Considering Madison’s K-12 Enrollment Projections: 2009 and 2014; Dramatic Demographic Variation Persists

The Madison School District recently published a brief K-12 enrollment history (2010- PDF) along with a look at school capacities (PDF). Happily, a similar 2009 document is available here (PDF). This document includes 18 years of history, to 1990. Yet, the District and community have long tolerated wide variation in demographics across the schools. Tap … Continue reading Considering Madison’s K-12 Enrollment Projections: 2009 and 2014; Dramatic Demographic Variation Persists

K – 12 tax and spending climate: ongoing property tax increases and the “lost middle class”

Jim Tankersley: One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man … Continue reading K – 12 tax and spending climate: ongoing property tax increases and the “lost middle class”

Madison Schools Float 3.87% Property Tax Increase for the 2014-2015 $402,464,374 budget

Madison School District 600K PDF: July 1 Equalization Aid estimate was $4.8 million less than budget. Before any cost cutting, the November 2014 tax levy estimate would change from a 1.99% increase to a 3.86% increase. However, the November 2014 tax base estimate has also changed from a 0.0% increase to a 3.5% increase. This … Continue reading Madison Schools Float 3.87% Property Tax Increase for the 2014-2015 $402,464,374 budget

Madison’s Latest Superintendent, one year hence: Deja Vu?

My simple thoughts on Madison’s latest Superintendent, Jennifer Cheatham: How is the new Superintendent Doing? Our community faces several historic challenges: Despite spending double the national average per student, Madison’s reading results are a disaster. The Superintendent has been talking about this and there are indications that at least administrative attention to this urgent problem … Continue reading Madison’s Latest Superintendent, one year hence: Deja Vu?

Segregation Now: In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Nikole Hannah-Jones: Though James Dent could watch Central High School’s homecoming parade from the porch of his faded white bungalow, it had been years since he’d bothered. But last fall, Dent’s oldest granddaughter, D’Leisha, was vying for homecoming queen, and he knew she’d be poking up through the sunroof of her mother’s car, hand cupped … Continue reading Segregation Now: In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Current Madison Elementary School Boundaries…. & the School Board Election

Two Madison School Board candidates recently expressed opposition to boundary changes: Flores also said when students and parents walk to their schools, it fosters family connections and relationships between families and school faculty. “If (any) boundary changes obstruct from that, then I’m against that,” said Flores, who also said he supports asking voters for money … Continue reading Current Madison Elementary School Boundaries…. & the School Board Election

Madison Schools’ attendance area changes hard — but probably worth it

Chris Rickert:

One advantage to redrawing the lines is that it could delay the financial hit of having to build a new school. Some school officials are already talking referendum. Plus, with space available in the district, is there really any good reason any student should be forced to attend class in what was formerly a closet, as some at Sandburg Elementary do?
More troubling is the effect crowding could have on low-income students who, statistically at least, struggle academically and might benefit from better learning environments.
According to data collected by the Department of Public Instruction, 48.9 percent of Madison elementary students were considered “economically disadvantaged” last school year. For the five schools over capacity now, that percentage was 48.4.
But two of those schools are more affluent and are expected to see their enrollments drop below 100 percent capacity by 2018-19. Most of the seven schools expected to be over capacity in 2018-19 serve less affluent areas of Madison, and collectively, the seven had a student population that was 57.8 percent economically disadvantaged last year.



Madison has long supported a wide variation in school demographics. The chart above, created from 2013-2014 Madison School District middle school demographic data, illustrates the present reality, with the largest middle school – near west side Hamilton – also featuring the smallest percentage low income population.

Madison Schools Considers School Boundaries, Might Low Income Distribution be Addressed?

Molly Beck:

Board member T.J. Mertz said that sometime in the next six or seven months the board will begin a process of seriously looking at facilities issues, including whether to embark upon the contentious fix of changing any of the district’s school boundaries, among other solutions.
“In multiple areas we’re either at or will be very, very soon at or over capacity, and we continue to have schools that are fairly well under capacity,” Mertz said. “There’s going to have to be something done … and I’m of the get-started-with-this-sooner-rather-than-later school.”

Related: We have seen this movie before. 10 Reasons to Combine Lapham & Marquette.
The Myth of Public Schools



Madison has long supported a wide variation in school demographics. The chart above, created from 2013-2014 Madison School District middle school demographic data, illustrates the present reality, with the largest middle school – near west side Hamilton – also featuring the smallest percentage low income population.

The Myth of “Public” Schools

Matthew Yglesias:

This disturbing article about a rich neighborhood of Baton Rouge, La., that wants to secede so it won’t have to share school funding with poorer neighborhoods reminds me of one of my great frustrations with the K-12 education policy debate–the terminology of “public schools.”
The way the word is used a school is “public” if it is owned by a government entity and thus part of the public sector. But a public school is by no means a school that’s open to the public in the sense that anyone can go there. Here in the District of Columbia anyone who wants to wander into a public park is free to do so (that’s what makes it public) but to send your kid to a good “public” elementary school in Ward 3 you have to live there. And thanks to exclusionary zoning, in practice if you want to live in Ward 3 you have to be rich. It wouldn’t be legal to respond to the very high price of land in the area by building homes on small lots, or building tall buildings full of small affordable apartments.
Since D.C. doesn’t have Louisiana’s political culture, Ward 3 generally doesn’t have a problem with its tax dollars subsidizing the schools in Wards 5, 7, and 8, but if you proposed randomly assigning students to schools to produce integrated instructional environments, you’d have an epic battle on your hands.



Madison has long supported a wide variation in school demographics. The chart above, created from 2013-2014 Madison School District middle school demographic data, illustrates the present reality, with the largest middle school – near west side Hamilton – also featuring the smallest percentage low income population.

Notes and Links: President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visit Madison’s Wright Middle School (one of two Charter Schools in Madison).


Background

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Madison’s Wright Middle School Wednesday, November 4, 2009, purportedly to give an education speech. The visit may also be related to the 2010 Wisconsin Governor’s race. The Democrat party currently (as of 11/1/2009) has no major announced candidate. Wednesday’s event may include a formal candidacy announcement by Milwaukee Mayor, and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. UPDATE: Alexander Russo writes that the visit is indeed about Barrett and possible legislation to give the Milwaukee Mayor control of the schools.

Possible Participants:

Wright Principal Nancy Evans will surely attend. Former Principal Ed Holmes may attend as well. Holmes, currently Principal at West High has presided over a number of controversial iniatives, including the “Small Learning Community” implementation and several curriculum reduction initiatives (more here).
I’m certain that a number of local politicians will not miss the opportunity to be seen with the President. Retiring Democrat Governor Jim Doyle, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (Falk has run for Governor and Attorney General in the past) and Madison School Superintendent Dan Nerad are likely to be part of the event. Senator Russ Feingold’s seat is on the fall, 2010 ballot so I would not be surprised to see him at Wright Middle School as well.

Madison’s Charter Intransigence

Madison, still, has only two charter schools for its 24,295 students: Wright and Nuestro Mundo.
Wright resulted from the “Madison Middle School 2000” initiative. The District website has some background on Wright’s beginnings, but, as if on queue with respect to Charter schools, most of the links are broken (for comparison, here is a link to Houston’s Charter School Page). Local biotech behemoth Promega offered free land for Madison Middle School 2000 [PDF version of the District’s Promega Partnership webpage]. Unfortunately, this was turned down by the District, which built the current South Side Madison facility several years ago (some School Board members argued that the District needed to fulfill a community promise to build a school in the present location). Promega’s kind offer was taken up by Eagle School. [2001 Draft Wright Charter 60K PDF]

Wright & Neustro Mundo Background

Wright Middle School Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Madison Middle School 2000 Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Nuestro Mundo, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was established in response to the commitment of its founders to provide educational, cultural and social opportunities for Madison’s ever-expanding Latino community.” The dual immersion school lives because the community and several School Board members overcame District Administration opposition. Former Madison School Board member Ruth Robarts commented in 2005:

The Madison Board of Education rarely rejects the recommendations of Superintendent Rainwater. I recall only two times that we have explicitly rejected his views. One was the vote to authorize Nuestro Mundo Community School as a charter school. The other was when we gave the go-ahead for a new Wexford Ridge Community Center on the campus of Memorial High School.

Here’s how things happen when the superintendent opposes the Board’s proposed action.

Nuestro Mundo:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

The local school District Administration (and Teacher’s Union) intransigence on charter schools is illustrated by the death of two recent community charter initiatives: The Studio School and a proposed Nuestro Mundo Middle School.

About the Madison Public Schools

Those interested in a quick look at the state of Madison’s public schools should review Superintendent Dan Nerad’s proposed District performance measures. This document presents a wide variety of metrics on the District’s current performance, from advanced course “participation” to the percentage of students earning a “C” in all courses and suspension rates, among others.

Education Hot Topics

Finally, I hope President Obama mentions a number of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent hot topics, including:

This wonderful opportunity for Wright’s students will, perhaps be most interesting for the ramifications it may have on the adults in attendance. Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman recent Rotary speech alluded to school district’s conflicting emphasis on “adult employment” vs education.

Wisconsin State Test Score Comparisons: Madison Middle Schools:

WKCE Madison Middle School Comparison: Wright / Cherokee / Hamilton / Jefferson / O’Keefe / Sennett / Sherman / Spring Harbor / Whitehorse

About Madison:

UPDATE: How Do Students at Wright Compare to Their Peers at Other MMSD Middle Schools?

In Support of the November, 2008 Madison School District Referendum

Community and Schools Together:

We have a referendum!
Community and Schools Together (CAST) has been working to educate the public on the need to change the state finance system and support referendums that preserve and expand the good our schools do. We are eager to continue this work and help pass the referendum the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education approved on Monday, August 25, 2008.
“The support and interest from everyone has been great,” said Franklin and Wright parent and CAST member Thomas J. Mertz. “We’ve got a strong organization, lots of enthusiasm, and we’re ready to do everything we can to pass this referendum and move our schools beyond the painful annual cuts. Our community values education. It’s a good referendum and we are confident the community will support it.”
Community and Schools Together (CAST) strongly supports the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education’s decision to place a three-year recurring referendum on the November 4, 2008 ballot. This is the best way for the district to address the legislated structural deficit we will face over the next few years.

Much more on the November, 2008 Referendum here.

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

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

Thoreau Boundary Change Grassroots Work

Erin Weiss and Gina Hodgson (Thoreau PTO) engage in some impressive grassroots work: November 28, 2005 Dear Thoreau Families, Staff, Teachers and Friends, Now is the time for you to get involved in the MMSD redistricting process! This Thursday, December 1 at 6:30pm, a Public Forum will be held at Cherokee Middle School. This forum … Continue reading Thoreau Boundary Change Grassroots Work