Mareesia Nicosia: They’ve waited every morning since, Gunter told The 74 in a recent interview, until the doors open and staff welcomes them warmly inside, trading handshakes and high-fives as music courses through the halls. Not long ago, though, there was little enthusiasm from students, their families — and staff, for that matter. The pre-K–5 … Continue reading Compare Omaha K-12 Governance & Spending With Madison: Expand Least Diverse Schools Or?
Economist: THE most important divide in America today is class, not race, and the place where it matters most is in the home. Conservatives have been banging on about family breakdown for decades. Now one of the nation’s most prominent liberal scholars has joined the chorus. Robert Putnam is a former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy … Continue reading Minding the nurture gap, Madison plans to expand least diverse schools
Darrel Burnette II: Several Massachusetts superintendents are spending more money on schools that enroll mostly wealthy students than they are on schools that educate mostly poor students, even though the state designed its funding formula to do the exact opposite. And some schools are outperforming other schools even though they’re receiving significantly less money. That’s … Continue reading K-12 $pending Inequality (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)
Ding Jie, Li Rongde, Su Xin and Zhou Simin: A group of 30 parents staged a protest at the education department of Beijing’s Dongcheng district earlier in May to voice their opposition to a sweeping change to the “school district” policy now being tested by the local government. Under the change, a school district, usually … Continue reading School District Reform Prompts Parent Protests in Beijing (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)
It’s interesting to consider recent Madison School Board/Administration decisions in light of David Brooks’ 7/11/2017 column: Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances … Continue reading On expanding Madison’s Least Diverse schools
Sightline Institute: What drew far less attention—and what is ultimately far more important—is the rest of HALA’s assertion. Those other 43 words point directly at local restrictions on housing construction in Seattle, prominently including its vast allocation of land to single-family lots as “among the largest obstacles to equity and affordability.” Across North America, such … Continue reading Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse Schools: Exclusionary Zoning Robs Our Cities of Their Best Qualities
Annysa Johnson: As issues of race, racism and structural inequities dominate the national consciousness, Milwaukee Public Schools board members are laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a new push to address the hyper segregation in southeastern Wisconsin. The board unanimously passed a resolution last week calling on activists, elected officials and others … Continue reading Milwaukee School board to begin discussions on desegregating schools in southeastern Wisconsin
Aaron Withe and Jeff Kropf: In a time of national emergency, when our leaders need to be thinking outside the box and giving struggling families more choices rather than fewer, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown instead decided to pay back political favors by shutting down online charter schools. On paper, online charter schools that allow students … Continue reading Gov. Brown and the Oregon Teachers Union shut down online charter schools
Corey DeAngelis: The United States invests over $660 billion for K-12 education, or over $13,000 per student, each year, on average.1 Real education expenditures in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled in the past half century without consistent improvements in student outcomes (Hanushek, 1997, 2015a, 2015b; Hanushek & Lindseth, 2009, 2010). Because education dollars are scarce resources, and because students’ academic success … Continue reading The Cost-effectiveness of Public and Private Schools of Choice in Wisconsin
Sarah Sparks: Eliminating racial segregation can be a little like playing whack-a-mole: Instead of going away, too often it just finds a new outlet. A massive new study of North Carolina classrooms over nearly 20 years finds that as racial segregation between schools went down, the racial isolation within the classrooms inside those schools went … Continue reading Hidden Segregation Within Schools Is Tracked in New Study
James Vaznis: By many measures, the Boston schools are in crisis. Graduation rates dropped last year, while the gap between Black and white students earning diplomas more than doubled. The state last fall ordered the school district to ramp up improvement efforts at nearly three dozen low-performing schools. A Globe review revealed that fewer than … Continue reading K-12 Governance, Spending and Student Learning: As audit looms, Boston schools brace for more bad news
David Blaska: The school lesson plan is chaos “[We] talk about race as if it was every race but whiteness. How can we support you, elevate your work around actually talking about white culture in our schools and how teachers can start doing this work of, like, unlearning whiteness.” — Madison school board member … Continue reading ‘Unlearning whiteness’ in the Madison schools
David Blaska: Today’s blog excerpts Kaleem Caire’s social media thread in the wake of his letter, co-signed by other local black leaders, expressing disappointment that Matthew Gutierrez of Texas was chosen as new superintendent of Madison WI schools over their preferred candidate, Taylor Eric Thomas of Georgia. Caire expresses frustration over the virulent Progressive Dane/Madison Teachers … Continue reading Is this the best Madison’s (taxpayer supported) public schools can do?
Morrison Foerster: Superior court Judge Rupert Byrdsong today received notice of a wide-ranging settlement in a major education lawsuit brought by students, parents and advocacy groups against the State of California. The lawsuit was the first civil rights action brought under any state constitution to protect students’ right to access to literacy. The ability to … Continue reading Groundbreaking Settlement in California Literacy Lawsuit to Provide Immediate Relief to 75 Low-Performing Schools, Advances Holistic Approach to Learning in Schools
Logan Wroge: Three more private Madison schools intend to join the statewide voucher program in the fall, bringing the number of Dane County schools that plan to accept vouchers in 2020-21 to seven. The state Department of Public Instruction released Thursday the lists of schools that have signed up for three programs that provide taxpayer-funded … Continue reading 3 more Madison private schools to join statewide voucher program
Scott Girard: The 2018-19 state Forward Exam, given to students in grades 3 through 8, showed 35% of students scored proficient or advanced on the English Language Arts portion. For black students, it was 10.1% and for Hispanic students, 16%. Those scores come amid a nationwide, and more recently statewide, push for using the Science of Reading to educate … Continue reading “We definitely see science-based reading instruction as urgent in our – Madison – schools” (!)
Alan Borsuk: Let’s focus particularly on Evers’ call for using some of the money to return state support of general operating costs of public schools to two-thirds of the total bill (with the other third coming generally from property taxes). A bit of history: In the early 1990s, there was strong opinion, particularly for then-Gov. Tommy Thompson … Continue reading Will Wisconsin return to its ‘three-legged stool’ to pay for schools? Here are reasons to doubt it
Scott Girard: The contract runs from June 1 to May 31 of the following year. The agreement would allow Gutiérrez 25 vacation days each year, 10 holidays off and up to 13 personal illness days. It will provide up to $8,500 for moving expenses as Gutiérrez and his family move from Seguin, Texas, and cover … Continue reading New Madison Schools superintendent’s $250K+ contract up for vote Monday
David Blaska: A crusader has stuck his out out of the foxhole to take on the political correctness that is destroying Madison’s public schools. We introduced him to you Blaska Policy Werkers two weeks ago. He is Peter Anderson, an environmental activist. Peter has put up a website called “Durable Justice.” Bookmark it. (We’ll wait. Got it?) Anderson … Continue reading Madison schools’ happy talk Cheat(ham)s black kids
Robert Barnes: Parents who believe religious schools such as Stillwater absolutely are the places for their children are at the center of what could be a landmark Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of state laws that exclude religious organizations from government funding available to others. In this case, the issue rests on whether a … Continue reading Religious-schools case heads to a Supreme Court skeptical of stark lines between church and state
Logan Wroge: The plan didn’t become publicly available until Friday afternoon, when the meeting agenda was posted online. Does the analysis include space in other facilities? The District expanded some of its least diverse schools (Van Hise and Hamilton) several years ago, when space was available in other nearby schools. The Madison school district is … Continue reading Commentary on Madison Schools’ Quietly spending taxpayer’s $4M
Negassi Tesfamichael: MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement. “Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said. Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early … Continue reading Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance
Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: One City Schools, Inc., a local nonprofit operating an independent preschool and public charter school, announced today that it has been accepted into a coveted network of more than 150 schools nationwide in the EL Education (EL) program. EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) is an educational model that balances … Continue reading One City Schools Admitted to EL Education’s National Network of Schools
Chris Rickert: Some Madison schools will participate next year in a Black Lives Matter event that features a call to “fund counselors, not cops” — despite the School Board’s decision this week to keep police officers in the Madison School District’s four main high schools. Hamilton Middle School said in an email to community members … Continue reading Some Madison schools sign on to Black Lives Matter event that calls for dumping police
Keri Rodrigues: Here’s the executive summary: White children are not smarter than black and brown children. Parachuting white families into majority “minority” schools will not automatically improve academic performance. Black and Latino children ARE more than capable of achievement. Just because a school is majority “minority” does not make it a failing school. Student diversity … Continue reading Real Talk About Segregation in Boston Public Schools
John Hilliard and Emily Williams : The increase in segregation of the Boston Public School system — decades after court-ordered busing strove to help diversify the city’s schools — will worsen divisions among families along racial and economic lines, parents and education advocates said Sunday. The concerns came a day after the Globe reported that … Continue reading Increased segregation of Boston schools could deepen racial, economic divides, say advocates
Natasha Warikoo and Nadirah Farah Foley: That question is being debated in Massachusetts, where court papers argue over Harvard’s use of race in its “holistic” admissions process, and in New York City, where politicians are trying to increase the number of black and Latino students at top public high schools. But the answer has always … Continue reading How Elite Schools Stay So White
Nikole Hannah-Jones : Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that when it comes to school segregation, separate is never truly equal. “There’s never been a moment in the history of this country where black people who have been isolated from white people have gotten the same resources,” Hannah-Jones says. “They often don’t have … Continue reading How The Systemic Segregation Of Schools Is Maintained By ‘Individual Choices’
Kelly Heyboer: The percentage of New Jersey students attending “apartheid schools” — where only between 0 and 1 percent of the pupils are white — has nearly doubled from 4.8 percent to 8.3 percent since 1989, the report concluded. “This report shows that New Jersey has moved another substantial step toward a segregated future with … Continue reading ‘Apartheid’ schools on the rise in N.J., study says
Salim Furth: Old Town Road traces a choppy, swerving path that marks the southern edge of Trumbull, Connecticut. It is shaded by maples and oaks that frame the sensible New England homes of an affluent suburb. Across the double yellow lines of Old Town Road are similar homes in the city of Bridgeport, one of … Continue reading The Two-Board Knot: Zoning, Schools, and Inequality
Chris Rickert: Allis Elementary currently has no active PTO and its fundraising when it did have one last year was “very, very little,” according to interim principal Sara Cutler. Allis’ percentage of economically disadvantaged students last year was 67.9, according to state Department of Public Instruction data, or higher than the district percentage of 46.1. … Continue reading Commentary on Madison Taxpayer Funded Schools’ PTO Budgets and Activity
Peter Cunningham: No institution in America has done more to perpetuate segregation than public schools. Until 1954, segregated schools were legal in America and it was the standard practice in much of the South. Less recognized, but equally pernicious, is the structural segregation all across America, where zoned school systems maintain racial and economic segregation. … Continue reading “No institution in America has done more to perpetuate segregation than public schools”
Kate Taylor: A look at the history of District 3, which stretches along the West Side of Manhattan from 59th to 122nd Street, shows how administrators’ decisions, combined with the choices of parents and the forces of gentrification, have shaped the current state of its schools, which, in one of the most politically liberal parts … Continue reading On School Segregation And Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse School
“I want to live in the Hamilton/Van Hise attendance area.” I’ve heard that statement many times over the years. I wondered how that desire might be reflected in real estate activity. Tap for a larger view. xlsx version. Happily, it’s easy to keep up with the market using the Bunbury, First Weber, Restaino or Shorewest … Continue reading Real Estate Activity Around Madison Middle Schools
Molly Bloom: Atlanta school Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s plan to turn around the struggling school system calls for closing schools that, by Atlanta standards, are succeeding and merge those students with now-failing schools. The closures will allow her to replace hundreds of teachers, bring in new leaders and save money by closing half-empty schools. District officials … Continue reading Why the Atlanta superintendent wants to close successful schools
Somewhat ironically, Madison has unused capacity in a number of schools, yet a successful Spring, 2015 referendum will spend another $41M+ to expand certain schools, including some of the least diverse such as Hamilton Middle School. Madison School District (PDF): Key Findings 1. Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary … Continue reading “Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary schools and one of the 12 middle schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above their calculated capacities.”
Laua Frazier: Twenty out of 29 of the district’s K-8s have too few students in the middle grades, making it challenging to offer the same level of programming middle schools can, the district found. The district also has 11 schools that are over-crowded and nine that are under-enrolled. The district developed performance indicators to show … Continue reading Portland Schools’ Proposed Boundary Changes
David Blaska Voters just approved a $41 million spending referendum. Now the Madison Metro School District says it needs to cut $10.8 million to cover a deficit. This is after rewarding its unionized teachers and support staff with a 2.5% pay increase in the budget approved late last year. Who is running this store? Hint: … Continue reading Commentary on Madison Schools’ Governance, Priorities & Spending
Corey Robin: Facebook can be a weird place on Martin Luther King Day. Some of my friends post famous passages from MLK’s speeches. Others post statistics on racial inequality. Still others, mostly white parents, post photographs of their children assembled in auditoriums and schoolyards. These are always hopeful images, the next generation stirring toward interracial … Continue reading The 1 percent’s white privilege con: Elites hold “conversations” about race, while resegregating our schools
Maggie Ginsberg interviews Brandi Grayson: Can you give an example of what you’ve described as “intent versus impact?” The Behavior Education Plan that the [Madison Metropolitan] school district came up with. The impact is effed up, in so many words, and that’s because the voices that are most affected weren’t considered. It’s like standing outside … Continue reading Commentary on tension in the Madison Schools over “One Size Fits All” vs. “Increased Rigor”
High school, where kids socialize, show off their clothes, use their phones–and, oh yeah, go to class.
Every once in a while, education policy squeezes its way onto President Obama’s public agenda, as it did in during last month’s State of the Union address. Lately, two issues have grabbed his (and just about everyone else’s) attention: early-childhood education and access to college. But while these scholastic bookends are important, there is an awful lot of room for improvement between them. American high schools, in particular, are a disaster.
In international assessments, our elementary school students generally score toward the top of the distribution, and our middle school students usually place somewhat above the average. But our high school students score well below the international average, and they fare especially badly in math and science compared with our country’s chief economic rivals.
What’s holding back our teenagers?
One clue comes from a little-known 2003 study based on OECD data that compares the world’s 15-year-olds on two measures of student engagement: participation and “belongingness.” The measure of participation was based on how often students attended school, arrived on time, and showed up for class. The measure of belongingness was based on how much students felt they fit in to the student body, were liked by their schoolmates, and felt that they had friends in school. We might think of the first measure as an index of academic engagement and the second as a measure of social engagement.
On the measure of academic engagement, the U.S. scored only at the international average, and far lower than our chief economic rivals: China, Korea, Japan, and Germany. In these countries, students show up for school and attend their classes more reliably than almost anywhere else in the world. But on the measure of social engagement, the United States topped China, Korea, and Japan.
In America, high school is for socializing. It’s a convenient gathering place, where the really important activities are interrupted by all those annoying classes. For all but the very best American students–the ones in AP classes bound for the nation’s most selective colleges and universities–high school is tedious and unchallenging. Studies that have tracked American adolescents’ moods over the course of the day find that levels of boredom are highest during their time in school.
It’s not just No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top that has failed our adolescents–it’s every single thing we have tried.
One might be tempted to write these findings off as mere confirmation of the well-known fact that adolescents find everything boring. In fact, a huge proportion of the world’s high school students say that school is boring. But American high schools are even more boring than schools in nearly every other country, according to OECD surveys. And surveys of exchange students who have studied in America, as well as surveys of American adolescents who have studied abroad, confirm this. More than half of American high school students who have studied in another country agree that our schools are easier. Objectively, they are probably correct: American high school students spend far less time on schoolwork than their counterparts in the rest of the world.
Trends in achievement within the U.S. reveal just how bad our high schools are relative to our schools for younger students. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, routinely tests three age groups: 9-year-olds, 13-year-olds, and 17-year-olds. Over the past 40 years, reading scores rose by 6 percent among 9-year-olds and 3 percent among 13-year-olds. Math scores rose by 11 percent among 9-year-olds and 7 percent among 13-year-olds.
By contrast, high school students haven’t made any progress at all. Reading and math scores have remained flat among 17-year-olds, as have their scores on subject area tests in science, writing, geography, and history. And by absolute, rather than relative, standards, American high school students’ achievement is scandalous.
In other words, over the past 40 years, despite endless debates about curricula, testing, teacher training, teachers’ salaries, and performance standards, and despite billions of dollars invested in school reform, there has been no improvement–none–in the academic proficiency of American high school students.
It’s not just No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top that has failed our adolescents–it’s every single thing we have tried. The list of unsuccessful experiments is long and dispiriting. Charter high schools don’t perform any better than standard public high schools, at least with respect to student achievement. Students whose teachers “teach for America” don’t achieve any more than those whose teachers came out of conventional teacher certification programs. Once one accounts for differences in the family backgrounds of students who attend public and private high schools, there is no advantage to going to private school, either. Vouchers make no difference in student outcomes. No wonder school administrators and teachers from Atlanta to Chicago to my hometown of Philadelphia have been caught fudging data on student performance. It’s the only education strategy that consistently gets results.
The especially poor showing of high schools in America is perplexing. It has nothing to do with high schools having a more ethnically diverse population than elementary schools. In fact, elementary schools are more ethnically diverse than high schools, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Nor do high schools have more poor students. Elementary schools in America are more than twice as likely to be classified as “high-poverty” than secondary schools. Salaries are about the same for secondary and elementary school teachers. They have comparable years of education and similar years of experience. Student-teacher ratios are the same in our elementary and high schools. So are the amounts of time that students spend in the classroom. We don’t shortchange high schools financially either; American school districts actually spend a little more per capita on high school students than elementary school students.
Our high school classrooms are not understaffed, underfunded, or underutilized, by international standards. According to a 2013 OECD report, only Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland spend more per student. Contrary to widespread belief, American high school teachers’ salaries are comparable to those in most European and Asian countries, as are American class sizes and student-teacher ratios. And American high school students actually spend as many or more hours in the classroom each year than their counterparts in other developed countries.
This underachievement is costly: One-fifth of four-year college entrants and one-half of those entering community college need remedial education, at a cost of $3 billion each year.
The president’s call for expanding access to higher education by making college more affordable, while laudable on the face of it, is not going to solve our problem. The president and his education advisers have misdiagnosed things. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of college entry in the industrialized world. Yet it is tied for last in the rate of college completion. More than one-third of U.S. students who enter a full-time, two-year college program drop out just after one year, as do about one fifth of students who enter a four-year college. In other words, getting our adolescents to go to college isn’t the issue. It’s getting them to graduate.
If this is what we hope to accomplish, we need to rethink high school in America. It is true that providing high-quality preschool to all children is an important component of comprehensive education reform. But we can’t just do this, cross our fingers, and hope for the best. Early intervention is an investment, not an inoculation.
In recent years experts in early-child development have called for programs designed to strengthen children’s “non-cognitive” skills, pointing to research that demonstrates that later scholastic success hinges not only on conventional academic abilities but on capacities like self-control. Research on the determinants of success in adolescence and beyond has come to a similar conclusion: If we want our teenagers to thrive, we need to help them develop the non-cognitive traits it takes to complete a college degree–traits like determination, self-control, and grit. This means classes that really challenge students to work hard–something that fewer than one in six high school students report experiencing, according to Diploma to Nowhere, a 2008 report published by Strong American Schools. Unfortunately, our high schools demand so little of students that these essential capacities aren’t nurtured. As a consequence, many high school graduates, even those who have acquired the necessary academic skills to pursue college coursework, lack the wherewithal to persevere in college. Making college more affordable will not fix this problem, though we should do that too.
The good news is that advances in neuroscience are revealing adolescence to be a second period of heightened brain plasticity, not unlike the first few years of life. Even better, brain regions that are important for the development of essential non-cognitive skills are among the most malleable. And one of the most important contributors to their maturation is pushing individuals beyond their intellectual comfort zones.
It’s time for us to stop squandering this opportunity. Our kids will never rise to the challenge if the challenge doesn’t come.
Laurence Steinberg is a psychology professor at Temple University and author of the forthcoming Age of Opportunity: Revelations from the New Science of Adolescence.
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Will the Madison district sink or swim? April 4th elections could prove pivotal At the end of an especially divisive Madison school board meeting, Annette Montegomery took to the microphone and laid bare her frustrations with the seven elected citizens who govern Madison schools. “I don’t understand why it takes so long to get anything … Continue reading The fate of the schools
Scott Girard: In the midst of economic collapse, the Madison School Board is likely to decide in June or July whether to ask taxpayers for additional funds through November referenda. But most board members stated their support for putting both questions on the ballot during a discussion Monday night. Each of the seven board members … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum
Logan Wroge: Board members acknowledged the tough financial reality facing residents, but several members said the need to renovate aging school buildings and shore up the operating budget remains the same. “These are not things I think we should be putting off,” board member Ali Muldrow said during an online Operations Work Group meeting. “We … Continue reading Madison School Board Continues Fall 2020 referendum tax and spending increase plans
MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [May, 2020] 1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21 2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21 3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21 4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed … Continue reading Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020
Roger Koppl: If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you’re not paying attention to the experts. Epidemiologists tell us that if we do not hide in our houses with the door securely locked, hundreds of thousands will surely perish. Economists tell us that if we do not return immediately … Continue reading The fallen state of experts: How can governments learn from their expert failings?
George Stanley: You may have seen, in Alan Borsuk’s column Sunday, the latest testing results for eighth graders’ knowledge of American history and civics. Just 15% of students, about one in seven, are rated proficient in U.S. history and 24% in civics. These numbers come in a year when we’ve seen the president impeached by … Continue reading Disastrous K-12 Civics
Madison School Board: Meeting Objectives ● Understand Applicable Legal Statutes that pertain to School Boards ● Develop a planned strategy to successfully transition to a new leadership paradigm with the MMSD school board, superintendent, administration/staff, parents/guardians, and community creating a dynamic school community team. Legal notice and zoom link. Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent … Continue reading Madison School Board May Retreat
Scott Girard: The Cap Times submitted an open records request the morning of Jan. 17, the deadline for residents to submit feedback through an online form, asking for “any and all public feedback on the Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent finalists, submitted online or via forms at the public forums, as of 8 a.m. Friday, … Continue reading Resisting Open Records Requests at the taxpayer supported Madison School District
John McGinnis: The technology for teaching remotely had been nearly perfected by the time the coronavirus hit us. Zoom, an online networking service, has allowed me to call on a student in my administrative law class just as I could when I was in a physical classroom. While answering the question, the student then goes … Continue reading Failing Our Students in a Crisis
Abigail Becker: The state’s COVID-19 Relief Bill, which Gov. Tony Evers signed into law April 15, included provisions to help counties and municipalities defer property tax payments. This allows Dane County to adopt a resolution enabling municipalities to waive interest and penalties on 2020 property tax payments due after April 1 until Oct. 1. “Many in Dane County are … Continue reading A Reprieve for Madison Property Taxpayers (taxes up substantially)
David Blaska: All hail Chris Rickert and the Wisconsin State Journal for a bang-up job exposing the revolving-door criminal-justice system here in Dane County WI. “Trouble down a one-way street” deserves to be read, saved, and discussed as the basis for action before someone gets killed. Oh, wait, someone HAS been killed. (“Car thief jailed in deaths of … Continue reading NOW will Madison take teen car thieves seriously?
Dave Cieslewicz: There have been no cuts, furloughs or reduced hours for municipal workers in the City-County Building or anywhere else in city government yet. It’s time for local governments in Dane County to make some cuts in response to the economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus epidemic. And, unfortunately, to be meaningful they’ll also … Continue reading K-12 Tax, Spending & Referendum Climate: Freeze property taxes Local governments must consider cuts and furloughs too
Scott Girard: A survey with more than 550 signatures is calling for the Madison Metropolitan School District to offer the option of letter grades to high school students during virtual learning, but district officials are maintaining their plan for a “pass/no pass” system. The district announced it would use the “pass/no pass” grading system earlier in April to do … Continue reading Madison School District sticking to ‘pass/no pass’ for high schoolers during COVID-19 closure despite some calls for letter grade option
Scott Girard: The Greater Madison Writing Project was set to celebrate its 10-year anniversary on March 21. Ten days before that, the University of Wisconsin-Madison closed most of its facilities and social distancing practices went into effect amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, forcing GMWP to cancel its celebration and shift its work with teachers and students online. … Continue reading In lieu of celebration, Greater Madison Writing Project shifts online for 10th anniversary
Kelly Meyerhofer: The $476.1 million proposed spending package would increase property taxes by $46 for the owner of an average-value home in the district, now estimated at $311,500. Faced with an $8 million shortfall at the beginning of crafting the 2020-21 budget, district officials propose cutting nearly 50 staff positions and doubling the share employees … Continue reading Notes and Commentary on Madison’s Planned 2020-2021 K-12 Budget
Max Eden: This June, pandemic conditions permitting, Harvard University will host a conference—not open to the public—to discuss the purported dangers of homeschooling and strategies for legal reform. The co-organizer, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, believes that homeschooling should be banned, as it is “a realm of near-absolute parental power. . . . inconsistent with a … Continue reading Harvard vs. the Family: A scheduled academic conference confirms the suspicions of homeschooling parents.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALSFOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT, via a kind reader: “The recognition of a fundamental right is no small matter. This is particularly true when the right in question is something that the state must affirmatively provide. But just as this Court should not supplant the state’s policy judgments with its own, neither … Continue reading Detroit Literacy Lawsuit
Danny Westneat: The email to students from a Seattle high-school teacher Monday summed up the aimless mood in the city’s public schools. “Hello All, I hope you had a good spring break! (I’m not sure what we were breaking from),” the teacher wrote, sardonically. Also Monday — and maybe not coincidentally — the Seattle School … Continue reading ‘A’s for all’ is the most Seattle thing ever — and cover for the school district’s own poor marks
Chris Stewart: Public schools in New Mexico aren’t funding students equitably, so says the U.S. Department Education who accuse the state’s leaders of “diverting [$63 million] in federal Impact Aid grants” intended to help school districts that are disadvantaged by their low tax bases. The feds found that New Mexico wasn’t passing the “equity test,” … Continue reading K-12 “Equity Spending Test”; Difference in spending between public or charter school cannot exceed 25%…. (Madison exceeds that)
David Brooks: Over the past decades, a tide of “safetyism” has crept over American society. As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt put it in their book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” this is the mentality that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. The goal is to eliminate any stress or hardship a child … Continue reading The Era of Coddling is over
Erin O’Donnell: RAPIDLY INCREASING number of American families are opting out of sending their children to school, choosing instead to educate them at home. Homeschooled kids now account for roughly 3 percent to 4 percent of school-age children in the United States, a number equivalent to those attending charter schools, and larger than the number … Continue reading Anti-Homeschooling Rhetoric; “we know best”
Frederick M. Hess: A week after COVID-19 prompted the closure of Virginia’s schools, my five-year-old’s Montessori teacher started doing 30 minutes of Zoom with the class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. The content is nothing to write home about. The teacher reads a story, talks a bit about daffodils or frogs, and might celebrate a … Continue reading COVID-19 Took Away Public Education. Will We Miss It?
John Burtka: In historian Christopher Lasch’s book, The Culture of Narcissism, he describes how “the new ruling class of administrators, bureaucrats, technicians, and experts” that dominates public life possesses neither the old aristocratic virtues of priests and monarchs nor the virtues of natural aristocrats described by Jefferson and Röpke. A “new therapeutic culture of narcissism” instead … Continue reading How To Build A New Leadership Class
Brooke Binkowski: And this is what social media needs to do, now, today: Deplatform the proudly ignorant disinformers pushing snake oil and false hopes. Do so swiftly and mercilessly. They will whine about freedom of speech. They will cry about censorship. Let them. How can I be so cavalier about freedom of speech? I hear … Continue reading Free speech rhetoric, “we know best” and our long term, disastrous reading results
Logan Wroge: Gomez Schmidt’s victory also meant a loss for Madison Teachers Inc., which had endorsed Pearson. Gomez Schmidt had the backing of the current Seat 6 holder, Kate Toews, who decided not to seek reelection. In the other competitive race, though, the union-backed Vander Meulen earned a 20-percentage-point victory over Strong. Gomez Schmidt has … Continue reading Madison School Board winners differ on school-based police; only 1 had union support
Wisconsin institute of law & liberty: Further Empower Parents and School Leaders 1. Ensure accountability on schools – As stories appear that school districts are dropping the ball and failing to educate students, state policymakers must make it abundantly clear that school districts must use tax dollars to educate students. 2. Oversight of federal stimulus dollars – The federal CARES Act will … Continue reading Civics: Regulation and the tax base
Logan Wroge: As a member of the School Board, Gomez Schmidt, 48, is looking to prioritize the selection of a new, research-based reading curriculum for elementary students, building trust in the district with families, improving accountability and transparency, and effectively managing the budget. The 32-year-old Pearson had made finding ways to expand 4-year-old kindergarten to … Continue reading Christina Gomez Schmidt wins close Madison School Board contest; Nicki Vander Meulen reelected
Tom Fairless and Jason Douglas: When the crisis is over, “it will be very hard for any government not to increase spending on health,” and to fund new areas such as medical research and vaccine production, said Mr. Travers. A similar shift happened after the depravations of World War II, when countries like the U.K. … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Longer-Term Prospects of Coronavirus Response: Bigger State, Higher Taxes
Scott Girard: Staff began working on the new curriculum adoption last year, following a 2018 needs assessment that showed a “need for materials K-5 that have a structured phonics component, are standards aligned and are more culturally and linguistically responsive, historically accurate and inclusive,” according to Monday’s presentation. The steps since have included forming focus … Continue reading Madison School Board offers feedback on K-5 literacy plan
CJ Szafir and Libby Sobic: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act provides $2.2 trillion of relief for those impacted by COVID. Of this, CARES allocates about $30 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. Soon, Wisconsin will need to make decisions on how to spend the huge influx of federal funds on … Continue reading The CARES Act and Wisconsin’s K-12 Climate
Lauren Feiner: On March 6, New York City high school principal Matt Willie was already preparing for the worst. After watching a news report that said the city’s Department of Education was preparing to close public schools amid the coronavirus crisis, Willie texted his assistant principal: “Prepare for the apocalypse.” Willie said his school, University … Continue reading How NYC moved the country’s largest school district online during the coronavirus pandemic
Logan Wroge: Madison students will have flexibility in their virtual school day schedule, teachers will hold remote office hours, and assessments during online learning will not “harm” a students’ grades. After three weeks out of class following an order for all Wisconsin schools to close to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Madison … Continue reading Madison School District looks to make virtual learning flexible, no ‘harm’ to grades amid COVID-19 pandemic
No bid contracting by our taxpayer supported Madison School District: a $30,000 no-bid contract to “Burns/Van Fleet” for 25 days of services to help in the new superintendent transition. (The superintendent search contract to BWP Associates was $32,000 plus expenses.) The Mike Hertting memo on the item touts this outfit as having “over 50 years … Continue reading Madison’s No-Bid $30,000 Contract to Burns/Van Fleet (?)
On January 21, 2020, I sent this email to email@example.com Hi: I hope that you are well. I write to make an open records request for a list of invitees and participants in last week’s “community leader and stakeholder” meetings with the (Superintendent) candidates. Thank you and best wishes, Jim Hearing nothing, I wrote on … Continue reading Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates
Karin Chenoweth: In the words of the report, Montgomery County’s curriculum does “not include the necessary components to adequately address foundational skills.” If you’re not immersed in these issues, you might not recognize just how scathing this language is. Montgomery County fails to do what just about all cognitive scientists and most reading researchers agree … Continue reading As long as Montgomery County fails to teach children to read, it will have gaps
Scott Girard: Tuesday afternoon, he spent 15 minutes taking questions from the press and another 15 minutes answering questions from seven students at Glendale Elementary School, where the press conference was held. “There is some division in the community, so we’ve got to bridge that gap,” Gutiérrez said. “There is some division between the Doyle … Continue reading Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary
Logan Wroge: The Madison School Board signaled support Monday for a $317 million facilities referendum and a $33 million operating referendum, setting up the board to finalize the ballot questions later this month for the November election. With several options on the table, board members expressed broad support for a slightly larger facilities referendum that … Continue reading Madison School Board eyes $317M facilities referendum, $33M operating referendum
Conor Williams: Charter schools used to be a bipartisan education reform, but Democrats have turned against it of late. Many of their complaints are bad-faith projections—criticism for problems that aren’t unique to charters but endemic throughout the public education system. Take the objection that charters are an insufficiently transparent use of public dollars. In rolling … Continue reading The Misguided Progressive Attack on Charters
Scott Girard: Voters will have several opportunities this month to hear from candidates for Madison School Board beginning this weekend. The East Side Progressives will hold a forum Sunday, March 8, at Lake Edge Lutheran Church, 4032 Monona Drive. It’s the first of four forums currently planned for the month before the Tuesday, April 7, … Continue reading Madison School Board candidate forums begin this weekend, continue throughout March
NBC 15: Under a new pilot program the lowest grade students could get on assignments is 40 or 50 percent, not a zero. Studies show freshman year is the most important year in high school and Geoffrey D. Borman, UW-Madison Education Policy Professor, said it can make or break you. The modern A-F grading system … Continue reading Madison School District High School “Grade Flooring” continues….
Kelly Stuart & Gina Fugnitto: Dr. Louisa Moats: The body of work referred to as the “science of reading” is not an ideology, a philosophy, a political agenda, a one-size-fits-all approach, a program of instruction, nor a specific component of instruction. It is the emerging consensus from many related disciplines, based on literally thousands of … Continue reading A Conversation About the Science of Reading and Early Reading Instruction with Dr. Louisa Moats
Steven Elbow: The problem, some say, is that disparities impact a population that has little political or economic clout. And white people, who control the levers of commerce and government, address only pieces of an interconnected web of issues that include child development, education, economics and criminal justice. Brandi Grayson co-founded Young, Gifted and Black … Continue reading “The achievement rate has gotten worse. The failure rate of kids has gotten worse. We would keep thinking that we were solving the problem, the United Way and all of these organizations jump on it, but it doesn’t change a thing.”
Scott Girard: A Madison Metropolitan School District microschool for West High School students at risk of not graduating has shown improved attendance and credit achievement for its participants, according to a presentation to the School Board Monday. The microschool opened in November at the Taft Street Boys and Girls Club of Dane County location with 22 girls … Continue reading Madison West High’s microschool shows attendance, credit improvements for students
Kelly Meyerhofer: Baraboo School District officials said in court filings that police were contacted about the locker room note and that the district conducted a “thorough” investigation. They said students wearing inappropriate clothing are required to remove the items once staff is made aware. The district also said it now contracts with a company to … Continue reading ‘No school is perfect’: Student suing Baraboo district reflects on her ‘safer’ Madison school
Henry Sanders: This week, Henry welcomes Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes to talk about growing up on the North Side, hiring a new superintendent, the changing role of police in schools and more. Meanwhile: Outsourcing Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School District Governance (while spending more, for less). 2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer … Continue reading An interview with Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes
Kent Lassman, Daniel Turner: Regardless of the GND architects’ intentions, this paper examines the some of the major tradeoffs associated with taking significant portions of the GND seriously. What would it mean to actually implement significant portions of the proposal? Can we understand the effects at a household level in different regions of the country? … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: What the Green New Deal Could Cost a Typical Household
David Blaska: Governor Evers vetoed another middle class tax cut this week. The bill that passed with bipartisan support in the Assembly last week would have: • Reduced nearly $250 million in income taxes for middle and lower income levels by increasing the sliding scale standard deduction by 13.2% for each filer. This would have resulted … Continue reading Commentary on the growth of redistributed Wisconsin K-12 tax & spending
Billy Binion: This isn’t the first time that AOC has inadvertently made the case for school choice. At an October rally for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), she shared that her family left the Bronx for a house in Westchester county, so that she could attend a higher-quality school. “My family made a really … Continue reading Civics & K-12 Opportunity: AOC Admits She Got Her Goddaughter Into a Bronx Charter School
Jay Greene: Some researchers and journalists have become very excited about a new set of studies that claim to find a causal relationship between increasing school spending and improving student outcomes. These folks acknowledge that the vast majority of earlier research found no relationship between additional resources and stronger results, but that research was purely observational. Perhaps school systems … Continue reading The New “Causal” Research on School Spending is Not Causal
Scott Girard: A $35,000 contract not initially up for discussion at the Madison School Board meeting Monday night ended up the most hotly debated topic among board members. The contract with the city of Madison provides for up to $35,000 paid to the Madison Police Department in 2020 for officers to provide security, safety and crowd control … Continue reading $35K contract for police at school events turns into heated debate, protests Monday
Zeynep Tufekci: Authoritarian blindness is a perennial problem, especially in large countries like China with centralized, top-down administration. Indeed, Xi would not even be the first Chinese ruler to fall victim to the totality of his own power. On August 4, 1958, buoyed by reports pouring in from around the country of record grain, rice, … Continue reading “We know best”: Authoritarianism’s Fatal Flaw
Scott Girard: A letter signed by 13 black community leaders in Madison expresses concerns about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s hiring of Matthew Gutiérrez to be its next superintendent. The concerns include how much larger and more diverse MMSD is than Gutiérrez’s current Seguin Independent School District in Texas, student performance scores in Seguin and a “flawed, … Continue reading Black community leaders share concerns about Madison School District’s superintendent hire, call process ‘flawed, incomplete’
Patrick O’Donnell: High school students won’t have to be “proficient” in either math or English to graduate, under minimum required test scores proposed by State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria. They will just need to know enough to do the most basic of jobs. New high school graduation requirements passed this summer require most students to show … Continue reading Ohio graduates won’t have to be “proficient” in math or English, under state superintendent’s plan
Jon Levine: Good for me, but not for thee. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez managed to get her goddaughter into a Bronx charter school, according to a Facebook Live video she recorded in 2017 — before she was a public figure. “This area’s like a lot of where my family is from,” AOC says as she strolls … Continue reading The AOC Tapes: Rep says she got goddaughter into Bronx charter school
Scott Girard: The Madison Metropolitan and Monona Grove school districts are applying for a waiver from the state to continue an agreement that allows up to five MGSD students to attend Nuestro Mundo Charter School beginning with each kindergarten class. The state Department of Public Instruction informed the districts in December 2019 that the agreement, which … Continue reading Commentary on Open Enrollment, the rule of law and the taxpayer supported Madison School District
Oren Cass: 2/ Punchline: Popular perception is correct. In 1985, the typical male worker could cover a family of four’s major expenditures (housing, health care, transportation, education) on 30 weeks of salary. By 2018 it took 53 weeks. Which is a problem, there being 52 weeks in a year. Notes, links and some data on Madison’s … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Taxpayer Income, purchasing power and 2020 Madison Referendum climate
Ian Rowe: On March 18, 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama began an oration that Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic called a “searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech” and “the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime.” “‘We the people, in order to form a more perfect union,’” Obama began, quoting the … Continue reading The 1619 Project perpetuates the soft bigotry of low expectations
David N. Figlio, Cassandra M.D. Hart, Krzysztof Karbownik: Using a rich dataset that merges student-level school records with birth records, and a student fixed effect design, we explore how the massive scale-up of a Florida private school choice program affected public school students’ outcomes. Expansion of the program produced modestly larger benefits for students attending … Continue reading Effects of Scaling Up Private School Choice Programs on Public School Students
David Blaska: In a school district that is 18% black, 57% of students suspended from school the first semester of the current school year (2019-20) were African-American. White students, 43% of the student body, accounted for 11% of out-of-school suspensions. To school board member Ali Muldrow, the data showed more about school staff than about … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School District’s teacher climate