Superintended Evers’ Debate Remarks

WILL: “Our study compared outcomes between all K-12 schools in Wisconsin – traditional public, public charter, and private schools in the choice programs. In doing so, it controlled for a variety of socioeconomic factors such as race, poverty, etc. As we acknowledged, we did not control for special needs or learning disabilities because the data […]

Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers: Stop bad-mouthing teachers

Todd Richmond: Wisconsin can slow a growing shortage of teachers if people stop bad-mouthing educators and pay them more, the state’s schools superintendent said Thursday. Superintendent Tony Evers warned during his annual State of Education speech in the state Capitol rotunda that fewer young people are entering the teaching profession and districts are having a […]

France bids to reverse tech brain drain

Hugh Schofield: A popular French TV advert for pasta sauce from the 1980s showed a jolly rustic fellow chasing after a train that was laden with all sorts of lovely food. “Reviens Leon! (Come back, Leon!),” shouts his portly wife. “I’ve got the same at home.” Today the catchphrase “Reviens Leon!” has been commandeered for […]

‘We have to do better’ – Trenton school officials seek reversal of low test scores

Jenna Pizzi: For students from third to eighth grades, achievement has remained stagnant over the last five years. Last school year, the district had 26.9 percent of third graders ranked as proficient or above in language arts. That proficiency stayed in the low 20 percent range for grades four through seven. In eighth grade, 42.2 […]

Pupils on free school meals for only a year become ‘invisible underachievers’

Richard Adams: Children who qualify for free school meals for just one year become “invisible underachievers” who receive little government support but achieve similar results to those who remain on free school meals during their entire school career. Research from education data analysts FFT found that the group makes up around 7% of year 11 […]

What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?

Wesley Yang I understand the reasons Asian parents have raised a generation of children this way. Doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer: These are good jobs open to whoever works hard enough. What could be wrong with that pursuit? Asians graduate from college at a rate higher than any other ethnic group in America, including whites. They […]

The 7 Top Habits of High Achievers

Swati Chauhan:

What separates the high achievers from the also ran’s, the scorers from the mediocre, the successful from the ordinary. The answer greatly lies in the habits practiced by them over and over again so much so that they become intertwined with their personality.
Do you find it difficult sometimes to even achieve your most conservative goals? Have you worked really hard for a goal, burnt the midnight oil and toiled for months over it and still didn’t achieve it. It’s a horrible feeling to have tried and failed, it really sucks but the important takeaway is to know what you lacked and identify the stone you left unturned to make sure your next effort meets success.

New York City Democrats embrace full speed reverse on education reforms

Stephanie Simon:

It was just a primary — and the results aren’t even final yet, with mail-in ballots still being counted to determine if there will be a runoff.
But advocates for traditional public education are jubilant that Bill de Blasio came out on top Tuesday in the Democratic mayoral race in New York City after a campaign in which he promised to yank support from charter schools, scale back high-stakes standardized testing and tax the wealthy to pay for universal preschool and more arts education.
De Blasio’s education platform boiled down, in effect, to a pledge to dismantle the policies that Mayor Michael Bloomberg enacted over the past decade in the nation’s largest school district.
Those policies, emphasizing the need to inject more free-market competition into public education and weaken the power of teachers unions, are not unique to New York City; they’re the backbone of a national education reform movement that has won broad bipartisan support. Yet the reform movement has also triggered a backlash from parents and teachers who see it as a threat to their schools, their jobs and the traditional concept of public education as a public trust.

Physical Education Trend Must Be Reversed

Ken Reed:

Following this Labor Day weekend, virtually all of the nation’s students in grades K-12 will be back in school. Unfortunately, fewer of them will be participating in physical education classes and intramural sports programs.
It’s mind-boggling that at a time when overweight and obesity levels are sky-high among our young people, and physical activity levels are down, our schools are cutting physical education classes, recess and intramural sports programs.
Due to No Child Left Behind mandates and the pressures of standardized state assessment tests, many schools are cutting back on physical education and recess under the mistaken belief that kids need more desk time to improve test scores. Based on the latest research on exercise and the brain, that’s the direct opposite approach that schools should be taking.
“Overall, I don’t think there’s any doubt that schools are feeling pressure from No Child Left Behind and standardized tests,” according to Brenda VanLengen, Vice Chair of PE4life, a physical education advocacy organization.

Wisconsin School Superintendent Election: Tony Evers & Don Pridemore Word Cloud

Tony Evers WISTAX 2013 Election Interview Word Cloud:


Don Pridemore WISTAX 2013 Election Interview Word Cloud:


Links: A recent Wisconsin State Journal Evers endorsement.
wuwm.com

Three weeks from today, Wisconsin voters will decide who will oversee K-12 public education for the next four years. Incumbent state Superintendent Tony Evers faces a challenge from Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore.
Evers says he’s proud of his accomplishments over the past four years. He highlights the implementation of Common Core Standards. The national initiative sets benchmarks for students to meet in English, Language Arts and Math, to make sure they’re prepared for the workforce.
“We’re developing new assessment systems and accountability systems. We have a new reading screener we’ve implemented at kindergarten that’s been very good as far as providing information for classroom teachers to intervene early,” Evers says.
Evers says his biggest challenge has been competing with choice or voucher schools for state funding. Students in Milwaukee and Racine can attend private schools – taking with them, the tax money that would have gone to the public system. Evers opposes Gov. Walker’s plan to expand the voucher program to nine more school districts and increase funding for participating students.
“There’s a zero dollar increase for our public schools per pupil and then on the voucher side there’s a $1,400 per student increase for $73 million. To me that’s a concept that isn’t connected in any good way for our public schools,” Evers says.
Evers opponent, Republican Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford supports the expansion of choice. He says there would not to be need for it, if public schools better prepared students. Pridemore says if he’s elected, he’ll work to expand the program statewide.

Evers deserves a second term

The Wisconsin State Journal:

Four years ago the State Journal editorial board worried that Tony Evers would “be a spokesman for the status quo” if elected state superintendent of schools.
Boy, were we wrong.
Evers has distinguished himself during these hyper-partisan times as a leader who cares more about results for Wisconsin schools and students than he does politics or publicity.
The State Journal strongly endorses his re-election April 2.
Like most of the educational establishment, Evers opposed Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s big cut in state aid to public schools coupled with strict limits on collective bargaining for teachers.

Wisconsin State superintendent race is incumbent Tony Evers’ to lose

Jack Craver:

Last week, Senate Democrats lashed out at a Republican bill they said was intended to weaken the already enfeebled Office of the Secretary of State, currently held by Democrat Doug La Follette.
“It’s directed to take the one Democrat elected to statewide office and cut him out of the legislative process,” state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, says of the legislation, which would remove the secretary of state’s ability to delay the publication of a bill for up to 10 days after passage, as La Follette did following the controversial passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill two years ago.
Technically, Risser is correct. The secretary of state, which Gov. Tommy Thompson long ago relegated to obscurity, is the only statewide office held by Democrats.
But while the superintendent of public instruction is technically a nonpartisan position, current Superintendent Tony Evers, like his predecessors for the past 30 years, is supported by Democratic-affiliated groups and has been an outspoken opponent of many of Walker’s policies.
And unlike La Follette, Evers has a meaningful platform to influence one of the most important issues facing the state.
It’s noteworthy, then, that Evers does not seem to be a significant target for conservatives, even though his lone challenger in the April 2 election for another four-year term is a GOP member of the Assembly: Don Pridemore.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers (running for re-election in 2013) Proposes New State Tax $ Redistribution Scheme

Jennifer Zahn and Erin Richards:

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Monday reintroduced a proposal from two years ago to increase state funding for public education and change the way the state finances its public schools as part of his 2013-’15 budget request.
The proposal calls for a 2.4% increase in state aid in the first year of the budget and a 5.5% increase in 2014-’15, which Evers said would put the state back on track to return to two-thirds’ state support for public school costs by 2017.
The Department of Public Instruction’s 2013-’15 budget proposal guarantees state funding of $3,000 per pupil and would result in every school district either getting more state money or the same money as before, but Republican legislators on Monday did not express confidence in the total package.
Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee and a Republican from Ripon, said Evers’ “Fair Funding for our Future” plan just shifts money around between districts and doesn’t really award more money to schools.
Olsen did say he would like to increase districts’ revenue limit authority per student – or the combined amount they can raise in state general aid and local property taxes – by at least $200 per pupil starting in the first year of the next biennial budget.
Evers announced his 2013-’15 state public education budget request Monday at Irving Elementary School in West Allis.

WisPolitics:

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the proposal will be reviewed in the context of the overall budget, but said education is one of Walker’s top budget priorities.
“The governor will work to build off of the work done with Superintendent Evers on school district accountability and Read to Lead as he creates the first version of the state budget, which will be introduced early next year,” Werwie said.
Evers also said he’ll run for re-election next year, adding that despite the funding cuts, he’s excited to continue pushing reform and accountability.
“In order for us to create a new middle class and to move our state forward in a positive way, our public schools need to be strong, and the reforms we’re implementing now are going a long way toward accomplishing that,” Evers said. “We’re in a great place as a state and we’ll keep plugging away.”
Various conservative education sources said no candidate has come forward to challenge Evers yet, but talks were ongoing with potential challengers. Nomination papers can be circulated Dec. 1 and are due back to the GAB Jan. 2.

Matthew DeFour has more.

All Wisconsin high school juniors would take ACT in 2014-15 under Evers proposal

Erin Richards:

“There’s a general recognition that our current testing regime is not getting the job done and that we always knew we were going to have to do something different,” he said. “When people understand the importance of measuring growth over time instead of raw test scores and getting testing information back to teachers in a more timely manner, I think they will look more favorably on spending money on new tests.”
Still, Kestell said $7 million was a lot, and probably would not have been considered at all two years ago when the state made significant cuts to education spending.
For the next budget cycle, he said: “It could very well happen, but it’s way too early to predict anything positive.”
The DPI’s Johnson pointed to Milwaukee Public Schools as a model district that has begun ACT testing for all juniors, setting aside time for them to take the four-hour exam in school. Though testing all juniors has lowered the district’s average ACT composite score, the move has received praise for opening opportunities to more students who may not have known they were ready for college, and for providing a broader measure of student performance.

Matthew DeFour:

Wisconsin would pay for all public high school juniors to take the ACT college admissions test starting in two years as part of a $7 million budget initiative State Superintendent Tony Evers announced Wednesday.
The proposal also includes administering three other tests offered by ACT to measure college and career readiness in high school. The tests would replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, which is currently administered to 10th-graders to comply with federal testing requirements.
“We need to give our students and their families better resources to plan for study and work after high school,” Evers said. “It makes sense to use the ACT to fulfill state and federal testing requirements at the high school level with an exam package that provides so much more than the WKCE: college and career readiness assessments and a college admissions test score.”
Under the proposal, all public school ninth-graders would take the ACT EXPLORE assessment in spring of the 2014-15 school year. All 10th-graders would take the ACT PLAN test, and all 11th-graders would take the ACT and the WorkKeys tests.
The state would pay for students to take each test once. Those who want to take an ACT a second time to improve their score would have to pay for it themselves.
Also, by training all schools to administer the ACT, the proposal would help students in rural districts who lack access to certified ACT testing sites, Evers said.

Much more on the oft-criticized WKCE, here.

A Reverse Wisconsin: In Michigan, unions try to enshrine union power in the constitution

The Wall Street Journal:

The proposed amendment text would make the “rights” to organize and bargain collectively a constitutional guarantee, and any state law that would “abridge, impair or limit” collective bargaining would be repealed. Last Monday, the Michigan court of appeals ruled that the measure could appear on the ballot, and the state Supreme Court heard arguments on the case Thursday.
In a filing to challenge the ballot measure, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette say the huge impact of the law can’t possibly be captured in the 100 words of a ballot measure. It is misleading, Mr. Schuette wrote, for unions to “propose an innocuous-sounding constitutional amendment that has the secret effect of wholesale changes in Michigan law.”
The problem is that the amendment language is so broad that the courts could interpret any union-related measure as a violation. It explicitly refers to all current and future laws. In 1997, for instance, Michigan moved new state employees to a defined-contribution pension from a defined-benefit plan. If the amendment passes, unions will challenge the new plan as unconstitutional and it could be invalidated at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Clusty Search: Michigan “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment.

Studies Find More Students Cheating, With High Achievers No Exception

Richard Perez-Pena:

Large-scale cheating has been uncovered over the last year at some of the nation’s most competitive schools, like Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the Air Force Academy and, most recently, Harvard.
Studies of student behavior and attitudes show that a majority of students violate standards of academic integrity to some degree, and that high achievers are just as likely to do it as others. Moreover, there is evidence that the problem has worsened over the last few decades.
Experts say the reasons are relatively simple: Cheating has become easier and more widely tolerated, and both schools and parents have failed to give students strong, repetitive messages about what is allowed and what is prohibited.

Do We Still Segregate Students? Schools around the nation are ‘detracking’ classes, putting kids of all achievement levels in the same room. Does that sabotage higher achievers?

Julie Halpert:

WHEN ERIC WITHERSPOON became superintendent of Evanston Township High School (www site) near Chicago in 2006, he walked into a math class where all the students were black. “A young man leaned over to me and said, ‘This is the dummy class.'”
The kids at Evanston who took honors classes were primarily white; those in the less demanding classes were minority–a pattern repeated, still, almost 60 years after integration, across the nation. All of the Evanston kids had been tracked into their classes based on how they’d performed on a test they took in eighth grade.
Last September, for the first time, most incoming freshmen, ranging from those reading at grade level to those reading far above it, were sitting together in rigorous humanities classes. When I visited, students of all abilities and backgrounds met in small groups to discuss one of the required readings, which include A Raisin in the Sun and The Odyssey. This September, most freshmen will sit side-by-side in biology classes.
Mindy Wallis, the mother of a sophomore at Evanston Township High, agrees. She opposed the decision to detrack, and spearheaded a petition that advocated waiting for the results of a three-year evaluation before making changes that so substantively affected the freshman class. Angela Allyn, whose 14-year-old son just took a freshman humanities class, says her son was hungry to read more than two-thirds of The Odyssey, which was all the class required. He was encouraged by his teachers to read the entire book, but Allyn says the teachers didn’t help him navigate difficult portions during class, so she had to work with him into the late hours of the night. Her son was teased by classmates, she says, for “showing off and using big words,” something she believes wouldn’t have occurred if he’d been grouped with a similar cohort. Detracking, she contends, focuses “on bringing the bottom up–and there’s an assumption that our bright children will take care of themselves.” She acknowledges that because she’s seen as having “white privilege,” despite the fact that she put herself through school and even occasionally had to use soup kitchens to get by, she’s perceived as racist by merely making such a comment.

Adam Gamoran
, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, also believes that race is part of the debate: “People who support tracking are more interested in productivity and less concerned about inequality, and people who are critics tend to focus on inequality and don’t spend too much time thinking about productivity.” Gamoran argues that schools that want to keep ability-grouping need to do a better job with the students in the lowest tracks, but he also believes that the most capable students may not always be sufficiently challenged in mixed-ability classes. “There’s no single solution,” he says. “The point is to try to address the limitations of whatever approach is selected.”

Links:

Schooling, Income, and Reverse Causation

Bryan Caplan:

Economists normally measure the private return to education by estimating a “Micro-Mincer” regression:
(1) log(personal income in $s)= a + b1*(individual education in years)
Given crucial assumptions, b1 is the private return to education. I’ve discussed some of these crucial assumptions elsewhere. One that I’ve neglected, though, is the possibility of reverse causation. Maybe higher income (or the expectation of higher income) leads to more education in the same way that higher income leads to more plasma TVs: you buy not as a prudent investment, but because the money’s burning a hole in your pocket. If so, b1 overestimates education’s private rate of return.
Now you could object that personal income has little effect on educational attainment because individuals pay only a tiny fraction of the bill. If your income suddenly doubled, how many extra years of education would you get in response? An average answer of “one year” seems pretty high, suggesting an extremely small income–>education effect.*

Wisconsin Schools’ Evers criticizes education reform bill

Matthew DeFour:

An education reform bill circulating this week would require kindergarten screening exams and teacher evaluations based partly on test scores, but doesn’t update the state’s system for holding schools accountable for student performance.
The omission concerned State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who for the past year has worked with Gov. Scott Walker on three bipartisan task forces addressing literacy, teacher effectiveness and school accountability. The bill includes recommendations from the first two groups, but not the third.
Specifically, the bill doesn’t propose changes that would bring charter schools and private voucher schools under the new accountability system, or update language in state law related to No Child Left Behind.
Evers said the bill misses an opportunity to deliver action on promises made by Walker, legislators and education leaders, including advocates for charter and private voucher schools.

The DPI has much to answer for after the millions spent (and years wasted) on the oft-criticized WKCE.

Reversal of the Trend: Income Inequality Now Lower than It Was under Clinton

William McBride:

Numerous academic studies have shown that income inequality in the U.S. over the 20th century exhibits a U-shape. After reaching a peak in the 1920s, it fell during the Great Depression and World War II and rebounded mainly in the 1980s and 1990s.1 The rebound has been attributed to various economic factors, such as globalization, immigration, the growth of super-star salaries, and the computer revolution. However, these factors might better be described as the normal outcomes of a growing economy, according to Adam Smith’s idea that the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market. The resurgence of inequality has also been attributed to tax policy, particularly the reduction of top marginal rates on personal income from 94 percent in 1945 to 28 percent in 1988.2
The first decade of the 21st century does not exhibit the same trend. Based on the most recent IRS data, from 2009, income inequality has fluctuated considerably since 2000 but is now at about the level it was in 1997. Thus, the Bush-era tax cuts (which had provisions benefitting both high- and low-income taxpayers) did not lead to increased income inequality. By contrast, inequality rose 12 percent between 1993 and 2000, following two tax rate increases on high-income earners. Thus, changes in inequality over the last two decades appear to be driven more by the business cycle than by tax policy.

Unions adapt to new rules, even as they fight to reverse them

Ben Wieder:

It took nearly a year for Dale Kleinert to negotiate his first teachers’ contract. When Kleinert started his job as schools superintendent in Moscow, Idaho, the talks were already underway. Then, discussions reached an impasse. There were disagreements over pay and health care costs, and the pace slowed further when first an outside mediator and later a fact-finder didn’t render a decision. It wasn’t until May of 2011 that Kleinert and his union counterparts finally reached an agreement.
Just before then, while Kleinert and the teachers were still stuck, Republican lawmakers in Boise were finishing work on plans to take away much of the leverage that Idaho teachers had long enjoyed in these kinds of negotiations. So for Kleinert’s next round of talks with Moscow’s teachers, which began pretty much right after the previous ones wrapped up, the rules were very different.

Reverse Mentoring Cracks Workplace

Leslie Kwoh:

Workplace mentors used to be older and higher up the ranks than their mentees. Not anymore.
In an effort to school senior executives in technology, social media and the latest workplace trends, many businesses are pairing upper management with younger employees in a practice known as reverse mentoring. The trend is taking off at a range of companies, from tech to advertising.
The idea is that managers can learn a thing or two about life outside the corner office. But companies say another outcome is reduced turnover among younger employees, who not only gain a sense of purpose but also a rare glimpse into the world of management and access to top-level brass.

Wisconsin School chief Evers says state will seek No Child Left Behind waivers

Scott Bauer:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said Friday that Wisconsin will seek waivers to avoid having to meet basic elements of the federal No Child Left Behind education law at the “first possible moment.”
Evers spoke during a conference call with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan shortly after President Barack Obama announced that he was allowing states to seek the waivers.
“This is absolutely outstanding news,” said Evers, who has long advocated for states to be given the ability to get out of meeting some parts of the law.
Obama is allowing states to scrap the hugely unpopular requirement that all children must show they are proficient in reading and math by 2014 if states can meet conditions designed to better prepare and test students.

Kevin Helliker:

Education chiefs from more than 20 states gathered at the White House on Friday morning to hear President Barack Obama formally propose relaxing certain tenets of the No Child Left Behind act for states that agree to meet a new set of standards he called more flexible.
In characterizing the nearly 10-year-old act as too rigid, the president appeared to strike a chord with school administrators across the country. How much enthusiasm his solution will generate remains to be seen. It calls for evaluating teachers in a way that wouldn’t be legal in California, for example, a state that very much supports amending the No Child Left Behind Act.
“It’s problematic,” Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, said of a condition that would require states to set specific policy on teacher evaluation, something that in California currently can be done only at the local level. To comply, he said, “we would need legislation passed.”

Much more on No Child Left Behind, here
I spoke with a local mother recently who mentioned that her child was doing great, based on the WKCE math report.

Reforming Wisconsin education Gov. Scott Walker and state schools superintendent Tony Evers should be inclusive in their efforts.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Creating a new system of accountability for schools in Wisconsin could be a great help to parents and school districts and, thus, an important educational reform for the state. If the new system is fair and done right, it would provide plenty of clear information on which schools are achieving the right outcomes.
Ideally, it would measure schools not only on whether they have met certain standards but how much students and schools have improved over a certain time period. It also would measure all schools that receive public funding equally – public, charter and voucher – so that families would have the information they need to make good choices. That’s all important.
Gov. Scott Walker, state schools superintendent Tony Evers and others have signed on to create a new school accountability system and to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Education to allow the system to replace the decade-old, federally imposed one they say is broken. The feds should give that approval, and the state should move forward with this reform and others.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers emerges as fierce advocate of schools in face of massive cuts, privatization efforts

Susan Troller:

About a dozen members of a bipartisan, mostly volunteer organization called Common Ground file into Superintendent Tony Evers’ utilitarian conference room in downtown Milwaukee. The group is exploring how to help Milwaukee’s beleaguered schools, and it has scheduled a meeting with the head of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as part of its research.
Tall, thin and gray haired, Evers has a boyish smile and a welcoming manner. He’s now in a white shirt and tie, sans the suit coat he wore to an earlier meeting with suburban school officials in Pewaukee.
Common Ground, a nonpartisan coalition that includes churches, nonprofits and labor unions, has come to Evers’ office today looking for advice on how best to direct its considerable resources toward helping Milwaukee students, whose performance in both traditional public schools and in taxpayer-funded voucher schools ranks at the bottom of major American cities.
After initial pleasantries and introductions are exchanged, Keisha Krumm, lead organizer for Common Ground, asks Evers a question. “At this stage we’re still researching what issue we will be focusing on. But we do want to know what you can do. What’s your power and influence?”

How does Wisconsin compare to other states and the world? Learn more at www.wisconsin2.org.

A Letter to Principals About Levers

Tom Vander Ark:

I hope you enjoyed a few days off after a busy year. To the normal craziness of spring, you probably had the heartache of considering budget cuts and layoffs.
You probably work in a state and district that imposes a lot of constraints on your hiring, curriculum, materials, school hours, and facilities. After food and transportation, if your district takes more than 5% for administration your kids are getting shorted.
Let’s think about the improvement levers you’ve been able to influence:
1) Culture: the behavior you model, the tone of your communications, and the way you deal with challenges shape the culture of your school community.
2) Goals: the way you describe and champion learning expectations for your students and goals for your staff may be your most important role. The habits of mind that you encourage could shape student thinking for decades.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers calls voucher expansion ‘morally wrong’ in memo to legislators; Tony Evers Needs a Reality Check on School Choice

Karen Herzog:

State Superintendent Tony Evers [SIS link] in a memo Monday urged the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to restore funding for public schools and work collaboratively to improve the quality of all Milwaukee schools before considering any voucher expansion.
“To spend hundreds of millions to expand a 20-year-old program that has not improved overall student achievement, while defunding public education, is morally wrong,” Evers said in the memo.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed eliminating the income limits on participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, eliminating the enrollment cap and has proposed opening up private schools throughout Milwaukee County to accept vouchers from Milwaukee students. Walker has spoken of expanding the voucher program to other urban areas in the state, such as Racine, Green Bay and Beloit.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was created to improve academic performance among low-income students who had limited access to high-performing schools. Low-income students use taxpayer money to attend private schools, including religious schools. Each voucher is worth $6,442. The program now is limited to 22,500 students; 20,189 are in the program this year.
However, after 20 years and spending over $1 billion, academic performance data and the enrollment history of the school choice program point to several “concerning trends,” Evers said in his analysis of voucher student enrollment, achievement, and projected cost for long-term expansion.
Low-income students in Milwaukee Public Schools have higher academic achievement, particularly in math, than their counterparts in choice schools. Evers cited this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts exams and the legislatively mandated University of Arkansas study, which showed significant numbers of choice students performing below average on reading and math.

Aaron Rodriguez:

At a press conference in Racine, DPI Superintendent Tony Evers gave his harshest criticism of school vouchers yet. Well beyond the typical quibbles over test scores and graduation rates, Evers claimed that school vouchers were de facto “morally wrong.” It’s not every day that a State Superintendent of education accuses an education-reform program of being immoral. In doing so, Tony Evers may have bitten off more than he could chew.
Calling a school voucher program morally wrong inculpates more than just the program, it inculpates parents, teachers, organizations, lawmakers, and a majority of Americans that endorse it. In fact, one could reasonably argue that Evers’ statement makes himself morally culpable since Milwaukee’s voucher program operates out of the Department of Public Instruction of which he is the head. What does it say about the character of a man that knowingly administers an immoral program out of his own department?
In short, Evers’ argument goes something like this: voucher programs drain public schools of their financial resources; drained resources hurt children academically; hurting children academically is morally wrong; ergo, voucher programs are morally wrong.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers’ Budget Testimony

Questions, via WisPolitics:

JFC co-chair Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in the last budget, cuts to K-12 education were offset by millions of stimulus dollars from the federal government.
“It was a luxury that was great at the time,” he said. “Now we don’t have that one-time money.”
While he admitted that the “tools” Gov. Walker provides may not offset funding cuts dollar-for-dollar, he said asking teachers to pay more for health insurance coverage and pension will help. Vos then asked Evers if he supports the mandate relief initiatives Walker proposed in his budget.
Evers said the mandates, which include repealing the requirement that schools schedule 180 days instruction but retains the required number of hours per school year, won’t generate much savings for school districts. He said the challenge schools face from reduced funding is much greater.
“It’s nibbling around the edges,” Evers said of the mandates. “I think we’re beyond that.”

via WisPolitics:

Excerpts from Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers prepared remarks to the Joint Finance Committee:
“We know that resources are scarce. School districts around the state have demonstrated that they are willing to do their part, both in recent weeks in response to this state budget crisis and throughout the past 18 years under the constraints of revenue caps. While this difficult budget demands shared sacrifice, we need a budget that is fair, equitable, and does not undercut the quality of our children’s education,” Evers said.
“As you know, the Governor’s budget proposal, which increases state spending by 1.7 percent over the next two years, would cut $840 million in state school aids over the biennium – the largest cut to education in state history. While these cuts present unprecedented challenges, an even larger concern is the proposed 5.5 percent reduction to school district revenue limits, which dictate exactly how much money schools have available to spend. Depending on the school district, schools would have to reduce their spending between $480 and $1,100 per pupil. Statewide, the proposed revenue limit cuts will result in a $1.7 billion cut over the biennium, as compared to current law. These dramatic and unprecedented revenue limit cuts will be a crushing challenge to our public schools, especially by the second year of the budget.”

College Reversal? Studies find a decline in Asian-American students’ success once they move away from home and go to college.

Kathy Seal:

Some research has found that once Asian-American kids hit college, they no longer outstrip white students academically — if they’re living away from home.
For example, a study of 452 students at UC Irvine led by University of Denver psychologist Julia Dmitrieva found that while both white and Asian-American students’ freshman year grades dipped below their 12th-grade GPAs, Asian-Americans’ fell dramatically, while white Americans’ dropped only slightly.
“There’s a reversal of ethnic differences in college grades, at least temporarily,” Dmitrieva says. That reversal didn’t stem, as some have guessed, from Asian-American students taking more natural science courses, which generally are graded more stringently than other subjects. In fact, her study showed that grades in both natural and social sciences dropped for the Asian-American freshmen, while grades in natural sciences rose for white students.
“We observed the same dip in grades for natural sciences among the Asian-Americans as there are for other majors,” says Dmitrieva.

Evers says he’d accept lifting Wisconsin Voucher & Virtual School enrollment cap

Becky Vevea

Governor-elect Scott Walker’s campaign promise to lift the enrollment cap on Wisconsin’s voucher and virtual schools could come to fruition soon, despite opposition from unions.
In an interview this week on the public affairs program “WisconsinEye,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said that he is open to lifting the enrollment limits, something Republicans have pushed for in the face of resistance from unions and public school advocates who see the voucher program as draining resources from Milwaukee schools by diverting public funding to private voucher schools.
“I’m steeped in reality. I’m not sure if what I think makes a lot of difference,” Evers said, alluding to the impending Republican control of the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature. “People have made clear what their positions are.”
Removing the caps on virtual schools or the choice program would not “fundamentally change the way those programs operate, nor will it dramatically increase the enrollments,” Evers said.

All Together Now? Educating high and low achievers in the same classroom

Michael Petrilli, via a kind reader’s email:

The greatest challenge facing America’s schools today isn’t the budget crisis, or standardized testing, or “teacher quality.” It’s the enormous variation in the academic level of students coming into any given classroom. How we as a country handle this challenge says a lot about our values and priorities, for good and ill. Unfortunately, the issue has become enmeshed in polarizing arguments about race, class, excellence, and equity. What’s needed instead is some honest, frank discussion about the trade-offs associated with any possible solution.
U.S. students are all over the map in terms of achievement (see Figure 1). By the 4th grade, public-school children who score among the top 10 percent of students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are reading at least six grade levels above those in the bottom 10 percent. For a teacher with both types of students in her classroom, that means trying to challenge kids ready for middle-school work while at the same time helping others to decode. Even differences between students at the 25th and at the 75th percentiles are huge–at least three grade levels. So if you’re a teacher, how the heck do you deal with that?

Lots of related links:

Evers defends Wisconsin school finance plan as “fairness issue”

WisPolitics

State schools Superintendent Tony Evers (left) says his proposed funding plan is a matter of fairness and transparency.
“Every child in the state of Wisconsin should be supported by some level of general aid,” Evers said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” a statewide TV newsmagazine produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “That’s not the case now. It’s a pure fairness issue.”
His plan calls for a $420 million funding boost over two years that would allow the state to pitch in at least $3,000 for every student in each district.
Evers said the increase would represent the smallest bump in terms of dollars or percent that the department has asked for in the past decade. He disputed accounts that the plan was “dead on arrival” in next year’s Republican-run Legislature and said he’s gotten good response to at least talking about the concept.
He said the major concerns so far have been the price tag, but there has been support for the overall policy.
Evers said his goal with the plan is to reduce the complexity in the school funding formula, increase transparency in the way schools are funded and “nudge the system” away from using property values as the basis for funding schools.

MacIver’s Analysis of Superintendent Evers’ School Funding Reform Plan

Christian D’Andrea

This would ensure that areas with greater concentrations of low-income families receive more funding in their classrooms.
However, history shows that this isn’t a winning formula. While students from poorer family backgrounds present challenges in the classroom, greater financial support hasn’t led to better results in Wisconsin. Milwaukee has the highest concentration of free and reduced-price lunch students in the state, as well as one of the highest per-pupil expenditure figures, spending an average of $16,730 per child according to DPI data. Madison, a city with similar low-income population issues, spent $16,393 on each student in 2009.
Conversely, other areas dealing with diverse student populations have shown better returns on their educational investments with less expenditure. Wauwatosa and Green Bay have produced more positive results in the classroom despite spending less. The districts spent just $12,098 and $13,041, respectively, per student in 2009.

Much more on the proposed changes to State of Wisconsin tax dollars for K-12 Districts, here.

Education Reform Urgent, Evers’ Ability to Advance Changes Uncertain

Christian D’Andrea

Change in education is coming, says State Superintendent Tony Evers – but we can’t tell you exactly what that change will be until after November’s elections.
Evers, speaking at his second annual State of Education address last week, discussed the work he’s done in the past year as well as his intentions for the 2010-2011 school year. The address laid out the state’s goals in areas like funding, graduation requirements, teacher certification, and standardized testing.
The speech expressed the superintendent’s pride in Wisconsin’s public schools, but also discussed his plans to improve education in the next year. These plans included:

Madison’s Attempts to Limit Outbound Open Enrollment: A Discussion with Vicki McKenna & Don Severson

two mp3 audio files, via a kind reader’s email: 30mb. The open enrollment conversation begins at about 19:40 in this first mp3 file and continues in the second (33mb) mp3 file.
Much more on outbound open enrollment here.

Japan fattens textbooks to reverse sliding rank

Malcolm Foster:

When Mio Honzawa starts fifth grade next April, her textbooks will be thicker.
Alarmed that its children are falling behind those in rivals such as South Korea and Hong Kong, Japan is adding about 1,200 pages to elementary school textbooks. The textbooks across all subjects for six years of elementary school now total about 4,900 pages, and will go up to nearly 6,100.
In a move that has divided educators and experts, Japan is going back to basics after a 10-year experiment in “pressure-free education,” which encouraged more application of knowledge and less rote memorization.
“I think it’s a good move. Compared to the education I got, I’m kind of shocked at the level my children are receiving,” said Keiko Honzawa, a Tokyo resident and mother of Mio and her seventh-grade brother.

Gifted students shortchanged as schools push low achievers

Jill Tucker

As California’s public schools have increasingly poured attention and resources into the state’s struggling students, high academic learners – the so-called gifted students – have been getting the short shrift, a policy decision that some worry could leave the United States at a competitive disadvantage.
Critics see courses tailored for exceptional students as elitist and not much of an issue when compared with the vast number of students who are lagging grades behind their peers or dropping out of school. But a growing chorus of parents and advocates is asking the contentious question: What about the smart kids?
“We have countries like India, Singapore, China, and they realize the future productivity of their country is an investment in their intellectual and creative resources,” said gifted education expert Joseph Renzulli.

A Letter from Polly Williams to Tony Evers on the Milwaukee Public Schools

Wisconsin Representative Annette Polly Williams:

February 5, 2010
State Superintendent Tony Evers
Department of Public Instruction
125 S. Webster Street
PO Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841
Dear Superintendent Evers:
I am contacting you regarding your Notice of Decision dated February 4, 2010 issued to the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) which would potentially eliminate the $175 million in federal funds received for services to low-income children through the Title I program. In your press statement, you indicated that you had a legal responsibility to the children of Milwaukee and that you were using the only tool allowed under state law to ensure these federal funds are used effectively to improve MPS. Not only I am deeply perplexed by the timing of this notice, but I’m equally concemed over the use of your authority to withhold federal dollars to “speed up change” in MPS. I find your efforts to be disingenuous.

Clusty Search: Polly Williams, Tony Evers. Via the Milwaukee Drum.

Seattle Court Reverses School Board Decision to Implement Discovery Math

Judge Julie Spector’s decision [69K PDF], via Martha McLaren:

THIS MATTER having come on for hearing, and the Court having considered the pleadings, administrative record, and argument in this matter, the Court hereby enters the following Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order:
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. On May 6, 2009, in a 4-3 vote, the Seattle School District Board of Directors chose the Discovering Series as the District’s high school basic math materials.
a. A recommendation from the District’s Selection Committee;
b. A January, 2009 report from the Washington State Office of Public Instruction ranking High School math textbooks, listing a series by the Holt Company as number one, and the Discovering Series as number two;
c. A March 11, 2009, report from the Washington State Board of Education finding that the Discovering Series was “mathematically unsound”;
d. An April 8, 2009 School Board Action Report authored by the Superintendent;
e. The May 6, 2009 recommendation of the OSPI recommending only the Holt Series, and not recommending the Discovering Series;
f. WASL scores showing an achievement gap between racial groups;
g. WASL scores from an experiment with a different inquiry-based math text at Cleveland and Garfield High Schools, showing that W ASL scores overall declined using the inquiry-based math texts, and dropped significantly for English Language Learners, including a 0% pass rate at one high school;
h. The National Math Achievement Panel (NMAP) Report;
1. Citizen comments and expert reports criticizing the effectiveness of inquiry-based math and the Discovering Series;
J. Parent reports of difficulty teaching their children using the Discovering Series and inquiry-based math;
k. Other evidence in the Administrative Record;
I. One Board member also considered the ability of her own child to learn math using the Discovering Series.
3. The court finds that the Discovering Series IS an inquiry-based math program.
4. The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there IS insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering Series.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
I. The court has jurisdiction under RCW 28A.645.010 to evaluate the Board’s decision for whether it is arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law;
2. The Board’s selection of the Discovering Series was arbitrary;
3. The Board’s selection of the Discovering Series was capricious;
4. This court has the authority to remand the Board’s decision for further review;
5. Any Conclusion of Law which is more appropriately characterized as a
Finding of Fact is adopted as such, and any Finding of Fact more appropriately
characterized as a Conclusion of Law is adopted as such.
ORDER
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
The decision of the Board to adopt the Discovering Series is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Dated this 4th day of February, 2010.

Melissa Westbrook has more.
Seattle Math Group Press Release:

Judge Julie Spector today announced her finding of “arbitrary and capricious” in the Seattle School Board’s May 6 vote to adopt the Discovering Math series of high school texts despite insufficient evidence of the series’ effectiveness.
Judge Spector’s decision states, “The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there is insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering series.”
Plaintiffs DaZanne Porter, an African American and mother of a 9th-grade student in Seattle Public Schools, Martha McLaren, retired Seattle math teacher and grandparent of a Seattle Public Schools fifth grader, and Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, had filed their appeal of the Board’s controversial decision on June 5th, 2009. The hearing was held on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Beware The Reverse Brain Drain To India And China

Vivek Wadhwa:

I spent Columbus Day in Sunnyvale, fittingly, meeting with a roomful of new arrivals. Well, relatively new. They were Indians living in Silicon Valley. The event was organized by the Think India Foundation, a think-tank that seeks to solve problems which Indians face. When introducing the topic of skilled immigration, the discussion moderator, Sand Hill Group founder M.R. Rangaswami asked the obvious question. How many planned to return to India? I was shocked to see more than three-quarters of the audience raise their hands.
Even Rangaswami was taken back. He lived in a different Silicon Valley, from a time when Indians flocked to the U.S. and rapidly populated the programming (and later executive) ranks of the top software companies in California. But the generational difference between older Indians who have made it in the Valley and the younger group in the room was striking. The present reality is this. Large numbers of the Valley’s top young guns (and some older bulls, as well) are seeing opportunities in other countries and are returning home. It isn’t just the Indians. Ask any VC who does business in China, and they’ll tell you about the tens of thousands who have already returned to cities like Shanghai and Beijing. The VC’s are following the talent. And this is bringing a new vitality to R&D in China and India.
Why would such talented people voluntarily leave Silicon Valley, a place that remains the hottest hotbed of technology innovation on Earth? Or to leave other promising locales such as New York City, Boston and the Research Triangle area of North Carolina? My team of researchers at Duke, Harvard and Berkeley polled 1203 returnees to India and China during the second half of 2008 to find answers to exactly this question. What we found should concern even the most boisterous Silicon Valley boosters.

Chicago school reform is a real estate program to reverse white flight

Edward Hayes:

If Mayor Richard Daley walks into your office and tells you to remove your car from his parking space, you will do it. If he sends in one of his flunkeys to tell you to move your bloody car, you will do it. The only distinction between the two requests is how much you grovel, bow, and scrape before doing as you are told. Past Chicago Public School (CPS) CEO, Paul Vallas, walked into the Chicago Teacher Union (CTU) president’s office in 1995 and told her to move her union out of his way because the mayor said so. She did. You would too. That was the whole of Chicago School Reform. It didn’t make any difference at all whether the messenger was Vallas, Arne Duncan, new CEO Ron Huberman, or Pee Wee Herman. When Mayor Daley says make a hole, you get out of the way, and you do it with a smile.
Non-educator Vallas did nothing to make schools better for struggling urban youth; non-educator Duncan did less, and the new non-educator Huberman after three months on the job is on paternity leave following his announcing that he and his male partner have a baby. Real educators who previously sat in the CPS superintendent’s office did not have direct backing from City Hall. They were weak administrators that chose not to fight the CTU. They may have tried, but not one of them did anything except appear to be busy.

WIBA’s Mitch Henck Discusses the Madison School District’s Budget with Don Severson

24MB mp3 audio file. Mitch and Don discuss the Madison School District’s $12M budget deficit, caused by a decline in redistributed tax dollars from the State of Wisconsin and generally flat enrollment. Topics include: Fund 80, health care costs, four year old kindergarten, staffing, property taxes (which may increase to make up for the reduced state tax dollar funding).
Madison School District Board President Arlene Silveira sent this message to local Alders Saturday:

Good afternoon,
Below is an update of the MMSD budget situation.
As you know, the biennial budget was signed into law at the end of June. The budget had numerous provisions that will effect the future of public education that include:

  • Repeal of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO)
  • Decrease in funding for public education by the state of approximately $14720million
  • Decrease in the per pupil increase associated with revenue limits

The repeal of the QEO will potentially impact future settlements for salries and benefits. The decrease in funding for public education by the state creates the need for a tax increase conversation in order to sustain current programs. The decrease in the revenue limit formula will cause MMSD to face more reductions in programs and services for the next 2 years at a minimum.
EFFECT OF STATE BUDGET ON MMSD

  • Decrease in state aid: $9.2 million
  • Reduction in revenue: $2.8 million (decrease in the per pupil increase from $275 to $200/pupil)

Total decrease: projected to to be $12 million
Last May, the Madison Board of Education passed a preliminary 2009-10 budget that maintained programs and services with a modest property tax increase. The groundwork for our budget was laid last fall when the Board pledged our commitment to community partnership and the community responded by supporting a referendum that allowed us to exceed revenue caps to stabilize funding for our schools. Two months later, with programs and staff in place for next year, we find ourselves faced with State funding cuts far exceeding our worst fears.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
We are in this position in part because Wisconsin’s school funding formulas are so complicated that the legislature and supporting agencies did not accurately predict the budget’s impact on school districts. State aid to Madison and many other districts was cut by 15%. In practical terms, coupled with additional State cuts of $2.8 million, MMSD is saddled with State budget reductions of $12 million this year.
This grim situation is a result of a poor economy, outdated information used by the legislature, and a Department of Public Instruction policy that penalizes the district for receiving one-time income (TIF closing in Madison). Federal stimulus funds will, at best, delay cuts for one year. We are left with a gaping budget deficit when many fiscal decisions for the upcoming school year cannot be reversed.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?
We are working on strategies and options and are looking carefully at the numbers to ensure our solutions do not create new problems. We will evaluate options for dealing with the budget in early August.
To repair our budget, we are working with legislators and the DPI to appeal decisions that have placed us in this position. We continue to look for changes in resource management to find additional cost reductions. We are seeking ways to offset the impact of school property tax increases if we need to increase our levy.
At the same time, we pledge that we will not pass the full cost of the cuts along as increased property taxes. We will not resort to massive layoffs of teachers and support staff, t he deadline having passed to legally reduce our staff under union contracts.
I will be back in touch after our August meeting when we have made decisions on our path forward.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Arlene Silveira
Madison Board of Education
608-516-8981

Related: Sparks fly over Wisconsin Budget’s Labor Related Provisions.

Bout with cancer gave Evers the drive to become Wisconsin schools chief

Alan Borsuk:

When the surgery was over, the worst of the aftermath survived, and the tumor gone, Tony Evers met with his oncologist, Linn Khuu.
“You know, you’ve been given a second chance,” she told him. “Go do something great.”
Evers felt a bit insulted at first. He thought he had worked hard and done good things for years. For one thing, he had been deputy state superintendent of public instruction for almost seven years at that point.
Then he decided she was right.
Now, Evers said, he would tell people who went through what he went through, “If you do get a second chance, make the most of it.”
At 11 a.m. Monday, Evers, 57, will show what he is doing to make the most of it. He will be sworn in as Wisconsin’s 26th superintendent of public instruction – and almost surely the first without an esophagus.
Within months of being told he had a form of cancer that generally has low survival rates, Evers decided to undertake a race for statewide office.
“Once you get over a hurdle, it does make you a bit more fearless,” he said in an interview last week.

Tony Evers Evokes Change as He Enters Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Office

WisPolitics:

“Education is all about continued improvement, and the status quo is not satisfactory,” Evers told the audience at a WisPolitics.com luncheon Tuesday at the Madison Club.



In addition to guiding local schools as they navigate state cuts and an influx of federal stimulus funding, Evers is promoting a single federal test and an overhaul of accountability and assessment standards for public education. Under the new system, which Evers said would be formed quickly over the next few months, the state will be able to consistently measure other educational categories aside from test scores.



The test score measurement mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind law drew criticism from Evers for their incomplete picture of education, but he said the federal standard has done educators “a tremendous favor” by showing disparities between performance of white and non-white students.



He also called for a national standard of testing and curriculum, which he said 46 states had backed. He said that Wisconsin isn’t able to truly compare its educational growth to other districts and states because 50 different tests are being administered annually. He also called the current system “economically irrational.”
“Public education, even though it’s a state responsibility, is a national endeavor, and we have to view it as such,” Evers said. “By doing this, we’re going to make our system more transparent.”



Perhaps nothing will test the new state accountability system as much as Milwaukee. Evers went to great lengths to discuss the “magic” that teachers work with many less fortunate students in the state’s largest school district, but recognized a graduation rate that, despite increasing to about 70 percent, lags well behind the state average.

Severson on McKenna

Jim, thank you for posting the link to this fascinating set of rants on the MMSD school board. I STRONGLY suggest that people watch the committee meeting video that is available at: http://mediaprodweb.madison.k12.wi.us/Board+Meetings
Simply put, many of the critiques that Severson complains are not happening are in fact very much alive in school board debate, whether it comes to what needs to happen to improve the math curriculum to the reviews and changes in fiscal practice that are making it possible to close the spending gap without further trashing programs. I guess that Don was napping during the three meetings when the discussions were underway?
Or, I may be wrong. This may not be a manipulation of the truth for political purposes. You be the judge – watch the video – and see whether nothing is being done on significant issues as Severson asserts.

Don Severson Talks with Vicki McKenna on the Madison Public Schools

25.3MB mp3 audio file. The discussion begins about four minutes into the audio clip. Topics include: spending, program/curriculum assessment, reading results, the District’s strategic planning process, the QEO and possible state budget changes that could raise local property taxes.

Evers Wins Wisconsin Education Post

Amy Hetzner:

Staving off a spirited run by a political newcomer, Tony Evers went from understudy to Wisconsin’s next schools chief Tuesday with the backing of the state’s largest teachers union and other professional educators throughout the state.



In doing so, he beat back a challenge from Rose Fernandez, a parent advocate and former pediatric trauma nurse who tried to capitalize on discontent with the educational status quo.



Evers won with the significant help of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and its affiliates throughout the state, which contributed nearly $700,000 toward his campaign.



Evers credited his victory to people’s trust in his ability to help improve state schools.



“People recognize that in order to make the changes necessary, we need a candidate with a broad base of support behind him, and we need a candidate with experience behind him,” he said.



Evers, 57, was considered the front-runner in the race ever since he declared his candidacy in October.

2009 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Debate Tony Evers and Rose Fernandez



Via Wisconsin Public Television. CTRL Click here to download the 382MB 60 minute event video, or this 26MB mp3 audio file.
Candidate websites: Tony Evers & Rose Fernandez
Amy Hetzner:

Rose Fernandez regularly refers to herself as an outsider in the race to become the state’s next schools chief.
The implication is that her April 7 opponent, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, is an insider who is unlikely to change what is happening with education in the state.
The outsider candidate who can change things and shake up the status quo has long been a popular thrust in political campaigns. President Barack Obama, although a U.S. senator at the time, used aspects of the tactic in his campaign last fall.
But some wonder whether it will have the same impact in what is likely to be a low-turnout election April 7.
“The advantage to the insider is being able to draw off of established, organizational support,” said Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The outsider’s goal is to try to become visible enough that people unhappy with the status quo can voice their outsider outrage.”
From her Web site address – www.changedpi.com – to frequently tying her opponent to the state’s largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Fernandez appears to be trying to capitalize on one of her many differences with her opponent.
“There are perils with entrenchment,” said Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and past president of the Wisconsin Coalition for Virtual School Families. “With that there comes an inability to see the problems as they really are.”
But being an outsider also has some disadvantages, which Evers is trying to play up as well.
At a recent appearance before the Public Policy Forum, Evers puzzled about Fernandez’s stance against a provision in Gov. Jim Doyle’s bill that he said was supported by voucher school proponents while she expressed support for voucher schools.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Tony Evers Advocates Charter Schools

Tony Evers campaign, via email:

Tony Evers today pledged to continue his long commitment to Wisconsin’s charter schools, which provide innovative educational strategies. Dr. Evers has played a major educational leadership role in making Wisconsin 6th in the nation, out of all 50 states, in both the number of charter schools and the number of students enrolled in charter schools.
“We are a national leader in charter schools and I will continue my work for strong charter schools in Wisconsin,” Evers said. “As State Superintendent, I will continue to promote our charter schools and the innovative, successful learning strategies they pursue as we work to increase achievement for all students no matter where they live.”
Evers, as Deputy State Superintendent, has been directly responsible for overseeing two successful competitive federal charter school grants that brought over $90 million to Wisconsin. From these successful applications, Evers has recommended the approval of over 700 separate planning, implementation, implementation renewal, and dissemination grants to charter schools around the state since 2001.
During the past eight years, the number of charter schools in Wisconsin has risen from 92 to 221 – an increase of almost 150%. The number of students enrolled in charter schools has increased from 12,000 students in 2001 to nearly 36,000 today.
Evers has also represented the Department of Public Instruction on State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster’s Charter School Advisory Council. The council was created to provide charter school representatives, parents, and others with the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and provide recommendations to the State Superintendent.

Notes on the Evers / Fernandez Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Race

John Nichols:

Fernandez cleaned up in traditionally Republican (but trending Democratic) Waukesha County, where she won 52 percent of the vote, to just 23 percent for Evers. It was roughly the same split in Washington County. Fernandez even beat Mobley in the other conservative’s home county of Ozaukee. Even in more Democratic Racine County, Fernandez won 40 percent to just 26 percent for Evers.
Where did Evers do well? Dane County, where the deputy superintendent won more than 50 percent to a mere 20 percent for Fernandez. Of Evers’ 9,905 vote lead statewide, 7,351 votes came from Madison and surrounding communities. Evers won very big in the city of Madison, where Progressive Dane-backed candidate Price actually beat Fernandez (and came close to the frontrunner) in some isthmus wards.
What’s the bottom line: Fernandez has proven herself. She is going to be a serious contender, and if she gets some national conservative money — perhaps shifting from the Supreme Court race — she could beat Evers.
Of course, in a higher-turnout, bigger-spending race, a lot can change. And Evers will have plenty of union backing. But this is going to be a hot contest right up until April 7. And that could have consequences for the court race; if Fernandez turns out conservatives in big numbers, that could help Koschnick.

Readers may find the 2005 DPI race worth revisiting. Audio & video here.

Fernandez & Evers Advance in the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Race

AP:

Evers won the endorsement of the 98,000-member state teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which paid for TV ads on his behalf. Evers was the only one of the five to pay for his own ads.
“I believe that my message of experience has played well so far,”
Evers said. “I won the primary and I anticipate that we’ll just work hard to get the message out. I believe that people do believe experience matters.”
Fernandez, who has often been at odds with the state education department over virtual schools, reveled in the fact that she didn’t get the WEAC endorsement, touting it as another sign of her being outside the state education bureaucracy.
Fernandez was the only one of the five candidates without any professional education experience. A former nurse, she recently stepped down as president of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families.
“Some people have dismissed me as just a mom on a mission, but that’s a label I’ll be wearing as a badge of honor,” Fernandez said. She pledged to overcome WEAC’s financial backing of Evers with a broad base of support that taps into teachers, parents and students across the state.
“We’re hearing that there’s a great hunger out there for our message that higher standards without higher taxes is what they want,” she said.
Her campaign called for reforming the state education department, enacting changes to allow for teacher merit pay and protecting alternative education options such as virtual schools, home schooling and Milwaukee’s school choice voucher program.
Evers, the deputy under retiring Superintendent Libby Burmaster for the past eight years, emphasized his 34 years of education experience during the campaign. Opponents criticized him as a status-quo insider candidate, while Evers countered he was the best-grounded to initiate reforms, particularly in the Milwaukee schools.

Burmaster Won’t Seek 3rd Term as Wisconsin Education Superintendent, Tony Evers Announces Run

Tamira Madsen:

There had been some speculation Burmaster was interested in running for governor if Gov. Jim Doyle didn’t seek re-election in 2010, but she said that type of campaign is not in her plans.
She would not elaborate on her future career endeavors except to say, “I’m an education leader and I want to continue to serve in that capacity.” She also said she will get back to working in community schools with students in a “hands-on” role.

Interviews with 2005 Candidates for the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent position can be seen here.
WisPolitics interview with Burmaster.

Referendum Discussion: Vicki McKenna & Don Severson

Download or listen to this 15MB mp3 audio file.
Related:

  • $367M+ Budget notes and links
  • Don Severson’s memo to the Madison School Board on the current financial situation.
  • Marj Passman and Don Severson discuss school finance with Mitch Henck.
  • Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s budget and recommendations memorandum to the School board (1MB PDF):

    In 1993, three pieces of legislation were enacted by the State of Wisconsin directly affecting school districts throughout the state. These pieces of legislation created revenue limits, created the state’s commitment to two·thirds funding, and created the qualified economic offer (QEO) in Wisconsin. Since 1993 revenue limits in Wisconsin have allowed the Madison Metropolitan School District to increase revenues annually by 2.2% on average. Conversely the QEO requires school boards to offer a comprehensive salary and benefit package to certified teaching staff of not less than 3.8% annually to avoid binding arbitration. Recognizing that the Madison Metropolitan School District’s budget is comprised of 84% salary and benefits, it must be recognized that while our revenues increase annually by 2.2%, the largest portion of our budget is mandated to minimally increase by 3.8%. Due to these competing pieces of legislation, the Board of Education since 1993 has reduced program and services by over $60 million to comply with state mandated revenue limits, of which $35 million has occurred within the past five years.
    Since the 1992·93 School Year the Madison Metropolitan School District has increased the total tax levy by $74,944,431 through the projected 2008·09 property tax levy. This amounts to an average annual increase of 2.56% since the 1992·93 School Year (see Attachment A). During that same time frame from 1992·93 through the projections for the 2008·09 property tax rate, the Madison Metropolitan School District has decreased the total tax rate from $20.69 to a projected rate of $9.92 for the 2008·09 School Year (see Attachment B).

    Nerad also posted a 3 year financial forecast (250K PDF)

  • City of Madison Assessor: 2008 Madison Property Tax base (PDF)
  • A look at the growth in Madison’s tax base: In 1990, the City of Madison included 40,069 parcels, a number that grew to 64,976 in 2005. Assessment and parcel growth mitigates tax levy increases, or allows it to decline (though this of course, depends on the real estate market along with tax policies).

Don Severson & Marj Passman on School Spending & The Proposed November Madison School Referendum

Chart via Global Education Spending data via UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Mitch Henck @ WIBA: 15MB mp3 audio file. Marj discussed her views on US taxes vis a vis education spending versus other countries.
Much more on the Madison School District’s $367M 2008-2009 budget along with the referendum.

Black-White Gap Widens for High Achievers

Debra Viadero:

New research into what is commonly called the black-white “achievement gap” suggests that the students who lose the most ground academically in U.S. public schools may be the brightest African-American children.
As black students move through elementary and middle school, these studies show, the test-score gaps that separate them from their better-performing white counterparts grow fastest among the most able students and the most slowly for those who start out with below-average academic skills.
“We care about achievement gaps because of their implications for labor-market and socioeconomic-status issues down the line,” said Lindsay C. Page, a Harvard University researcher, commenting on the studies. “It’s disconcerting if the gap is growing particularly high among high-achieving black and white students.”
Disconcerting, but not surprising, said researchers who have studied achievement gaps. Studies have long shown, for instance, that African-American students are underrepresented among the top scorers on standardized tests, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Fewer studies, though, have traced the growth of those gaps among high and low achievers.
The reasons why achievement gaps are wider at the upper end of the achievement scale are still unclear. But some experts believe the patterns have something to do with the fact that African-American children tend to be taught in predominantly black schools, where test scores are lower on average, teachers are less experienced, and high-achieving peers are harder to find.

Thanks to Jenny Root for emailing this article.

Severson / McKenna on Negative Aid, Local Media Coverage of Schools and the Referendum

There were some interesting items in today’s conversation between Don Severson and Vicki Mckenna [13.7MB mp3 audio file]: A caller (29 minutes): “Why does the rest of the media have such complacency with the Schools?” Don noted the lack of negative aids discussion in Monday’s “very long” Wisconsin State Journal article. The caller raised a […]

Too Few Overachievers

Jay Matthews: News editors and book publishers are susceptible to Robbins’s argument because many of them live in such places, where family incomes are in the top 5 percent nationally and talk about school stress in rampant. It would be almost a relief to many educators if these families, and their highly motivated students, were […]

The Overachievers

Eugene Allen: “The Overachievers” is part soap opera, part social treatise. Robbins identifies her main characters — four juniors, three seniors and one alum who’s a college freshman — by how they’re perceived at Whitman. Then she stands back and lets them prove otherwise. Julie, the Superstar, is so plagued by self-doubt that she worries […]

Don Severson / Vicki McKenna Discussion on Local School Climate, the School District Budget and the Fall Referendum

WIBA’s Vicki McKenna and Active Citizens for Education’s Don Severson discussed a variety of topics today, including Judy Newman’s series on Madison’s changing economic landscape, the Madison School District’s budget process and the planned November referendum for a new far west side school, Leopold Elementary school expansion and debt consolidation. 17MB MP3 audio.

Fragile Futures: Risk and Vulnerability Among Latino High Achievers

Patricia Gándara Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service December 2005 The achievement gap usually refers to the chasm between low- and higher-performing students. But, as this study makes clear, disparities are just as pronounced among separate groups of high-achieving students. For example, in 2002 the top fifth of Latino test-takers scored means of 598 and […]

Isthmus: Talking out of School: Don Severson’s Letter to the Editor

Don Severson has written a letter to the Isthmus editor regarding Jason Shephard’s 2/10/2005 article: Talking out of School (Shephard looks at the upcoming school board races in this article). Here’s Severson’s letter to the editor: Madison School Board member Carol Carstensen complains that critics of the Board aren’t really interested in seeking solutions to […]

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940

Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca and Jimmy Narang: We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”—the fraction of children who earn more than their parents—by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have […]

Commentary On The Recent Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Election

John Nichols: The DeVos interventions are not about improving public education; they are about pushing a political agenda that is rooted in ideological obsessions rather than an understanding of how to improve schools. As the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights noted with regard to DeVos: “She has never been an educator or worked […]

Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream

Mike Hutchens: Life is becoming increasingly less predictable. From the political volatility of Donald Trump and Brexit to the vast societal changes of globalisation, drastic, seismic change is in the air. While unpredictability is already problematic for many, for future generations there are no signs of things calming. If we accept that the role of […]

We need more varsity academics

Jeff Jacoby: Of the three R’s, says Will Fitzhugh, the founder and publisher of The Concord Review, the middle R has long been the most neglected. It was true in his own case — when he arrived at Harvard as a freshman 61 years ago, he had never had to write a single term paper […]

Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage

Bari Weiss: When a mob at Vermont’s Middlebury College shut down a speech by social scientist Charles Murray a few weeks ago, most of us saw it as another instance of campus illiberalism. Jonathan Haidt saw something more—a ritual carried out by adherents of what he calls a “new religion,” an auto-da-fé against a heretic […]

The money question on schools is the question of money

Alan Borsuk: And Holtz said, “There is no scientific correlation between higher spending and higher academic achievement… Adequate funding is important, but money is not the thing that is going to save our failing schools.” Evers said, “Frankly, our public schools have been deteriorating in their state support, everybody knows that.” Referring to differences in […]

Wisconsin DPI Candidate Event

WisPolitics: Holtz also slammed Evers for the state’s achievement gaps, saying it’s “not acceptable to be the worst” in the country. He said one of the main reasons why it exists is because schools aren’t safe “We’re turning our back on generations of minority kids and saying, ‘Sorry, we didn’t fix the problem,’” he said. […]

Lowell Holtz says graduation rates soared for minority students when he ran the Beloit schools

Dave Umhoefer: In his bid to unseat Tony Evers as state school superintendent, self-described “kidservative” Lowell Holtz criticizes Wisconsin’s dubious distinction of graduating white high school students at much higher rates than minority students. On his campaign blog, Holtz says his attention to safety and discipline as Beloit school superintendent from 2006 to 2009 improved […]

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Event

Lisa Speckhard:: Common Core educational standards may not seem like a subject asking for fiery debate, but the candidates for the April 4 election for Wisconsin state superintendent proved their passion for the issue on TV Sunday. Incumbent Tony Evers, running for his third term, and Dr. Lowell Holtz, former district superintendent for Beloit and […]

The Privacy Revolution that never came

Mo Bitar: Reading is complex. It requires specialized knowledge and a decade of practice. But by a certain age, reading becomes a thoughtless activity — you couldn’t imagine not knowing how to do it. Deploying a server and setting up a reverse proxy engine: that’s pretty complex too. The difference between reading and managing servers is childhood. […]