Blaska debates an opponent of parental school choice

David Blaska:

Over the past week, I have been debating one Jeff Simpson over at Forward Lookout, the Progressive Dane-inspired blog site he shares with Madame Brenda and Lukas Diaz. Jeff is an appointed member of the Monona Grove School Board, a defender of teachers unions, an opponent of parental school choice, and a reliable messenger for ever-higher school spending. (Last spring Simpson testified during MG school budget hearings in favor of a $13 million hike in MG school district property taxes.)
I highlight this discourse as an example of the “one-size-fits-all” mentality that controls the education establishment, which is resistant to educational reform. It is a command-control philosophy one would have thought discredited at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Blaska Blogs the smoking gun of the Madison teachers union’s illegal sick-out

David Blaska:

Only a fool would think that the sick out that closed down Madison schools for five days in February was anything but an illegal, union-coordinated, illegal strike.
But there are a lot of fools in Madison, aren’t there?
Now there is proof that the sickout was a premeditated, union-authorized job action — a phone tree of teachers calling other teachers to close down the schools. This kind of activity is prohibited by the union’s own contract and illegal in WI Statute Chapter 111.84(2)(e):
It is unfair practice for an employee individually or in concert with others: To engage in, induce or encourage any employees to engage in a strike, or a concerted refusal to work or perform their usual duties as employees.
The problem, of course, is finding an impartial prosecutor — but that would require a level of professionalism sorely lacking in the Doyle-appointed incumbent.

Blaska’s Blog says let education compete for business

David Blaska:

Government-run, union-controlled education is as antiquated in 21st Century America as a mimeograph machine and as outdated as the New Deal.
The entire history of this great country is choice — except in the all-important field of education, wherein one size shall fit all.
Imagine an America restricted to one mobile cell phone provider, one television station, never mind cable or satellite, one car insurance company — that is the government-monopoly education system.
Confreres, here is change you can believe in. In the previous blog, I engaged in a colloquy with the delusional Matt Logan, who encourages us law and order types to volunteer for school breakfast. I’m game, but think we’d be welcome?
Imagine the Blaska Man grabbing the empty belt loop of a gangsta wannabe and saying, “Time-out, young fella.”
The kid would laugh at my time out as they laugh at the teachers’ time outs and the squire of Stately Blaska Manor would be brought up on charges of belt-loop grabbing with intent to instill values.

Hey, guilty liberals, how about OK for Madison Prep?

David Blaska:

Nobody does guilt like a Madison liberal! The president of the Madison School Board tells me that I really didn’t make that. All along, I have been swimming in the water of white privilege.
I wish Ed Hughes had told me about white privilege when, growing up on the farm, I was mucking out the old barn with a shovel. I knew I was swimming in something but I didn’t think it was white privilege.
Ed is an honorable public servant, mindful of the dismayingly poor unemployment, incarceration, and graduation rates among people of color here in the Emerald City.
“We white folks pretty much get to set the rules in Madison,” Hughes apologizes. He meant “liberal white folks.” They’ve been running Madison for 40 years, since Paul Soglin first became mayor. It’s 50 years since LBJ’s Great Society. Something besides the Obamacare website ain’t workin’.
Allow this Madison minority — I’m a conservative — to propose a fix: If a crusading young black educator named Kaleem Caire returns to the Madison School Board with a plan for a school focused on tackling minority underachievement, give it a chance! Ed, you voted with the majority to kill Madison Prep.

Much more on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.

Advocating Wisconsin School Choice: A Letter to Senator Mike Ellis

David Blaska:

The Madison School Board recently voted 7-0 to encourage the state Legislature to say no to school choice. The surprise would have been had they voted otherwise.
I suspect Madison’s school board is like yours in Neenah and others throughout the state. Given their druthers, they’d just as soon have no competition. Makes management ever so much simpler.
Of course, those who can afford to do so can send their children to private schools – but first they must pay the monopoly school district, or move out of town. What a business model! Kim Jong-un would approve!
Our school board has the firm backing of the teachers union – the same one that unilaterally closed down Madison schools for a week during the Siege of the Capitol in February-March 2011. It should! The union elected them!

Commentary on the Madison School District’s Floated 7.36% Property Tax Increase

Matthew DeFour

Madison School District property taxes for 2013 could increase 7.4 percent under budget recommendations being presented Monday to the Madison School Board.
That would be the biggest percent increase in the district’s property tax levy in a decade. Taxes on an average Madison home valued at $230,831 would total $2,855, a $182 increase from last year.
However, district officials cautioned the numbers likely will change once the state budget is finalized and new superintendent Jennifer Cheatham conducts a review of the district.
“Before I can feel comfortable recommending a tax increase I would want to make sure that every dollar is spent effectively and I can feel confident that the funds that we’re investing are going to pay off for students,” Cheatham said.

David Blaska

Did you get a 7.4% pay raise this year? State employees have forgone a pay raise the last couple years. They had to reach in their pockets to pay new health insurance and pension co-pays. Annuitants covered by the Wisconsin Retirement System have been treading water since 2009. Those who retired nine or more years ago are facing a 9.6% reduction in their pensions. Many of those, ironically, are retired teachers.
Yet the Madison School Board proposes a 1.5% across-the-board pay increase. Actually, reporter DeFour underreported the proposed pay increase. Add another 1% for the “step” increases to account for longevity to equal a 2.5% increase. Almost uniquely among taxpayer-supported employees these days, the district’s teachers still would pay nothing toward their generous health insurance benefits. Job security is nearly guaranteed. Meanwhile, the district acts as bagman for union boss John Matthews, deducting dues from teacher paychecks.
Can we expect the district to end that statutorily forbidden practice when the current contract expires after this June? Let’s hope so, unless the district hides behind Dane County Judge Juan Colas’ Act 10 ruling.
What would get the axe? Parent-teacher conferences. So much for addressing the achievement gap.

Related: Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.

Madison’s public schools go to lockdown mode; no new ideas wanted

David Blaska:

Graphical user interface? I think not, Mr. Jobs. Mainframe is where it’s at. Big and honking, run by guys in white lab coats. Smart phones? iPads? You’re dreaming. Take your new ideas somewhere else.
That is the Madison School Board. It has decided to batten the hatches against change. It is securing the perimeter against new thinking. It is the North Korea of education: insular, blighted, and paranoid.
Just try to start a charter school in Madison. I dare you. The Madison School Board on Monday took three measures to strangle new ideas in their crib:
1) Preserving the status quo: Any proposed charter school would have to have “a history of successful practice.” That leaves out several existing Madison public schools – never mind new approaches.
2) Starvation: Cap per-pupil reimbursement at around $6,500 – less than half what Madison public schools consume.
3) Encrustation: Unionized teachers only need apply.
I spoke to Carrie Bonk, executive director of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association.

Related:
Madison’s disastrous reading results.

The rejected Studio charter school.

Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.

“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.

Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13.

Madison’s disastrous long term reading results..

Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Elementary School.

Madison progressive political machine hands Scott Walker another school victory

David Blaska:

Congratulations to Madison’s white power elite, especially to Democrats, organized labor, John Matthews and his teachers union. You very well may have elected a teachers union-first (“Collectively we decide …”), children second school board. You also just handed Scott Walker a powerful case for expanding private school vouchers.
What are you afraid of? That more parents might not choose the taxpayer-coerced public school monopoly? What do you expect, when you leave them no (ahem) … choice.
I would like to hold out hope that absentee ballots will make the difference, but 279 votes is probably too many for Wayne Strong to overcome to defeat Dean Loumos, who holds an 18,286 to 18,007 lead. If there are 1,333 absentee ballots that need to be counted, as the city clerk’s website advertises, Strong would have to beat Loumos 806 to 527 in those uncounted votes.
(BTW: Is this the new normal? As absentee voting becomes more popular, winners won’t be declared for a week after the election?)

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

Madison School Board Seat 5 (Sarah Manski, TJ Mertz, Ananda Mirilli); Out of State Fundraising (!), Utility Bill Lawsuit, Candidate’s Spouse Works for the District, Status Quo Comments

Madison School Board Seat 5 Candidate TJ Mertz Sued Twice for Unpaid Utility Bills by WKOW TV.
Missed Campaign Finance Filings: Paging Sarah Manski: You can’t leave for California just yet by David Blaska.
Sarah Manski keeps Nan Brien out of court; reports lots of Green by David Blaska:

She blew through Monday’s campaign finance reporting deadline as blithely as she ran – and then quit – her race for Madison School Board. (“Paging Sarah Manski: You can’t leave for California just yet.”) But Sarah Manski has finally made an honest woman of her treasurer and protector of the union-dominated old guard, Nan Brien.
(The former school board member, nemesis of public schools chartered to address the racial achievement gap, told WKOW TV-27 that her role as treasurer was only as a figurehead. Like Sgt. Schultz, so many in Madison are saying about the Manski campaign: “I knew nothing!”)
The Manski fundraising report filed Friday – four days late – reveals quite the haul in just a few weeks for a local race: $7,733 since Feb. 5 for a race that she ended two days after the Feb. 19 primary election. That makes a total of $11,136 since entering the race in December. That’s a lot of Green! As in very Green green.
Now, if Sarah had been a conservative instead of a professional Walker stalker (see: Wisconsin Wave), The Capital Times would have staged one of its pretend ethics meltdowns about the evils of out-of-state money. An example of their situational ethics is “Pat Roggensack’s out-of-state cash”:

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack makes little secret of her ideological and partisan alliances. And most of [her] money is coming from outside Wisconsin.

You want “outside Wisconsin”? How about St. Louis, Mo.; Lansdale, Pa.; N. Hollywood, Calif.; Edina, Minn.; Mishakawa, Ind.; Vancouver, Wash.; Kensington, Md.; Palo Alto, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Port Orford, Ore.; Flossmoor, Ill.; Sheffield, Mass.; Orange, Calif.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Chevy Chase, Md.; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Corvallis, Ore.; Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Redlands, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Boulder, Colo.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Detroit, Mich.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Seattle, Wash.; Carmel, Calif.; Houston, Texas; Philadelphia, Pa.
That is only a partial list of postmarks for “Manski for Wisconsin,” as her Madison School Board campaign was grandiosely named. Yes, when it comes to “outside cash,” John Nichols’ protégés get a pass. Manski collected 107 contributions in the latest reporting period, of which only 32 bore a Madison address, including: MTI boss John Matthews, $50; Mayor Soglin aide Sarah Miley’s husband, $100; and of course, Marj “Somebody Good” Passman, $50.

T.J. Mertz: How did Act 10 prevent you from paying your electric bill, and what about your conflict of interest? by David Blaska

Blaska’s Bring It! finds that Mertz’s spouse, Karin Schmidt, is employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District as a special education assistant at Madison West High School. That necessitates that Mertz recuse himself on such important votes as teacher and staff salary, benefits, working conditions, length of school day and year.
The odd thing is that nowhere on his campaign website does Mertz refer to his wife. He mentions two sons but no spouse. Why is she The Woman Who Must Not Be Named?
“No particular reason why she is not listed there,” Mertz told me today. Seriously? And what about the obvious conflict of interest?
“If elected, I will recuse myself as advised by district legal staff,” Mertz told this blog. I asked what would trigger a recusal. He responded, “As to recusals, I don’t know. I will take the legal advice of the district counsel. You could ask her; I have not yet, as it is not appropriate for her to be giving advice to a candidate.”
Really? You’re running for school board but you don’t know when and on what you can vote?
I have posed the conflict-of-interest issue to MMSD legal staff as well as to the Wisconsin School Board Assn. This being the Easter weekend holiday, answers may not be forthcoming before the election. However, Mertz supporter Bill Keys, the former school board president who banned the Pledge of Allegiance at Madison schools, a year ago declared that school board candidate Nichelle Nichols “will be unable to work fully with her colleagues,” because she was a Madison Urban League employee:

When I served on the board, our attorney instructed me to avoid Madison Teachers Inc. negotiations and not even be in the room during discussions. As a retired teacher, I benefited only from the life insurance policy provided by the district. Even so, discussions or votes on MTI benefits would violate state law.

Continuing to Advocate Status Quo Governance & Spending (Outcomes?) in Madison

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

First, I provide some background on the private school voucher imposition proposal. Next, I list thirteen ways in which the proposal and its advocates are hypocritical, inconsistent, irrational, or just plain wrong. Finally, I briefly explain for the benefit of Wisconsin Federation for Children why the students in Madison are not attending failing schools.

Related: Counterpoint by David Blaska.
Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?
2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2009: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
2004: Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
2012: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”
Scott Bauer

Almost half of Wisconsin residents say they haven’t heard enough about voucher schools to form an opinion, according to the Marquette University law school poll. Some 27 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of voucher schools while 24 percent have an unfavorable view. But a full 43 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about them to form an opinion.
“There probably is still more room for political leadership on both sides to try to put forward convincing arguments and move opinion in their direction,” pollster Charles Franklin said.
The initial poll question about vouchers only asked for favorability perceptions without addressing what voucher schools are. In a follow-up question, respondents were told that vouchers are payments from the state using taxpayer money to fund parents’ choices of private or religious schools.
With that cue, 51 percent favored it in some form while 42 percent opposed it.
Walker is a staunch voucher supporter.

More on the voucher proposal, here.
www.wisconsin2.org
A close observer of Madison’s $392,789,303 K-12 public school district ($14,547/student) for more than nine years, I find it difficult to see substantive change succeeding. And, I am an optimist.
It will be far better for us to address the District’s disastrous reading results locally, than to have change imposed from State or Federal litigation or legal changes. Or, perhaps a more diffused approach to redistributed state tax dollar spending.

Chicago’s public schools are in shutdown mode

David Blaska:

May explain why former Chicago schools administrator Jennifer Cheatham sought greater opportunities here in Madison. The Chicago school system is closing 61 school buildings to address a $1 billion deficit; 140 of its 681 schools are at least half-empty. (More about that here.)
Might not a tiny voice be whispering to Fighting Ed Garvey, John Nichols, Jeff Simpson, the UW School of Education, and other bitter-enders that perhaps the Chicago teachers union bears some responsibility for a) the financial deficit and b) the flight of students out of the public schools? It was, after all, the Chicago teachers union that walked out on students last September to fight performance measures and a longer school day.
Fighting Ed Garvey is not a stupid man. But he does suffer from labor union fixation disorder. Visit his blog on that subject today and tell me if Ed doesn’t remind you of the guy stocking up on matches as his house burns down. Bad schools are how cities die.

Manski and Democrats used Madison’s minorities as partisan cannon fodder (2013 Madison School Board Election)

David Blaska

Madison Prep was the mouse that roared. How can you explain the fear and loathing Madison’s power elite directed at the Madison Urban League’s proposed charter school?
The Urban League’s Madison Prep charter school would have been just one school amid 50 Madison public schools. It would have taught 800 kids out of 27,000 enrolled in the district. The school board would have retained the ultimate authority to shut it down. So why the sturm und drang over this niche school? Two reasons:
• Because it would have been non-union.
• Because it might have succeeded. The Democratic Party cannot allow one small chink in the solid teachers union barricades.
How else does one explain Sarah Manski’s endorsement from the leader of the State Assembly Democrats, Peter Barca of Kenosha? How else does one explain an endorsement from the leader of the State Senate Democrats, Chris Larson of Milwaukee?
The purpose of the Manski campaign was all about staving off any threat to the teachers union hegemony. The power structure encouraged her to run after Ananda Mirilli, an immigrant Latina who supports the charter school (a public school, by the way), entered the race.
Husband Ben Manski said as much in his notorious December email blast.

Madison Urban League head calls out Manski and Mertz for dishonest school board campaign

David Blaska

Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is speaking out against the campaign of deception waged against people of color and others who support doing something now about Madison’s yawning achievement gap instead of blaming Gov. Scott Walker.
In a statement issued this week, Caire writes, “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. … We are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring ….”
Walker had not even been sworn in as governor when the Urban League proposed establishing a charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, to address an achievement gap in which barely half of black and Hispanic children graduate from high school in the Madison public schools.
Caire mentioned as the two worst offenders in this campaign of dishonesty T.J. Mertz, candidate for School Board seat #5, and Green Party activist Ben Manski.
Manski’s wife, Sarah, jumped into the seat #5 race hoping to squeeze out an already announced candidate, Latina immigrant Ananda Mirilli. Sarah Manski’s candidacy was apparently encouraged by both Mayor Paul Soglin, who gave her a glowing campaign testimonial, and teachers union boss John Matthews, to whom Soglin referred Sarah Manski. On Dec. 30, Ben Manski blasted an email containing this outright distortion of minority candidate Ananda Mirilli’s position:

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

Ananda Mirilli: I was falsely depicted as pro-voucher

Pat Schneider:

It was a blistering blog last week by conservative David Blaska about the Madison School Board race that also-ran Ananda Mirilli says prompted her to protest that her campaign was a victim of political shenanigans long before Sarah Manski’s jaw-dropping withdrawal from the race.
Blaska called Seat 5 primary winner Manski’s pullout from the School Board race 48 hours after the primary as “so cheap and tawdry it defies explanation” and skewered the local liberal “Tammany Hall” that endorsed her.
Negative reaction to Manski’s move isn’t just coming from the right: “Has Madison politics ever seen such high-handed, self-absorbed behavior as that of leading vote-getter Sarah Manski?” asks former Isthmus editor Marc Eisen in a column.
In the aftermath of Manski’s withdrawal, people have questions. Some are speculating whether there was a conspiracy to recruit Manksi to run, knowing she might drop out, and then replace her on the School Board with a union-friendly pick. “Now we might have a conspiracy of liberals putting a person of color down … what about other conspiracies that people were pegged in to?” asks Mirilli, whose third-place primary finish keeps her off the April 2 ballot.
Mirilli said she doesn’t know what to make of the timing of Manski’s withdrawal: “It’s a coincidence — who knows who is telling the truth? But without a doubt, there was a conspiracy to say that I was pro-voucher,” Mirilli told me Wednesday. “But no one is investigating that.”
Mirilli shared an old email exchange Wednesday, before announcing that she would not pursue a write-in campaign, as many observers had been urging.

The Madison School Board, Experience and our long time Disastrous Reading Results
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board Elections, here.

Is teachers union boss John Matthews behind the Manski-gate conspiracy?

David Blaska:

The Madison Machine has put the fix in to elect a school board wholly beholden to the teachers union. No one suffers more than the poorly served minority community in Madison. Its candidates are being undermined for the benefit of the insider power structure that has allowed the minority achievement gap to grow to alarming levels.
Madison School Board member Mary Burke supports my suspicions. She says Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews is the brains behind Sarah Manski’s Trojan horse candidacy. Whoever is its author, the gambit succeeded in blocking a freethinking minority candidate, Ananda Mirilli, from surviving the front-end-loaded primary, so precipitously concluded.
For the record, John Matthews responded with a monosyllabic “no” mid-Sunday afternoon to my inquiry: “Is Mary Burke correct? Are you the brains behind the Sarah Manski bait and switch?”
So far, School Board member Marj Passman, the union’s most vociferous defender, and a longtime water carrier for the union, is left holding the bag. Matthew DeFour’s fine reportage in Saturday’s Wisconsin State Journal reports this:
Manski said she didn’t plan to run for School Board, but entered the race because Passman and a few other people [my italics] very strongly encouraged her to run. She declined to say who the other people were.

School choice opponents suggest Kaleem Caire is a long-lost Koch Brother

David Blaska:

Previously on Bring It!, we reported on the Left’s campaign of vilification directed at Kaleem Caire.
The Left must discredit Mr. Caire for daring to disrupt the comfortable “Madison Way” by proposing a non-union charter school catering to students of color. He must be politically neutered for pointing out this liberal bastion’s failure to graduate even half of its black students.
But how to disparage the president of the Madison Urban League, the founder of One Hundred Black Men of Madison, and the 2001 recipient of the city of Madison’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award?
By the usual and convenient method of tying him to that Great Right-Wing Conspiracy in the Sky. The man for that job is one Allen Ruff. In comments before the school board and on his blog, avidly picked up and repeated by other liberal/progressive outlets, the Madison-based historian and social activist has been spinning an intricate web of guilt by association and seven degrees of separation in order to out Mr. Caire as a closet conservative, a secret tea partier, and a suspect capitalist.

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

Conservatives wrecked Madison public schools. Somehow

David Blaska:

For our liberal/progressive acquaintances have run out of excuses. After all, they have owned the public school system, through the teachers union and its Democratic Party subsidiary, for the last 30 years or so.
Nowhere more so than in Madison, Wis., where not a single conservative serves on the 20-member Common Council, where the seven members of the current Madison School Board range on the political spectrum from Left-liberal to Hugo Chavez. (Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman, and Arlene Silveira are Progressive Dane.)
History, not conspiracy: The Left has had its hands on the controls of city government since Paul Soglin beat Bill Dyke in 1973 and the Madison School Board since forever.
Madison’s dominant Left is gagging a fur ball because its public schools have failed the very people liberal/progressives claim to champion. The Madison Metro School District graduates fewer than half – 48% – of its black students and only 56% of its Latinos.
Blacks and Latinos, where would they be without the tender ministrations of the liberal welfare state – living evidence of Republican perfidy! Clucked and cooed over in the tenured parlors of well-meaning West Side liberals – people like Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, and Carol Carstensen. All four ladies presided over this educational debacle as former Madison School Board members. Despite all evidence, these liberals are not one bit abashed by their failure, so strong is their faith in the powers of more spending and more government.
The Urban League’s school must not be approved, the four women write, because “Madison Prep will not be accountable to the Madison School Board nor to the taxpayers of Madison.” Touching, this sudden concern for the taxpayer. (Madison Prep Academy would cost the school district $17-28 million over five years. Supt. Nerad’s plan would cost $105.6 million over five years.)
Some would say that the Madison School Board has not been accountable to its children of color OR its taxpayers.

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

Wisconsin Education Association Council draws flak over its endorsement of Kathleen Falk

Jason Stein & Patrick Marley:

he state teachers union is taking criticism from some members around the state for an early endorsement of Kathleen Falk [blekko] in the likely recall election against Gov. Scott Walker but is sticking with the decision.
Since the announcement of the Falk endorsement, the criticism of it has included a website soliciting signatures to have Wisconsin Education Association Council change its mind.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the second-largest member union within WEAC and a union with members in the heart of Falk’s home county, said the endorsement came before it was clear whether there would be other challengers to Walker. He said his union would wait to make its own endorsement.
“We have a lot of our members who wish they would have waited until all the candidates were known. I think they made the wrong decision but I don’t see how they can get out of it,” Matthews said of WEAC.

David Blaska has more.

Commentary on Wisconsin School Choice Battles

Mike Ford:

A 3,000 plus word article by Bill Lueders in the Capital Times today questions the motives behind legislators that support the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). Specifically targeted is Rep. Howard Marklein, a freshman legislator from Spring Green who had the gall to not only support school choice in Milwaukee but also to introduce legislation to improve the program.
Lueders quotes Rep. Sandy Pope-Roberts as asking: “What’s in this for Howard Marklein?…If it isn’t for the campaign funds, why is he doing this?”
Perhaps he is doing it because it benefits taxpayers in the 51st Assembly district. As Marklein points out to Lueders, an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows the MPCP is a benefit to his constituents. Without the MPCP, the 15 school districts represented by Rep. Marklein would lose $1.3 million in state aid. The estimate assumes that 90% of students in the MPCP would have no choice but to return to the more expensive Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system if the MPCP was ended. The 90% figure is the number used by the official state evaluators of the MPCP and is based on evidence from choice programs around the country.

David Blaska has more.
TJ Mertz:

This is Take Two in a series. Take One, with a fuller introduction, can be found here. Briefly, the idea of the series is to counter anti-teacher and anti-teachers’ union individuals and “reform” groups appropriation of the phrase “it is all about the kids” as a means to heap scorn and ridicule on public education and public education employees by investigating some of the actions of these individuals and groups in light of the question “is it all about the kids?” In each take, national developments are linked to local matters in relation to the Madison Prep charter school proposal.
Take Two: A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Public Lotteries and the Exploitation of Families and Children

School board member Ed Hughes wants to give some docked pay back to Madison teachers (Proposal Withdrawn Later in the Day)

Matthew DeFour:

Hughes is making the proposal [56K PDF Ed Hughes Amendment] as an amendment to the district’s budget.
Funding would come from the $1.3 million windfall the district will get from docking the pay of 1,769 teachers who were absent without an excuse on one or more days between Feb. 16-18 and 21.
The district closed school during those four days because of the high number of staff members who called in sick to attend protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed changes to public sector collective bargaining.
“Under the circumstances it seemed to me the school district shouldn’t necessarily profit from that, because the teachers agreed to make up the time in a way that took away planning time for them,” said Hughes, who is considering a run for school board president when new officers are elected Monday.
Hughes is also proposing increasing the district’s proposed property tax levy for next year by about $2 million to pay for maintenance and technology projects and any costs associated with the district’s implementation of a state-imposed talented-and-gifted education plan.
“It seems goofy that we give away $1 million and then raise property taxes [50K PDF Ed Hughes Amendment],” board member Lucy Mathiak said.

Jay Sorgi:

If a school board member in Madison gets his way, the district would used money it saved when teachers forced schools to shut down during the budget debate to award end of the year bonuses to teachers.
WTMJ partner station WIBA Radio in Madison says that teachers in Madison would receive $200 gift cards as year-end bonuses.
“Whenever we can, we need to show some kind of tangible appreciation for the extremely hard work our teachers and staff do,” said Ed Hughes, a member of the Madison school board.
“They’ve had a particularly tough year as you know, given that they kind of became political footballs in the legislature. We’re ending up slashing their take home pay by a substantial amount, pretty much because we have to.”

Additional links:

Related: 5/26/2005 MTI & The Madison School Board by Ed Hughes.

Madison School District reaches tentative contract agreement with teachers’ union

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School District has reached a tentative agreement with all of its unions for an extension of their collective bargaining agreement through mid-2013.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said the agreement includes a 50 percent employee contribution to the pension plan. It also includes a five percentage point increase in employees’ health insurance premiums, and the elimination of a more expensive health insurance option in the second year.
Salaries would be frozen at current levels, though employees could still receive raises for longevity and educational credits.
The district said the deal results in savings of about $23 million for the district over the two-year contract.
The agreement includes no amnesty or pay for teachers who missed four days last month protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employee collective bargaining rights. Walker’s signing of the bill Friday prompted the district and MTI to reach an agreement quickly

Channel3000:

A two-year tentative contract agreement has been reached between the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Madison Teachers Union for five bargaining units: teachers, substitute teachers, educational and special educational assistants, supportive educational employees and school security assistants.
District administrators, with the guidance of the Board of Education, and Madison Teacher Inc. reps negotiated from 9 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday when the tentative agreements were completed.
Under details of the contract, workers would contribute 50 percent of the total money that’s being contribution to pension plans. That figure according to district officials, is believed to be very close to the 12 percent overall contribution that the budget repair bill was calling for. The overall savings to the district would be $11 million.

David Blaska

I present Blaska’s Red Badge of Courage award to the Madison Area Technical College Board. Its part-time teachers union would rather sue than settle until Gov. Scott Walker acted. Then it withdrew the lawsuit and asked the board for terms. No dice. “Times have changed,” said MATC’s attorney.
The Madison school board showed a rudimentary backbone when it settled a contract, rather hastily, with a newly nervous Madison teachers union.
The school board got $23 million of concessions over the next two years. Wages are frozen at current levels. Of course, the automatic pay track system remains, which rewards longevity.

NBC 15

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers, Inc. have reached tentative contract agreements for five bargaining units: teachers, substitute teachers, educational and special educational assistants, supportive educational employees, and school security assistants.
District administrators, with the guidance of the Board of Education, and MTI reps negotiated from 9:00 a.m. Friday until 3:00 a.m. Saturday when the tentative agreements were completed.
The Board of Education held a Special Meeting today at 2:00 p.m. and ratified the five collective bargaining agreements. The five MTI units must also ratify before the contracts take effect.
Summary of the agreements:

What Does the Governor’s Budget Mean for the Madison School District?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

The Governor has stated that the cuts in benefits he is imposing on public employees will allow school districts and other governmental agencies to absorb the cuts in state aid that they will sustain without requiring significant layoffs or decreases in services.
Does that claim hold up? Well, for our school district it looks like it might.
If my assumptions are correct, it looks like the big financial hits the Governor wants our teachers to absorb will enable us to make it through the recommended cuts in state aid and in our spending authority without the need for significant layoffs.
I need to emphasize that this conclusion is tentative and certainly subject to revision as I learn more. But this is how I see it now.
School budgeting issues are invariably confusing. The confusion can be reduced a bit if two issues are kept separate. The first is: How much money can we spend? The second: Where will that money come from?

David Blaska has more on Ed Hughes’ blog, here

I will not replicate here Kris Wigdal’s list of boycott targets but here’s the punchline: her list numbers 154 of the leading companies in Wisconsin! Suffice it to say it would be difficult to mow your lawn, do a summer cook out, quaff your thirst, gas up your car, or get medical care unless you do like the Fugitive 14 Senators and go out of state.
Madison school board member says governor’s budget could work
I have long felt that Ed Hughes is probably squarely in the center of the Madison school board — not too hot, not too cold. His take on Governor Walker’s budget as unveiled Tuesday is that it could work for Madison without teacher layoffs:

Unions brought this on themselves

David Blaska:

Let’s face it: Teachers union president John Matthews decides when to open and when to close Madison schools; the superintendent can’t even get a court order to stop him. East High teachers marched half the student body up East Washington Avenue Tuesday last week. Indoctrination, anyone?
This Tuesday, those students began their first day back in class with the rhyming cadences of professional protester Jesse Jackson, fresh from exhorting unionists at the Capitol, blaring over the school’s loudspeakers. Indoctrination, anyone?
Madison Teachers Inc. has been behind every local referendum to blow apart spending restraints. Resist, as did elected school board member Ruth Robarts, and Matthews will brand you “Public Enemy Number One.”
When then-school board member Juan Jose Lopez would not feed out of the union’s hand, Matthews sent picketers to his place of business, which happened to be Briarpatch, a haven for troubled kids. Cross that line, kid!
The teachers union is the playground bully of state government. Wisconsin Education Association Council spent $1.5 million lobbying the Legislature in 2009, more than any other entity and three times the amount spent by WMC, the business lobby.
Under Gov. Doyle, teachers were allowed to blow apart measures to restrain spending and legislate the union message into the curriculum. Student test scores could be used to determine teacher pay — but only if the unions agreed.
The most liberal president since FDR came to a school in Madison to announce “Race to the Top” grants for education reform. How many millions of dollars did we lose when the statewide teachers union sandbagged the state’s application?

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies Visits Madison: Photos & a Panorama

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Students from Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies visited Madison Saturday, 2/26/2011 in support of the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school. A few photos can be viewed here.
David Blaska:

I have not seen the Madison business community step up to the plate like this since getting Monona Terrace built 20 years ago.
CUNA Mutual Foundation is backing Kaleem Caire’s proposal for a Madison Prep charter school. Steve Goldberg, president of the CUNA Foundation, made that announcement this Saturday morning. The occasion was a forum held at CUNA to rally support for the project. CUNA’s support will take the form of in-kind contributions, Goldberg said.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men would open in August 2012 — if the Madison school board agrees. School board president Maya Cole told me that she knows there is one vote opposed. That would be Marj Passman, a Madison teachers union-first absolutist.
The school board is scheduled to decide at its meeting on March 28. Mark that date on your calendars.
CUNA is a much-respected corporate citizen. We’ll see if that is enough to overcome the teachers union, which opposes Madison Prep because the charter school would be non-union.

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

David Blaska on the recent Community Conversation on Education:

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

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

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

An interview with Kaleem Caire.

DFER Milwaukee Reception for Wisconsin Legislative Candidates 8/30/2010

via a Katy Venskus email

JOE WILLIAMS
Executive Director
Invites you to a reception honoring three emerging education reform leaders:
State Senator Lena Taylor
4th Senate District
Angel Sanchez
Candidate for the 8th Assembly District

Stephanie Findley

Candidate for the 10th Assembly District
These candidates have committed to support all children in all Milwaukee schools. Please help us show them that education reform supporters in Milwaukee recognize their efforts. With your help we can elect and re-elect committed leaders who will fight for real reform and support more quality options for children and their parents.
Please join us whether you can give $5, $50 or $500 to each candidate!
When: Monday August 30th, 2010
Where: The Capital Grille
310 West Wisconsin Avenue
Time: 5:00 pm-7:00 pm
Refreshments will be served.
Free Valet Parking Provided.
RSVP: Ptosha Davis, DFER WI, 414-630-6637 or dferwisconsin@gmail.com

Related: John Nichols notes that Madison Teachers, Inc. endorsed Ben Manski in the 77th District Wisconsin Assembly primary (via a reader’s comment) election (Nichols is President of the foundation that employs Ben Manski, via David Blaska). 77th candidates Brett Hulsey and Doug Zwank kindly spent a bit of time talking about education recently.

A Southwest Area Madison Meeting on Crime, Including A Number of Madison School Officials

David Blaska:

While the mayor and his staff were conspicuously absent, other government institutions were well represented: Madison School Board president Arlene Silveira (middle aged white female) and members Beth Moss, Maya Cole, Marge Passman, Ed Hughes, and three school principals (all middle aged, white, of varying genders). Police Captain Jay Lengfeld (middle aged, white, male) and neighborhood officers Justine Harris (young white female) and John Amos (middle aged white male) attended. So did County Sheriff Dave Mahoney (middle aged white male), which impressed me greatly. As well as a number of alders and county board members, including Ald. Jed Sanborn and Supv. Diane Hesselbein (young white male and female, respectively), who told me she danced with my brother Mike (older white male) at a function in the Dells. (Ald. Pham-Remmele [older asian female] was called away to visit her seriously ill and aging mother [even older asian female] in California.) Did not see The Kathleen. Here’s who else wasn’t there: Bicycle Boy (young, white and stupid)!
The people speak
The very first “citizen” to speak was an Orchard Ridge older white male whom I did not recognize. The fellow bordered on racism when he said “the complexion” of the neighborhood had changed. Perhaps it was just an unfortunate choice of words. “Put the problem people somewhere else,” he demanded. But he was the only person who spoke that way Wednesday night at Falk.
On the other extreme was Lisa Kass (older white female) who (wouldn’t you know it?) is a school teacher. “Just because someone is different doesn’t mean people are bad,” she said, demonstrating a flair for tautologies. Other than the first speaker (arguably), no one alleged different.
Here is the most racist thing your host can say: Let’s have two sets of behavior, one for one race and a lesser standard for another race. That is separate but unequal!
Then Kass (she teaches our children?) committed the sin of moral equivalence. One of the Bill of Rights prohibits loud noise after 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. weekends.
“Where is the prohibition against leaf blowers at 7:30 in the morning?” she demanded.
Hey, for my money, add it to the list. Pisses me off, too. Still, it is hard to see 200 people taking an hour and a half out of a weekday evening to bitch about leaf blowers and lawn mowers — either in Green Tree or Allied Drive. Hey, at least the blowers and mowers are keeping their properties tidy! Or, is “neat” now prima facie evidence of racism?
Yes, leaf-blowing in the early morning is inconsiderate and annoying but yelling the M-F word is inconsiderate, annoying, obscene, morally offensive, and disturbing.
Then Ms. Kass hand-slapped her seatmate Florenzo Cribbs (young black male), president of Allied Drive-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood. Prior to the event Cribbs encouraged his e-mail list to attend the meeting. “DON’T LET THE PROWER STRUCTOR THAT ALLOWED THE PROBLEWS CREAT THE RULES FOR TRY TO FIX THE PROBLEMS.”

Notes and Links on Last Week’s Southwest Madison Student Murder

David Blaska mentions that Madison’s Mayor is holding a meeting this morning. The meeting includes Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Several landlords have invited the mayor to take up residence on our troubled streets so that he can experience firsthand what many of our neighbors must put up with in their daily lives. Some of them extended the invitation/challenge even before — hours before — the murder. [Let the Mayor come to Meadowood.]
In the meantime, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has made good on his promise to convene a meeting to deal with the “Lord of the Flies” chaos in certain sections of southwest Madison.
The mayor’s meeting will be held Wednesday morning — exactly one week after Madison woke up to the news that a 17-year-old boy had been shot to death at Leland and Balsam Roads the previous evening, June 9, on the troubled southwest side. Shortly afterward, three 16-year-olds boys were apprehended and charged in connection with his murder — two of them as adults for first degree intentional homicide.
Some of us, including Ald. Pham-Remmele, saw the trouble coming long agI blogged on May 20, quoting a neighbor, “Unless the police are able to get a handle on the roaming gangs, this summer is going to be bloody.” [Going to be a long, hot summer]

A previous post mentioned this:

Police officer Amos said the principal of Toki Middle School will not permit him to arrest children in the school, even though some of them are chronic drug users.
“These people know how to work the system,” said another. Yes, they know their rights but not their responsibilities.

Nearly four years ago, Rafael Gomez organized a Gangs & School Violence forum. The conversation, which included local high school principals, police personnel and Luis Yudice, among others, is worth revisiting.
Related: Police calls near local high schools 1996-2006 and more recent police calls via a map.

WEAC Wisconsin 2008 Legislature Campaign Expenditures in Five Districts: About $2M

David Blaska:

Through Oct. 20, WEAC spent:

  • $539,660 on into the 43rd Assembly District to support freshman Dem Rep. Kim Hixson in his re-match with Republican Debi Towns.
  • The 47th Assembly District north of metro Madison, where it spent $513,132 supporting Dem Trish O’Neil and opposing Republican Keith Ripp.
  • The 68th Assembly District in Eau Claire, where it spent $406,322 supporting Dem Kristen Dexter and opposing GOP Rep. Terry Moulton.

K-12 Governance Diversity: Madison Commentary

Negassi Tesfamichael: In the Seat 4 race, candidate David Blaska has said there should be a drive-through window at the Doyle Administration Building to approve more charter schools. His opponent, Ali Muldrow — who was endorsed by the influential Madison Teachers Inc. before the Feb. 19 primary — has two children who attend Isthmus Montessori […]

Madison schools superintendent pens open letter following Whitehorse incident, calls for action

Negassi Tesfamichael: In an open letter to the community released Thursday morning, Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham acknowledged that the district “cannot be silent” on issues of racial justice. The letter comes eight days after media reports surfaced regarding an alleged assault at Whitehorse Middle School. In that incident, which is still being investigated […]

Madison school board’s chickens are roosting

David Blaska: Tony Gallli, dean of the Madison’s broadcast journalists at WKOW-TV27, asked our favorite candidate for Madison School Board Seat #4: Any concerns over using a live feed into the MMSD auditorium Monday evening to satisfy the Open Meetings requirement, as the school board met in a room closed to the public? Blaska answered: […]

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

Chris Rickert: Endorsements in this month’s School Board primary from the influential Madison teachers union include one for a candidate who sends her two children to the kind of charter school strongly opposed by the union. Madison Teachers Inc. this week endorsed Ali Muldrow over David Blaska, Laila Borokhim and Albert Bryan for Seat 4; […]

Commentary on a 2019 Madison School Board Candidate Forum

David Blaska: The occasion was a school board candidate forum. An organization named GRUMPS sponsored it. It stands for GRandparents United for Madison Public Schools. Its major domos are former school board members Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, Arlene Silviera, and Carol Carstensen. We also encountered former board guys Bill Keyes, Bill Clingan, and […]

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

Avi Wolfman-Arent: The small parent rebellion forming in one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest school districts began at a Starbucks in suburban Chester County. Over coffee, three moms — Kate Mayer, Jamie Lynch, and Wendy Brooks — swapped stories about how their kids struggled to read as they moved through the Tredyffrin/Easttown school district, located about 30 […]

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

Negassi Tesfamichael: MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement. “Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said. Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early […]

UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

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

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

Christopher Osher: But districts are free to use their READ Act per-pupil funds on whatever curriculum they want, even on interventions researchers have found ineffective. “Typically, as with any education policy, we’re only given so much authority on what we can tell districts to do and what we monitor for,” Colsman said in an interview […]

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

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

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

Chris Rickert: The questionnaire also includes several questions about teachers’ ability to have a say in their compensation and working conditions, and asks whether the candidates “support the reinstatement of collective bargaining rights for all public employees (currently prohibited by Act 10)?” Act 10 is the controversial 2011 law passed by Republicans that stripped most […]

2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!

Seat 3 Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison Seat 4 David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison Seat 5 TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., […]

“Folks, we have a huge reading crisis”

Alan Borsuk: 20 percent. That is roughly the percentage of Milwaukee students, both in public and private schools, who were rated proficient or advanced in reading in tests in spring 2018 — and it’s about the same figure as every year for many years. Folks, we have a huge reading crisis. There may be more […]

Three Madison high schools erupt in chaos Monday noon

David Blaska: From what we can determine, the misbehaving students were not peacefully protesting for gun control, social justice, or better cafeteria food. They were just fighting. Let’s start with Chief Koval’s bare bones police blotter: MIDTOWN: Disturbance – 12:12 p.m. MPD Educational Resource Officer (ERO) requested back-up to assist with a large disturbance in […]

Madison’s Trickle-Down Theory Of Education

David Blaska: You want local control? The ultimate local control pushes decision-making down to the family kitchen table. The Republican state government gave the UW System authority to create charter schools that are independent of the school district. This is something that the Madison School District asked for, however unknowingly, when it denied Madison Urban […]

Madison Schools’ Discipline Policies

Pat Schneider: “Usually the first quarter is a honeymoon period when students are excited to be in school and behaviors are good. So when things were already deteriorating rapidly, it was a sign to me that this was not going in a good direction,” said Bush, 50, who has taught at Jefferson Middle School on […]

Madison Schools Should Apply Act 10

Mitch Henck: This is Madison. I learned that phrase when I moved here from Green Bay in 1992. It means that the elites who drive the politics and the predominate culture are more liberal or “progressive” than backward places out state. I knew I was in Madison as a reporter when parents and activists were […]

Commentary on Madison Schools Teacher Benefit Practices

David Blaska: Like the Sun Prairie groundhog, the Madison school district’s teachers contract has come back to bite the taxpayer. The Madison Metropolitan School District is looking at a $20.8 million budget deficit next school year. Good Madison liberals worried about the state balancing its budget can now look closer to home. To balance the […]

Madison school officials, MTI say claims regarding union dues, teachers’ rights don’t belong in Act 10 lawsuit

Pat Schneider: The conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has brought suit against Madison’s public schools through a plaintiff who does not have standing to bring the “scandalous” allegations of violations of teachers’ rights included in its complaint, school district officials claim in a court filing. Plaintiff David Blaska, a conservative blogger, […]

Election Grist: Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for too long

David Blaska: Teachers are some of our most dedicated public servants. Many inspiring educators have changed lives for the better in Madison’s public schools. But their union is a horror. Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for decades. Selfish, arrogant, and bullying, it has fostered an angry, us-versus-them hostility toward parents, taxpayers, […]

Madison’s K-12 Governance Non Diversity: Police in Schools Meeting

Logan Wroge: Throughout the public comment period, several people said the presence of police officers inside school can negatively affect students of color and feeds into the “school-to-prison pipeline.” “Ain’t no amount of training, ain’t no amount of special certificates is going to matter when it comes to black and brown kids, because (police officers) […]