An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Credit for non MMSD Courses

Dear Superintendent Nerad:
I was rather surprised to learn today from the Wisconsin State Journal that:
“The district and the union also have quarreled over the role of MTI members in online learning for seven years. Under the new agreement, ANY (my emphasis) instruction of district students will be supervised by Madison teachers. The deal doesn’t change existing practice but confirms that that practice will continue.”
You are quite new to the MMSD. I am EXTREMELY disappointed that you would “cave in” to MTI regarding a long-standing quarrel it has had with the MMSD without first taking the time to get input from ALL affected parties, i.e., students and their parents as well as teachers who might not agree with Matthews on this issue. Does this agreement deal only with online learning or ALL non-MMSD courses (e.g., correspondence ones done by mail; UW and MATC courses not taken via the YOP)? Given we have been waiting 7 years to resolve this issue, there was clearly no urgent need for you to do so this rapidly and so soon after coming on board. The reality is that it is an outright LIE that the deal you just struck with MTI is not a change from the practice that existed 7 years ago when MTI first demanded a change in unofficial policy. I have copies of student transcripts that can unequivocally PROVE that some MMSD students used to be able to receive high school credit for courses they took elsewhere even when the MMSD offered a comparable course. These courses include high school biology and history courses taken via UW-Extension, high school chemistry taken via Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, and mathematics, computer science, and history courses taken at UW-Madison outside of the YOP. One of these transcripts shows credit for a course taken as recently as fall, 2005; without this particular 1/2 course credit, this student would have been lacking a course in modern US history, a requirement for a high school diploma from the State of Wisconsin.
The MMSD BOE was well aware that they had never written and approved a clear policy regarding this matter, leaving each school in the district deciding for themselves whether or not to approve for credit non-MMSD courses. They were well aware that Madison West HAD been giving many students credit in the past for non-MMSD courses. The fact is that the BOE voted in January, 2007 to “freeze” policy at whatever each school had been doing until such time as they approved an official policy. Rainwater then chose to ignore this official vote of the BOE, telling the guidance departments to stop giving students credit for such courses regardless of whether they had in the past. The fact is that the BOE was in the process of working to create a uniform policy regarding non-MMSD courses last spring. As an employee of the BOE, you should not have signed an agreement with MTI until AFTER the BOE had determined official MMSD policy on this topic. By doing so, you pre-empted the process.
There exist dozens of students per year in the MMSD whose academic needs are not adequately met to the courses currently offered by MTI teachers, including through the District’s online offerings. These include students with a wide variety of disabilities, medical problems, and other types of special needs as well as academically gifted ones. By taking appropriate online and correspondence courses and non-MMSD courses they can physically access within Madison, these students can work at their own pace or in their own way or at an accessible location that enables them to succeed. “Success for all” must include these students as well. Your deal with MTI will result in dozens of students per year dropping out of school, failing to graduate, or transferring to other schools or school districts that are more willing to better meet their “special” individual needs.
Your rush to resolve this issue sends a VERY bad message to many families in the MMSD. We were hoping you might be different from Rainwater. Unfortunately, it says to them that you don’t really care what they think. It says to them that the demands of Matthews take primarily over the needs of their children. Does the MMSD exist for Matthews or for the children of this District? As you yourself said, the MMSD is at a “tipping point”, with there currently being almost 50% “free and reduced lunch” students. Families were waiting and hoping that you might be different. As they learn that you are not based upon your actions, the exodus of middle class families from the MMSD’s public schools will only accelerate. It will be on your watch as superintendent that the MMSD irreversibly turns into yet another troubled inner city school district. I urge you to take the time to learn more about the MMSD, including getting input from all interested parties, before you act in the future.
VERY disappointingly yours,
Janet Mertz
parent of 2 Madison West graduates
Tamira Madsen has more:

“Tuesday’s agreement also will implement a measure that requires a licensed teacher from the bargaining unit supervise virtual/online classes within the district. The district and union have bickered on-and-off for nearly seven years over the virtual/online education issue. Matthews said the district was violating the collective bargaining contract with development of its virtual school learning program that offered online courses taught by teachers who are not members of MTI.
In the agreement announced Tuesday, there were no program changes made to the current virtual/online curriculum, but requirements outlined in the agreement assure that classes are supervised by district teachers.
During the 2007-08 school year, there were 10 district students and 40 students from across the state who took MMSD online courses.
Though Nerad has been on the job for less than three months, Matthews said he is pleased with his initial dealings and working relationship with the new superintendent.
“This is that foundation we need,” Matthews said. “There was a lot of trust level that was built up here and a lot of learning of each other’s personalities, style and philosophy. All those things are important.
“It’s going to be good for the entire school district if we’re able to do this kind of thing, and we’re already talking about what’s next.”

Madison School Board to Discuss Credit for Non-MMSD Courses Today @ 5:00p.m.

The Performance & Achievement committee meets today at 5:00p.m. [Directions & Map] to discuss a policy on credit for non-MMSD courses. Janet Mertz has been following this issue for years, in an effort to support a “clearly written policy” on such courses. Read Janet’s summary after the most recent discussion of this matter (26 November 2007):

Madison School Board Performance & Achievement Committee Meeting 11/26/2007At the November 26, 2007 meeting of the MMSD BOE’s Performance and Achievement Committee [18MB mp3 audio], the District’s Attorney handed out a draft of a policy for the District’s Youth Options Program dated November 20, 2007. It is a fine working draft. However, it has been written with rules making it as difficult as possible for students to actually take advantage of this State-mandated program. Thus, I urge all families with children who may be affected by this policy now or in the future to request a copy of this document, read it over carefully, and then write within the next couple of weeks to all BOE members, the District’s Attorney, Pam Nash, and Art Rainwater with suggestions for modifications to the draft text. For example, the current draft states that students are not eligible to take a course under the YOP if a comparable course is offered ANYWHERE in the MMSD (i.e., regardless of whether the student has a reasonable method to physically access the District’s comparable course). It also restricts students to taking courses at institutions “located in this State” (i.e., precluding online courses such as ones offered for academically advanced students via Stanford’s EPGY and Northwestern’s CTD).

The Attorney’s memorandum dated November 21, 2007 to this Committee, the BOE, and the Superintendent outlined a BOE policy chapter entitled “Educational Options” that would include, as well, a policy regarding “Credit for Courses Taken Outside the MMSD”. Unfortunately, this memo stated that this latter policy as one “to be developed”. It has now been almost 6 years (!) since Art Rainwater promised us that the District would develop an official policy regarding credit for courses taken outside the MMSD. A working draft available for public comment and BOE approval has yet to appear. In the interim, the “freeze” the BOE unanimously approved, yet again, last winter has been ignored by administrators, some students are leaving the MMSD because of its absence, and chaos continues to rein because there exists no clearly written policy defining the rules by which non-MMSD courses can be taken for high school credit. Can anyone give us a timetable by which an official BOE-approved policy on this topic will finally be in place?

Links:

Meanwhile, online learning options abound, including the news that National Geographic has invested in education startup ePals. Madison, home of a 25,000 student public school system, offers a rich learning environment that includes the University of Wisconsin, MATC and Edgewood among others.

Update on Credit for non-MMSD Courses, including Youth Options Program:

Madison School Board Performance & Achievement Committee Meeting 11/26/2007At the November 26, 2007 meeting of the MMSD BOE’s Performance and Achievement Committee [18MB mp3 audio], the District’s Attorney handed out a draft of a policy for the District’s Youth Options Program dated November 20, 2007. It is a fine working draft. However, it has been written with rules making it as difficult as possible for students to actually take advantage of this State-mandated program. Thus, I urge all families with children who may be affected by this policy now or in the future to request a copy of this document, read it over carefully, and then write within the next couple of weeks to all BOE members, the District’s Attorney, Pam Nash, and Art Rainwater with suggestions for modifications to the draft text. For example, the current draft states that students are not eligible to take a course under the YOP if a comparable course is offered ANYWHERE in the MMSD (i.e., regardless of whether the student has a reasonable method to physically access the District’s comparable course). It also restricts students to taking courses at institutions “located in this State” (i.e., precluding online courses such as ones offered for academically advanced students via Stanford’s EPGY and Northwestern’s CTD).
The Attorney’s memorandum dated November 21, 2007 to this Committee, the BOE, and the Superintendent outlined a BOE policy chapter entitled “Educational Options” that would include, as well, a policy regarding “Credit for Courses Taken Outside the MMSD”. Unfortunately, this memo stated that this latter policy as one “to be developed”. It has now been almost 6 years (!) since Art Rainwater promised us that the District would develop an official policy regarding credit for courses taken outside the MMSD. A working draft available for public comment and BOE approval has yet to appear. In the interim, the “freeze” the BOE unanimously approved, yet again, last winter has been ignored by administrators, some students are leaving the MMSD because of its absence, and chaos continues to rein because there exists no clearly written policy defining the rules by which non-MMSD courses can be taken for high school credit. Can anyone give us a timetable by which an official BOE-approved policy on this topic will finally be in place?
Links:

Important new information about credit for non-MMSD courses issue.

“In preparation for the December 11, 2006 meeting of the BOE’s Performance and Achievement Committee, Assistant Superintendent Pam Nash prepared a memo dated December 5, 2006 along with 10 “exhibit” appendices for distribution to the BOE. “Exhibit 10” is a copy of the “Guidelines for Taking Coursework Outside the District” that she wrote in October, … Continue reading Important new information about credit for non-MMSD courses issue.

Credit for Non-MMSD Courses: Performance & Achievement Committee Discussion

Please take note that the MMSD BOE’s Performance and Achievement Committee will be meeting at 5:45 pm on Monday, December 11th. [map] One of their two agenda items scheduled for that meeting is “Credit for Non-MMSD Courses.” This is a very important issue for academically gifted students who would like to be able to substitute … Continue reading Credit for Non-MMSD Courses: Performance & Achievement Committee Discussion

Public Comments Regarding the Madison School District’s Quiet Policy Change Regarding Credit for Non-MMSD Courses

MP3 Audio | Video Monday (11/13/2006) Madison School Board Performance and Achievement Committee meeting agenda originally included a discussion of the Administration’s recent quiet policy change regarding students receiving credit (paid for by parents or the District) for non-MMSD courses. The agenda item mysteriously disappeared, but several parents, including Board Member Lucy Mathiak spoke. The … Continue reading Public Comments Regarding the Madison School District’s Quiet Policy Change Regarding Credit for Non-MMSD Courses

Latest on the Madison School District’s Policy Change Regarding Credit for Non-MMSD Courses

Here is the official wording of the new MMSD policy regarding students taking non-MMSD courses. 78K PDF. See my earlier post on this unpublished change: A. Taking outside courses (other than Youth Options) if a student wishes to receive credit toward graduation. The course must be pre-approved by the principal. The course may only be … Continue reading Latest on the Madison School District’s Policy Change Regarding Credit for Non-MMSD Courses

Madison School District Policy Change Regarding Credit for Non-MMSD Courses

I emailed this message to the Madison School Board: A policy change has recently been implemented in the MMSD regarding whether students can receive high school credit for courses offered by the MMSD that they take elsewhere (e.g.’s, via correspondence through UW-Extension, Stanford’s EPGY, and Northwestern’s Letterlinks programs, attendance at UW or MATC, summer programs … Continue reading Madison School District Policy Change Regarding Credit for Non-MMSD Courses

Deja vu: 2008 – 2019 Credit for non MadIson School District Courses and Adult Employment

Logan Wroge: To help students make the transition to a higher-intensity setting, two Madison School District teachers spend time at Goodman South instructing courses with solely STEM Academy students and some with a mix of traditional college and high school students. “We thought it was really important to have high school teachers be part of … Continue reading Deja vu: 2008 – 2019 Credit for non MadIson School District Courses and Adult Employment

MTI-MMSD Joint Safety Committee Releases Report on Behavior Education Plan (BEP)

Madison Teachers, Inc. The Joint MTI/MMSD Safety Committee is charged with evaluating the “implementation of and compliance with the District’s Behavior Education Plan(s) (BEP)” and periodically reporting to the Superintendent and MTI Board of Directors. Over the course of the 2014-15 school year, the Committee met multiple times and designed, conducted and analyzed a Survey … Continue reading MTI-MMSD Joint Safety Committee Releases Report on Behavior Education Plan (BEP)

Wisconsin High school students can’t be charged for college credit courses; Credit for Non Madison Schools Courses Redux

Mary Spicuzza: The University of Wisconsin System cannot charge high school students taking courses offered in their schools for college credit, known as concurrent enrollment classes, the state’s attorney general says. “This opens a lot of doors, basically. This is a good deal for kids and parents,” said John Johnson, spokesman for the state Department … Continue reading Wisconsin High school students can’t be charged for college credit courses; Credit for Non Madison Schools Courses Redux

An Update on Credit for Non Madison School District Courses; Instructional Policy Changes

The Madison School District (PDF): Effective July 1, 2016, increase math and science graduation requirements by 1 credit each and eliminate specific math course requirements Remove references to the High School Graduation Test (HGST) Add language permitting course equivalencies Related: notes and links on Credit for non-Madison School District courses.

Dual credits encourage students on path to higher education

Carmen McCollum:

Thanks to a dual credit program at her high school, Casey Hahney, of Hammond, was able to transfer her credits and enroll at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest.
Dual credit is designed for high school juniors and seniors, enabling them to earn college credits while fulfilling high school requirements.
Educators say dual credit may not mean that students will finish college in less than four years but it may reduce the number of students finishing in six years.
Local colleges and universities recently reported six-year graduation rates in 2008 well below 50 percent, also less than the national average of 55.9 percent.
Not every high school graduate will go on to college. But for those who do, a basic high school diploma may not give them the preparation they need. Dual credit classes range from English to anatomy or engineering. It saves times and money, and gives students a leg up, helping to prepare them for a successful college career.

Related: Janet Mertz’s tireless effort: Credit for non-MMSD courses.

Update on Madison BOE policy regarding students taking non-MMSD courses:

The February 25, 2008 Meeting of the Performance & Achievement Committee was devoted to developing a policy regarding students taking non-MMSD courses. The proposal Pam Nash suggested to the committee was essentially identical to the highly restrictive one she had originally proposed during the December, 2006 meeting of this committee: students would be permitted to earn a maximum of TWO ELECTIVE credits for course work and only when no comparable course is offered ANYWHERE in the District. Even Rainwater felt these rules were overly restrictive. He seemed willing (i) to increase the number of credits a student could earn, and (ii) to permit students to take a course offered elsewhere in the District if the student could not reasonably access the District’s course. Discussion of the Nash proposed policy ensued, but no specific revisions to it were made during this committee meeting. Both Maya and Johnnie (2 or the 3 members of the committee) suggested that the District needed to research the topic better, e.g., investigate what other comparable school districts in WI (e.g., Appleton which has in place a much less restrictive policy) were doing and to obtain feedback from the guidance departments of each of the 5 high schools, before the BOE should vote on approving a policy. Lawrie, chair of this committee, bypassed having a vote on whether to recommend the Nash version of the policy to the full BOE since she clearly would have lost such a vote. Instead, she simply stated that she had ALREADY placed this topic on the agenda for a special meeting of the BOE to be held March 10th, a meeting at which public appearances will NOT be permitted. Why the urgency now after we have been waiting for 6 years for the District to develop a policy in this matter? Possibly, the new Board that starts in April would approve a different policy, one that better meets the needs of students. Thus, folks, your only remaining opportunities to influence this policy to be approved by the BOE on March 10th are (i) to email and phone members of the BOE between now and March 10, telling them your opinions and why, ideally with examples of specific students, and (ii) to attend the March 10th meeting so the Board members will know you are watching how they vote.
Related:

2006 MMSD WKCE Scores: A Closer Look

Test scores from the November 2006 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) and companion Wisconsin Alternate Assessment (WAA) were released by the state Department of Public Instruction this week. The MMSD press release on Madison students’ scores (“Despite changes and cuts, Madison students test well”) reports the following “notable achievements”: that reading scores have remained … Continue reading 2006 MMSD WKCE Scores: A Closer Look

MMSD High School Redesign Committee Selected

According to a report from a recent East High United meeting, where MMSD Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Pam Nash did a presentation on the District’s high school redesign plans, the following eleven people have been named to the redesign committee: Pam Nash — Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, former principal of Memorial HS. While … Continue reading MMSD High School Redesign Committee Selected

Better MMSD budget process? Maybe next year.

The National School Board Association argues that local school boards exist to translate the community’s educational goals for its children into programs and to hold staff accountable for the quality and effectiveness of the programs: Your school board sets the standard for achievement in your district, incorporating the community’s view of what students should know … Continue reading Better MMSD budget process? Maybe next year.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: A Look at the Educational Histories of the 29 West HS National Merit Semi-Finalists

Earlier this semester, 60 MMSD students — including 29 from West HS — were named 2006 National Merit Semifinalists. In a 10/12/05 press release, MMSD Superintendent Art Rainwater said, “I am proud of the many staff members who taught and guided these students all the way from elementary school, and of this district’s overall guidance … Continue reading Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: A Look at the Educational Histories of the 29 West HS National Merit Semi-Finalists

Online Education Cast as “Disruptive Innovation”

Andrew Trotter:

Technology-based forces of “disruptive innovation” are gathering around public education and will overhaul the way K-12 students learn—with potentially dramatic consequences for established public schools, according to an upcoming book that draws parallels to disruptions in other industries.
Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns predicts that the growth in computer-based delivery of education will accelerate swiftly until, by 2019, half of all high school classes will be taught over the Internet.
Clayton M. Christensen, the book’s lead author and a business professor at Harvard University, is well respected in the business world for his best-sellers The Innovator’s Dilemma, published in 1997, and The Innovator’s Solution, published in 2003.
Those books analyze why leading companies in various industries—computers, electronics, retail, and others—were knocked off by upstarts that were better able to take advantage of innovations based on new technology and changing conditions.
School organizations are similarly vulnerable, Mr. Christensen contends.
“The schools as they are now structured cannot do it,” he said in an interview, referring to adapting successfully to coming computer-based innovations. “Even the best managers in the world, if they were heads of departments in schools and the administrators of schools, could not do it.”
Under Mr. Christensen’s analytical model, the tables typically turn in an industry even when the dominant companies are well aware of a disruptive innovation and try to use it to transform themselves

There’s no doubt that a revolution is underway in education. LIke other industries, it is doubtful that many of the current players will make the turn, which is likely why issues such as credit for non MMSD courses is evidently such a problem. Two related articles by Cringely provide useful background.
More:

Like the leaders in other industries, the education establishment has crammed down technology onto its existing architecture, which is dominated by the “monolithic” processes of textbook creation and adoption, teaching practices and training, and standardized assessment—which, despite some efforts at individualization, by and large treat students the same, the book says.
But new providers are stepping forward to serve students that mainline education does not serve, or serve well, the authors write. Those students, which the book describes as K-12 education’s version of “nonconsumers,” include those lacking access to Advanced Placement courses, needing alternatives to standard classroom instruction, homebound or home-schooled students, those needing to make up course credits to graduate—and even prekindergarten children.
By addressing those groups, providers such as charter schools, companies catering to home schoolers, private tutoring companies, and online-curriculum companies have developed their methods and tapped networks of students, parents, and teachers for ideas.
Those providers will gradually improve their tools to offer instruction that is more student-centered, in part by breaking courses into modules that can be recombined specifically for each student, the authors predict.
Such providers’ approaches, the authors argue, will also become more affordable, and they will start attracting more and more students from regular schools.

Seventh grader, far ahead of her class, punished for taking too many courses

Jay Matthews: In a compelling piece for the Washington City Paper, D.C. high school teacher Rob Barnett has confessed his anguish at passing students who haven’t mastered the content of his math courses and described his radical solution. It’s called mastery learning. Barnett recorded all of his lessons, put them online and let each student … Continue reading Seventh grader, far ahead of her class, punished for taking too many courses

More Regulation of School Choice a Mistake

Will Flanders: Calls for more regulation of Wisconsin’s school choice programs have been getting louder. Making the claims that performance isn’t consistent enough, generally on standardized tests, they argue that government—or some outside entity—needs greater control of school entry and school exit in the state. However, a new study by Corey DeAngelis of the Cato … Continue reading More Regulation of School Choice a Mistake

Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques [PDF]: Dear Simpson Street Free Press: Thank you for leading the way in looking more closely at recent reports of an increase in MMSD minority student graduation rates and related issues: http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/rising-grad-rates http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/act-college-readiness-gap Inspired by your excellent work, we decided to dig deeper. We call the result of our efforts … Continue reading Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement

Are Rising Madison School District Grad Rates Something to Celebrate?

Anna Welch: The Madison District has seen graduation rates improve. But, it remains unclear if those students are prepared for college and career. Students who are not adequately prepared before they graduate often pay the price in college. In 2016, Act 28 took effect requiring the UW Board of Regents to submit an annual report … Continue reading Are Rising Madison School District Grad Rates Something to Celebrate?

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

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

Commentary on Wisconsin DPI efforts to water down already thin elementary teacher content knowledge requirements.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition: Teachers and more than 180,000 non-proficient, struggling readers* in Wisconsin schools need our support While we appreciate DPI’s concerns with a possible shortage of teacher candidates in some subject and geographical areas, we feel it is important to maintain teacher quality standards while moving to expand pathways to teaching. Statute section 118.19(14) … Continue reading Commentary on Wisconsin DPI efforts to water down already thin elementary teacher content knowledge requirements.

Deja Vu: Madison School District Agreement with the US ED Office of Civil Rights

Last October, Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham signed a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding OCR’s compliance review of access to advanced coursework by Hispanic and African-American students in the District. The resolution agreement was presented at the December 5, 2016 Instruction Workgroup meeting (agenda item 6.1): http://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AFL2QH731563 The … Continue reading Deja Vu: Madison School District Agreement with the US ED Office of Civil Rights

Madison School District Middle School Math Specialist Program

Madison School District Administration (PDF): Project Description: MMSD has provided funding to support coursework in the content and teaching knowledge of middle school teachers of math. Toward that goal, a partnership was formed back in 2010 between the District, the UW-Madison School of Education, the UW- Madison Department of Mathematics, and the University of Wisconsin … Continue reading Madison School District Middle School Math Specialist Program

Attempting to Measure: “every student has access to a challenging and well-rounded education as measured by programmatic access and participation data.”

Madison School District Administration (PDF): Advanced Courses: For a February 2015 presentation to the Board of Education’s Instructional Work Group, advanced coursework was presented for high school students in five areas: Advanced Placement, Honors, Advanced, Dual Transcripted, and Youth Options. We recommend measuring advanced coursework at the high school level based on three course designations … Continue reading Attempting to Measure: “every student has access to a challenging and well-rounded education as measured by programmatic access and participation data.”

Advanced Curriculum Review in the Madison School District

As we begin the next portion of the presentation, I want to remind you of the three overarching goals in the Strategic Framework. Our Annual Report, which was distributed a few months ago, addressed and detailed progress around our first goal stating that every student is on track for graduation. Tonight’s presentation represents our first … Continue reading Advanced Curriculum Review in the Madison School District

Online education company edX offering free high school courses

Matt Rocheleau: The online-learning collaborative edX, a partnership between Harvard University and MIT, is expanding its reach beyond higher education and will begin offering courses geared toward high school students. Edx plans to unveil its first free classes for younger students Wednesday, when most of the new courses will open for enrollment. The 26 high … Continue reading Online education company edX offering free high school courses

A few links on the April, 2014 Madison School Board Election & Climate, 1 contested seat, 1 uncontested

Interview with MMSD School Board candidate Wayne Strong Safe schools and high academic achievement: High academic achievement, for Strong, means that all of our MMSD students are achieving to the fullest extent of their abilities. “Whether you are a TAG [Talented and Gifted] or a special-needs student or whether you are a middleof- the-road student, … Continue reading A few links on the April, 2014 Madison School Board Election & Climate, 1 contested seat, 1 uncontested

Wyoming Community College Commission director calls for remedial course changes

Joan Barron

Rose threw out a number of sobering statistics during his talk.
He said one-third of merit scholars in the Hathaway Scholarship Program need remedial work when they enter college. However, the prospects for a student who takes a remedial courses in college isn’t that bright, he noted.
Rose said only two of five remedial students go on to complete a credit course in their remedial subject within one year.
He said dual and concurrent enrollment, or high school students taking college courses, is one remedy to the students’ need for remedial courses.
Some high school students already take remedial classes at community colleges to experience the secondary-level work that will be required.
Rose said the ability for high school students to earn credits for college classes can be motivational — providing a way to avoid the traditional “wasted senior year.”
Last month, Rose returned his focus toward community college commission director full-time after having pulled double-duty as interim director of the Wyoming Department of Education.

Related: Credit for non Madison School District Courses.

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
…..
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

Terry Flores

Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.

Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.

Daytona State, school districts reach agreements on dual enrollment

Daytona Times:

As opening days for fall classes draw near, agreements in support of dual enrollment have been reached between Daytona State College and Volusia and Flagler school districts.
The college’s District Board of Trustees on Aug. 13 approved agreements to cover the majority of the schools’ costs for services associated with dual enrollment in 2013-14.
The Volusia and Flagler school boards will vote on the agreements in upcoming weeks.
Dual enrollment provides college-credit classes on Daytona State campuses, giving college-bound students a head start on their higher education, at no cost to them.

Related:Obtaining credit for non Madison School District Courses has been an ongoing challeng. Perhaps this issue has faded away as past practices die? Madison’snon-diverse or homogeneous governance model inflictsnumerous cost, fromone size fits all curricula to growth in the ‘burbs accompanied byever increasing property taxes on top of stagnant or declining income.

Free dual enrollment is a big deal for many Roanoke students; Madison continues one size fits all approach

David Kaplan:

It’s now even easier and cheaper for local high school students to get a college education.
At a joint meeting between City Council, The Roanoke City School Board and Virginia Western the community college talked about it’s newest program.
Back in March, Virginia Western announced it’s waiving tuition for students taking dual enrollment classes.
Those are classes students can take in high school and earn college credit, but many students weren’t.
They can now.

Related: Obtaining credit for non Madison School District Courses has been an ongoing challenge. Perhaps this issue has faded away as past practices die? Madison’s non-diverse or homogeneous governance model inflicts numerous costs, from one size fits all curricula to growth in the ‘burbs accompanied by ever increasing property taxes on top of stagnant or declining income.

Voucher Posturing & Special Interest Groups

Pat Schneider

Why is EAGnews, the website for a Michigan-based “education reform” group — proudly pro-voucher, pro-charter school, anti-union and basically anti-public schools — blasting local Madison media outlets with alarming press releases about spending in the Madison School District?
To galvanize Madison citizens into demanding accountability from school district officials, says Steve Gunn, communications director for the group.
To promote EAG’s pro-voucher agenda, say critics.
“Maybe we’ll whet some taxpayers’ appetite, and they’ll march down there and ask, ‘What are you spending my money on?'” Gunn said in a phone interview Thursday. The website is part of Education Action Group, a private nonprofit organization out of Muskegon, Mich.
The headline of the press release EAGnews sent to local media Thursday proclaims: “Madison schools spent $243,000 for hotels, more than $300,000 for taxis and more than $150,000 for pizza in 2012.”
Well, actually it’s $232,693 in hotel expenses in 2012 that EAG cites in the body of its press release and associated article. Beyond the discrepancy between headline and text, both press release and article mash together credit card expenses for travel by district employees with expenditures for routine district functions. In citing more than $300,000 in taxi cab charges paid to three local companies, EAG does not mention that the companies are hired to transport special needs, homeless and Work and Learn students to school and job placement sites.
Gunn admits that the taxi charges or the “cool $4.8 million” in payments to bus companies might be for transporting children, but says he doesn’t know for sure because the school district did not deliver promised details about the spending list it released in response to an open records request.

“Wisconsin Wave” appears to be active on governance issues as well, including education, among others.


is a project of the Liberty Tree Foundation. The Liberty Tree Foundation appeared during the 2013 Madison School Board race due to Sarah Manski’s candidacy and abrupt withdrawal. Manski’s husband Ben is listed as a board member and executive director of Liberty Tree. Capital Times (the above article appeared on The Capital Times’ website) writer John Nichols is listed as a Liberty Tree Foundation advisor.
Long-term disastrous reading scores are an existential threat to our local schools not vouchers

“Voucher Voodoo: Smart Kids Shine Here” (Madison); A few links to consider


Tap on the image to view a larger version. Source: The Global Report Card.


Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the Madison school district’s achievement gap problems and other challenges we face. I’ve also been responding to the outlandish notion that Madison is a failing school district whose students deserve private school vouchers as their only lifeline to academic success.
At times like this, I find it helpful to remember that Madison’s schools are educating many, many students who are succeeding. Some of them are succeeding spectacularly. With apologies to those I’m overlooking, here’s a brief run-down on some of our stars –
Madison Memorial’s recently-formed science bowl team won the Wisconsin state championship in January. The team of seniors Srikar Adibhatla, Sohil Shah, Thejas Wesley and William Xiang and sophomore Brian Luo will represent Wisconsin in the National Science Bowl Championship in Washington, D.C. in April.

Related:
Credit for non-Madison School District courses and the Talented and Gifted complaint.
Census.gov on Madison’s demographics, compared to College Station, TX. 52.9% of Madison residents have a bachelor’s degree, compared to the State’s 26%. 57.5% of College Station, Texas’s residents have a college degree.
Madison High School UW-Madison and University of Wisconsin System enrollment trends 1983-2011:
East LaFollette, Memorial, West, Edgewood.
Where have all the students, gone? A look at suburban Madison enrollment changes.
National Merit Semifinalists & Wisconsin’s cut scores.
Madison’s nearly $15k per student annual spending, community support and higher education infrastructure provide the raw materials for world class public schools. Benchmarking ourselves against world leaders would seem to be a great place to begin.

The Madison School Board Elections; setting the record straight

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email

March 6, 2013
Dear Madison Leaders.
As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. While I will not, as a nonprofit leader, speak about the merits of individual candidates, we are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring during the debates. The question of all the candidates has been largely narrowed to, “Did you support Madison Prep or did you not?”…as if something was horribly wrong with our charter school proposal, and as though that is the most important issue facing our school children and schools.
While the Urban League has no interest in partaking in the squabbles and confusion that has unfortunately come to define public conversation about our public schools, we do want to set the record straight about deliberations on Madison Prep that have been falsely expressed by many during this campaign, and used to dog individuals who supported the school proposal more than one year ago.
Here is how things transpired.
On May 9, 2011, Steve Goldberg of the CUNA Mutual Foundation facilitated a meeting about Madison Prep, at my request, between Madison Teacher’s Incorporated President, John Matthews and me. The meeting was held in CUNA’s cafeteria. We had lunch and met for about an hour. It was a cordial meeting and we each discussed the Madison Prep proposal and what it would take for the Urban League and MTI to work together. We didn’t get into many details, however I was sure to inform John that our proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school (non-MTI) was not because we didn’t support the union but because the collective bargaining agreement was too restrictive for the school model and design we were proposing to be fully implemented, and because we desired to recruit teachers outside the restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement. We wanted to have flexibility to aggressively recruit on an earlier timeline and have the final say on who worked in our school.
The three of us met again at the Coliseum Bar on August 23, 2011, this time involving other members of our teams. We got into the specifics of negotiations regarding the Urban League’s focus on establishing a non-instrumentality school and John’s desire to have Madison Prep’s employees be a part of MTI’s collective bargaining unit. At the close of that meeting, we (Urban League) offered to have Madison Prep’s teachers and guidance counselors be members of the collective bargaining unit. John said he felt we were making progress but he needed to think about not having MTI represent all of the staff that are a part of their bargaining unit. John and I also agreed that I would email him a memo outlining our desire to work with MTI, and provide the details of what we discussed. John agreed to respond after reviewing the proposal with his team. That memo, which we have not released previously, is attached [336K PDF]. You will see clearly that the Urban League initiated dialogue with MTI about having the teacher’s union represent our educators.
John, Steve and I met for a third time at Perkins restaurant for breakfast on the West Beltline on September 30, 2013. This time, I brought representatives of the Madison Prep and Urban League Boards with me: Dr. Gloria Ladson Billings, John Roach and Derrick Smith. It was at the close of this meeting that John Matthews told all of us that we “had a deal”, that MTI and the Urban League would now work together on Madison Prep. We all shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Our team was relieved.
Later that evening, I received calls from Matt DeFour, a reporter with the Wisconsin State Journal and Susan Troller of The Capital Times. They both asked me to confirm what John had told them; that we had a deal. I replied by confirming the deal. The next day, The Capital Times ran a story, Madison Prep and MTI will work together on new charter school. The State Journal ran an article too, Prep School agrees to employ union staff. All was good, or so we thought.
Unfortunately, our agreement was short-lived. The very next day after the story hit the newspapers, my team and I began receiving angry letters from social workers and psychologists in MMSD who were upset that we did not want to have those positions represented by MTI. We replied by explaining to them that our reasoning was purely driven by the fact that 99% of the Districts psychologists were white and that there were few social workers of color, too. For obvious reasons, we did not believe MMSD would have success hiring diverse staff for these positions. We desired a diverse staff for two reasons: we anticipated the majority of our students to be students of color and our social work and psychological service model was different. Madison Prep had a family-serving model where the school would pay for such services for every person in a family, if necessary, who needed it, and would make available to families and students a diverse pool of contracted psychologists that families and students could choose from.
That Monday evening, October 3, 2011, John Matthews approached me with Steve Goldberg at the School Board hearing on Madison Prep and informed me that his bargaining unit was very upset and that he needed to have our Physical education teacher be represented by MTI, too. Our Phy Ed model was different; we had been working on a plan with the YMCA to implement a very innovative approach to ensuring our students were deeply engaged in health and wellness activities at school and beyond the school day. In our plan, we considered the extraordinarily high rates of obesity among young men and women of color. However, to make the deal with MTI work, that evening I gave MTI the Phy Ed teaching position.
But that one request ultimately became a request by MTI for every position in our school, and a request by John Matthews to re-open negotiations, this time with a mediator. At first, we rejected this request because we felt “a deal is a deal”. When you shake hands, you follow through.
We only gave in after current school board president, James Howard, called me at home to request that the Urban League come back to the negotiating table. James acknowledged not feeling great about asking us to do this after all we had been through – jumping through hoop after hoop. If you followed the media closely, you would recall how many times we worked to overcome hurdles that were placed in our way – $200K worth of hurdles (that’s how much we spent). After meeting with MMSD leadership and staff, we agreed to come back to the table to address issues with MTI and AFSCME, who wanted our custodial and food service workers to be represented by the union as well. When we met, the unions came to the negotiation with attorneys and so did we. If you care to find out what was said during these negotiations, you can request a transcript from Beth Lehman, the liaison to the MMSD Board of Education who was taking official notes (October 31 and November 1, 2011).
On our first day of negotiations, after all sides shared their requests and concerns, we (ULGM) decided to let AFSCME represent our custodial and food service staff. AFSCME was immediately satisfied, and left the room. That’s when the hardball towards us started. We then countered with a plausible proposal that MTI did not like. When we couldn’t get anywhere, we agreed to go into recess. Shortly after we came back from recess, former MMSD Superintendent Dan Nerad dropped the bomb on us. He shared that if we now agreed to have our staff be represented by MTI, we would have to budget paying our teachers an average of $80,000 per year per teacher and dedicating $25,000 per teacher to benefits. This would effectively increase our proposal from $15M over five years to $28M over five years.
Why the increased costs? For months, we projected in our budgets that our staff would likely average 7 years of teaching experience with a Master’s degree. We used the MTI-MMSD salary schedule to set the wages in our budget, and followed MMSD and MTI’s suggestions for how to budget for the extended school day and year parts of our charter school plan. Until that day, MMSD hadn’t once told us that the way we were budgeting was a problem. They actually submitted several versions of budgets to the School Board, and not once raising this issue.
Superintendent Nerad further informed us that MMSD was going to now submit a budget to the Board of Education that reflected costs for teachers with an average of 14 years’ experience and a master’s degree. When we shockingly asked Nerad if he thought the Board of Education would support such a proposal, he said they likely would not. We did not think the public would support such a unusual request either. As you can imagine, we left the negotiations very frustrated. In the 23rd hour, not only was the run we thought we had batted in taken away from us in the 9th inning, we felt like our entire season had been vacated by commissioners.
When we returned to our office that afternoon, we called an emergency meeting of the Urban League and Madison Prep boards. It was in those meetings that we had to make a choice. Do we completely abandon our proposal for Madison Prep after all we had done to see the project through, and after all of the community support and interests from parents that we had received, or do we go forward with our original proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school and let the chips fall where they may with a vote by the Board? At that point, our trust of MMSD and MTI was not very high. In fact, weeks before all of this happened, we were told by Nerad in a meeting with our team and attorneys, and his staff and attorneys, that the Board of Education had voted in closed session to unilaterally withdraw our charter school planning grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They reversed this decision after we informed them we would file a lawsuit against them. We were later told that a certain Board member was pushing for months to have this done. Then, after months of not being able to get certain board members to meet with us, Marj Passman, decided to meet with me alone in my office. During that meeting, she told me that we (ULGM) didn’t have the votes for Madison Prep and that we were never going to get the school approved. She the offered to donate her personal funds to Madison Prep, if we pulled our proposal and decided to do a private school instead. I told her that I appreciated her offer, but declined.
After finally meeting with all seven board of education members, both the Madison Prep and ULGM boards decided unanimously that we must in good conscience go forward, put the needs and future of our children first, and reintroduce the non-instrumentality proposal to the School Board. You know the rest of the story.
Over the next 45 days, we (ULGM) were categorically painted as an anti-union conservative outfit who proposed a flawed school model that divided Madison and threatened to join the Scott Walker effort to eliminate unions. We were made to be the great dividers (not the achievement gap itself) and me, “an Angry Black Man”. Lost in the debate were the reasons we proposed the school in the first place – because so many children of color were failing in our schools and there was no effective strategy in place to address it even though the school system has known about its racial achievement gap since it was first document by researcher Naomi Lede for the National Urban League in 1965. That gap has doubled since then.
Ironically, two of the people behind the attacks on ULGM were Ben Manski and TJ Mertz. They were uniquely aligned in their opposition to Madison Prep. John Matthews even weighed in on video with his comments against us, but at least he told a story that was 80% consistent with the events that actually transpired. Watch the video and listen to the reason he gave for why he didn’t support Madison Prep. He didn’t call us union haters or teacher bashers. He knew better. So why all the fuss now? Why have those who knew exactly what went on in these negotiations not told the true story about what really happened with Madison Prep? Why has a charter school proposal been made the scapegoat, or defining lever, in a school board race where there are so many other more important issues to address?
If all it takes to win a seat on the school board now is opposition to charter schools, rather than being someone who possesses unique experiences and qualifications to serve our now majority non-white and low-income student body and increasingly challenged schools, we should all worry about the future of our children and public schools.
So, for those who were unaware and those who’ve been misleading the public about Madison Prep and the Urban League, I hope you at least read this account all the way through and give all of the candidates in this school board election the opportunity to win or lose on their merits. Falsehoods and red herrings are not needed. They don’t make our city or our school district look good to the observing eye. Let’s be honest and accurate in our descriptions going forward.
Thank you for reading.
We continue to move forward for our children and are more determined than ever to serve them well.
Onward.
Strengthening the Bridge Between Education and Work
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Main: 608.729.1200
Assistant: 608.729.1249
Fax: 608.729.1205
www.ulgm.org
www.madison-prep.org
Invest in the Urban League
Urban League 2012 Third Quarter Progress Report

The Memorandum from Kaleem Caire to John Matthews (Madison Teachers, Inc)

MEMORANDUM
Date: August 23, 2011
To: Mr. John Matthews, Executive Director, Madison Teachers, Inc.
From: Kaleem Caire, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison
cc: Mr. Steve Goldberg, President, CUNA Foundation; Mr. David Cagigal, Vice Chair, Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM); Ms Laura DeRoche-Perez, Charter School Development Consultant, ULGM; Mr. David Hase, Attorney, Cooke & Frank SC
Re: Discussion about potential MTl-Madison Prep Relationship
Greetings John.
I sincerely appreciate your openness to engaging in conversation about a possible relationship between MTI and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. We, ULGM and Madison Prep, look forward to determining very soon what the possibilities could be.
Please accept his memo as a means to frame the issues.

  1. The Urban League of Greater Madison initially pursued a non-instrumentality public charter school
    focused on young men to, first and foremost, eliminate the academic and graduate gaps between young people of color and their white peers, to successfully prepare greater percentages of young men of color and those at-risk for higher education, to significantly reduce the incarceration rate among young adult males of color and to provide an example of success that could become a learning laboratory for
    educators, parents and the Greater Madison community with regard to successful ly educating young men, regardless of th eir race or socio-economic status.

  2. We are very interested in determining how we can work with MTI while maintaining independence with regard to work rules, operations, management and leadership so that we can hire and retain the best team possible for Madison Prep, and make organizational and program decisions and modifications as necessary to meet the needs of our students, faculty, staff and parents.
  3. MTl’s collective bargaining agreement with the Madison Metropolitan School District covers many positions within the school system. We are interested in having MTI represent our teachers and guidance counselors. All other staff would not be represented by MTI.
  4. The collective bargaining agreement between MTI and Madison Prep would be limited to employee wages and benefits. Madison Prep teachers would select a representative among them, independent of Madison Prep’s leadership, to serve as their union representative to MTI.

I look forward to discussing this with you and members of our teams, and hearing what ideas you have for the
relationship as well.
Respectfully,
Kaleem Caire,
President & CEO
CONFIDENTIAL

336K PDF Version
jpg version
Related Links:

Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School
(Rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board).
Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman on “the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment.“.
John Matthews, Madison Teachers, Inc.
Kaleem Caire, Madison Urban League
The rejected Studio Charter School.
Union politics.
2013 Madison School Board Elections.
Update: Matthew DeFour’s article on Caire’s message:

Lucy Mathiak, who was on the board in 2011, also didn’t dispute Caire’s account of the board action, but couldn’t recall exactly what happened in the board’s closed sessions.
“Did (the Urban League) jump through many hoops, provide multiple copies of revised proposals upon request, meet ongoing demands for new and more detailed information? Yes,” Mathiak said. “It speaks volumes that Madison Prep is being used to smear and discredit candidates for the School Board and used as a litmus test of political worthiness.”
Matthews said the problems with Madison Prep resulted from Caire’s proposal to hire nonunion staff.
“What Kaleem seems to have forgotten, conveniently or otherwise, is that MTI representatives engaged in several discussions with him and several of his Board members, in attempt to reach an amicable resolution,” Matthews said. “What that now has to do with the current campaign for Board of Education, I fail to see. I know of no animosity among the candidates or their campaign workers.”
Passman and other board members who served at the time did not return a call seeking comment.

AVID/TOPS Madison School District Findings 2011-2012

Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Post-Secondary Education (2.6MB PDF):

To answer the guiding research questions, we developed a comparison group of academically and demographically similar non-participants to compare outcomes with AVID/TOPS students based on 8th grade pre-participation data. Using a statistical matching method called propensity score matching, we matched every AVID/TOPS student with a similar non-AVID/TOPS student at the same high school to create the comparison group.
Using these groups, we test for statistically and practically significant differences on key measures of academic preparation (cumulative GPA, enrollment and GPA in core courses, enrollment and GPA in AP/Honors courses, and credit attainment), college knowledge (test-taking rates and performance on the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests), and student engagement (attendance rates and behavioral referrals).
Statistically significant differences are differences that are unlikely to have occurred through random chance and are large enough to reflect meaningful differences in practice. In this report, we highlight statistically significant differences with a red symbol: .To focus attention on underrepresented students’ achievement, we disaggregated the measures by income and race. Though we report disaggregated findings, many of these groups are not mutually exclusive; for example, low-income students may also be African-American and therefore also represented in that data disaggregation. We do not report data from disaggregated groups that have fewer than five students in them. We then analyze this data at the program, grade cohort, and high school levels.
This assessment does not make causal claims about AVID/TOPS, nor does it present a longitudinal analysis of AVID/TOPS student achievement. Rather, the findings represent a single snapshot for achievement during the 2011-12 school year of the program’s 9th, 10th, and 11th graders.

Wisconsin Governor: Scott Walker proposes expanding voucher school program, raising taxpayer support

Jason Stein and Patrick Marley:

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing increasing by at least 9% the taxpayer funding provided to private and religious voucher schools – an increase many times larger in percentage terms than the increase in state tax money he’s seeking for public schools.
The increase in funding for existing voucher schools in Milwaukee and Racine, the first since 2009, comes as the Republican governor seeks to expand the program to nine new districts, including Waukesha, West Allis-West Milwaukee and Madison. Walker is also proposing allowing special-needs students from around the state to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.
Even after the proposed increase to voucher funding and the substantial cuts Walker and lawmakers approved for public schools in 2011, the aid provided to voucher schools would still be substantially less on a per-pupil basis than the overall state and local taxes provided to public schools.
But to provide that bigger increase to voucher schools, the Republican governor will need to persuade lawmakers to break a link in state law that currently binds the percentage increase in aid to voucher schools to the percentage increase in state general aid given to public schools.

Related links:

Finally, perhaps everyone might focus on the big goals: world class schools.

Wisconsin Governor Walker’s education reforms include voucher expansion and more

Matthew DeFour

Walker’s reform proposals include:

  • Expanding private school vouchers to school districts with at least 4,000 students and at least two schools receiving school report card grades of “fails to meet expectations” or “meets few expectations.” The expansion, which would include Madison schools, would be capped at 500 students statewide next year and 1,000 students the following year.
  • Creating a statewide charter school oversight board, which would approve local nonreligious, nonprofit organizations to create and oversee independent charter schools. Only students from districts that qualify for vouchers could attend the charter schools. Authorizers would have to provide annual performance reports about the schools.
  • Expanding the Youth Options program, which allows public school students to access courses offered by other public schools, virtual schools, the UW System, technical colleges and other organizations approved by the Department of Public Instruction.
  • Granting special education students a private school voucher.
  • Eliminating grade and residency restrictions for home-schooled students who take some courses in a public school district. School districts would receive additional state funding for home-schooled students who access public school courses or attend virtual schools.

Additionally, Walker’s spokesman confirmed plans to make no additional funding available for public schools in the budget he plans to propose Wednesday.

Related links:

Finally, perhaps everyone might focus on the big goals: world class schools.

Wisconsin’s New Dual (high school/College) Enrollment Program

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

If Wisconsin wants an educated workforce that can compete in a global economy, it has to stop thinking in terms of education pieces: K-12, colleges and universities, technical schools. It has to start thinking in terms of one system that students can navigate with ease to get the education they want and need, both in basic knowledge and upgrades when they want them; a system aimed at best serving their needs, offering them enrichment and skills.
An important step in that direction was taken Tuesday with the signing of a dual enrollment agreement by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension Chancellor Ray Cross at UW-Marathon County in Wausau. The agreement allows high school students – mostly juniors or seniors – to earn credit that can be transferred easily to state four-year universities or two-year colleges after graduation, along with many private colleges.
Evers said in an interview Tuesday that the initiative “creates some synergy between systems that have not been directly connected in the past,” according to an article by Journal Sentinel reporters Erin Richards and Karen Herzog. “Even though we’re all differently governed, we need to make our systems look more like one instead of two or three or four.”
This helps students in several ways, including reducing the cost of a college degree. That’s more important than ever in light of the increasing cost of a college education. Just last week, UW officials announced a 5.5% hike in tuition.

The devil is in the details, as always.
Much more on credit for non-Madison School District courses, here.
Wisconsin DPI:

UW Colleges and DPI announce expanded dual enrollment program
Program will allow students to take UW Colleges courses at their high schools
High school students in Wisconsin will be able to earn college credits while still in high school under a new dual enrollment program announced by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the University of Wisconsin Colleges.
Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction, and Ray Cross, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, signed an agreement and announced the new statewide model for dually enrolling high school students in high school and UW Colleges courses. They spoke at a June 12 ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, one of the UW Colleges campuses in Wausau. UW Colleges is the UW System’s network of 13 freshman – sophomore campuses and UW Colleges Online.
Evers and Cross said the new partnership would allow students across Wisconsin to access UW Colleges courses in their high schools via classroom teachers and online. The new dual enrollment program would accelerate students’ ability to earn UW credits, reduce the cost of obtaining a college degree, and increase the readiness of high school graduates for either college or the workplace. The program should be in place no later than the 2013-14 school year.
“We’re trying to better serve high school students by bringing our University of Wisconsin courses right into their high schools in a cost-effective way,” said Cross. “We’re committed to making these UW credits as affordable as possible for high school students, their families, and the school districts.”
“More students need the opportunity to take advanced courses and earn high school and college credit simultaneously,” Evers said. “This statewide dual enrollment agreement is a great way for students to get an introduction to college coursework and earn credits before even enrolling in a school of higher education. This will increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and careers.”
Additional information is contained in the complete news release. A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is available online.

Madison Teachers, Inc. 2011 Candidate Questionnaire

1MB PDF, via a kind reader’s email:. Mayoral Candidate Paul Soglin participated and I found this question and response interesting:


What strategies will you introduce to reduce the 6000+ families who move in and out of Madison Public School classrooms each year?
In the last three years more children opted out of the district than all previous years in the history of the district. That contributed to the increase of children from households below the poverty line rising to over 48% of the kids enrolled.
To stabilize our enrollment we need stable families and stable neighborhoods. This will require a collaborate effort between governments, like the city, the county and the school district, as well as the private sector and the non-profits. It means opening Madison’s economy to all families, providing stable housing, and building on the assets of our neighborhoods.
One decades old problem is the significant poverty in the Town of Madison. I would work with town officials, and city of Fitchburg officials to see if we could accelerate the annexation of the town so we could provide better services to area residents.

Ed Hughes and Marj Passman, both running unopposed responded to MTI’s questions via this pdf document.

MTIVOTERS 2011 School Board Election Questionnaire
Please respond to each ofthe following questions. If you wish to add/clarifY your response, please attach a separate sheet and designate your responses with the same number which appears in the questionnaire. Please deliver your responses to MTI Headquarters (821 Williamson Street) by, February 17, 2011.
General:
If the School Board finds it necessary to change school boundaries due to enrollment, what criteria would you, as a Board member, use to make such a judgement?
Ifthe School Board finds it necessary to close a school/schools due to economic reasons, what criteria would you, as a Board member, use to make such a judgement?
If the School Board finds it necessary, due to the State-imposed revenue controls, to make further budget cuts to the 2011-12 budget, what criteria would you, as a Board member, use to make such a judgement?
IdentifY specific MMSD programs and/or policies which you believe should to be modified, re-prioritized, or eliminated, and explain why.
What should the District do to reduce violence/assure that proper discipline and safety (of the learning and working environment) is maintained in our schools?
Do you agree that the health insurance provided to District employees should be mutually selected through collective bargaining?
_ _ YES _ _ NO Explain your concerns/proposed solutions relative to the District’s efforts to reduce the “achievement gap”.
Should planning time for teachers be increased? If yes, how could this be accomplished?
Given that the Wisconsin Association of School Boards rarely supports the interests of the Madison Metropolitan School District, do you support the District withdrawing from the W ASB? Please explain your rationale.
From what sources do you believe that public schools should be funded?
a. Do you support further increasing student fees? _ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Do you support the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools’ (WAES) initiative to raise sales tax by 1% to help fund schools?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support class sizes of 15 or less for all primary grades? _ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support:
a. The use of public funds (vouchers) to enable parents to pay tuition with tax payers’ money for religious and private schools?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
b. The expansion of Charter schools within the Madison Metropolitan School District? _ _ YES _ _ NO
c. The Urban League’s proposed “Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men” as a charter school which would not be an instrumentality of the District?
_ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Do you agree that the usual and customary work ofteachers, i.e. work ofthose in MTI’s teacher bargaining unit, should not be performed by others (sub-contracted)?
_ _ YES _ _ NO List MMSD staff and Board member(s) from whom you do or would seek advice.
Is your candidacy being promoted by any organization? _ _ YES _ _ NO
If yes, please name such organization(s). Have you ever been employed as a teacher? If yes, please describe why you left the teaching profession.
Do you support the inclusion model for including Title 1, EEN and ESL students in the regular education classroom? Why/why not?
What grouping practices do you advocate for talented and gifted (TAG) students?
Aside from limitations from lack ofadequate financial resources, what problems to you feel exist in meeting TAG students’ needs at present, and how would you propose to solve these problems?
The Board ofEducation has moved from the development ofpolicy to becoming involved in implementation of policy; i.e. matters usually reserved to administration. Some examples are when it:
a. Decided to hear parents’ complaints about a teacher’s tests and grading. b. Decided to modifY the administration’s decision about how a State Statute should be implemented.
Do you believe that the Board should delegate to administrators the implementation of policy which the Board has created?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you believe that the Board should delegate to administrators the implementation of State Statutes? _ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support the Board exploring further means to make their meetings more efficient? _ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Do you support a merit pay scheme being added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement _ _ YES _ _ _ NO
If yes, based on which performance indicators?
Do/did/will your children attend private or parochial schools during their K-12 years? Ifno, and ifyou have children, what schools have/will they attend(ed)?
_ _ YES _ _ NO If you responded “yes”, please explain why your child/children attended private parochial schools.
Legislation
Will you introduce and vote for a motion which would direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage oflegislation to eliminate the revenue controls on public schools and return full budgeting authority to the School Board?
_ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage oflegislation to prohibit the privatization ofpublic schools via the use oftuition tax credits (vouchers) to pay tuition with taxpayers’ money to private or religious schools?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation which will maintain or expand the benefit level of the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act?
_ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage oflegislation which will increase the retirement formula multiplier from 1.6% to 2% for teachers and general employees, i.e. equal that of protective employees?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation which will forbid restrictions to free and open collective bargaining for the selection ofinsurance for public employees (under Wis. Stat. 111.70), including the naming ofthe insurance carrier?
_ _ YES
_ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation which will guarantee free and open collective bargaining regarding the establishment of the school calendar/school year, including when the school year begins?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsiu Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation to forbid the work of employees organized under Wis. Stat. 111.70 (collective bargaining statute) to be subcontracted?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to seek passage of legislation which will require full State funding of any State-mandated program?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to seek passage oflegislation which will provide adequate State funding of public education?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support a specific school finance reform plan (e.g., School Finance Network (SFN), Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES), Andrews/Matthews Plan)?
Why/why not? Your Campaign:
Are you, or any of your campaign committee members, active in or supportive (past or present) of the “Get Real”, “ACE”, “Vote No for Change” or similar organizations?
Name ofCampaign Committee/Address/Phone #/Treasurer. List the members ofyour campaign committee.

What’s High School For?

Glenn Sharfman:

We all want more young people to attend college. Who would argue with that? Politicians and educators at all levels extol the obvious virtues, from enhanced earning potential to a greater satisfaction in life. One increasingly popular way to encourage college attendance is through dual enrollment, in which students take courses in high school for both high school and college credit.
In theory, dual enrollment enables high school students to accrue college credits for very little cost and imbues them with a sense of confidence that they can complete college work. If students can succeed in college classes while still in high school, conventional wisdom holds, they will be more likely to matriculate at the postsecondary level.
In Indiana, dual enrollment is encouraged at the highest levels, with state Education Secretary Tony Bennett maintaining that at least 25 percent of high school graduates should pass at least one Advanced Placement exam or International Baccalaureate exam, or earn at least three semester hours of college credit during high school.
In reality, though, dual enrollment may do more harm than good.

Related: Credit for non-Madison School District Courses.

Madison School District’s Proposed Innovative and Alternative Program Committee

Superintendent Dan Nerad

The Innovative and Alternative Program Committee is charged with identifying alternative education and program needs and developing a plan to expand alternative programs and educational options. This will allow the district to articulate a direction and a plan for these types of programs which will be presentedto the Board of Education.

An open approach to alternative education models – an area Madison lags – is a good thing. A simple first step would be to address Janet Mertz’s longstanding quest Credit for Non Madison School District Courses.
Related: A School Board Thinks Differently About Delivering Education, and spends less.

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-Londonderry
KinderCare-Old Sauk
KinderCare-Raymond
LaPetite-North Gammon
MATC-Downtown
MATC-Truax
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
YMCA-East
YMCA-West
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.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Easy Money, Hard Truths & Local Maintenance Referendum Audit?

David Einhorn:

Are you worried that we are passing our debt on to future generations? Well, you need not worry.
Before this recession it appeared that absent action, the government’s long-term commitments would become a problem in a few decades. I believe the government response to the recession has created budgetary stress sufficient to bring about the crisis much sooner. Our generation — not our grandchildren’s — will have to deal with the consequences.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, the United States’ structural deficit — the amount of our deficit adjusted for the economic cycle — has increased from 3.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2007 to 9.2 percent in 2010. This does not take into account the very large liabilities the government has taken on by socializing losses in the housing market. We have not seen the bills for bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and even more so the Federal Housing Administration, which is issuing government-guaranteed loans to non-creditworthy borrowers on terms easier than anything offered during the housing bubble. Government accounting is done on a cash basis, so promises to pay in the future — whether Social Security benefits or loan guarantees — do not count in the budget until the money goes out the door.
A good percentage of the structural increase in the deficit is because last year’s “stimulus” was not stimulus in the traditional sense. Rather than a one-time injection of spending to replace a cyclical reduction in private demand, the vast majority of the stimulus has been a permanent increase in the base level of government spending — including spending on federal jobs. How different is the government today from what General Motors was a decade ago? Government employees are expensive and difficult to fire. Bloomberg News reported that from the last peak businesses have let go 8.5 million people, or 7.4 percent of the work force, while local governments have cut only 141,000 workers, or less than 1 percent.

Locally, the Madison School Board meets Tuesday evening, 6/1 to discuss the 2010-2011 budget, which looks like it will raise property taxes at least 10%. A number of issues have arisen around the District’s numbers, including expenditures from the 2005 maintenance referendum.
I’ve not seen any updates on Susan Troller’s April, 12, 2010 question: “Where did the money go?” It would seem that proper resolution of this matter would inform the public with respect to future spending and tax increases.

A Very Bright Idea: What if you could get kids to complete two years of college by the time they finish high school?

Bob Herbert:

We hear a lot of talk about the importance of educational achievement and the knee-buckling costs of college. What if you could get kids to complete two years of college by the time they finish high school?
That is happening in New York City. I had breakfast a few weeks ago with Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, to talk about Bard High School Early College, a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that gives highly motivated students the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and a two-year associate of arts degree in the four years that are usually devoted to just high school.
When these kids sail into college, they are fully prepared to handle the course loads of sophomores or juniors. Essentially, the students complete their high school education by the end of the 10th grade and spend the 11th and 12th grades mastering a rigorous two-year college curriculum.
The school, a fascinating collaboration between Bard College and the city’s Department of Education, was founded in 2001 as a way of dealing, at least in part, with the systemic failures of the education system. American kids drop out of high school at a rate of one every 26 seconds. And, as Dr. Botstein noted, completion rates at community colleges have been extremely disappointing.

Related: Credit for Non-Madison School District Courses.

Plan Would Let Students Start College Early

Sam Dillon:

Dozens of public high schools in eight states will introduce a program next year allowing 10th graders who pass a battery of tests to get a diploma two years early and immediately enroll in community college.
Students who pass but aspire to attend a selective college may continue with college preparatory courses in their junior and senior years, organizers of the new effort said. Students who fail the 10th grade tests, known as board exams, can try again at the end of their 11th and 12th grades. The tests would cover not only English and math but other subjects like science and history.
The new system of high school coursework with the accompanying board examinations is modeled largely on systems in high-performing nations including Denmark, Finland, England, France and Singapore.
The program is being organized by the National Center on Education and the Economy, and one of its goals is to reduce the numbers of high school graduates who need remedial courses when they enroll in college. More than a million college freshmen across America must take remedial courses each year, and many drop out before getting a degree.
“That’s a central problem we’re trying to address, the enormous failure rate of these kids when they go to the open admission colleges,” said Marc S. Tucker, president of the center, a Washington-based nonprofit. “We’ve looked at schools all over the world, and if you walk into a high school in the countries that use these board exams, you’ll see kids working hard, whether they want to be a carpenter or a brain surgeon.”

This makes sense.
Related: Janet Mertz’s enduring effort: Credit for non-MMSD Courses

For Students at Risk, Early College Proves a Draw

Tamar Lewin:

Precious Holt, a 12th grader with dangly earrings and a SpongeBob pillow, climbs on the yellow school bus and promptly falls asleep for the hour-plus ride to Sandhills Community College.
When the bus arrives, she checks in with a guidance counselor and heads off to a day of college classes, blending with older classmates until 4 p.m., when she and the other seniors from SandHoke Early College High School gather for the ride home.
There is a payoff for the long bus rides: The 48 SandHoke seniors are in a fast-track program that allows them to earn their high-school diploma and up to two years of college credit in five years — completely free.
Until recently, most programs like this were aimed at affluent, overachieving students — a way to keep them challenged and give them a head start on college work. But the goal is quite different at SandHoke, which enrolls only students whose parents do not have college degrees.
Here, and at North Carolina’s other 70 early-college schools, the goal is to keep at-risk students in school by eliminating the divide between high school and college.
“We don’t want the kids who will do well if you drop them in Timbuktu,” said Lakisha Rice, the principal. “We want the ones who need our kind of small setting.”

Once again, the MMSD and State of WI are going in the wrong direction regarding education. Much more on “Credit for non-MMSD courses.

Elmbrook gets UW-Waukesha classes: “Professors Save Students the Trip”

Amy Hetzner, via a kind reader’s email:

By the time the first bell rings at Brookfield Central High School, most of the students in Room 22 are immersed in college-level vector equations, reviewing for their final exam on the Friday before Christmas.
Senior Lea Gulotta, however, looks on the bright side of waking early every morning for the past semester so she can take a Calculus 3 class taught at the school by a college professor.
“We get to sleep in for a month,” she said, noting that the regular high school semester won’t end until mid-January.
There’s another positive to Brookfield Central’s agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha continuing education department, which brought the advanced mathematics class to the high school this year as part of the state’s youth options program. Under youth options, school districts pick up the costs of courses at Wisconsin colleges if they don’t have similar offerings available to students.
Instead of seeing students spend extra time commuting and attending class on a college campus, the arrangement placed the professor in the high school to teach 11 students who had completed advanced-placement calculus as juniors. Two of the students in the class come from the Elmbrook School District’s other high school, Brookfield East.
Elmbrook pays UW-Waukesha the same tuition that it would pay if its students chose to attend the college campus on their own, she said.

Related: Janet Mertz’s tireless crusade on credit for non-Madison School District classes.

New Global Academy to offer specialized courses to students in eight Dane County school districts

Gena Kittner:

The initial program in biomedicine would include courses in the principles of biomedical sciences; human body systems; medical interventions; and science research. The classes likely would be taught by high school teachers, but would incorporate business and academic experts to help teach, offer apprenticeships and career placement.
The academy’s location won’t be decided until leaders know how many students are interested in the program. However, one possibility is holding classes at MATC’s West campus in the former Famous Footwear building, Reis said.
Students – organizers hope about 150 – would travel from their respective high schools to Madison’s Far West Side every day for the courses, which would be part of the academy’s two-year programs. Depending on the interest in the biomedical class, three sections would be taught during the day and possibly one in the evening, Reis said.
Offering a night class would maximize the use of the facility and offer some flexibility to students who live farther outside of Madison, he said.
Verona, Middleton Cross-Plains, Belleville, McFarland, Mount Horeb, Oregon, Wisconsin Heights and Madison school districts have agreed to participate in the academy.

Related: Credit for non Madison School District Courses.

The Madison School District = General Motors?

A provocative headline.
Last Wednesday, Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman spoke to the Madison Rotary Club on “What Wisconsin’s Public Education Model Needs to Learn from General Motors Before it is too late.” 7MB mp3 audio (the audio quality is not great, but you can hear the talk if you turn up the volume!).
Zimman’s talk ranged far and wide. He discussed Wisconsin’s K-12 funding formula (it is important to remember that school spending increases annually (from 1987 to 2005, spending grew by 5.10% annually in Wisconsin and 5.25% in the Madison School District), though perhaps not in areas some would prefer.
“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).
Zimman noted that the most recent State of Wisconsin Budget removed the requirement that arbitrators take into consideration revenue limits (a district’s financial condition @17:30) when considering a District’s ability to afford union negotiated compensation packages. The budget also added the amount of teacher preparation time to the list of items that must be negotiated….. “we need to breakthrough the concept that public schools are an expense, not an investment” and at the same time, we must stop looking at schools as a place for adults to work and start treating schools as a place for children to learn.”
In light of this talk, It has been fascinating to watch (and participate in) the intersection of:

Several years ago, former Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater remarked that “sometimes I think we have 25,000 school districts, one for each child”.
I found Monday evening’s school board meeting interesting, and perhaps indicative of the issues Zimman noted recently. Our public schools have an always challenging task of trying to support the growing range of wants, needs and desires for our 24,180 students, staff members, teachers, administrators, taxpayers and parents. Monday’s topics included:

I’ve not mentioned the potential addition of 4K, high school redesign or other topics that bubble up from time to time.
In my layperson’s view, taking Zimman’s talk to heart, our public schools should dramatically shrink their primary goals and focus on only the most essential topics (student achievement?). In Madison’s case, get out of the curriculum creation business and embrace online learning opportunities for those students who can excel in that space while devoting staff to the kids who need them most. I would also like to see more opportunities for our students at MATC, the UW, Edgewood College and other nearby institutions. Bellevue (WA) College has a “running start” program for the local high school.

Chart via Whitney Tilson.
Richard Zimman closed his talk with these words (@27 minutes): “Simply throwing more money at schools to continue as they are now is not the answer. We cannot afford more of the same with just a bigger price tag”.
General Motors as formerly constituted is dead. What remains is a much smaller organization beholden to Washington. We’ll see how that plays out. The Madison School District enjoys significant financial, community and parental assets. I hope the Administration does just a few things well.

College Courses for High School Students: Bellevue, Washington

Bellevue College:

Running Start provides academically motivated students an opportunity to take college courses as part of their high school education.
Students may take just one class per quarter, or take all of their courses on the BC campus. If you are eligible for the program, you will earn both high school and college credit for the classes you take.
Classes taken on the college campus as part of the Running Start program are limited to “college level” courses (most classes numbered 100 or above qualify).
Tuition is paid for by the school district. Books, class related fees and transportation are the responsibility of the student.
Running Start was created by the Washington State Legislature in 1990 and is available at all community and technical colleges in the State of Washington.

Smart.
Related: The ongoing battle: Credit for Non-MMSD Courses.

Madison’s Population Grew 22,491 from 2000 to 2008, School Enrollment Flat

Bill Glauber:

Madison continued its remarkable population surge with a 10.7% increase from 2000 to 2008, top among Wisconsin cities with a population of 50,000 or more. The capital also led Wisconsin in numerical growth, adding 22,491 people, for a total population of 231,916.
“Madison remains a very desirable place to live, and positive growth rates like this reflect that high quality of life,” Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said in a statement.
The new estimates are intriguing, both locally and nationally, because they detail America’s population at the cusp of the financial meltdown and in the midst of a housing bust. They’re also the last estimates to be released before the 2010 census is taken.
“Big cities are resilient,” said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “They’ve been able to survive in a very difficult economy. These cities have diverse economies that can hold their own in these troubled times.”

Related:

Madison’s enrollment was 24,758 during the 1999-2000 school year and 24,189 during the 2008-2009 academic year. More here and here.
Given Madison’s academic orientation (UW-Madison, MATC, Edgewood College, not to mention a number of nearby institutions), our students (every one of them) should have access to world class academics.

Students Without Borders

Maria Glod:

A team of very smart teenagers has set out to discover ways that maggots might make the world a better place. Two are from Loudoun County. Two live more than 9,000 miles away in Singapore.
To many U.S. politicians, educators and business leaders, Singapore’s students have become a symbol of the fierce competition the nation faces from high achievers in Asia. But these four students call themselves “international collaborators” and friends.
Even as globalization has fed worries about whether U.S. students can keep up with the rest of the world, it also has spawned classroom connections across oceans. Teachers, driven by a desire to help students navigate a world made smaller by e-mail, wikis and teleconferences, say lessons once pulled mainly from textbooks can come to life through real-world interactions.
“When we talk on Facebook,” Joanne Guidry, 17, one of the researchers at Loudoun’s Academy of Science, said of her Singaporean peers, “you can’t tell they are halfway around the world.”

Related: Credit for non-Madison School District Courses.

An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Math Teacher Hiring Criteria

Thanks much for taking the time from your busy schedule to respond to our letter below. I am delighted to note your serious interest in the topic of how to obtain middle school teachers who are highly qualified to teach mathematics to the MMSD’s students so that all might succeed. We are all in agreement with the District’s laudable goal of having all students complete algebra I/geometry or integrated algebra I/geometry by the end of 10th grade. One essential component necessary for achieving this goal is having teachers who are highly competent to teach 6th- through 8th-grade mathematics to our students so they will be well prepared for high school-level mathematics when they arrive in high school.
The primary point on which we seem to disagree is how best to obtain such highly qualified middle school math teachers. It is my strong belief that the MMSD will never succeed in fully staffing all of our middle schools with excellent math teachers, especially in a timely manner, if the primary mechanism for doing so is to provide additional, voluntary math ed opportunities to the District’s K-8 generalists who are currently teaching mathematics in our middle schools. The District currently has a small number of math-certified middle school teachers. It undoubtedly has some additional K-8 generalists who already are or could readily become terrific middle school math teachers with a couple of hundred hours of additional math ed training. However, I sincerely doubt we could ever train dozens of additional K-8 generalists to the level of content knowledge necessary to be outstanding middle school math teachers so that ALL of our middle school students could be taught mathematics by such teachers.
Part of our disagreement centers around differing views regarding the math content knowledge one needs to be a highly-qualified middle school math teacher. As a scientist married to a mathematician, I don’t believe that taking a couple of math ed courses on how to teach the content of middle school mathematics provides sufficient knowledge of mathematics to be a truly effective teacher of the subject. Our middle school foreign language teachers didn’t simply take a couple of ed courses in how to teach their subject at the middle school level; rather, most of them also MAJORED or, at least, minored in the subject in college. Why aren’t we requiring the same breathe and depth of content knowledge for our middle school mathematics teachers? Do you really believe mastery of the middle school mathematics curriculum and how to teach it is sufficient content knowledge for teachers teaching math? What happens when students ask questions that aren’t answered in the teachers’ manual? What happens when students desire to know how the material they are studying relates to higher-level mathematics and other subjects such as science and engineering?
The MMSD has been waiting a long time already to have math-qualified teachers teaching mathematics in our middle schools. Many countries around the world whose students outperform US students in mathematics only hire teachers who majored in the subject to teach it. Other school districts in the US are taking advantage of the current recession with high unemployment to hire and train people who know and love mathematics, but don’t yet know how to teach it to others. For example, see
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE54L2W120090522
If Madison continues to wait, we will miss out on this opportunity and yet another generation of middle schoolers will be struggling to success in high school.
The MMSD has a long history of taking many, many year to resolve most issues. For example, the issue of students receiving high school credit for non-MMSD courses has been waiting 8 years and counting! It has taken multiple years for the District’s math task force to be formed, meet, write its report, and have its recommendations discussed. For the sake of the District’s students, we need many more math-qualified middle school teachers NOW. Please act ASAP, giving serious consideration to our proposal below. Thanks.

Madison School District Strategic Planning Update



The Madison School District’s Strategic Planning Group met this past week. Several documents were handed out, including:

This recent meeting was once again facilitated by Dr. Keith Marty, Superintendent of the Menomonee Falls school district. Non-MMSD attendance was somewhat lower than the initial 2.5 day session.

Brightstorm Raises $6 Million For Online High School Video Tutorials

Erick Schonfeld:

If high-school education is failing in the U.S., maybe Web video can help. Founded last April, Brightstorm is a Web video site that brings bright, talented teachers together with students who need some extra help. Backed by Korea’s KTB Ventures, which invested the entire $6 million in the startup’s A round, Brightstorm is launching today to the public.
There are about 20 teachers on the site offering video courses in subjects such as Geometry, the SAT, and A.P. U.S. History. Each course is broken up into episodes that are about 10 to 20 minutes each. Each course is $50, which is split between Brightstorm and the teachers. Students can watch a free promotional video to decide if they like the teacher and want to purchase the course. These tend to be overproduced with cheesy video graphics (stop with the jump cuts already), but they do the job of getting across each teacher’s personality and teaching style.
The videos are supplemented with interactive challenges, pop-up quizzes, and other bonus material. You can certainly see the appeal. If you were a high school student who needed a tutor, wouldn’t you rather watch videos on your computer for ten minutes a day than endure a live tutorial for an hour or more? Now, whether you are actually going to learn more is still debatable.
But there are plenty of startups trying. Here in the U.S., there is PrepMe, ePrep, Teach The People, and Grockit. In Asia, there is iKnow in Japan and perhaps the biggest success to date is Korea’s Megastudy.

Related: Credit for non-Madison School District courses.

More Online Education Options: Now from Wharton High School @ U of Pennsylvania

Knowledge @ Wharton High School, via a kind reader email:

Knowledge@Wharton High School is an interactive site for high school students interested in finding out more about the world of business. It’s a subject that touches your lives in many ways — from the malls you shop and the plastics you recycle to the entrepreneurs, sports managers, fashion designers, stock brokers, artists and other leaders that you might become. At KWHS, you will find features about the companies you know and the people who run them, games to improve your financial skills and test your commitment to a greener marketplace, tools to explain how business works, and podcasts and videos that spotlight the world’s most creative and colorful people. As part of a network of global online business publications published by The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, KWHS will show you how your ideas can change the world.

Related: Credit for non-Madison School District courses:

In the agreement announced Tuesday, there were no program changes made to the current virtual/online curriculum, but requirements outlined in the agreement assure that classes are supervised by district teachers.
During the 2007-08 school year, there were 10 district students and 40 students from across the state who took MMSD online courses.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Remarks at a Dane County Public Affairs Council Event

Watch the 70 minute presentation and discussion or listen to this 29MB mp3 file

I took a few notes (with apologies for their brevity):

Dan Nerad:

Revisit strategic plan in January with local stakeholders. Preferred to lead with strategic plan but budget came first.
Hopes (MMSD) literacy programs are maintained.
He wants to listen to the community.
The District’s mission is teaching and learning.
The District has several strengths and some notable weaknesses, including achievement gaps.
Schools have a broader mission than workforce development, including helping students be good people.
Achievement gap is a significant issue. There is a compelling need to face an issue that affects Madison’s viability. These are not quick fix kind of issues. We need to talk more openly about this.
If I speak openly, I hope that people will be supportive of public education.
He wishes to reframe conversation around improvements for all students.
Five areas of discussion:

  1. 4k community conversation
  2. SLC grant (More here). Use the grant to begin a conversation about high schools. The structure has been in place for over 100 years. Discussed kids who are lost in high school.
  3. Curriculum can be more workforce based. Green bay has 4 high schools aligned with careers (for example: Health care).
  4. Revisit school safety
  5. Curriculum
    – safety plan and response system
    – schools should be the safest place in the community
    – technology is not the complete answer
    math task force; Madison high school students take fewer credits than other Wisconsin urban districts
    – reaffirms notable math achievement gap

  6. Fine Arts task force report: Fine arts help kids do better academically,

Erik Kass, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services:

Discussed budget gaps.
Plans to review financial processes.
He previously worked as a financial analyst.
Goal is to provide accurate, honest and understandable information.

Jonathan Barry posed a useful question (46 minutes) on how the current MTI agreement prohibits participation in alternative programs, such as Operation Fresh Start (“nobody shall educate that is not a member of Madison Teachers”). Barry mentioned that a recent United Way study referenced 4,000 local disconnected youth (under 21). This topic is relevant in a number of areas, including online learning and credit for non-MMSD courses. This has also been an issue in the local lack of a 4K program.

Global Academy Magnet School from the Verona, Middleton Cross Plains, Belleville, McFarland, Mount Horeb and Oregon School Districts

Seth Jovaag via a kind reader’s email:

Local school officials took another early step Monday toward creating a Verona-based magnet school that could offer area high school students specialized classes they might not get otherwise.
With Madison Area Technical College searching for a new place to build a campus in southwestern Dane County, six area school districts are lining up behind the idea of a “Global Academy,” where high schoolers could learn job skills and earn post-secondary credits.
The Verona Area school board Monday approved the spending of $6,750 to hire a consultant to put together a detailed plan for how the six districts could work with MATC – and possibly the University of Wisconsin – to create such a campus.
That money will pool with similar amounts from five districts – Oregon, Belleville, Mount Horeb, McFarland and Middleton-Cross Plains – eager to see MATC land nearby, too.
The consultant, expected to start Aug. 15, will be asked to hone the concept of the school, including how it could be organized and how the consortium would work together.
Though the academy is currently little more than a concept, board member Dennis Beres said that if it comes to fruition, it could be a huge addition for the district.

Deborah Ziff:

Administrators from six Dane County school districts are planning to create a program called The Global Academy, a hybrid of high school and college courses offering specialized skills for high school juniors and seniors.
The consortium of districts includes Verona, MiddletonCross Plains, Belleville, McFarland, Mount Horeb and Oregon.
The Global Academy would offer courses in four career clusters: architecture and construction; health science; information technology; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“We really see a need for vocational and technical programs and career planning,” said Dean Gorrell, superintendent of Verona Schools. “It’s tough to keep those going.”

Smart. Related: Credit for non-MMSD Courses.

Use technology to connect students around the world

Des Moines Register Editorial:

Elementary students in Sioux City and Wales have been getting together occasionally for years to talk about holiday traditions, sports and school lunches, said Jim Christensen, distance-learning coordinator at the Northwest Area Education Agency in Sioux City. They’ve made presentations and held interactive question-and-answer sessions.
“It’s easy to say, ‘What does that have to do with the curriculum?’ But it has everything to do with learning to communicate and a perspective on the world that’s unbelievable,” he said.
Colin Evans, head teacher of the school in Wales, echoed those thoughts in an e-mail: “Exchanging e-mails or written letters and photographs would be a poor substitute for these experiences. This has brought a whole new dimension to the curriculum… Use of technology is uniting two schools 6,000 miles apart into one global classroom.”

Related: Credit for Non Madison School District Courses.

Math 234 at the University of Wisconsin Madison for High School Students

Via Ted Widerski’s email:

The UW Math dept has decided to offer a section of Math 234 (3rd semester Calculus) at 7:45 am in the fall of 2008. This course will be taught by Professor Andreas Seeger and will meet at 7:45 – 8:35 on MWF for 3 credits. The UW has chosen this time as being somewhat convenient for high school students, as many students can take this course and return to their high school in time for 2nd period.
Madison Schools have 26 students in grades 11 or below that will be completing Calculus II this year. Combined with students in neighboring school districts, there is a possibility that a large percentage of the class will be made of area high school students.
For those students that plan to elect this course, each District has a deadline for accessing the Youth Options [Clusty | Google] program. In Madison, that deadline is March 1. Therefore, I would encourage you to speak with students and parents in your building and make them aware of this opportunity. Also, please pass on this info to other key people in your building such as guidance counselors, math department chairs and Calculus teachers.
If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.
Ted Widerski
Talented and Gifted Resource Teacher
Madison Metropolitan School District
545 W Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
(608)442-2152

Related: Credit for non-mmsd courses.

Kids in the lab: Getting high-schoolers hooked on science

Kate Tillery-Danzer:

While this might be typical work for a graduate student in the life sciences, Ballard is a senior at Madison West High School who is still shy of his 18th birthday. His work with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics is part of the Youth Apprenticeship Program (YAP), an innovative project that gives exceptional high-school students an opportunity to get exposure and experience in their desired careers.
Created in 1991, the program is run by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development, with collaboration from universities, schools and businesses. Statewide, more than 10,000 students have participated in 22 different program areas. This year, Ballard is one of nine Dane County students enrolled in YAP’s biotechnology focus, which offers a taste of working science that they can’t get in high school.
“Working in the research lab is amazing,” says Ballard, who plans to pursue both an M.D. and Ph.D. after college. “It’s meaningful. There is a point (to it). In high school, you do your labs and it’s not contributing to human knowledge in any way.”

Related:

Where to Educate Your Child? Madison Area is #2

Via a reader’s email: David Savageau (Contributing Editor of Expansion Management Management):

Three out of 10 of us either work in an educational institution or learn in one. Education eats up 8% of the Gross National Product. Keeping it all going is the biggest line item on city budgets. Whether the results are worth it sometimes makes teachers and parents–and administrators and politicians–raise their voices and point fingers.
In the 1930s, the United States was fragmented into 130,000 school districts. After decades of consolidation, there are now fewer than 15,000. They range in size from hundreds that don’t actually operate schools–but bus children to other districts–to giants like the Los Angeles Unified District, with three-quarters of a million students.
Greater Chicago has 332 public school districts and 589 private schools within its eight counties. Metropolitan Los Angeles takes in 35 public library systems. Greater Denver counts 15 public and private colleges and universities. Moving into any of America’s metro areas means stepping into a thicket of school districts, library systems, private school options and public and private college and universities.

Here are some of their top locations:

  1. Washington, DC – Arlington, VA
  2. Madison, WI
  3. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham
  4. Baltimore -Towson
  5. Akron, OH
  6. Columbus, OH
  7. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
  8. Syracuse, NY
  9. St. Louis, MO
  10. Ann Arbor, MI

The Madison area has incredible resources for our children. The key of course, is leveraging that and being open to working effectively with many organizations, something Marc Eisen mentioned in his recent article. Madison’s new Superintendent has a tremendous opportunity to leverage the community from curricular, arts, sports, health/wellness, financial and volunteer perspectives.
Related:

The Capital Times:

The Madison area, which includes all of Dane County as well as immediately adjoining areas, was awarded A+ for class size and spending per pupil in public schools, and for the popularity of the city’s public library.
The greater Madison area scored an A for being close to a college town and for offering college options.
Private school options in the greater Madison area were graded at B+.
There has been some confusion in the response to the rankings because they lump together numerous school districts — urban, suburban and rural.

Channel3000:

The engineering-based program is just one example of the district’s willingness to bring college-level learning to his high school students. That effort appears to be paying off nationally, WISC-TV reported.
“It reinforces that what we’re trying to do as a district and as an area is working,” said Granberg. “And it’s getting recognized on a national level, not just a local or state level.”
“This is not a community that accepts anything but the best and so that bar is always high,” said Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Art Rainwater.
Rainwater also credits the ranking to teacher development programs.
“We spend an awful amount of time and an awful amount of effort working with our teachers in terms of how they deliver instruction to individual children,” said Rainwater.
He said the school district will continue to improve techniques, focusing on the needs of every student.

Dual Enrollment Courses — Up From Obscurity

Jay Matthews:

Dual enrollment courses are usually community college or four-year college courses taken by high school students, either at the college or at their high schools with instructors paid by, or at least supervised by, the college. Looking at the records of 299,685 dual enrollment students in Florida, the researchers found that taking dual enrollment courses correlated to higher rates of high school graduation, enrollment in two-year and four-year colleges and academic performance in college. Students who took dual enrollment courses while enrolled in Florida high schools had higher college grade point averages and more college credits three years after high school graduation than similar students who had not done dual enrollment.
A review of the records of 2,303 New York students found those in the “College Now” dual enrollment program were more likely to pursue a bachelor’s degree and have better college grades their first semester than students of similar backgrounds who did not do dual enrollment.
Despite the evidence that these college courses — like AP and IB — give high school students a taste of college rigor that can bring college success, the researchers reported that many students are being denied a chance to take them. The ill-considered limits on high schoolers who want to take college-level courses is also a big problem for AP, and suggests that most of our high school administrators and many state education officials are in dire need of an attitude adjustment.

Related from Janet Mertz:

Nash’s “Guidelines” state that no credit will be permitted for non-MMSD courses whenever THEY deem they offer a comparable course (i.e., regardless of format) ANYWHERE in the MMSD. Even when the MMSD doesn’t offer a comparable course, they will permit a maximum of TWO ELECTIVE credits, i.e., they can not be used to fulfill specific requirements for graduation. Thus, if these Guidelines are allowed to stand, no credit whatsoever will be permitted for any high school or college course the district offers that a student takes, instead, via WCATY, EPGY, UW-Extension, online, correspondence, etc., regardless of the student’s ability to access the District’s comparable course.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s Presentation on the Proposed High School Redesign and Small Learning Community Grant

June 11, 2007 35 Minute Video | MP3 Audio Background Links: High School Redesign SIS Search [rss] Learning from Milwaukee, MPS leads the way on Innovation MMSD High School Redesign Committee Selected High School Redesign Notes Public comments and links. Important new information about credit for non-mmsd courses West HS English 9 and 10: Show … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s Presentation on the Proposed High School Redesign and Small Learning Community Grant

School Finance: K-12 Tax & Spending Climate

School spending has always been a puzzle, both from a state and federal government perspective as well as local property taxpayers. In an effort to shed some light on the vagaries of K-12 finance, I’ve summarized below a number of local, state and federal articles and links. The 2007 Statistical Abstract offers a great deal … Continue reading School Finance: K-12 Tax & Spending Climate

Madison United for Academic Excellence Meeting on Our High Schools

Madison United for Academic Excellence (MUAE — www.madisonunited.org) will hold its next monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 23, at 7:00 p.m. in Room 209 of the Doyle Administration Building. The topic for the evening will be our high schools. An informal panel of students and parents from each of our four high schools will be … Continue reading Madison United for Academic Excellence Meeting on Our High Schools

On, Off and On Again 11/27/2006 Madison School Board High School Redesign Discussion

Susan Troller wrote this on Tuesday, 11/21/2006: A presentation on the redesign of Madison’s high school curriculum scheduled for next week’s School Board meeting has been scrapped for the immediate future, School Board President Johnny Winston Jr. confirmed late this morning. “We’ll hold off on changes until we get a better feel for how the … Continue reading On, Off and On Again 11/27/2006 Madison School Board High School Redesign Discussion

Youth Options Program – DPI Information and Link

There’s been discussion on this website about taking UW classes and the WI Youth Options Program – who pays and who gets credit, what are the District’s policies. Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has a website with a brochure and frequently asked questions on this program – http://dpi.wi.gov/youthoptions/yocolcont.html. The website also includes the state … Continue reading Youth Options Program – DPI Information and Link

Brave New World: Are our kids ready to compete in the new global economy? Maybe not

Marc Eisen: Most of us have had those eerie moments when the distant winds of globalization suddenly blow across our desks here in comfortable Madison. For parents, it can lead to an unsettling question: Will my kids have the skills, temperament and knowledge to prosper in an exceedingly competitive world? I’m not so sure. I’m … Continue reading Brave New World: Are our kids ready to compete in the new global economy? Maybe not

Good goals, flawed reasoning: Administration Goes Full Speed Ahead on English 10 at West High

At January and February school board meetings, Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater reported on the administration’s plan to go ahead with one English course for all tenth graders at West High School starting in 2006-07. The goal of the plan is to increase academic opportunity for students of color. The mechanism is to teach all students … Continue reading Good goals, flawed reasoning: Administration Goes Full Speed Ahead on English 10 at West High

West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

Here is a synopsis of the English 10 situation at West HS. Currently — having failed to receive any reply from BOE Performance and Achievement Committee Chair Shwaw Vang to our request that he investigate this matter and provide an opportunity for public discussion — we are trying to get BOE President Carol Carstensen to … Continue reading West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

A History of Changes at West

Last spring a longtime parent at West HS was asked to write a description — content area by content area — of the curriculum changes that have occurred at West HS in recent years that have affected the academic opportunities of West’s “high end” students. Below you will find what she wrote. It includes changes … Continue reading A History of Changes at West

UW’s Long-term College Prep Program Puts Prospects In The Pipeline

The Wisconsin State Journal discusses the college prep program UW sponsors for middle (Madison students only) and high school minority students. Glaringly absent from the reporting is what are the criteria for getting accepted into this program. It sounds like a program open only to minority students, or is it for low-income students of color? … Continue reading UW’s Long-term College Prep Program Puts Prospects In The Pipeline