. Overall this year, school districts are projected to collect $223 million in state aid and property taxes for 4K programs, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program, here.
It appears that redistributed state tax dollars for K-12 are destined to change due to a significant budget deficit, not to mention the significant growth in spending over the past two decades.

The recent 9% increase in Madison property taxes is due in part to changes in redistributed state tax funds.
I spoke with a person active in State politics recently about 4K funding. Evidently, some lawmakers view this program as a method to push more tax dollars to the Districts.

Poorest would have to travel furthest in Madison schools’ 4K plan

Matthew DeFour

“It would be completely crazy to roll out this 4K plan that is supposed to really, fundamentally be about preparing children, especially underprivileged, and not have the centers in the neighborhoods that most need the service,” School Board member Lucy Mathiak said.
Deputy superintendent Sue Abplanalp, who is coordinating implementation of the program, acknowledged some students will have to travel outside their school attendance areas to attend the nearest 4K program, “but it’s not a long drive, especially if they’re in contiguous areas.”
“We will make it work,” Abplanalp said. “We’re very creative.”
The school district is conducting its own analysis of how the distribution of day care providers and existing elementary school space will mesh under the new program. Some alternative programs may have to move to other schools to make room, but no final decisions have been made, Abplanalp said.
Detailed information has not been shared with the Madison School Board and is not expected to be ready before the board votes Monday on granting final funding approval for the program. The approval must happen then because the district plans to share information with the public in December before enrollment starts in February, Abplanalp said.

Much more on Madison’s proposed 4K program, here. The District has a number of irons in the fire, as it were, including high school curricular changes, challenging reading results and 4K, among many others. Can 4K lift off effectively (both in terms of academics and costs)?

Madison 4K Funding Options

Superintendent Daniel A. Nerad

It has been requested of Administration to put together possible scenarios for funding four year old kindergarten (4-k) through the use of Education Jobs Bill funding, Equity Reserves, Property Taxes, and any other sources of funding.
What you will find below are three distinct scenarios looking at how we may fund 4-k over the first 4 years. The focus is on the first 4 years, because the original projections put together by administration and subsequently by PMA through the forecasting model looked at the program beginning in the 2010-11 school year as year one, so we consequently only have projections going through the 2014-15 school year.
These projections will be updated as part of our work with the 5 year budget model ad hoc committee of the Board in the coming months.
All of the following scenarios we believe to be very conservative in terms of the number of students to be enrolled, and especially on projections for funding from the State of Wisconsin. These original projections from earlier this year, assumed MMSD would be losing 15% funding from the State of Wisconsin for the 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13 budget years. As we have seen recently, we have lost less than the maximum state law allows (2010-11 reduction of approximately 8.4%). The funding scenarios are as follows:

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program here.

An Update on Madison’s Proposed 4K Program

Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Purpose: The purpose of this Data Retreat is to provide all BOE members with an update on the progress of 4K planning and the work of subcommittees with a recommendation to start 4K September, 2011.
Research Providing four year old kindergarten (4K) may be the district’s next best tool to continue the trend of improving academic achievement for all students and continuing to close the achievement gap.
The quality of care and education that children receive in the early years of their lives is one of the most critical factors in their development. Empirical and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that nurturing environments with appropriate challenging activities have large and lasting effects on our children’s school success, ability to get along with others, and emotional health. Such evidence also indicates that inadequate early childhoOd care and education increases the danger that at-risk children will grow up with problem behaviors that can lead to later crime and violence.
The primary reason for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s implementation of four year old kindergarten (4K) is to better prepare all students for educational success. Similarly, the community and society as a whole receive many positive benefits when students are well prepared for learning at a young age. The Economic Promise of Investing in High-Quality Preschool: Using Early Education to Improve Economic Growth and the Fiscal Sustainability of States and the Nation by The Committee for Economic Development states the following about the importance of early learning.

An Update on Madison’s Proposed 4K Program Financing: Federal Stimulus Tax Dollars Replace Local Funds, District Proposes Increased Spending on Maintenance & Technology


As part of the Education Job Funds recommendation, we are recommending using approximately $4.2 million for funding the shortfall created by beginning this new program in 2011-12. This plan for funding 4-k will continue to have the assumption that property taxes will have to be used to support approximately $3.7 million of the start up costs for this program in 2011-12 as well. The use of these Education Job Funds if approved, creates an opportunity to utilize funds originally targeted for 4-k start up in a different way.
During the process of re-financing the district’s Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) unfunded pension liability, the Board of Education approved a financing plan that prepared for the use of borrowed funds to support the 4-K start up (See next page). This structure effectively created budget capacity of approximately $4.2 million over the next three years. These funds were targeted originally to pay for a borrowed amount equal to $4.2 million to support the first year of 4-K, but the Federal Education Job Funds created an opportunity for MMSD to re-evaluate this decision.
Administration would propose the concept of utilizing these budget funds, originally meant to re-pay a 4-K borrow of approximately $4.2 million, to support Maintenance and Technology needs over the next two years. Under this idea, MMSD would move forward with borrowing funds as planned, but rather than using these funds to support 4-K, shift the purpose to meet technology and maintenance needs. Itwould be our intent to split these funds equally between these two areas, and work with the Board over the next 6 to 9 months to prioritize needs within these two areas.

In Favor of Madison’s Planned 4K Program

Chris Rickert

For a hopeful pessimist like me, it’s always nice when the real world belies your general sense of doom.
After all, the ranks of the poor are expanding, the national debt is skyrocketing, Wall Street bankers are again collecting exorbitant bonuses and no one really cares much about the shrinking polar ice caps. Throw in the mere existence of “Jersey Shore” and you’ve got a real social apocalypse on your hands.
There are a few rays of light amid the darkness, though, including plans by the Madison School District to institute a 4-year-old kindergarten program next year.
I’ve been surprised at the relative lack of controversy over this. You’d think that adding what is basically another grade to the public K-12 education system — at a cost to taxpayers of about $12 million in its first year — would bring out more school-choicers and teachers-union haters to decry the program as too expensive and another unwanted intrusion by government into the private sector.
But it hasn’t, and this is probably partly due to Wisconsin’s long history of supporting early education. The state was home to the first private kindergarten in the United States, opened in Watertown in 1856, and may well be the only state to include a commitment to 4-year-old education in its original constitution, according to The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
Today, 335 of the state’s 415 eligible districts already offer some form of free, professionally delivered 4-year-old kindergarten, and well over half of the state’s 4-year-olds are covered. A 2009 study by The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks Wisconsin sixth among 38 states in terms of access to 4-year-old preschool. (Twelve states have no formal preschool program.)

Much more on 4K here.

Madison’s Proposed 4K Program Update: Is Now the Time?

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad PDF:

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) recently made a request for proposals (RFP) for early childhood care and education (ECE) centers interested in partnering with MMSD to provide four year old kindergarten (4K) programming starting in Fall 2011. In order to be considered for this partnership with the district, ECE centers must be accredited by the City of Madison or the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to ensure high quality programming for MMSD students. The ECE centers can partner with MMSD to be either a 4K Model II program (in an ECE center with an MMSD teacher) or a Model III program (in an ECE center with the ECE center’s teacher). The budget for 4K will support only 2 Model II programs, which aligns with the proposals submitted. There are 2 ECE centers who applied for Model II participation and 2 that applied to be either Model II or Model III. The ECE center proposals that have been accepted in this first step of the review process for consideration for partnering with the district to provide 4K programming are explained further in the following section.
II. ECE Center Sites
The following ECE center sites met the RFP criteria:
Animal Crackers
Bernie’s Place
Big Oak Child Care
Creative Learning Preschool
Dane County Parent Council
Eagle’s Wing
Goodman Community Center
Kennedy Heights Neighborhood
KinderCare-Old Sauk
LaPetite-North Gammon
Meeting House Nursery
Middleton Preschool
Monona Grove Nursery
New Morning Nursery
Orchard Ridge Nursery
Preschool of the Arts
The Learning Gardens
University Avenue Discovery Center
University Houses Preschool
University Preschool-Linden
University Preschool-Mineral Point
Waisman EC Program
Of the 35 ECE center sites, 28 met the RFP criteria at this time for partnerships with MMSD for 4 K programming. Seven of the ECE center sites did not meet RFP criteria. However may qualify in the future for partnerships with MMSD. There are 26 qualified sites that would partner with MMSD to provide a Model 111 program, and two sites that will provide a Model 11 program.
At this time, the 4K committee is requesting Board of Education (BOE) approval of the 28 ECE center sites that met RFP criteria. The BOE approval will allow administration to analyze the geographical locations of the each of the ECE center sites in conjunction with the District’s currently available space. The BOE approval will also allow administration to enter into agreements with the ECE center sites at the appropriate time.
The following language is suggested in order to approve the 28 ECE center sites:
It is recommended to approve the 28 Early Childhood Care and Education centers identified above as they have met the criteria of RFP 3168 (Provision of a Four-Year- Old Kindergarten Program) and further allow the District to enter into Agreements with said Early Childhood Care and Education centers.

Much more on Madison’s proposed 4K program here.
I continue to wonder if this is the time to push forward with 4K, given the outstanding K-12 issues, such as reading and the languishing math, fine arts and equity task force reports? Spending money is easier than dealing with these issues…. I also wonder how this will affect the preschool community over the next decade?
Finally, State and Federal spending and debt problems should add a note of caution to funding commitments for such programs. Changes in redistributed state and federal tax dollars may increase annual property tax payments, set to grow over 9% this December.

A Madison School District Property Tax Increase Outlook (39% over the next 6 years) including 4 Year Old Kindergarten (4K)

Madison School District 102K PDF:

2009-2010 Adopted: 3.85%
2010-2011 “Projected”: 12.22%
2010-2011 “Cost to Continue”: 11.82%
2011-2012 “Projected”: 8.88%
2012-2013 “Projected”: 6.03%
2013-2014 “Projected”: 4.47%
2014-2015 “Projected”: 3.23%

The document projects that the Madison School District’s tax on a “typical” $250,000 home will increase from $2,545.00 in 2009-2010 to $3,545 in 2014-2015, a 39% increase over 6 years. Significant.
The District’s total property tax levy grew from $158,646,124 (1998-1999) to $234,240,964 (2009-2010); a 47.6% increase over that 11 year period.
The proposed 2010-2011 budget increases property taxes by 11.8% to $261,929,543

  • Madison School District 5 Year Budget Forecast
  • Madison School District Financial Overview:

    1) Impact of State’s finance on MMSD finances and budget projections
    We utilized two separate papers from the legislative fiscal bureau (attached) and a presentation given by Andrew Reschovsky to provide detail to the board of education. Unfortunately projections at this point in time are showing a shortfall for the 2011-13 biennial budget of approximately $2.3 million. Without knowing if there will be another stabilization type package to help ease this burden, chances are funding for education and many other State funded programs will be looked at for possible reduction.

4K Update: New Questions and Some Answers

At our January 11 monthly board meeting, we made two decisions about how we would proceed on implementing 4-year-old kindergarten. The media of that meeting are available on the School Information System blog, so I won’t repeat them here.
Implement 4K in Fall 2011
The board voted to defer implementation of 4K until fall 2011 due to concerns about whether the district or many of the community providers could be ready to go in less than 7 months (assuming time for registration and orientation in August.
I voted to defer until 2011 for several reasons. I support 4K. I would have liked to be able to implement in Fall 2010. However, I also had to listen when people who had pushed hard to start in 2010 — especially those from the early childhood education community — asked us to wait a year so that there is adequate time to do all of the steps that are necessary to “get it right.”
More on the decision to defer until 2011 and on new questions on 4K financing at

4K Inches Forward in Madison, Seeks Funding

Listen to the Madison School Board Discussion via this 32MB mp3 audio file (and via a kind reader’s email).
Financing this initiative remains unsettled.
I recommend getting out of the curriculum creation business via the elimination of Teaching & Learning and using those proceeds to begin 4K – assuming the community and Board are convinced that it will be effective and can be managed successfully by the Administration.
I would also like to see the Administration’s much discussed “program/curricular review” implemented prior to adding 4K.
Finally, I think it is likely that redistributed state tax programs to K-12 will decrease, given the State’s spending growth and deficit problems. The financial crunch is an opportunity to rethink spending and determine where the dollars are best used for our children. I recommend a reduction in money spent for “adults to talk with other adults”.
Board member Beth Moss proposed that 4K begin in 2010. This motion was supported by Marj Passman and Ed Hughes (Ed’s spouse, Ann Brickson is on the Board of the Goodman Center, a possible 4K partner). Maya Cole, Lucy Mathiak and Arlene Silveira voted no on a 2010 start. The Board then voted 5-1 (with Ed Hughes voting no) for a 2011 launch pending further discussions on paying for it. Retiring Board member Johnny Winston, Jr. was absent.
I appreciate the thoughtful discussion on this topic, particularly the concern over how it will be financed. Our Federal Government, and perhaps, the State, would simply plow ahead and let our grandchildren continue to pay the growing bill.

  • Gayle Worland:

    “I’m going to say it’s the hardest decision I’ve made on the board,” said board member Marj Passman, who along with board members Beth Moss and Ed Hughes voted to implement four-year-old kindergarten in 2010. “To me this is extremely difficult. We have to have 4K. I want it. The question is when.”
    But board president Arlene Silveira argued the district’s finances were too unclear to implement four-year-old kindergarten — estimated to serve 1,573 students with a free, half-day educational program — this fall.
    “I’m very supportive of four-year-old kindergarten,” she said. “It’s the financing that gives me the most unrest.”
    Silveira voted against implementation in the fall, as did Lucy Mathiak and Maya Cole. Board member Johnny Winston, Jr. was absent.
    On a second vote the board voted 5-1 to approve 4K for 2011-12. Hughes voted against starting the program in 2011-12, saying it should begin as soon as possible.

  • Channel3000:

    The plan will begin in September 2011. Initially, the board considered a measure to start in 2010, but a vote on that plan was deadlocked 3-3. A second motion to postpone the beginning until the 2011-2012 school year passed by a 5-1 vote.
    The board didn’t outline any of the financing as yet. District spokesman Ken Syke said that they’re working on 2010 budget first before planning for the 2011 one.
    The board’s decision could have a large impact on the district and taxpayers as the new program would bring in federal funds.

  • WKOW-TV:

    This is the first real commitment from MMSD to establish comprehensive early childhood education.
    What they don’t have yet is a plan to pay for it.
    It would’ve cost about $12.2 million to start 4k this fall, according to Eric Kass, assistant superintendent for business services.
    About $4.5 million would come from existing educational service funds, $4.2 million from a loan, and about $3.5 million would be generated thru a property tax increase.
    Some board members said they were uncomfortable approving a funding plan for 4k, because there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the district’s budget as a whole.

  • NBC15:

    Members first deadlocked in a three-to-three tie on whether to start 4-K this fall, then voted five-to-one to implement it the following year.
    The cost this year would have been more than $12 million. The decision to delay implementation is due to serious budget problems facing the Madison District.
    Nearly 1600 4-year-old students are expected to participate in the half-day kindergarten program.

  • Don Severson:

    The Board of Education is urged to vote NO on the proposal to implement 4-year old Kindergarten in the foreseeable future. In behalf of the public, we cite the following support for taking this action of reject the proposal:
    The Board and Administration Has failed to conduct complete due diligence with respect to recognizing the community delivery of programs and services. There are existing bona fide entities, and potential future entities, with capacities to conduct these programs
    Is not recognizing that the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Wisconsin authorizes the provision of public education for grades K-12, not including pre-K or 4-year old kindergarten
    Has not demonstrated the district capacity, or the responsibility, to manage effectively the funding support that it has been getting for existing K-12 programs and services. The district does not meet existing K-12 needs and it cannot get different results by continuing to do business as usual, with the ‘same service’ budget year-after-year-after-year

ACE Urges MMSD Board NO Vote on 4k and RttT

TO: MMSD Board of Education
FROM: Active Citizens for Education
RE: 4-year old Kindergarten
Race to the Top
I am Don Severson representing Active Citizens for Education.
The Board of Education is urged to vote NO on the proposal to implement 4-year old Kindergarten in the foreseeable future. In behalf of the public, we cite the following support for taking this action of reject the proposal:

  • The Board and Administration Has failed to conduct complete due diligence with respect to recognizing the community delivery of programs and services. There are existing bona fide entities, and potential future entities, with capacities to conduct these programs

  • Is not recognizing that the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Wisconsin authorizes the provision of public education for grades K-12, not including pre-K or 4-year old kindergarten
  • Has not demonstrated the district capacity, or the responsibility, to manage effectively the funding support that it has been getting for existing K-12 programs and services. The district does not meet existing K-12 needs and it cannot get different results by continuing to do business as usual, with the ‘same service’ budget year-after-year-after-year
  • Will abrogate your fiduciary responsibility by violating the public trust and promises made to refrain from starting new programs in exchange for support of the “community partnership” urged for passing the recent referendum to raise the revenue caps

To reiterate, vote NO for District implementation of 4-K.
The Board of Education is urged to vote NO to signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State of Wisconsin as part of an application for funding through the U.S. Department of Education ACT “Race to the Top” (RttT).
In behalf of the public we cite the following support for taking this action to reject the signing the RttT MOU: The Board and Administration

  • Does not have complete information as to the requirements, criteria, expectations and definitions of terms of the MOU or its material Exhibits; therefore, there has been serious inhibitors in time, effort and due diligence to examine, understand and discuss the significant implications and consequences of pursuing such funding
  • Does not have an understanding through the conduct of interactive discussions regarding the roles and relationships of the Board of Education, the Administration and the union regarding the requirements of the MOU as well as any subsequent implications for planning, implementation, evaluation and results for receiving the funding
  • Must understand that the Board of Education, and the Board alone by a majority vote, is the only authority which can bind the District in any action regarding the MOU and subsequent work plan. District participation cannot be authorized by the Board if such participation is contingent on actual or implied approval, now or in the future, of any other parties (i.e., District Administration and/or union)
  • Does not have an understanding of its personnel capacity or collective will to establish needs, priorities and accountabilities for undertaking such an enormous and complicated “sea change” in the ways in which the district conducts its business in the delivery of programs and services as appears to be expected for the use any RttT funding authorized for the District
  • Must also understand and be prepared for the penalties and reimbursements due to the state and federal governments for failure to comply with the provisions attached to any authorized funding, including expected results

To reiterate, vote NO for District approval for the MOU and application for funding through the RttT.

$4,431,115 Two Year Cost for 4K in Madison

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad 650K PDF:

The Board ofEducation over the past two months has received information relative to the programdesignofa4-kprogramandsomebudgetscenariosrelativetothe4-kprogram. The budget scenarios showed the Community Model Option where the community providers provided to the district the amount necessary to support their programs and two concepts for allowing this fee to decrease.
Over the past month, administration and the community providers have met to discuss the amount to be brought forward as a fee per child for the community early childhood centers. The amount within your packet reflects that amount the early childhood community has asked ofthe district.
Information Contained in your packet: Budget Impact:
The budget impact sheet is reflective of all costs associated with the operation ofa community based model for four-year-old kindergarten. This model reflects the latest numbers proposed by the community for the per child reimbursement, along with an escalator of 3% each year. The model also reflects the latest information from the DPI, that shows we are currently not likely to be eligible to receive the 4-k startup grants with the State of Wisconsin budget. These numbers show a negative budget balance of $4,188,069 in year 1 and a negative budget balance of $243,046in year two, for a total two year negative balanceof $4,431,115. This becomes the target for further information within your packet relative to “Financing Options” for 4-k.

4k-8 study Monona Grove School District Report

Peter Sobol:

At last nights board meeting former Winnequah Principal Patty McGuinness presented the results of the 4k-8 study commissioned by the board last summer. The report detailed the costs of implementing 4k-8 grade configurations in each community. The proposed configuration would require significant changes to Winnequah school to accomodate programming for Monona 3-8th grade students and some changes to Glacial Drumlin to shift CG 4th graders into the building.
The report (I’ll link it here when it is up on the district website) was very thorough, and I found it a useful exercise to see all the costs and factors that go into making a school laid out in one place. It is worth a read on that basis. One issue identified from the study was that the scheduling wouldn’t work with the current encore staff and additional staffing would be required. These additional requirements hadn’t been worked out, but they would add to the costs included the study.

Complete Report: 5MB PDF.

4K reaches 80 percent of Wisconsin school districts

Wisconsin DPI, via a kind reader’s email:

Eighty percent of Wisconsin school districts offer 4-year-old kindergarten (4K), educational programming that has been growing throughout the state.
Sixteen school districts opened 4K programs this year. The 333 districts that provide 4K programs are serving 38,075 children, an enrollment increase of more than 4,000 from last year. Of the districts providing 4K, 101 do so through the community approach, which blends public and private resources to allow more options for the care and education of all 4-year-olds.
Licensed teachers provide instruction for all public school district 4K programs. In the community approach, some districts provide a licensed 4K teacher in a private child care setting, some contract with Head Start or the child care setting for the licensed teachers, and others bring child care into the licensed 4K public school program or mesh licensed 4K services with a Head Start program. Wisconsin is one of the nation’s leading models for combining educational and community care services for 4-year-olds.

An Update on the Madison School District’s Proposed 4K Program

Superintendent Dan Nerad [600K PDF]:

Attached to this memorandum is detailed costing information relative to the implementation of four-year-old kindergarten. We have attempted to be as inclusive as possible in identifying the various costs involved in implementing this program.
Each of the identified options includes cost estimates involving all three program models that have previously been discussed. The first option includes the specific cost requests provided to us by representatives from the community providers. The remaining options include the same costing information for Model I programs (programs in district schools) but vary for Model II and III programs (programs in community-based early learning centers). These options vary in the following ways:

  1. For District Option 1, we have used a 1:10 staffing ratio instead of a 1:8.5 staffing ratio that was submitted by representatives from the community providers.
  2. For District Option 2, we have used a three-year phase-in for the reimbursement to local providers.
  3. For District Option 3, we have used both a 1:10 ratio and a three-year phase-in for reimbursement to local providers.
  4. For District Option 4, we have used both a 1:10 ratio and a two-year phase-in for the reimbursement to local providers.

The District options with a 1:10 ratio were created because this was the staffing ratio that was recommended by the 4K planning committee and is the ratio needed for local accreditation. All Modell costing(in District schools) is based on a 1:15 ratio with the understanding that additional special education and bilingual support to the classroom is provided. The District options employing a two- or three-year phase-in of the

The Preschool Picture – 4K?

Chester Finn, Jr.:

The campaign for universal preschool education in the United States has gained great momentum. Precisely as strategists intended, many Americans have come to believe that pre-kindergarten is a good and necessary thing for government to provide, even that not providing it will cruelly deprive our youngest residents of their birthrights, blight their educational futures, and dim their life prospects. Yet a troubling contradiction bordering on dishonesty casts a shadow over today’s mighty push for universal pre-K education in America (see “Preschool Puzzle,” forum, Fall 2008).
The principal intellectual and moral argument that advocates make–and for which I have considerable sympathy–is similar to that of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) backers: giving needy kids a boost up the ladder of educational and later-life success by narrowing the achievement gaps that now trap too many of them on the lower rungs. Serious pursuit of that objective would entail intensive, educationally sophisticated programs, starting early in a child’s life, perhaps even before birth, and enlisting and assisting the child’s parents from day one.
Yet the programmatic and political strategy embraced by today’s pre-K advocates is altogether different. They seek to furnish relatively skimpy preschool services to all 4 million of our nation’s four-year-olds (and then, of course, all 4 million three-year-olds), preferably under the aegis of the public schools.

4K is on the radar of our local Madison schools.

Madison School District 4K Proposal

Superintendent Dan Nerad [1.5MB PDF]:

Providing four year old kindergarten (4K) may be the district’s next best tool to continue the trend of improving academic achievement for all students and continuing to close the achievement gap.
The quality of care and education that children receive in the early years of their lives is one of the most critical factors in their development. Empirical and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that nurturing environments with appropriate challenging activities have large and lasting effects on our children’s school success, ability to get along with others, and emotional health. Such evidence also indicates that inadequate early childhood care and education increases the danger that at-risk children will grow up with problem behaviors that can lead to later crime and violence.
Background/Charge On February 9, 2009, the Board of Education asked the Superintendent to reconvene staff, and community members to begin planning for a collaborative 4K program in the Madison Metropolitan School District. The committee was directed to develop recommendations and timelines to present to the BOE.
Process Membership is attached and was generated by the AFSCME Child Care Representatives with membership growing as the months proceeded. Kathy Hubbard began facilitation and Jim Moeser is currently facilitating the committee work. Throughout the months of meeting, membership and attendance has been constantly high with energy and enthusiasm the same. The matrix presented in this packet includes a brief overview of the five committees below.


Perhaps the District might implement these initiatives first – and evaluate their effectiveness prior to expanding the organization (and budget) for 4K.

Madison School District & Madison Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement: 3.93% Increase Year 1, 3.99% Year 2; Base Rate $33,242 Year 1, $33,575 Year 2: Requires 50% MTI 4K Members and will “Review the content and frequency of report cards”

via a kind reader’s email (200K PDF):

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers Inc. reached a tentative agreement Tuesday evening on the terms and conditions of a new two-year Collective Bargaining Agreement for MTI’s 2,600 member teacher bargaining unit. Negotiations began April 15.
The Contract, for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, needs ratification from both the Board of Education and MTI. The Union will hold its ratification meeting on Wednesday, October 14, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center, Dane County Forum. The Board of Education will tentatively take up the proposal in a special meeting on October 19 at 5:00 p.m.
Terms of the Contract include:
2009-2010 2010-11
Base Salary Raise – 1.00% Base Salary Raise – 1.00%
Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.93% Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.99%
Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,242 Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,575
A key part of this bargain involved working with the providers of long term disability insurance and health insurance. Meetings between MTI Executive Director John Matthews and District Superintendent Dan Nerad and representatives of WPS and GHC, the insurance carriers agreed to a rate increase for the second year of the Contract not to exceed that of the first year. In return, the District and MTI agreed to add to the plans a voluntary health risk assessment for teachers. The long term disability insurance provider reduced its rates by nearly 25%. The insurance cost reductions over the two years of the contract term amount to roughly $1.88 million, were then applied to increase wages, thus reducing new funds to accomplish this.
The new salary schedule increase at 1% per cell, inclusive of Social Security and WRS, amount to roughly $3.04 million. Roughly 62% of the salary increase, including Social Security and WRS, was made possible by the referenced insurance savings.
Key contract provisions include:

    Inclusion in the Contract of criteria to enable salary schedule progression by one working toward the newly created State teacher licensure, PI 34. Under the new Contract provision, one can earn professional advancement credits for work required by PI 34.

  • Additive pay regarding National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, i.e. an alternative for bargaining unit professionals who are not teachers (nurses, social workers, psychologists, et al) by achieving the newly created Master Educator’s License.
  • Continuance of the Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP).
  • The ability after retirement for one to use their Retirement Insurance Account for insurance plans other than those specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This will enable one to purchase coverage specific to a geographic area, if they so choose, or they may continue coverage with GHC or WPS – the current health insurance providers.
    For elementary teachers, the frequency and duration of meetings has been clarified, as have several issues involving planning time. All elementary teachers and all elementary principals will receive a joint letter from Matthews and Nerad explaining these Contract provisions.

  • For high school teachers who volunteer for building supervision, there is now an option to enable one to receive compensation, rather than compensatory time for the service. And there is a definition of what “class period” is for determining compensation or compensatory time.
  • For elementary and middle school teachers, MTI and the District will appoint a joint committee for each to study and recommend the content and frequency of report cards.
    For elementary specials (e.g. art, music) teachers, the parties agreed to end the class and a half, which will mean that class sizes for specials will be similar to the class size for elementary classroom teachers.

  • For coaches, and all others compensated on the extra duty compensation schedule, the additive percentage paid, which was frozen due to the State imposed revenue controls, will be restored.
  • School year calendars were agreed to through 2012-2013.
  • Also, MTI and the District agreed to a definite five-year exemption to the Contract work assignment clause to enable the District to assist with funding of a community-based 4-year-old kindergarten programs, provided the number of said 4-K teachers is no greater than the number of District employed 4-K teachers, and provided such does not cause bargaining unit members to be affected by adverse actions such as lay off, surplus and reduction of hours/contract percentage, due to the District’s establishment of, and continuance of, community based [Model III] 4-K programs. (See note below.)

Wisconsin State budget deal bought with earmarks, Including $500,000 for Madison’s Proposed 4K Program

Steven Walters:

Facing a record deficit that forced them to raise taxes and fees by $2.1 billion to balance the budget, Assembly Democrats added millions for projects they can brag about back home – a $500,000 upgrade for an opera house; $50,000 for a shooting range; and $46,000 for a town’s recycling bins.
As they erased a $6.6 billion, two-year deficit, Assembly Democrats added $36.7 million in regional favors, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary.
Five of the projects – including the $500,000 for the Oshkosh Opera House, $500,000 for an Aldo Leopold Climate Change Classroom and Laboratory, and $125,000 for the Phillips Library in Eau Claire – have not been recommended by the state Building Commission, which is supposed to approve construction and maintenance spending.
The shooting range is in Eau Claire, and the recycling bins are for the Town of Wrightstown.
Some of the so-called earmarks don’t cost money, but get around limits on the number of liquor licenses in communities. The Assembly-passed budget would award a new liquor license in the Madison suburb of Monona, for example, and hand out three more liquor licenses in St. Francis.
Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said Assembly Democrats behaved just like Assembly Republicans, who controlled that half of the Legislature for a 14-year period that ended in January.

Wisconsin Assembly Democrats Approve a $500,000 Earmark for the Madison School District’s 4K Program

Jason Stein:

The hope of four-year-old kindergarten in Madison schools stayed alive early Thursday as Assembly Democrats pushed through a $500,000 start-up grant for the district as part of the state budget bill.
But even with that money, the challenges to offering the program remain great as the district could face an $8 million cut in its state aid, or 13 percent, under one new estimate of the effect of state budget cuts on Madison schools.
And Republicans criticized the grant money to the district as an earmark that comes at a time when schools statewide are having their funding cut.
“Any funding that can help mitigate the (four-year-old kindergarten) costs in the first two years is very helpful,” said Madison Schools superintendent Dan Nerad. “We’re very pleased with the proposal that’s been advanced.”


On 4K in Madison

Tamira Madsen:

Abplanalp, who has been working on the 4-K project for the seven years since joining the district as lead elementary principal, said there isn’t a timetable in place as to when the program would start.
But she wouldn’t count out the 2009-10 school year if three main issues can be ironed out.
“Could we get things in place by the fall? We think we could if we got the go-ahead,” Abplanalp said Thursday afternoon. “If not, it’s because we have issues to work out contractually with MTI (the teacher’s union). … We also have to work out community site issues, negotiating (contract) issues and financial issues.”

On Madison’s Lack of a 4K Program

Andy Hall:

In Madison, where schools Superintendent Art Rainwater in a 2004 memo described 4K as potentially “the next best tool” for raising students’ performance and narrowing the racial achievement gap, years of study and talks with leaders of early childhood education centers have failed to produce results.
“It’s one of the things that I regret the most, that I think would have made a big impact, that I was not able to do,” said Rainwater, who is retiring next month after leading the district for a decade.
“We’ve never been able to get around the money,” said Rainwater, whose tenure was marked by annual multimillion-dollar budget cuts to conform to the state’s limits on how much money districts can raise from local property taxpayers.
A complicating factor was the opposition of Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers union, to the idea that the 4K program would include preschool teachers not employed by the School District. However, Rainwater said he’s “always believed that those things could have been resolved” if money had been available.
Starting a 4K program for an estimated 1,700 students would cost Madison $5 million the first year and $2.5 million the second year before it would get full state funding in the third year under the state’s school-funding system.
In comparison, the entire state grant available to defray Wisconsin districts’ startup costs next year is $3 million — and that amount is being shared by 32 eligible districts.
One of those districts, Green Bay, is headed by Daniel Nerad, who has been hired to succeed Rainwater in Madison.
“I am excited about it,” said Madison School Board President Arlene Silveira, who is envious of the 4K sign-up information that appears on the Green Bay district’s Web site. “He’s gone out and he’s made it work in Green Bay. That will certainly help us here as we start taking the message forward again.
Madison’s inability to start 4K has gained the attention of national advocates of 4K programs, who hail Wisconsin’s approach as a model during the current national economic downturn. Milwaukee, the state’s largest district, long has offered 4K.
“It’s been disappointing that Madison has been very slow to step up to provide for its children,” said Libby Doggett, executive director of Pre-K Now, a national nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., that campaigns for kindergarten programs for children ages 3 and 4.
“The way 4K is being done in your state is the right way.”


  • Marc Eisen: Missed Opportunity for 4K and High School Redesign
  • MMSD Budget History: Madison’s spending has grown about 50% from 1998 ($245,131,022) to 2008 ($367,806,712) while enrollment has declined slightly from 25,132 to 24,268 ($13,997/student).

Madison: Missed Opportunity for 4K and High School Redesign

Marc Eisen:

The good news is that the feds refused to fund the school district’s proposal to revamp the high schools. The plan was wrongheaded in many respects, including its seeming intent to eliminate advanced classes that are overwhelmingly white and mix kids of distressingly varied achievement levels in the same classrooms.
This is a recipe for encouraging more middle-class flight to the suburbs. And, more to the point, addressing the achievement gap in high school is way too late. Turning around a hormone-surging teenager after eight years of educational frustration and failure is painfully hard.
We need to save these kids when they’re still kids. We need to pull them up to grade level well before they hit the wasteland of middle school. That’s why kindergarten for 4-year-olds is a community imperative.
As it happens, state school Supt. Elizabeth Burmaster issued a report last week announcing that 283 of Wisconsin’s 426 school districts now offer 4K. Enrollment has doubled since 2001, to almost 28,000 4-year-olds statewide.
Burmaster nailed it when she cited research showing that quality early-childhood programs prepare children “to successfully transition into school by bridging the effects of poverty, allowing children from economically disadvantaged families to gain an equal footing with their peers.”


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

Is the MPS Tax & Spending Increase Referendum Good for Milwaukee?

– via a kind reader. Milwaukee annual per student $pending: Public: just over $14K Charter: just over $9k Voucher: just under $9k “The problems have less to do with funding and more about policies and practices”. Mission vs organization. Madison’s taxpayer supported school district spends around $19 to 20K/student and is planning a substantial tax … Continue reading Is the MPS Tax & Spending Increase Referendum Good for Milwaukee?

Coronavirus Tech Handbook

Coronavirus Handbook: How to use this handbook 💬 Subscribe for updates Email newsletter:  Facebook group: 800 members as of 14th For deep dive discussions, each section has a Whatsapp Chat you can join 📣 Help other technologists find it Retweet this: Share in tech or epidemiology communities Tell the author of your favorite newsletter ✏️ Contribute … Continue reading Coronavirus Tech Handbook

Commentary on Wisconsin’s Disastrous Reading Climate

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, Via a kind email: New Wisconsin Group Issues a Call to Action for Reading Excellence On February 12th, a new group called WI-CARE – Wisconsin Call to Action for Reading Excellence – issued a Call to Action for DPI, detailing five areas of concern. You can watch their press conference on Wisconsin Eye and read commentary … Continue reading Commentary on Wisconsin’s Disastrous Reading Climate

Parent questions Madison School District practice barring third party from working with child in class

Scott Girard: The Madison Metropolitan School District’s practice of barring an outside therapy organization from providing classroom support for students with special needs is being questioned after a parent’s request to do so was at first allowed, and later prohibited. The parent, who asked not to be named to protect the identity of her son, … Continue reading Parent questions Madison School District practice barring third party from working with child in class

A crack in Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model: independent charter One City Schools

Logan Wroge: In a previous attempt at a charter school, Caire proposed the Madison Preparatory Academy, which would have served a similar population as One City Schools, but would have been for grades 6-12. The Madison School Board rejected the idea in December 2011. Caire sought to bring his “change-maker” approach to the Madison School … Continue reading A crack in Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model: independent charter One City Schools

4.25.2019 Madison Educational Partnership Symposium

Madison Education Partnership: At this interactive and informative event, MMSD partners and leading researchers from UW-Madison will address pressing research questions as well as engage with attendees to dive deeper into the practice and policy implications of MEP research. MMSD speakers include Ricardo Jara, Beth Vaade, and Culleen Witthuhn. UW-Madison speakers Katie Eklund, Beth Graue, … Continue reading 4.25.2019 Madison Educational Partnership Symposium

2004-2019 Wisconsin K-12 Spending: Property Tax & Redistributed Taxpayer funds

Tap for a larger version. Raw data [Excel Numbers] via Sara Hynek. Note that taxpayer supported K-12 school districts receive funds from a variety of sources, including federal taxpayer funds along with local fees. Madison plans to spend $518,955,288 during the 2018-2019 school year. That’s about $20,000 per student (26,917, which includes 4k), which is … Continue reading 2004-2019 Wisconsin K-12 Spending: Property Tax & Redistributed Taxpayer funds

One City to Establish Elementary School in South Madison

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: Madison, WI – One City Schools Founder and CEO Kaleem Caire — with support from One City parents, Board of Directors, and partners — is pleased to announce that One City’s plan to establish One City Expeditionary Elementary School in South Madison has been approved. Last Friday, One City … Continue reading One City to Establish Elementary School in South Madison

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

Who’s running for Madison School Board (so far)? 2019

Negassi Tesfamichael: The Madison School Board’s general election is still nearly five months away, but candidates have been jumping into the race the past few weeks at a rapid pace. Three seats on the seven-person School Board will be on the ballot this spring, and each seat will be contested. Here’s what you need to … Continue reading Who’s running for Madison School Board (so far)? 2019

Kaleem Caire announces run for Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael: “I’ve been working in the field ever since,” Caire said in an interview with the Cap Times. “The number one thing is that I’ve been really frustrated about how little attention is focused on young people in our city and country.” One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early Learning Center, is … Continue reading Kaleem Caire announces run for Madison School Board (2019)

Jeff Bezos wants to fix preschools by treating them like Amazon

Annabelle Timsit: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is launching a $2 billion “Day One Fund” to help homeless families in the US and create a series of innovative preschools. In a statement posted on Twitter, Bezos said that he asked for suggestions on where to direct his philanthropy efforts last year, and that the Day One … Continue reading Jeff Bezos wants to fix preschools by treating them like Amazon

Sacramento School District Spending and Budget Commentary

Michael McGough: The district now has one month to file a revised budget for 2018-19 to replace the $555 million budget it had submitted, as announced during the district’s Thursday night board meeting. In an Aug. 22 budget report letter addressed to district Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, county Superintendent David Gordon said the district will meet … Continue reading Sacramento School District Spending and Budget Commentary

A New Tuition-Free Public Charter School, For Greater Madison’s Children

Via a kind email: What Does One City Offer? A Tuition-Free Public Charter School Full Day 4K and Kindergarten w/Joyful Children and Adults A Deep Commitment to School Readiness and Closing Gaps Strong Reading, Writing, Math and STEM Program Project-Based, Student Centered Learning Model Healthy Meals prepared by our Chef: Breakfast, Lunch and Snack Beautiful … Continue reading A New Tuition-Free Public Charter School, For Greater Madison’s Children

University of Wisconsin System Approves One City’s Charter School Application

Via a kind email: Dear Friends. Last night, we learned that our application to establish One City Senior Preschool as a public charter school serving children in 4 year-old and 5 year-old kindergarten was approved by the University of Wisconsin System. We are very excited! This action will enable us to offer a high quality, … Continue reading University of Wisconsin System Approves One City’s Charter School Application

Animated gifs on frugality regulations published

Xinhua: The top anti-graft body of the Communist Party of China (CPC) released 16 animated gifs on the eight-point frugality code to mark the fifth anniversary of the code’s release on Sunday. The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) published the gifs on its website, featuring the content and the significance of the code. … Continue reading Animated gifs on frugality regulations published

Ongoing Status Quo Madison School Board Governance

Karen Rivedal The Madison School Board’s narrow rejection of a proposed five-year contract for a public Montessori charter school on Monday isn’t deterring supporters and may not represent the end of the process around the proposal. Ali Muldrow, described in the proposed contract as one of the school’s seven founders, said Tuesday she isn’t giving … Continue reading Ongoing Status Quo Madison School Board Governance

Madison School Board Continues Non Diverse Governance Practices with Proposed Montessori Academy School

Amber Walker: In a 5-2 decision on Monday, the Madison School Board voted to postpone the charter approval of Isthmus Montessori Academy. The board wanted more clarity around the school’s proposed attendance area, financial and academic accountability standards at their three-year mark, and language in the proposal that asks for waivers that apply to early … Continue reading Madison School Board Continues Non Diverse Governance Practices with Proposed Montessori Academy School

Open Enrollment Survey and Data Update – Madison School District

Madison School District Administration (PDF): 1. In total, MMSD has 365 open enrollment enterers and 1294 open enrollment leavers for 2016-17; among those 1294 leavers, 58% have never enrolled in an MMSD school. 2. The net effect of open enrollment decreased by 70 students. The number of open enrollment leavers decreased by 21 students and … Continue reading Open Enrollment Survey and Data Update – Madison School District

Textbooks: a closed-off corner of learning set free by technology

Anne-Marie Slaughter Students around the world returning to university this week are, whether or not they know it, living disrupters of the global market in education. Given that tuition fees vary widely between colleges and countries, many are looking overseas. A growing number of American students, for example, are trying their luck at British, Canadian, … Continue reading Textbooks: a closed-off corner of learning set free by technology

US business schools hit by weaker demand for two-year MBA

Jonathan Moules In the US, 53 per cent of schools running full-time two-year MBA courses reported a decline in application numbers in 2016, while 40 per cent reported growth. The drop suggests a shift in attitudes to business education due to increased job insecurity and the opportunity to study overseas or online, with prospective students … Continue reading US business schools hit by weaker demand for two-year MBA

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US building up to pension crisis

Robin Wigglesworth & Barney Jopson Many are self-employed or work in smaller companies, which in many cases do not have the organisational heft to set up a 401(k) plan. Big companies in low-wage industries are also less likely to offer a retirement plan. And on modest wages, it becomes harder to set aside money for … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US building up to pension crisis

Madison’s Reading Data, an Update

Our community, via the quite traditional Madison School District, has long tolerated disastrous reading results. Has anything changed? The District’s 2015-2016 “annual report” includes a bit of data on reading and math: Tap for larger versions. Unfortunately, the annual report lacks a significant amount of data, from enrollment to staffing and total spending. Boston publishes … Continue reading Madison’s Reading Data, an Update

“I am so tired of hearing that it is just poverty. Schools really are enough if they are good schools”

John McDermott: Such is the case with his latest work. At a quiet table in the cavernous Hawksmoor Seven Dials, a branch of the high-end restaurant chain in central London, where the decor is brown and the meat is red, Fryer tells me how he spent two days last year on the beat shadowing cops … Continue reading “I am so tired of hearing that it is just poverty. Schools really are enough if they are good schools”

Madison has the lowest student to licensed staff ratio among the five largest Wisconsin school districts

Madison School District Administration (PDF): Some of the ways in which MMSD has invested in people include: Increased the number of PK-12 staff from 3,497 in 2008-09 to 4,027 in 2013-14. This effectively grew the district’s total employees by 15% over 5 years (largely due to 4K implementation during this time), while maintaining a student … Continue reading Madison has the lowest student to licensed staff ratio among the five largest Wisconsin school districts

2015-2016 Madison Traditional Public Schools’ Enrollment Data

Madison School District Administration (PDF): 1. Enrollment is down slightly (0.3%) since last year. Enrollment projection begin to climb again in 2017-18. 2. Six elementary schools are over capacity this year. Referendum-funded construction eliminates overcrowding among these schools in the five-year projection. 3. Most students continue to attend their home attendance area. This year 60% … Continue reading 2015-2016 Madison Traditional Public Schools’ Enrollment Data

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Contract Language

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): The terms and conditions of the 2015-16 MTI/MMSD Collective Bargaining Agreement relative to Parent-Teacher Conferences provides the following: “All teachers are required to attend up to two (2) evenings for parent teacher conferences per contract year as directed by the teacher’s building administrator. Teachers … Continue reading Parent-Teacher Conferences: Contract Language

Teaching Uighur children in Mandarin will not bring stability to Xinjiang

The Economist: “I CAN speak Chinese, I’m so awesome!” reads a sign on the wall of the Mingde primary school in Shufu, a town near the oasis city of Kashgar in the far western province of Xinjiang. Nearby, children’s artworks hang beneath another banner which proclaims: “The motherland is in my heart.” Though every pupil … Continue reading Teaching Uighur children in Mandarin will not bring stability to Xinjiang

Parent – Teacher Conferences & The Madison Schools

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email: As a result of a joint MTI-MMSD committee on parent- teacher conferences, several changes were agreed upon. For the first time, teachers participating in evening parent-teacher conferences were provided a compensatory day off, which occurred last November 26. In exchange for the comp … Continue reading Parent – Teacher Conferences & The Madison Schools

Commentary on Madison’s Proposed 2015-2016 Budget, Presentation Lacks Total Spending….

Page 8 is illustrated above, with Madison’s per student spending noted, not completely to scale. 36 Page PDF Slideware Presentation. I’ve not seen a total spending number published in awhile (The last number I’ve seen was approximately $402,000,000) for 25,305 full time students and 1,962 4K participants. That’s roughly $15K per student, about double the … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Proposed 2015-2016 Budget, Presentation Lacks Total Spending….

Research results from Madison schools suggest compassion, kindness can be taught

Doug Erickson: To do the study, the researchers secured permission from the parents of 68 Madison students during the 2012-13 school year. All were in the district’s 4K program. Thirty children were randomly assigned to classrooms where they received twice-weekly kindness lessons for three months. Children in the control group did not receive the lessons. … Continue reading Research results from Madison schools suggest compassion, kindness can be taught

Suburban teens are on a mission to boost Milwaukee schools

Edgar Mendez Chandlar Strauss and Danielle “Dani” Fleming, a couple of 16-year-olds from the suburbs, might seem an unlikely pair to be so deeply invested in the educational outcomes of Milwaukee students. But every Tuesday since the beginning of the school year, they’ve been hitting the halls of Milwaukee College Prep’s Lloyd Street Campus to … Continue reading Suburban teens are on a mission to boost Milwaukee schools

High School Journalists Successfully Test Shield Law In Cyberbullying Suicide Case

Natasha Vargas-Cooper:

A trio of Northern California students working for their high school newspaper successfully beat back a legal maneuver on Tuesday to ignore their status as reporters and have their confidential materials subpoenaed in a civil lawsuit related to the suicide of their classmate, 15-year-old Audrie Pott, that was filed by the dead teenager’s family.
The confrontation between a grieving family and school press amplifies a growing issue in the digital era, when the definition of who is or who is not a journalist has been blurred. The withdrawal of this demand, at least for the moment, lays the groundwork for the formal extension of shield laws to high school students.

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.

State Test Scores Confirm Urban League’s Concerns and Call to Action

The Madison Urban League, via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

April 23, 2013
Media contact: Kaleem Caire
Click Here for Urban League’s 2013-14 Agenda
State Test Scores Confirm Urban League’s Concerns and Call to Action
Madison, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released students’ results on the annual statewide achievement test, Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE). The results confirm concerns raised by the Urban League of Greater Madison, that disadvantaged students and students of color are severely underperforming in many of Wisconsin’s public schools, particularly in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
All Wisconsin public school students completed the test in November 2012. This revised test raised the standards of performance for all students, thereby providing a more accurate picture of students who are on track to graduate from high school academically ready to succeed in college or a career. Test results show that all students, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or disability, are struggling to achieve to high standards in Madison-area public schools.
This afternoon, the Urban League of Greater Madison joined Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, and leaders of other community organizations, at a press conference where Cheatham shared MMSD’s results. Cheatham presented data showing that an astounding 92% of African American and 85% of Latino students are reading below their grade level, and 90% of African American and 77% of Latino children are failing in mathematics. The data further showed that a large percentage of white students have fallen behind as well, with 42% are reading below grade level and 33% failing in math.
In reflecting on the scores, Darrell Bazzell, the Chair of Urban League’s Board of Directors said, “These numbers are a stark message that Madison’s public schools are at a tipping point and that our community must embrace change. The implications for our region are profound. For the sake of our community and our children, Madison can, and must, do better for all students and families.”
Bazzell further stated that, “Every citizen in our community must say that ‘we will no longer harbor these gaps; that we accept responsibility for addressing these challenges; and that we will commit to doing all that we can to ensure all of our children succeed. We must also acknowledge where we are not succeeding and commit to change in smart, innovative and effective ways that lead to real progress for our kids’.”
In response to these troubling statistics, Urban League President and CEO, Kaleem Caire, shared that, “When 90% of Black children cannot read at their grade level, we are significantly reducing the possibility of success for an entire generation. This issue negatively affects not only this generation of children, but also the vitality of our entire region. If not addressed quickly, it will affect the quality of the lives of all citizens who call Madison home.” To address these challenges, Caire said “The Urban League is working to build a pipeline of high quality cradle to career educational and employment services that positively impact the entire family, move all children towards high performance, and prepare youth and adults for career success.” He further highlighted, “We have already begun working with the Madison Schools, other area school districts, employers and community partners to ensure that we attack the persistence of underachievement and other contributing factors, such as poverty, at its core. ”
The Urban League’s 2013-14 Strategic Plan creates opportunities that will help the community overcome these challenges. Caire enthusiastically shared that, “We are a community of great people, great teachers and great families who are passionate about helping others transform their lives. But our passion now must become our reality.”
About the Urban League of Greater Madison
The Urban League of Greater Madison’s mission is to ensure that African Americans and other community members are educated, employed and empowered to live well, advance professionally and contribute to the common good in the 21st Century. We are committed to transforming Greater Madison into the Best [place] in the Midwest for everyone to live, learn, and work. We are working to make this vision a reality through a comprehensive strategic empowerment agenda that includes programs & services, advocacy, and partnerships & coalition building.
Urban League of Greater Madison | 2222 S. Park Street | Suite 200 | Madison | WI | 53713

Related: The rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school
Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.
The recently released WKCE results.

Marquette poll shows divide on education spending in Wisconsin

Alan Borsuk:

I’m in favor of spending more money on schools. Education is important. Important things need to be given the right support.
Am I in favor of spending more of my money on schools? A trickier question. I mean it when I say I support education spending. But I don’t like getting the bill. There are a lot of competing demands on my money, starting with my own needs.
How do I navigate this? How do I get it right when it comes to balancing what I favor supporting and what I actually am going to pay for? Come May and June, resolving this is going to be one of the most interesting, controversial and important plot developments in the final stretch of the state budget drama going on in Madison as we as a state decide this.
You can see tension between what people want in general and what they want when the discussion gets specific in results from the Marquette Law School Poll released a few days ago. (Disclosure: I am one of the people who work on the poll and I helped draft the education-related questions.)
When a sample of people statewide were asked if they support spending more money on public education, their answers were overwhelmingly yes. Sixteen percent said they wanted the amount given to support schools to increase more than the rate of inflation (about 2% over the last year). Another 41% said they thought the amount should go up in line with the rate of inflation. And 14% said they favored an increase of 1% a year (a figure used because it has been proposed by some Republican state senators).
That comes to 71% in favor. Gov. Scott Walker has proposed keeping the “revenue cap” on schools flat for the next two years, which would have the general effect of keeping spending for operations unchanged. Seventeen percent favored no increase in public school spending. And 8% wanted to reduce the amount given to public schools.
But not so fast in concluding there is big support for more money for schools. The poll also asked what was more important to people, to reduce property taxes or increase school spending. Walker’s budget proposal increases state aid to schools by about 1.5%, but, because the revenue cap would be flat, the money would go, in effect, to property tax relief.

An ABC proof too tough even for mathematicians

Kevin Hartnett:

On Aug. 30, a Japanese mathematician named Shinichi Mochizuki posted four papers to his faculty website at Kyoto University. Rumors had been spreading all summer that Mochizuki was onto something big, and in the abstract to the fourth paper Mochizuki explained that, indeed, his project was as grand as people had suspected. Over 512 pages of dense mathematical reasoning, he claimed to have discovered a proof of one of the most legendary unsolved problems in math.
The problem is called the ABC conjecture, a 27-year-old proposition considered so impossible that few mathematicians even dared to take it on. Most people who might have claimed a proof of ABC would have been dismissed as cranks. But Mochizuki was a widely respected mathematician who’d solved hard problems before. His work had to be taken seriously.

61 Page Madison Schools Achievement Gap Plan -Accountability Plans and Progress Indicators

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore (2.5mb PDF)

Background on Goals: During the Student Achievement Committee meeting of October 1, several Board members discussed the issue of setting reasonable goals and the time needed to accomplish them. Most of the goals presented today are based on a five-year convergence model. Under this approach, achievement gaps are closed for every student subgroup in five years.
Forr example the baseline four-year graduation rate among white students is 85%. It is 61% among Hispanic students, and 54% among African American students.. With a five-year convergence model, the goal is for all student subgroups to reach a 90% on-time graduation rate. It is a statement that all student subgroups should improve and all gaps should close.
The reason for this approach is twofold. First, as adopted by the Board, the Achievement Gap Plan is a five-year plan. It is important that the student achievement goals reflect the timeline in the plan itself. The timeline for goals could be pushed out to ten years or more, but it would require formal directive from the Board to adopt ten years as the district’s new timeline for the Achievement Gap Plan.
Second, other models can be seen as conveying different expectations for students based on race/ethnicity or other characteristics like poverty, and that is not our intent. Taking ten years or longer to achieve stated goals may be viewed as a more reasonable time frame, but a five-year plan comes with a natural snapshot half way through that will illustrate persistent gaps and potentially convey varying expectations. Again, that is not our intent or our goal.
A note on Chapter 1, Literacy: The Accountability Plans for literacy are an example of two important concepts:
1. The district wide, instructional core in literacy must be strengthened in every school and every grade. Chapter 1, #1 speaks to a part of strengthening that core.
2. Once the core is strong fewer interventions are needed. However, some students will continue to need additional support. Chapter 1, #2 speaks to one example of an intervention that will help to prevent summer reading loss and close gaps.
The Board approval of $1.9 million for the purchase of elementary literacy materials provides a powerful framework for bringing cohesion to the elementary literacy program. The purchase will provide a well-coordinated core literacy program that is aligned with the common core standards and meets the needs of all learners.
The first steps will bring together an Elementary Literacy Leadership team to clarify the purpose and framework for our program. The overall framework for our entire elementary literacy program is Balanced Literacy. Building upon the current MMSD core practices in 4K-12 Literacy and Focus documents, the work being done to align our instruction and assessment with common core standards will increase rigor and take our current Elementary Balanced Literacy Program to what could be seen as an Elementary Balanced Literacy Program version 2.0. The Elementary Literacy Leadership team will bring clarity to the components of the program and what is expected and what is optional.
Chapter 1, #1 and #2 are important supports for our Balanced Literacy Program

Reading is certainly job number one for the Madison School District – and has been for quite some time….
Related: November, 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.
In 1998, the Madison School Board adopted an important academic goal: “that all students complete the 3rd grade able to read at or beyond grade level”. We adopted this goal in response to recommendations from a citizen study group that believed that minority students who are not competent as readers by the end of the third grade fall behind in all academic areas after third grade.
“All students” meant all students. We promised to stop thinking in terms of average student achievement in reading. Instead, we would separately analyze the reading ability of students by subgroups. The subgroups included white, African American, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and other Asian students.

Madison schools propose using $12M redistributed state tax windfall for tax relief, technology upgrades, achievement gap

Matthew DeFour:

That means the district’s property tax levy would increase 3.47 percent, down from the 4.95 percent increase the board approved in June. The tax rate would be $11.71 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from $11.88. For an average $232,024 home, the difference is about $40.
The board could use the remaining $8.1 million on property tax relief, but Belmore is recommending it be used in other ways, including:
$3.7 million held in reserves, in case the state overestimated additional aid.
$1.6 million to buy iPads for use in the classroom, $650,000 to upgrade wireless bandwidth in all schools and $75,000 for an iPad coach.
$1.2 million to account for a projected increase in the district’s contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System.
About $800,000 geared toward closing achievement gaps including: three security assistants at Black Hawk, O’Keeffe and Hamilton middle schools; an assistant principal at Stephens Elementary, where the district’s Work and Learn alternative program caused parent concerns last year; two teacher leaders to assist with the district’s literacy program; a high school math interventionist; increasing the number of unassigned positions from 13.45 to 18.45 to align with past years; and a new student agricultural program.
$100,000 to fund the chief of staff position for one year.

104K PDF Memo to the Madison School Board regarding redistribution of state tax dollars.
Madison plans to spend $376,200,000 during the 2012-2013 school year or $15,132 for each of its 24,861 students.

New Jersey Passes Teacher Tenure Reform

Heather Haddon:

After signing a bill to overhaul teacher tenure rules Monday, Gov. Chris Christie said the changes represented one of his signature political achievements, ranking only behind a successful effort to limit government employees’ pension and benefit costs.
“It’s right behind pension and benefit reform just because the level of skepticism that we would get anything done,” Mr. Christie said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal following a news conference at a middle school here. “There had been such inertia on this topic. I always enjoy defying expectations.”
The new law doesn’t go as far as tenure bills passed in other states in the past year. But it marks a significant shift in the nation’s oldest teacher job-security law, requiring all teachers to undergo annual performance reviews and making it easier to fire poorly performing educators.

Laura Waters:

For Senator Teresa Ruiz, who tirelessly shepherded NJ’s tenure reform bill through the gauntlet of the Senate, the Assembly, union opposition, aggressive reformers, and countless interest groups.
How collegial was the signing yesterday at a Middlesex middle school? Chris Christie sounded practically conciliatory, telling NJ Spotlight that he signed the bill because “my decision was there was enough really good things in this bill that I was not going to allow it not to become law because it didn’t have everything I wanted” and seating arrangements placed B4K’s Derrell Bradford in between NJEA President Barbara Keshishian and AFT President Joseph Del Grosso.

Reflections and questions on Wisconsin school test results

Alan Borsuk:

So what was new in all the data released last week summarizing results of the standardized tests, known as the WKCEs, that were taken last fall by more than 400,000 students from Kenosha to Superior?
Not much.
Some things a little better, most things the same, the state of meeting our educational needs pretty much unchanged.
But for every answer like that, I have a dozen questions (and lots of sub-questions).
Here they are:
1. Do we have the patience to pursue solid, significant improvement in how our students are doing?
The highflying schools I know of all took years to reach the heights.
Are we willing to do the steady, thoughtful work of building quality and resist the rapidly revolving carousel of education fads?
2. Do we have the impatience to pursue solid, significant improvement in how our students are doing?
At the same time we’ve got to be steady, we’ve got to be propelled by the urgency of improving.
Especially outside of Milwaukee, an awful lot of people are complacent about how Wisconsin’s kids are doing, and that complacency is often not well justified.


Passionate rally for education program an encouraging sign

Alan Borsuk:

Shiloh Baptist Church was packed. More than 250 people were primed for action last Monday night inside the church at N. 48th St. and W. Capitol Drive. They knew what they wanted: A more effective and accountable Supplemental Education Services program.
A passionate rally to improve SES?
For a decade, SES has been one of the sleepiest corners of federal education funding.
A big reason the program has been so ineffective is that so few people care about the way many millions of dollars have been spent on outside-the-school-day services (generally, tutoring programs) for students who are not doing well in school.
Since when did anybody but some vendors and their employees and a few policy wonks get revved up about SES?
Since Common Ground latched onto it.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Enterers & Leavers

Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Under Open Enrollment, students may transfer into an MMSD school from another district or transfer out to another district – “enterers” versus “leavers.” This report focuses primarily on Open Enrollment leavers. There is also some discussion of the net effect of Open Enrollment, which is the number of leavers minus the number of enterers. This report does not discuss students attending private/parochial schools or home schooled students.
For the 2011-12 school year, MMSD has 913 leavers and 213 enterers for a
net effect of 700 students choosing to attend a district other than MMSD.
Of the 913 leavers for 2011-12, 580 were “continuing leavers” meaning they open enrolled outside of the District in previous years. That leaves 333 first time leavers for the current school year.
The growing number of leavers in recent years is the result of a cumulative increase over several years – those who are continuing leavers are still included in our counts in the following years. Because of this, it will take time to reverse the net number of leavers and first time leavers are of particular interest.
First time leavers increased only slightly from 2010-11 to 2011-12. If we discount the one-time bump for the first class of 4K, the number of first time leavers went down for the first time since at least 2005-06.
It is also important to note that nearly half of the students that are leavers never attended MMSD and could be considered “stayers” for other districts.
In terms of why people leave the district, we rely on a 2009 survey of leavers.

Charts (10MB PDF).

Outsider’s wild teacher-evaluation idea

Jay Matthews:

Luke Chung, president and founder of a software development company in Tysons Corner, volunteered many times to help the Fairfax County school system with computer and business issues. He was a nice guy, so when the county needed to fill two slots reserved for outsiders (what educators often call non-educators) on the Teacher Performance Evaluation Task Force, he was appointed.
He might have seemed to some a genial innocent who would not get in the way of the teachers, principals and administrators who were the majority. But Chung was an experienced manager motivated to nudge the task force in new directions. He revealed in his company blog his astonished reaction to the key issue:
“As an outsider who has never been evaluated as a teacher, you can imagine my surprise to discover that although principals were judged by their school’s student performance, student performance is not part of a teacher’s performance evaluation in our county,” he wrote. “Are you kidding me?” Chung’s italics, not mine.
He got the basics. “Not all students are equal, and we don’t want to have a system where teachers are evaluated solely on student performance because the incentive would be to only want to teach good students,” he wrote. He saw some sense in value-added measurements, rating teachers on how much their students improved. But there were practical problems, he said, “such as kids moving in and out of classes within the year, impacts on kids outside teacher control, whether the test is a good measurement, multiple teacher collaborative environments, etc.”

Research about the (Achievement) Gap

Mary Battaglia kindly forwarded this email sent to the Madison School Board:

The high school graduation racial gap has been in the Madison news as though it only affects our fair city. It does not require much research, something the local media has failed to do, to see this is a national concern. According to an analysis called “Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education,” nationally only 47% of black males graduated from high school in 2007. (1) It has been reported that Madison’s graduation rate for black males is 50%. Obviously a pathetic rate compared to the 87% for whites, but what has not been a part of the local conversation is how Madison compares in relationship to the rest of the nation, and perhaps figure out where black males are graduating at a higher rate, and why. The Schott’s report, revealed two communities with large minority populations with much better graduation outcomes than the rest of the nation, Baltimore and Fort Bend, Texas. What MMSD should be looking into is what are these cities doing, and what curricula or community effort has made them successful? One interesting part of the gap for Madison and the state of Wisconsin is the high rate of whites graduating. While Wisconsin is the worst defender in the racial gap, the states total graduation rate is one the highest in the nation.
When you read various assessments of the “reason” for the gap nationally, the theories include the lack of financial investment, lack of good teachers, and the lack of community structure. While I find these proposals reasonable, I fail to understand how in this community they are relevant. MMSD spends well over $13,000 per student, lack the overwhelming urban problems of Milwaukee and Chicago, and have many fine teachers that somehow get non-minority students educated. These excuses ring hallow as to why MMSD has such a poor rate. What does ring true is we are not educating the population as it exist today. In the last 25 years the MMSD’s minority rate has increased from 20% to one closer to 48%. (2) In the last 25 years MMSD has changed from a district of less than 25% free and reduced lunch to one that is closer to 50%. (3)Madison is still teaching to the population of 25 years ago, the students have changed, but the curriculum has not.
Perhaps, MMSD could improve the graduation rate for all students, with a significant change of focus. For example, MMSD’s high school’s emphasize 4 year college candidates when many of the students would do better in a 2 year or technology school focus. There has been an increased coordination with MATC, but what would be beneficial is to offer a dual graduation for students, so as they graduate from MMSD, they also have a 2 year degree or a certificate from MATC. This is a system that has been successful in a high school in North Carolina. (4) A student that wants to head to college still has that opportunity and perhaps a chance to make some money to support the effort. Perhaps, another way to improve graduation outcomes would include an overhaul of the summer school program. Currently, MMSD summer school staff are paid poorly, the programs focus is mostly on students that have flunked their classes and need a recovery grade, and the programs poor reputation have lead many staff to discourage students from participating. (5) Why not invest in a comprehensive retooling of the summer program that provides a better salary for staff, and includes enrichment, regular classes, as well as recovery options. Let’s find a creative summer program with smaller class sizes and build a program that is the envy of the country and one that works. If summer school is going to be provided, then make it an awesome program, not just a warehouse for failing kids. Perhaps, as most research reveals, early education is a key component to better graduation outcomes, and the district finally is getting a 4K program up and running after a decade long battle with the union.
Madison Prep was an idea, but it is a unique group of students that would select to participate in such a rigorous program, which means an already motivated student or parents with very high expectations, both factors that frequently mean a student would do well anyway. MMSD needs to look at students that may not be that motivated or academically talented and assess what works to keep them engaged. The one thing MMSD has no control over is probably the most important issue for a students outcome. Research concludes the number one predictor of a students academic success is parental expectations. (6) Our schools cannot change parental expectations, however, they can change what a student expects. MMSD students need to expect a positive future, a purpose and a reason to stay in school. Not all kids will succeed but more than half of the black male students should. Let’s develop a district that gives all the students the opportunity to succeed. Public school data

This statement is based on personal experience of having many staff, from middle school up to high school, discourage my daughter who struggles in math from attending summer school. I have also spoke to many parents with the same experience.
*** Of note the data of graduation rate is debated in academic circles as the data is not always standardized. Some data includes GED and 5 year rates others include only 4 year rates.
Mary Kay Battaglia

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.