James Howard not convinced discipline plan will end racial disparities in Madison schools

Pat Schneider:

Madison school board member James Howard is not convinced a proposed Student Conduct and Discipline Plan will end a pattern of suspending and expelling disproportionately high numbers of African-American students.
“It’s not clear to me that it will,” Howard says. “I could never vote for a code that does not address those disparities and disproportionalities.”
Howard, currently the school board’s sole African-American member, is leading the board committee overseeing the revamp of the discipline plan.
The plan includes a chart that matches up examples of student misconduct with appropriate responses from teachers and school administrators. If a student’s misbehavior escalates, the responses escalate as well. The stated goal of the plan is to give kids the “space to make mistakes, learn from them and receive support to make changes in their behavior.”
But Howard says research shows that adopting positive behavior support models, while reducing the total number of suspensions and expulsions, does little to erase racial disparities. And while the proposed plan spells out step-by-step responses to misconduct, Howard says he is not yet convinced that component will address the inconsistencies in enforcing discipline between schools and even within schools.

Madison school board candidates James Howard and Greg Packnett discuss charter schools, teacher evaluation

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
This week, we ask the candidates about charter schools, whether they’d like to see their expansion in the district, and if so, how they should operate within the district. Another question focuses on teacher evaluation, and how the candidates think it should be conducted with regards to student test scores.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board, here.

Madison school board candidates Greg Packnett and James Howard discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections here.

Madison school board candidates James Howard and Greg Packnett discuss why they are running, the achievement gap

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. We start by asking the candidates about their experience, and how they would address the achievement gap in the district.

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

School Board president James Howard faces challenger

Matthew DeFour:

Madison School Board president James Howard has drawn an opponent setting up the likelihood of three races for the spring election.
Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide, has filed paperwork to run for Howard’s seat. Howard has yet to file, but tells me he plans to do so by the Jan. 2 deadline.
Dean Loumos, executive director of low-income housing provider Housing Initiatives, and Wayne Strong, a retiring Madison police lieutenant, have filed to run for the seat being vacated by Beth Moss.
Adam Kassulke, a former Milwaukee teacher whose daughter attends Shabazz High School, and Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice coordinator with YWCA Madison and a Nuestro Mundo parent, have filed to run for the seat being vacated by Maya Cole.
One other update: State Rep. Kelda Roys and disability rights attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, who previously said they were thinking about running, have decided not to run.

Madison School Board President James Howard says parent engagement is key to black students’ success

Pat Schneider:

T: The assumption in the discussion of parent engagement and academic achievement is that it is African-American parents who are not engaged.
JH: I think that’s the reality of it. The question is: why aren’t they engaged? The latest survey we had showed that roughly 40 percent of African-American high school students were not engaged. Why? What happens to the kids? We seem to lose them over time, and we lose the parents.
CT: That’s a pernicious thing for black youth, isn’t it? Why do you think it’s happening?
JH: I think one of the things is that we need to create a culture in our schools that these kids can feel they are more a part of. For example, we don’t present “American” history — there’s a lot of African-American history that never makes it to the books. So, if we as a country, as a community, would depict the true picture and make them part of it, I think kids would remain engaged longer.

Related: An interview the Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus school.

James Howard: Board responsible for narrowing gap

Madison School Board President James Howard

Accountability for significantly narrowing the achievement gap must be at the top of the Madison School District agenda in 2012. How long should the current members of the School Board, Superintendant Dan Nerad, the administration and staff have to demonstrate gains in narrowing the gap?
In 2010 a five-year strategic plan was implemented with narrowing achievement gaps as the number one priority, and we are now starting to get results from the initiatives in the plan.
What will the level of accountability be for those of us who approved the plan? What will the level of accountability be for those of us who have responsibility for implementing the plan?
The question must be: Have we achieved the desired results or educational outcomes demanded by the taxpayers?

Test time for Madison school board candidates James Howard and Tom Farley

Lynn Welch:

Madison voters will soon be put to a test, perhaps one of the more important ones they’ve faced in recent years. On April 6, they’ll get to decide who will fill an open seat on the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education during its biggest financial crisis.
It’s apt, then, that the opposing candidates — James Howard and Tom Farley — also be put to the test. We gave them a series of essay questions on a range of pertinent topics, from how they’d cut the school budget to challenges they’ve faced with their own children in Madison schools.
Their answers, lightly edited for length and style, follow.
Isthmus: What are two specific programs you would suggest cutting or policies you would suggest changing due to ongoing budget challenges, and why?
Howard: In Wisconsin, for 17 years, since 1993, we have had a school funding plan that caps a school district’s annual revenue increase at 2.1%, although the actual cost to run a school district has averaged 4% during those years. Secondly, the state of Wisconsin is supposed to pay two-thirds of the cost of schools. This has never happened. So I’d suggest lifting the revenue caps and legislating complete state funding of public education.
Farley: Certainly, the state’s funding formulas and current economic cycles have had a major effect on this current budget crisis. However, budget challenges will be “ongoing” until the district addresses our own systemic issues. Policies regarding talented and gifted students should be based on national best practices. We should also address length of school year and school day, which are far too limiting and lag other countries.

James Howard Endorsed for the Madison School Board

The Capital Times:

Across decades of interviewing candidates for the Madison School Board, the members of The Capital Times editorial board have talked with dozens of able contenders — and a few not-so-able ones.
We have endorsed liberals and conservatives, friends and foes of the teachers union, veteran board members and newcomers — always in response to a basic question: Which candidate would make the most valuable contribution to the seven-member board that sets the direction for what has been, is and we hope will always remain one of the finest urban school districts in the nation?
With this history providing a sense of perspective, we can say without a doubt that we have rarely if ever encountered a first-time candidate as impressive as James Howard.

Wisconsin State Journal:

James Howard is best prepared for the challenging job of serving on the Madison School Board.
Voters should support him in the April 6 election.
Howard, 56, a research economist, says he’s trained and committed to analyzing data before making decisions. He’ll bring that strong trait to a School Board that has sometimes let emotion get the best of it.
A good example is the difficult issue of consolidating schools with low enrollments to save money during tight times. The School Board backed down from its smart vote in 2007 to consolidate elementary schools on the Near East Side.

Madison school board rivals Tom Farley and James Howard square off at forum

Lynn Welch:

Walking toward the audience wearing a dark blue suit and tie, James Howard explained that he doesn’t have all the answers to big issues facing Madison’s schools.
“I won’t stand here and tell you I know the best way. But we do have to make sure we protect learning,” said Howard, 56, a contender for Madison school board, at a candidate forum on Sunday. “$30 million is a heck of a deficit. Have you written you r congress people? We really need to come up with a different funding source.”
Tom Farley and James Howard are vying for school board Seat 4, being vacated by Johnny Winston. It is the only contested seat of three on the April 6 ballot.
Following a brief presentation from uncontested candidates Maya Cole and Beth Moss, Howard and Farley answered questions posed by forum organizers from Progressive Dane and submitted questions from an audience of about 50 at Wright Middle School. One key area of inquiry was how the candidates would go about solving an anticipated $30 million budget hole next year.

James Howard Announces Run for Madison School Board

via a kind reader’s email:

Hello, my name is James Howard.
I am running for School Board because I care about the success of our children. I want our schools to be even better. I strongly believe that in order for our community to be successful we need to support “ALL THE KIDS ALL THE TIME.”
At the same, I understand the importance of maintaining fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. As an economist with over 35 years of experience I know it is critical to analyze and evaluate the economic impact of decisions.

My Priorities

  • High expectations for all students
  • Raise educational standards
  • Narrow the achievement gap
  • Base school curriculum, wellness and safety decisions on research
  • Ensure fiscal responsibility to taxpayers
  • Improve communication between teachers, parents, district administrators and the community

Press Release:

–PRESS RELEASE–
Today James Howard officially announced his candidacy for the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education. Mr. Howard is a candidate for Seat 4 which is currently held by retiring Board member Johnny Winston, Jr.
“I’m announcing my candidacy with great excitement,” said Mr. Howard. “I care deeply about the success of our children. I strongly believe that in order for our community to have continued success we absolutely must support ‘ALL THE KIDS, ALL THE TIME.’ I want to work to ensure that happens.”
Mr. Howard, an economist and scientist at the Forest Products Laboratory, has been active in education and community matters for many years. He served on the MMSD Strategic Planning Committee, the East Attendance Area Demographics and Long Range Facility Needs Task Force, and was co-chair of Community and Schools Together (CAST), the school referendum support group. He has also served on the South Madison Economic Development Committee and the Town of Madison Economic Development Committee.
In making this announcement, Mr. Howard thanked Mr. Winston for his many years of dedicated public service to Madison’s children and community. “Mr. Johnny Winston, Jr. has been a leader on the board and in our Madison community. It will be a challenge for any newly elected board member to maintain the high standards that he exemplified,” said Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard has identified as his Board priorities: ensuring high expectations for all students, raising educational standards; narrowing the achievement gap; basing school curriculum, wellness and safety decisions on research; ensuring fiscal responsibility to taxpayers; improving communication between teachers, parents, district administrators and the community; and improving state funding of public schools.
He and his wife, Kathryn, have three children. His adult daughter is a UW Madison senior studying abroad in Kenya, his son attends Sherman Middle School, and his youngest daughter attends Emerson elementary.
More information on Mr. Howard can be found at his campaign website: http://jameshowardforschoolboard.limewebs.com/index.html
For questions or comments, please contact:
James Howard
email address: jameshowardforschoolboard@gmail.com
telephone number: 244-5278

Madison School Board Candidates Discuss Redistributed State Tax Dollars & Voucher Schools

Isthmus

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
For this fourth and final week of questions, we ask candidates to evaluate Gov. Scott Walker’s proposals for the Wisconsin’s 2013-15 budget, and consider how it would impact schools in the state. Along similar lines, we ask candidates to share their thoughts on the proposal to expand voucher schools in Wisconsin.

Wayne Strong and Dean Loumos (Isthmus) TJ Mertz (Isthmus).

Why can’t 21-year-olds in Madison get high school diplomas?

Jack Craver:

There’s no doubt about it. Madison is home to an embarrassing gap in achievement between white students and minority students, as well as between the well-to-do and the poor. In most discussions of the issue, the figure that is often used to convey the crisis is the dismal 50 percent graduation rate for African-American students.
That figure, however, represents only the percentage of students who graduate in four years of high school. It leaves out a critical mass of kids who take longer to obtain their diplomas, some through alternative programs.
“If we concentrate only on that number then all of the hard work that you’re doing is being ignored,” T.J. Mertz, a candidate for Madison School Board, told a group of students last week at Operation Fresh Start, a program in Madison that helps high school dropouts obtain their GED or high school equivalency diploma (which is slightly more comprehensive). Participants in the program, which is partnered with AmeriCorps, split their time between working on a job site (either building housing or engaging in conservation projects) and the classroom.
The organization had invited all five School Board candidates to discuss their plans for the district with the students, as well as to take questions from the young adults, who range in age from 16-24. The only candidate who did not attend was Greg Packnett, who is challenging School Board President James Howard.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison School Board Endorsements

Wisconsin State Journal:

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board interviewed — in person — 20 candidates for the City Council and four for Madison School Board. Every candidate deserves praise for giving voters a choice.
Yet the candidates pictured below are best prepared to tackle local challenges, including a dismal graduation rate for minority students and the need for a stronger economy and more jobs.
Seat 3
Wayne Strong will bring urgency to narrowing the achievement gap for minority students in Madison schools, while insisting on high standards for all. A father of two Madison graduates and an active community volunteer, Strong served on the strategic committee that prioritized the gap for action. Strong promises more accountability for results, starting with the new superintendent. He also wants to improve the school climate for minority families to encourage more involvement. A retired police officer, he’s well versed on effective strategies for reducing conflicts in schools that often lead to suspensions — “the genesis of the problem.” Strong’s opponent, Dean Loumos, is impressive, too. But Strong seems more willing to try new strategies for success.
Seat 4
James Howard likes to focus on school data to inform board decisions, rather than relying on assumptions or bowing to political pressure. The longtime economist and father of Madison students doesn’t go along to get along. Yet his peers elected him board president, and he played a big role in hiring incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Howard expects action toward better results for struggling students. He wants to hire more minority educators and let key staff work flexible hours to better engage parents. Unlike his opponent, Greg Packnett, Howard cites concern for the burden property taxes place on older homeowners. A legislative aide at the Capitol, Packnett shows promise. But Howard’s experience makes him the clear choice.

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

Commentary on the 2013 Madison School Board Races

John Nichols:

As The Capital Times prepares to make endorsements in Madison School Board races that will be decided April 2, our editorial board will ponder issues ranging from the reactions of candidates to Gov. Walker’s voucher plan, the achievement gap and the challenge of maintaining quality schools in a time of funding cuts and shortfalls.
Our editorial board will make endorsements in two contested races, for Seat 3 between former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, and for Seat 4 between incumbent James Howard and challenger Greg Packnett, a legislative aide. The candidates all have strengths, and present voters with distinct options.
In the third race, there isn’t really a race. Candidates TJ Mertz and Sarah Manski won the primary Feb. 19. Then Manski surprised the community by dropping out of the contest several days later — announcing that her husband has been admitted to graduate school in California and that she would not be able to finish a term. We didn’t editorialize about the primary race. But after Manski dropped out, we said she had done the right thing because it would have been entirely inappropriate to maintain a campaign for a term she could not complete. But, as a board, we were disappointed by the loss of competition and urged the candidate who finished third in the primary, Ananda Mirilli, to make a bid as a write-in contender.
Mirilli made a great impression during the primary race and, had she waged a write-in campaign, she would have done so as an innovative thinker about how best to make great public schools work for all students. As the parent of an elementary-school student and a big proponent of public education, I’m familiar with a number of the people who organized Mirilli’s primary campaign, and who would have supported a write-in run. They form an old-fashioned grass-roots group that recalls the sort of organizations that traditionally backed School Board candidates in Madison. They could have mounted a fine campaign. But I also respect Mirilli’s decision not to run. The race would have been expensive and difficult. We’ve spoken several times, before the primary and since, and I’m convinced Mirilli’s voice will remain a vital one in local and state education debates. There’s a good chance she will eventually join the School Board, just as current board member Marj Passman was elected a year after she lost a close race to another current School Board member, Maya Cole.
Unfortunately, with Mirilli out of the running, the Seat 5 race is an uncontested one. That’s focused a good deal of attention on Manski, who I’ve known since she was writing for the Daily Cardinal on the University of Wisconsin campus. Among the several boards I have served on over the years, including those of the media reform group Free Press and Women in Media and News, I’ve been on the board of the reform group Liberty Tree, for which Manski has done fundraising work. Manski’s husband, Ben, worked for Liberty Tree before he left to manage Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s presidential run.

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

The Madison School Board Elections; setting the record straight

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email

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

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

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

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

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

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

336K PDF Version
jpg version
Related Links:

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

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

Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes

Call me crazy, but I think a record of involvement in our schools is a prerequisite for a School Board member. Sitting at the Board table isn’t the place to be learning the names of our schools or our principals.
Wayne Strong, TJ Mertz and James Howard rise far above their opponents for those of us who value School Board members with a history of engagement in local educational issues and a demonstrated record of commitment to our Madison schools and the students we serve.

Notes and links on Ed Hughes and the 2013 Madison School Board election.
I’ve become a broken record vis a vis Madison’s disastrous reading results. The District has been largely operating on auto-pilot for decades. It is as if a 1940’s/1950’s model is sufficient. Spending increases annually (at lower rates in recent years – roughly $15k/student), yet Madison’s disastrous reading results continue, apace.
Four links for your consideration.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

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

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
3rd Grade Madison School District Reading Proficiency Data (“Achievement Gap Plan”)

The other useful stat buried in the materials is on the second page 3 (= 6th page), showing that the 3rd grade proficiency rate for black students on WKCE, converted to NAEP-scale proficiency, is 6.8%, with the accountability plan targeting this percentage to increase to 23% over one school year. Not sure how this happens when the proficiency rate (by any measure) has been decreasing year over year for quite some time. Because the new DPI school report cards don’t present data on an aggregated basis district-wide nor disaggregated by income and ethnicity by grade level, the stats in the MMSD report are very useful, if one reads the fine print.

Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
How many School Board elections, meetings, votes have taken place since 2005 (a number of candidates were elected unopposed)? How many Superintendents have been hired, retired or moved? Yet, the core structure remains. This, in my view is why we have seen the move to a more diffused governance model in many communities with charters, vouchers and online options.
Change is surely coming. Ideally, Madison should drive this rather than State or Federal requirements. I suspect it will be the latter, in the end, that opens up our monolithic, we know best approach to public education.

Madison Prep tension carries over into School Board races

Jack Craver:

Tension over Madison Prep, a controversial charter school proposal that the Madison School Board rejected in December 2011, appears to linger in this year’s races for School Board. Some wonder if the racial tensions that the school, which was geared toward minority students, have now provoked a backlash against African-American candidates running for office.
In one of the contests, School Board President James Howard, who was one of two board members to vote in favor of establishing Madison Prep as a “non-instrumentality” school, meaning it would operate separately from the school district and employ non-district and non-unionized staff, is facing an opponent who entered the race in large part to oppose such projects.
“We should be looking for solutions within our public schools, not giving away taxpayer dollars to unaccountable, non-instrumental charter schools,” says Greg Packnett, who works as a legislative aide to state Reps. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, and Penny Bernard-Schaber, D-Appleton, and is active in local Democratic politics.
Howard, in a recent interview with the Cap Times editorial board, suggested that Packnett was recruited to run by the Dane County Democrats (Packnett sits on the executive board and has received the group’s endorsement) and others unhappy with Howard’s vote on Madison Prep and threatened by his strong advocacy for hiring more minority teachers and staff.
“In the debates, those are the two things that always come up — Madison Prep and diversity hiring. I’m being challenged on my views on diversity hiring and I’m not retreating on that,” he said.
Howard pins much of the blame on the Democratic Party of Dane County. He says he is puzzled by the involvement by a partisan group in what is officially a nonpartisan race, as well as the involvement of a county organization, whose membership includes people from outside of Madison, in a city race.

Much more on “>the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school, here.

Madison School Board could shake things up, in a good way

Chris Rickert:

Five years ago, people were praising newly named Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad as a paragon of listening skills and inclusiveness — a trained social worker who seemingly never burned a bridge in his life.
By contrast, Milton, the current superintendent at the Springfield (Ill.) school district, and Chicago School District administrator Jennifer Cheatham seem willing to upset the apple cart if they think it will help students.
School Board president James Howard told me the board’s focus was not to find candidates who would shake things up because, overall, Madison remains a quality district that doesn’t need a whole lot of shaking.
Rather “the issue” — or, as he later clarified, one the most important issues — “is one thing: the achievement gap.”
And the board certainly wanted to know if candidates had “the kind of will to make the kind of changes” to tackle that problem, he said. “To demonstrate success, you have to be from a district that has some diversity.”

Much more on the Madison School District’s latest Superintendent search, here.

Madison Superintendent Candidate Roundup: It Seems Unlikely that One Person will Drive Significant Change

Amy Barrilleaux:

After paying an Iowa-based headhunting firm $30,975 to develop a candidate profile and launch a three-month nationwide recruitment effort, and after screening 65 applications, the Madison school board has narrowed its superintendent search down to two finalists. Dr. Jenifer Cheatham is chief of instruction for Chicago Public Schools, and Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., is superintendent of Springfield Public Schools in Illinois.
Parents and community members will get a chance to meet both finalists at a forum at Monona Terrace starting at 5:45 p.m. Thursday night. But despite the exhaustive and expensive search, the finalists aren’t without flaws.
Cheatham was appointed to her current post as chief of instruction in June of 2011 by Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, who has since resigned. According to her Chicago district bio, Cheatham’s focus is improving urban school districts by “developing instructional alignment and coherence at every level of a school system aimed at achieving breakthrough results in student learning.” Cheatham received a master’s and doctorate in education from Harvard and began her career as an 8th grade English teacher. But she found herself in a harsh spotlight as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and district officials pushed for a contentious 7.5 hour school day last year, which became one of many big issues that led to the Chicago teachers strike in September.
“It was handled horribly in terms of how it was rolled out,” says Chicago attorney Matt Farmer, who also blogs about Chicago school issues for The Huffington Post.
Farmer says pressure was mounting last spring for the district to explain how the longer day would work and how it would be paid for. Cheatham was sent to a community meeting he attended on the city’s south side to explain the district’s position.

Some of candidate Walter Milton Jr.’s history a surprise to School Board president

Madison School Board president James Howard said Monday he wasn’t aware of some of the controversial aspects of Walter Milton Jr.’s history until after the board named him a finalist to be Madison’s next superintendent.
Prior to becoming superintendent in Springfield, Ill., Milton was criticized for hiring without a background check a colleague who had been convicted of child molestation in Georgia. The colleague, Julius B. Anthony, was forced to resign from a $110,000 job in Flint, Mich., after a background check uncovered the case, according to the Springfield State Journal-Register.
Milton and Anthony were former business partners and worked together in Fallsburg, N.Y., where Milton was superintendent before moving to Flint, according to news reports.

Steven Verburg: Jennifer Cheatham fought for big changes in Chicago schools:

Jennifer Cheatham will be the third person in the last two years from our administration who I’ve been a reference for who has taken over a fairly significant school district,” Vitale said. “Chicago is a pretty good breeding place for leaders.”

Matthew DeFour:

A Springfield School District spokesman said Milton is declining interviews until a community forum in Madison on Thursday.
Prior to Fallsburg, Milton was a teacher and principal in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. He received a bachelor’s degree in African history and African-American studies from Albany State University, a master’s degree in education from the State University of New York College at Brockport and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Buffalo.
Milton’s contract in Springfield expires at the end of the 2013-14 school year. His current salary is $220,000 plus about $71,000 in benefits.

School Board members want a superintendent with vision, passion and a thick hide

Madison School Board member Marj Passman says she was looking for superintendent candidates who have had experience working in contentious communities. “That’s important, considering what we’ve gone through here,” she told me Monday.
And what Madison schools are going through now.
The Madison Metropolitan School District had scarcely released the names of the two finalist candidates — Jennifer Cheatham, a top administrator in the Chicago Public School System and Walter Milton Jr., superintendent of the schools in Springfield, Ill. — before the online background checks began and comments questioning the competency of the candidates were posted. So the new Madison superintendent has to be someone who can stand up to public scrutiny, Passman reasoned.
And the issues that provoked the combative debate of the last couple of years — a race-based achievement gap and charter school proposal meant to address it that proved so divisive that former Superintendent Dan Nerad left the district — remain unresolved.
So, Passman figured, any new superintendent would need experience working with diverse student populations. Both Cheatham and Milton fit that bill, Passman says.

What are the odds that the traditional governance approach will substantively address Madison’s number one, long term challenge? Reading….
Much more on the latest Madison Superintendent search, here along with a history of Madison Superintendent experiences, here.

Participation slump may force end of dual-language program at Madison’s Chavez Elementary

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School District may discontinue its dual-language immersion program at Chavez Elementary because of a lack of Spanish-speaking families interested in the program.
Superintendent Jane Belmore said Thursday the district is reviewing several options and no decisions have been made. Other district schools that offer dual-language classes, which provide instruction to native and non-native English speakers in a mix of Spanish and English, are not affected, she said.
“It’s a problem that we haven’t had in other attendance areas because we’ve always had enough Spanish speakers,” Belmore said. “To really have a thriving program, you need half and half.”
School Board president James Howard said the board already plans to review the program in coming months because of a shortage of Spanish-speaking teachers.
“We just need to step back and have a conversation about where the program is and where it’s headed,” Howard said. “Do we need to slow down a bit?”
The district’s program started at the Nuestro Mundo charter school in 2004. It has since expanded to Chavez, Glendale, Leopold, Midvale and Sandburg elementaries and Sennett Middle School, with plans to expand it to Lincoln Elementary and Cherokee, Sherman and Toki middle schools.

2013 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and Madison School Board Candidates

Patrick Marley & Erin Richards:

“I’ve been frustrated with the fact that our educational system continues to go downhill even with all the money the Legislature puts into it,” he said.
Pridemore said he will release more details about his educational agenda in forthcoming policy statements and has several education bills in the drafting phase. Asked if he believed schools should have armed teachers, he said that was a matter that should be left entirely to local school boards to decide.
Evers, who has been school superintendent since 2009, is seeking a second term. He has previously served as a teacher, principal, local school superintendent and deputy state schools superintendent.
Wisconsin’s education landscape has undergone some major changes during his tenure, including significant reductions in school spending and limits on collective bargaining for public workers that weakened teachers unions, which have supported Evers in the past.
Evers wants to redesign the funding formula that determines aid for each of Wisconsin’s 424 school districts and to provide more aid to schools. Also, he wants to reinvigorate technical education and to require all high schools to administer a new suite of tests that would offer a better way to track students’ academic progress and preparation for the ACT college admissions exam.

Don Pridemore links: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming. Incumbent Tony Evers: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming.
Matthew DeFour:

School Board president James Howard, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, faces a challenge from Greg Packnett, a legislative aide active with the local Democratic Party. The seats are officially nonpartisan.
Two candidates, low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and recently retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, are vying for Moss’ seat.
The race for Cole’s seat will include a primary on Feb. 19, the first one for a Madison School Board seat in six years. The candidates are Sarah Manski, a Green Party political activist who runs a website that encourages buying local; Ananda Mirilli, social justice coordinator for the YWCA who has a student at Nuestro Mundo Community School; and T.J. Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and local education blogger whose children attend West High and Randall Elementary schools.

Education forum shows divide persists over Madison’s achievement gap strategy

Pat Schneider:

But divisions over strategy, wrapped in ideology, loom as large as ever. The mere mention that the education forum and summit were on tap drew online comments about the connection of school reformers to the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that generates model legislation for conservative causes.
Conspiracy theorists, opponents retorted.
Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey walked out early from the fundraising luncheon because he didn’t like what Canada and Legend were saying about the possibility of reform hinging on the ability to fire ineffective teachers.
Thomas J. Mertz, a parent and college instructor who blogs on education issues, expressed in a phone interview Friday his indignation over “flying in outside agitators who have spent no time in our schools and telling us what our problems are.”
Mertz said he also was concerned by the involvement of the Madison School District with events delivering anti-union, anti-public education, pro-charter school messages. The school district, for its part, took pains to say that the $5,000 it donated in staff time was for a Friday workshop session and that it had no involvement with the appearances by Canada and Legend.
Madison doesn’t need a summit to whip up excitement over the achievement gap issue, Mertz said when I asked if the Urban League events didn’t at least accomplish that. “It’s at the point where there’s more heat than light,” he said. “There’s all this agitation, but the work is being neglected.”
That’s a charge that School Board President James Howard, who says that the district might decide to mimic some of the practices presented at the summit, flatly denies. “We’re moving full speed ahead,” he said.
….
Caire told me that the school district and teachers union aren’t ready to give up their control over the school system. “The teachers union should be the entity that embraces change. The resources they get from the public should be used for the children’s advantage. What we’re saying is, ‘Be flexible, look at that contract and see how you can do what works.'”
Madison Teachers Inc. head John Matthews responded in an email to me that MTI contracts often include proposals aimed at improving education, in the best interests of students. “What Mr. Caire apparently objects to is that the contract provides those whom MTI represents due process and social justice, workplace justice that all employees deserve.”
If Caire has his way, Madison — and the state — are up for another round of debate over how radically to change education infrastructure to boost achievement of students of color.

More here and here.

What Can I Do NOW to Support My Union and Save My Job?

Madison Teachers, Inc. via a kind Linda Doeseckle email (PDF)

We know all too well the many changes that have occurred since Scott Walker became Governor and, aided by big corporate money, anti-worker lobbyists and a right-wing legislature, destroyed Wisconsin’s public sector collective bargaining and what it has produced for workers and their families. Many MTI members worked tirelessly on the protests, elections, recalls, recounts and numerous forms of organizing when the troubles began almost two years ago.
Where do we go from here? While the fall elections are behind us, we must gear up for the next round; the spring of 2013. We need to rebalance the State Supreme Court, and we need to again make our voices heard by electing employee – friendly Board of Education (BOE) members. Three seats are up for election this spring: Seat 4, currently held by BOE president James Howard; Seat 3, currently held by Beth Moss (who has indicated that she will not run for re-election); and Seat 5, currently held by Maya Cole.
MTI members need to remain attentive, educated, and ready to act on all matters that affect their jobs and well-being. It was only a short time ago that the District began work on an employee handbook that DID NOT include any input from their own employees; fortunately, MTI got an opportunity, due to Judge Juan Colas finding Act 10 unconstitutional in several parts, to call for an additional year of collective bargaining, and the employee handbook has been shelved for now. With immediate and strong support, MTI members gave Board members a quick reminder that District staff demands a voice in the work they do and how they do it.
There are many forces within the District, the current Governor’s office, and other political and big corporations that will continue in their attempts to weaken the worker’s voice. MTI encourages members to attend Board of Education meetings to keep a watchful eye on what they’re doing and the direction they’re going. The Board meets in its various subcommittees almost every Monday night. Unlike the past, current Board committees discuss issues and make decisions by the time they meet as a full Board at the end of each month. Anyone may register to speak at any Board meeting, and Board members are listening to MTI members. Information on all Board meetings can be found easily – Google “mmsd boe” or go to the MTI website and scroll down the right hand column to “other links” and choose “MMSD BOE Info. Station”. Meetings will also be posted in each week’s MTI Solidarity! newsletter. Protect yourself by staying current, attending BOE meetings, and sharing information with your union brothers and sisters.

Wanted: More school board candidates

The Wisconsin State Journal

Local school boards prioritize spending and programs, hire top staff and help shape curriculums. They set long-term goals and schedule building referendums.
Too many school board races go uncontested. And a big reason for the lack of competition is simple: Being a school board member is a difficult, time-consuming and in many ways thankless job.
Yet strong school leadership is crucial to the success of your city, village or town.
Four candidates competed for two Madison School Board seats last spring. It wasn’t just an opportunity to pick leaders for the local district. It was a chance to have a high-profile conversation about how our schools and students are doing — and what they need to do better.

Three Madison school board seats will be on the Spring, 2013 ballot. Beth Moss recently announced that she does not plan to seek re-election during the spring, 2013 contest. James Howard is running. Maya Cole, according to Matthew DeFour’s article will decide after Thanksgiving if she plans to seek re-election.

On Madison School District Administrator Accuracy & Accountability

TJ Mertz:

Or who should be held accountable for the accountability design work being done by MMSD? These aren’t easy questions. Accountability is confusing, maybe not as confusing as the Abbott and Costello routine, but confusing (who should or should not be held accountable for the results of accountability measures is even more confusing….add teachers, families, the economy, inequality, …. to the list below). The chain of accountability goes from the voters who elect Board Members, to the Superintendent who the Board hires, fires and evaluates, to the administrators the Superintendent hires (with the consent of the Board, but for better or worse this has been a rubber stamp consent), supervises and evaluates. It also loops back to the Board, because they are responsible for making sure administrators have the resources they need to do good work, but this chain continues back to the Superintendent and the administrators who prepare draft budgets and should communicate their needs and capacities to the Board. The Superintendent is the bottleneck in this chain each time it loops around because the the MMSD Board has almost entirely limited their action in evaluation, hiring and firing to the Superintendent. Right now MMSD has an Interim Superintendent, so evaluation, hiring and firing is moot and the key link in the chain is broken. Like I said, confused.
What is clear is that the only lever of accountability community members hold is their vote in school elections. Three seats are up in April (Board President James Howard has announced his intent to run for re-election; Maya Cole and Beth Moss have not publicly stated their plans).
…………
Mary Burke noted that the left hand and the right hand didn’t appear to be coordinating. To be more specific, she pointed out that on page 15 (of the pdf) there is a chart with the stated goal “95% of all 11th graders will take the ACT in 2012-13,” but chart itself shows annual incremental increases, culminating at 95% for all groups in 2016-17. It was long ago decided that all students would take the ACT in 2012-13, whoever prepared the left part of the chart knew this, but whoever did the increments on the right did not (and apparently didn’t read the left part). Here it is:

This is not the first time administrative accountability issues have been raised.
It would certainly be a new day in the Madison schools should radical governance change arrive via school board elections.

Urban League eyes new after-school program aimed at boosting achievement

Matthew DeFour:

Urban League President Kaleem Caire said the Urban League Scholars Academy shouldn’t be viewed as a repackaged version of Madison Preparatory Academy.
“We believe in the strategies of Madison Prep, but we’re trying to invoke change among our students in the schools,” Caire said. “This gives us an opportunity to do that.”
School Board President James Howard said a majority of the School Board supports the program, though questions have been raised about why board approval isn’t required and why the proposal flew under the radar for months while the district developed a separate plan to raise student achievement.
“This is not a huge program, and it does not require any taxpayer funding,” Howard said. “It’s one thing if we were asking for taxpayer dollars. Then you would need to inform the public more so.”

Madison’s RE: Achievement Gap Plan – Accountability Plans and Progress Indicators

Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore:

3. It was moved by James Howard and seconded by Beth Moss that the pending motion to approve the preliminary 2012-2013 School District budget be amended to include specific accountability measures for all reading intervention programs receiving funding pursuant to 2012-2013 budget allocations. Specifically, in order for any reading intervention program being funded during the 2012-2013 school year to receive continued and/or increased funding in future budgets, each intervention must:
a. By November 15, 2012, submit to the Board of Education, proposed progress indicators for improved student achievement for students of color.
b. Progress indicators will be defined on a yearly basis for a minimum of 5 years and compared to the initial year of 2011-12.
c. Progress indicators will be broken down by African-American, Hispanic, special education and other non-White students affected by the program.
d. Progress indicators will include not only student achievement measures but also number of students included.
e. Data for each progress indicator will be required before continued or additional funding is approved.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.

Madison school taxpayers on the hook for stays at four-star hotels

MD Kittle:

In total, district employees racked up $44,723 worth of hotel bills and $10,036 worth of restaurant bills in last year, according to EAGnews, which reviewed district credit card statements and check registers.
On the spending list:
$15,474.22 charged at Hyatt Hotels in Chicago on July 13, 2011.
$3,133.55 at the Sheraton NY Hotel and Towers on Jan. 6, 2011.
$4,736 in charges at Hotel 71 in downtown Chicago on Dec. 19, 2011
Two transactions -each worth $288.96 – were made at the Rio Suites in Las Vegas on April 27, 2011.
$223.57 in charges at the Heidel House Resort and Spa on June 23. There was another charge of $756.64 at the same resort six days later.
The spending occurred as Madison Metro and its teachers stressed over apparent deep cuts in state aid and the implementation of Act 10, the law, led by Gov. Scott Walker, that gutted collective bargaining for most public employees.
James Howard, president of the Madison Metropolitan School Board, told Wisconsin Reporter the nearly $55,000 in credit card charges for hotels and restaurants represent a fraction of the district’s approximately $376 million budget. The board, Howard said, thought the expenditures were “reasonable.”
“The real question is for us, do we have procedures in place, checks and balances to make sure we don’t have unreasonable expenses in this area?” he said, noting the board is considering that question as the result of EAG’s investigation.
It boils down to simple economics, Howard said.

Related: 2012-2013 Madison school district $376,200,000 ($15,132 for each of its 24,861 students) budget notes and links.

Madison School Board & Employee Handbook

Madison Teachers’, Inc. 46K PDF, via a kind Jeanie Bettner email:

Not only did Governor Walker’s Act 10 strip from the Madison Metropolitan School District the ability to engage in collective bargaining regarding wages, benefits and working conditions, but it gave full authority to the Board to unilaterally create a “replacement document”, the Employee Handbook.
At last week’s Board of Education meeting, MTI Executive Director John Matthews delivered a letter to the Board in which, after acknowledging the negative impact of Act 10, he told the Board that Act 10 DID NOT take away the Board’s ability to engage in conversation with representatives of MTI about the subjects to which the parties had previously agreed in bargaining, as well as any other topics. Board President James Howard called Matthews to tell him that the Board’s process is still being developed and offered to meet with Matthews after the Board next meets about the Handbook.
MTI has developed a process for Handbook development for which MTI has asked to present that to the Board of Education. MTI’s proposed process includes a recommendation that those elected by the members of MTI’s various bargaining units be appointed to the BOE’s Handbook Committee. This will assure both elected representation and input from all employee groups.
Matthews told Board of Education members about the discussions he and representatives of the AFSCME, Firefighters and Police Unions have been having with Mayor Soglin, County Executive Parisi and Supt. Nerad about the need to maintain positive employment relations, particularly relative to the development of the Handbook. Unfortunately, this effort at creating goodwill hit a bump in the road by former Supt. Nerad’s failure to inform Interim Supt. Belmore. Working together to solve issues is the Madison way.

Madison School District Teacher Handbook Plateau Bargaining

Matthew DeFour

More than 40 members of Madison Teachers Inc. attended Tuesday’s board meeting, and executive director John Matthews delivered a letter reminding the board that changes in state law “did not take away the board’s ability to engage in conversation about” benefits and work rules.
Board vice president Marj Passman said she preferred a process where management and employees work out their differences.
“I don’t care what the governor wants,” Passman said. “I’d like to go back to the two equal body process.”
Board member Arlene Silveira said several districts included teachers on the committees that developed their handbooks and “having staff input right upfront prevents difficult ways of getting there.” She also suggested having a board member present at each meeting.
Prior to the meeting, School Board President James Howard said the work group is for administrators so it doesn’t need to include teachers. There will be other advisory groups that will include their input, he said.

Clusty Search: Plateau Bargaining.
Karen Vieth

“The kids are delighted to be back at school,” James Howard said as he addressed the Board and numerous spectators at tonight’s Board of Education Workshop. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement, while they anxiously awaited the real topic of conversation. This would be the Board’s first public conversation on the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Employee Handbook, a handbook that would replace more than sixty years of collective bargaining.
As Howard spoke, I surveyed the crowd that had gathered in the McDaniels Auditorium at the Doyle Administration Building. Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) members stood out in their red, Union T-shirts. They made up more than half of the audience. The AFSCME members were dressed in green, representing custodial, maintenance and food service workers in the district. MMSD administrators, community members and a County Board member were also present.

TJ Mertz:

There was some Pollyannaish talk that the “Guiding Principles” in the process document — especially the first two “1. Improve student learning. As in everything we do, the first question and the top priority is student learning. How does what we are considering impact students? 2. Empower staff to do their best work. How does this impact teachers and staff? Does it help or hinder them in doing their jobs effectively?” — would be sufficient (a little more below on this), but there seemed to be a consensus that at very least the committee should present some options to the Board. That’s another reason to have an inclusive committee; to get better options.
A quick aside on the “Guiding Principals” and related thoughts and then back to the Board’s role. It is all well and good to say that student learning is or should be primary in just about everything, but it is also false and serves to marginalize staff. I’ve long said that the interests of teachers align with the interests of students and the district by about 95% and yes “student learning” is the prime interest. But staff are adults, with mortgages, families to support, loans to pay, relationships to cultivate and maintain, …They are not and should not be people who put student learning above the their own well being. To even contemplate that they should be is disrespectful. That’s why we hear the “All about the students” meme from the anti-teacher/anti-union reform crowd. It sound good, but it is wrong. Think about it, did the people negotiating a contract on behalf of Interim Superintendent Belmore put “student learning at the top of their list? Of course not, and they shouldn’t have.

“Unexpected” $12,000,000 2012-2013 Increase in Madison’s Redistributed State of Wisconsin Tax Dollars

Matthew DeFour:

The 25.4 percent increase — from $43.3 million to $54.3 million — is the fifth-largest percent increase among the state’s 424 districts and by far the largest dollar amount increase.
Madison’s increase accounts for more than half of the $21.1 million increase in state aid for districts next school year.
School Board President James Howard said the development was good news, though he wouldn’t speculate whether the board would keep current spending levels or increase the preliminary $376.2 million budget when it takes up final approval of the tax levy in October.
…..
Howard, who was the only board member who voted against the preliminary budget, said he questions why the district was so far off in its state aid estimate, adding “there has always been discussion about why do we need to approve budgets so early.”

Related: Notes and links on Madison’s 2012-2013 $374,700,000 budget.

Madison School Board Members 2012-2013 “Budget Amendments”

It is interesting to compare and contrast Board member amendments to the Administration’s proposed 2012-2013 Madison School District budget. The 2011-2012 budget spent $369,394,753 for 24,861 students or $14,858.40 each.
Mary Burke: Require Accountability for All Achievement Gap Programs.
Maya Cole offers 11 amendments, the first seeks to address the District’s literacy problems. Cole’s amendment 6 questions the Administration’s use of WPS health care savings (“general fund”).
James Howard seeks a student data analysis assistant and the implementation of a parent university.
Ed Hughes offers 3 amendments, the first seeks to moderate proposed administrative staffing growth, the 2nd requests $3,000,000 in additional maintenance spending (500K less than the Administrative proposal) and a change (reduction) in the use of the District’s reserves (or “fund equity“). Mr. Hughes’ amendments would result in a 5.7% property tax increase. Related: controversy and a possible audit over past maintenance spending.
Beth Moss requests additional middle school media library staffing and increased funding for the middle school Avid program. Much more on the AVID program, here.
Marj Passman requests the introduction of a credit recovery program at East High School (the other high schools evidently have in-house programs) and the creation of a “Department of African American achievement”.
Arlene Silveira requests $75K for the Superintendent Search and a possible interim candidate, a dropout recovery program, a Toki Middle School “Expeditionary Learning Program” and the creation of an implementation plan for all achievement gap programs. Notes and links on Toki middle school and the “Expeditionary Learning Program“.
Somewhat related: Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”
I continue to wonder if all schools are held to the same academic and financial standards expressed during the debate and rejection of the proposed the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school?

Madison School District Strategic Plan Update

Madison School District 600K PDF:.
I recently attended the third annual update to the 2009 Madison School District Strategic Plan. You can follow the process via these notes and links.
I thought it might be useful to share a few observations on our local public schools during this process:

  • General public interest in the schools continues to be the exception, rather than the norm.
  • I sense that the District is more open to discussing substantive issues such as reading, math and overall achievement during the past few years. However, it does not appear to have translated into the required tough decision making regarding non-performing programs and curriculum.
  • MTI President Kerry Motoviloff recent statement that the District administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”.
  • Full teacher Infinite Campus use remains a goal, despite spending millions of dollars, money which could have gone elsewhere given the limited implementation. Unfortunately, this is a huge missed opportunity. Complete course syllabus, assignment and gradebook information would be a powerful tool when evaluating achievement issues.
  • The implementation of “standards based report cards” further derailed the Infinite Campus spending/implementation. This is an example of spending money (and time – consider the opportunity cost) on programs that are actually in conflict.
  • The District continues to use the oft criticized and very low benchmark WKCE as their measure. This, despite starting to use the MAP exam this year. Nearby Monona Grove has been using MAP for some time.
  • Three Madison School Board members attended: Mary Burke, James Howard and Ed Hughes.
  • UW-Madison school of Education dean Julie Underwood attended and asked, to my astonishment, (paraphrased) how the District’s various diversity programs were benefiting kids (and achievement)?

The only effective way forward, in my view, is to simplify the District’s core mission to reading, english and math. This means eliminating programs and focusing on the essentials. That will be a difficult change for the organization, but I don’t see how adding programs to the current pile benefits anyone. It will cost more and do less.
Less than 24 hours after I attended the MMSD’s Strategic Plan update, I, through a variety of circumstances, visited one of Milwaukee’s highest performing private/voucher schools, a school with more than 90% low income students. The petri dish that is Milwaukee will produce a far more robust and effective set of schools over the next few decades than the present monolithic approach favored here. More about that visit, soon.

The Day After: What’s Next for Madison’s Public Schools?

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

Dear Friends & Colleagues.
With one of the most competitive and expensive school board races in the history of the Madison Metropolitan School District now behind us, it is time for us to get to work on strengthening public education in our capital city and ensuring that every single one of our children have the schools and tools they need to succeed in education and in life.
We congratulate Mary Burke and Arlene Silveira for their success in securing three-year terms on the Madison Board of Education. They will bring significant experience and business acumen to the School Board. We also give great respect to their challengers, Nichelle Nichols and Michael Flores, for stepping up, taking a stand for children and ensuring that the voices of parents and children of color were front and center during the campaign. They ensured that the discussion remained focused on the alarming racial achievement gap that exists in our schools, and we deeply appreciate them for it.
As the Board of Education moves forward, we expect they will remain focused on our community’s five greatest priorities: (1) eliminating the racial achievement gap; (2) establishing world class schools that attract enrollment and prepare all children to thrive and succeed in college and work after high school; (3) empowering parents and engaging them in their children’s education; (4) developing a highly talented and skilled workforce that is more reflective of the students our school district now educates; and (5) aligning the District’s employee handbook to the priorities, needs and goals of students, staff and schools.
The Board of Education can start by focusing their efforts on hiring an outstanding new Superintendent who possesses significant leadership skill/experience and business acumen, a proven track-record of successfully leading urban schools with significantly diverse student populations; and a strong, clear and compelling vision and plan for public education and our children’s future.
Rather than deciding too quickly on approving an achievement gap plan that was rushed in its development, we hope the Board of Education will avoid getting too far ahead of the next Superintendent in implementing plans, and instead focus their attention on existing efforts where the District can make a difference in the next six months, such as:

  • Implementing the Common Core Standards and related common curriculum in literacy, English/language arts and mathematics in all elementary schools in grades K-5 (to start), with additional learning support for students who are significantly behind or ahead academically;
  • Re-establishing and aligning the District’s Professional Development Program for all educators and support staff to the curriculum, standards and needs/interests of students;
  • Implementing Wisconsin’s new Educator Effectiveness evaluation and assessment program;
  • Providing a full-time principal and adequate staffing for Badger Rock and Wright Middle Schools;
  • Requiring greater collaboration and alignment between the District’s safety-net, student-support programs such as Schools of Hope, AVID/TOPS, Juventud/ASPIRA, PEOPLE/ITA Program and ACT Prep Academies to ensure more effective and seamless identification, support and progress monitoring of students who need or are enrolled in these programs;
  • Partnering with local businesses, educational institutions and community organizations to recruit, hire, acclimate and retain a diverse workforce, and appropriately assign all staff to schools according to their skills and interests and the needs of students;
  • Engaging parents more effectively in the education of their children through community partnerships; and
  • Partnering with the United Way, Urban League, Boys & Girls Club, Centro Hispano, Hmong Education Council and other agencies to effectively build awareness and educate the community about local and national best practices for eliminating the achievement gap and preparing all youth for college and work.

We look forward to working with YOU, the Board of Education, our community partners and the leadership of our public schools to implement immediate opportunities and solutions that will benefit our children TODAY.
Onward!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Assistant: 608-729-1249
Fax: 608-729-1205
www.ulgm.org

Related:

An expected outcome.
Thanks to the four citizens who ran.
The Silveira/Nichols race was interesting in that it was the first competitive school board election involving an incumbent in some time. Lawrie Kobza and Lucy Mathiak defeated incumbent candidates during the mid-2000’s. Perhaps the “success recipe” requires that the insurgent candidate have a strong local network, substantive issues and the ability to get the word out, effectively.
Arlene is a different incumbent than those defeated by Kobza & Mathiak.
That said, she has been on the board for six years, a time during which little, if any progress was made on the MMSD’s core mission: reading, writing, math and science, while spending more per student than most Districts. Perhaps the Superintendent’s looming departure offers an opportunity to address the core curricular issues.
I wish the new board well and congratulate Mary and Arlene on their victories.
Paraphrasing a friend, it is never too early to run for the School Board. Three seats are up in 2013, those currently occupied by Maya Cole, James Howard and Beth Moss.
A reader emailed a link to this M.P. King photo:

What Madison can learn from Nerad’s exit

Those who approve of Nerad’s performance and those who disapprove could agree that he seemed to be exiting in a responsible manner.
And there was not much objection to the $37,500 retirement payout that it was announced he would receive. It sounded, after all, like he was retiring. Or so Madisonians thought.
On Tuesday, however, the news arrived that Nerad was a finalist for a job as superintendent of the public schools in Omaha, Neb.
Awkward.
Madison School Board members confirmed that Nerad had not informed them when he was preparing for his “retirement” announcement that he was in the late stages of pursuing another job.
School Board President James Howard even had to field questions about whether he and other board members were “duped” by the superintendent.

I have received a number of emails inquiring about the $37,500 payout…
Related:

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Omaha Superintendent Search: Wisconsin educator dealt with unions, protesting teachers

Joe Dejka:

When Wisconsin labor unions swarmed their State Capitol last year in a dispute with the governor, Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad found himself in the thick of it.
The Madison Metropolitan School District offices were about a mile from the Capitol, where unions gathered to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to curb collective bargaining.
A representative of the district’s teachers union called to inform him that they would be joining the protest the next day and that he had better prepare to close the schools.
“It was like hitting him between the eyes with a hammer,” said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.
Nerad’s handling of the situation was praised Tuesday by Matthews and Madison’s school board vice president, Marj Passman, and board president, James Howard.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Omaha job application (450K PDF).
Related:

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad to Leave when Contract Expires in 2013

Channel3000.com:

Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad announced on Monday that he will retire and not seek a contract extension.
Nerad made the announcement at a press conference on Monday afternoon. Nerad’s contract runs through June 2013 and he said he will remain through then.
He said calling this announcement a “resignation” would be accurate.
Nerad said that decision came to a culmination in the last 10 days and that he has been in the process of deciding on retirement for several months.
He cited his reason for retiring for a variety of factors.He said that controversy over achievement gap was “a factor.”
“I wish I could’ve done more to develop a consensus on how to move forward on issues, including (the) achievement gap,” he said.
Nerad said that a new leader could provide a spark on the achievement gap that he could no longer provide.

Wisconsin State Journal:

Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad will leave the job when his contract expires in the summer of 2013.
Nerad, 60, made the announcement Monday hours before the Madison School Board was scheduled to vote on whether to extend the contract.
School board president James Howard didn’t offer a timeline for hiring a replacement.
Nerad said he had been thinking about leaving the Madison district for several months, and made a decision within the last 10 days.

Madison School District Press Release 52K PDF.
Pat Schneider:

A community leader who has had a ringside seat to the struggles to forge a plan to end the academic achievement gap in the Madison schools thinks Superintendent Dan Nerad’s announcement Monday of his planned departure next year just might be the break needed to make real progress.
This view isn’t universally shared, but Steve Goldberg, executive director of the CUNA Mutual Foundation who has worked closely with the Madison Metropolitan School District, its teachers union and community leaders, says Nerad’s announcement could put him in a position to have a greater influence over acceptance of a plan he recently put forward to close the race-based achievement gap.
With any inkling that Nerad is working to preserve his job removed from the equation, the likely efficacy of his proposals might become a tighter focus of discussion, Goldberg said.
“This might change the way he is perceived,” Goldberg told me. “Since he no longer has ‘an axe to grind,’ he may be viewed as more objective.”

Matthew DeFour:

Nerad, 60, said he had been thinking about leaving the job for several months, and made a decision within the last 10 days.
He said there were multiple factors that contributed to his decision. When pressed to identify examples, he said division on the board over his performance and division in the community about how to address the district’s persistent achievement gap between minority and white students were factors, though not primary ones.
“I wish I could have done more to try to develop a broader base of consensus around how we best serve children,” Nerad said.
Nerad, a former social worker, came to Madison after six years as superintendent in Green Bay, where he had been credited for his work on addressing the community’s achievement gap.
Soon after taking the reins in Madison, Nerad oversaw the passage of a $13 million operating referendum. He launched 4-year-old kindergarten, developed a five-year strategic plan, expanded the dual-language immersion and summer school programs, reorganized central office staff, introduced curricular alignment among all schools and restored the district’s AAA bond rating.
Don Severson, president of a conservative watchdog group, said he wasn’t surprised by the announcement given the lack of overwhelming support for Nerad’s leadership.
“You can’t behave as a social worker and run a massive complex organization,” Severson said. “He had to be much more proactive and take some risks, make some decisions, go in some direction where he knows he won’t have unanimity.”

Related: Is $14,858.40 Per Student, Per Year Effective? On Madison Superintendent & School Board Accountability…

I’m glad Matt DeFour and the Wisconsin State Journal obtained the most recent Superintendent Review via open records. We, as a community have come a long way in just a few short years. The lack of Board oversight was a big issue in mid-2000’s competitive school board races. Former Superintendent Art Rainwater had not been reviewed for some time. These links are well worth reading and considering in light of the recent Superintendent review articles, including Chris Rickert’s latest. Rickert mentions a number of local statistics. However, he fails to mention:

Madison School Board to review athletic code in light of retail theft controversy

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School Board will review the district’s athletic code in the wake of controversy over the discipline handed down to Madison Memorial varsity basketball players for an incident in which they were later charged with crimes.
School Board President James Howard said the board needs to review the district’s athletic code to see if it was followed in the cases involving the four players — including starters Albert “Junior” Lomomba Jr., 19; Jamar Morris, 18; and Brendan Ortiz, 17.
The three were suspended for a single game, which prompted anger from coaches and fans from other teams who said the discipline was not severe enough. The fourth player has played sparingly during the season.
Lomomba and Morris were charged last month with misdemeanor retail theft in connection with a Jan. 21 incident at Boston Store at West Towne Mall. Charges against Ortiz were added to the complaint last week over a similar incident that took place Jan. 13.
All three were allowed to play in the WIAA tournament.

Madison School Board rates Superintendent Nerad barely ‘proficient’;

Matthew DeFour:

If Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s job performance were judged like a student taking the state achievement test, he would score barely proficient, according to the Madison School Board’s most recent evaluation.
The evaluation, completed last month and released to the State Journal under the state’s Open Records Law, reveals the School Board’s divided view of Nerad’s performance.
School Board President James Howard said he expects the board to vote later this month on whether to extend Nerad’s contract beyond June 2013. The decision has been delayed as Nerad’s achievement gap plan is reviewed by the public, Howard said.
Soon after that plan was proposed last month, Howard said he would support extending Nerad’s contract. Now, Howard says he is uncertain how he’ll vote.
“It’s probably a toss-up,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues on the table in Madison. It’s time to resolve them. All this kicking-the-can-down-the-road stuff has to stop.”
Nerad said he has always welcomed feedback on how he can improve as a leader.

Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.
The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.
Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.
Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.
Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.

Madison 360: On school ‘gap’ issue, there’s also a gap between leaders

I am quoted in the article. This is the full response that I made to the proposition that it would be terribly “hard to confront achievement gap issues head on without potentially fueling feelings that regular or high-achieving kids are not front and center in Madison, perhaps even increasing white flight. It must be a very hard balancing act.”
That may be the case, but to divert attention from a very real crisis rooted in over 50 years of failed effort to focus attention on achievement and opportunity for African American students, is something that I cannot accept. It has taken a lot of work and controversy to get the issue of the achievement gap (no, it is not a “gap”) on the table. How ironic (and morally reprehensible) it would be to refocus on white flight while letting the opportunity to unite around racial achievement slip through our fingers.
Dear Paul,
I realize that my answer is blunt and edgy. I was going to apologize but I really cannot. How long must this community live with its head in the sand when it comes to racial justice? And how long must families of color hear words of concern followed with “but we are worried about our white middle class families leaving?” Please watch the video taped testimony from December 19, and then think about what it is that you really want to write. If you do not want to watch 5.5 hours of painful commentary, then please watch (separate video) James Howard’s statement during the board comments on how and why we each voted the way that we did.
To be honest, I would find the column that you propose to write to be offensive at best. Especially to the families who provided over 10 hours of testimony at 3 minutes per person, with very few repeat testifiers, over the course of the Madison Prep debate. Some of those families have waited over 40 years for someone to take their aspirations and their children’s achievement seriously. And as thanks for raising the issue, parents of African American students are being told that the problem is really broken homes, lack of value for education, poor parenting, addiction, and poverty. Well, I AM one of “those parents.” James Howard, the president of the school board, is one of “those parents.” As are [names redacted], and many many other parents.
I wonder if you and others are aware that not all middle, upper middle class, and/or affluent people are are white. Or the number of African American kids who can achieve but are sent direct and indirect messages that they really aren’t “high achiever” material. Or that many white middle class families are every bit as unhappy and uncomfortable with the racism that they see in our schools and in the people who wish to cater to it in order to prevent the white flight of privilege. The “real” problem is not white flight. It is the failure to take achievement seriously, particularly when it comes to students of color.
There is a very real reason why many UW African American faculty, and African American religious and business leaders who have school age children will not live in the Madison district. There is a very real reason why many African American graduates of our schools will not send their children to Madison schools. There is a very real reason why families who can afford to send their kids to Edgewood, St. James, and other schools are doing so. It boils down to where they think their kids will have the best chance of being seen and nurtured as achievers, and that is not the Madison Metropolitan School District.
I am sorry to say this, but I find it repulsive that, particularly during black history month, you are interested in writing a pity piece for the people who are always at the forefront of our concerns, while ignoring the very real, raw, and painful experience of the people who cannot get any acknowledgment of their conditions. And, frankly, if that is what you got out of your conversation with Dan Nerad, I would respectfully suggest that the ability of this district and this leader to address achievement need no further explanation.
Full article at Madison.com

How to solve the achievement gap in Madison?

Nathan Comp:

Just when all signs indicated that supporters of Madison Preparatory Academy were abandoning hope of joining forces with the Madison school district, they’ve decided to give it one more shot. They’re seeking another vote on the controversial charter-school proposal in late February.
Urban League of Greater Madison CEO and president Kaleem Caire says Madison Prep will open this fall as a private entity, but hopes it will transition into the district in 2013, once the district’s union contract expires.
Board members who voted against the charter school in December expressed concerns that it would put the district in breach of its contract with Madison Teachers Inc., due to a provision requiring district schools to hire union staff.
School board president James Howard, who voted for Madison Prep, says the board may not have time to address the proposal in February.
Whether the Urban League — which proposed Madison Prep as an ambitious step toward closing the district’s decades-old achievement gap — can recapture its earlier momentum is uncertain, considering that Superintendent Dan Nerad and school board members seem particularly excited about their own plans to address the issue.
“We’re going at it from so many different angles right now,” says board member Beth Moss. “I can’t see how we can’t make some improvement.”

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

We Blew It on Madison Prep

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

I can’t shake the feeling that something important was going on at our School Board meeting last Monday night to consider the Madison Prep charter school proposal, and that the actual School Board vote wasn’t it.
The bare-bone facts are that, after about 90 public speakers, the Board voted 2-5 to reject the Madison Prep proposal. I reluctantly voted against the motion because I was unwilling to violate the terms of our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.
After the motion failed, I moved that the Board approve Madison Prep, but delay its opening until the fall of 2013. My motion failed for lack of a second. (And no, I don’t have an explanation for why neither James Howard nor Lucy Mathiak, who voted in favor of the first motion, was willing to second my motion.)
Probably like most who attended Monday night’s meeting, I have thought a lot about it since. People who know I voted against the proposal have come up to me and congratulated me for what they say was the right decision. I have felt like shaking them and saying, “No, you don’t understand. We blew it Monday night, we blew it big time. I just hope that we only crippled Madison Prep and didn’t kill it.”
I appreciate that that’s an odd and surprising place for me to have ended up. To echo the Talking Heads, “Well, how did I get here?” I’ll try to explain.

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

Shocking outcome of School Board vote: MMSD says NO to Madison Prep

Kaleem Caire, via email:

Dear Madison Prep,
First, thank you to all of you who have supported the Madison Prep effort to this point. Your volunteer hours, work on Design Teams, attendance at meetings, letters to the district and media, and many other acts of support have not gone unnoticed by the Urban League and Madison Prep.
In earlier morning hours today, the MMSD Board of Education voted 5-2 AGAINST Madison Prep. This outcome came after hours of testimony by members of the public, with Madison Prep supporters outnumbering opponents 2:1. Lucy Mathiak and James Howard voted YES for Madison Prep; Ed Hughes, Arlene Silviera, Beth Moss, Maya Cole, and Marj Passman voted NO. After the vote was taken, Ed Hughes made an amendment to the motion to establish Madison Prep in 2013 (rather than 2012) in order to avoid what some see as a conflict between Madison Prep and the teachers’ union contract. Mr. Hughes’ motion was not seconded; therefore there was no vote on establishing Madison Prep one year later.
While the Urban League and Madison Prep are shocked by last night’s outcome, both organizations are committed to ensuring that Madison Prep becomes a reality for children in Madison. We will continue to press for change and innovation in the Madison Metropolitan School District and Dane County to ensure that the racial achievement gap is eliminated and that all children receive a high quality education that adequately prepares them for their future.
We will advance a number of next steps:
1.We will pursue different avenues, both public and private, to launch Madison Prep. We are still hopeful for an opening in 2012. There will be much the community will learn from Madison Prep and our children need this option now.
2.We will continue to coordinate community support and action to ensure that the Madison Metropolitan School District is accountable for eliminating the racial achievement gap. We will consider several strategies, such as implementing a Citizen Review Board that will hold the school board and district administration accountable for good governance, planning, implementation, execution, community engagement and student achievement results. We will also consider legal avenues to ensure MMSD understands and responds to the community’s sense of urgency to address the sizable and decades-long failure rates of Black and Latino children.
3.We must also address the leadership vacuum in K-12 education in Madison. Because of this, we will ensure that parents, students and community members are informed of their rights and responsibilities, and have a better understanding of promising educational strategies to close the achievement gap. We will also work to ensure that they have opportunities to be fully engaged in planning, working and deciding what’s best for the children educated in our public schools.
4.We will continue to work in collaboration with MMSD through our existing partnerships, and hope to grow these partnerships in the future.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to ensure that children in our schools and families in our community have hope, inspiration, support and opportunity to manifest their dreams and make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.
Onward.
Kaleem

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

Mary Burke to run for Madison School Board

Matthew DeFour:

Burke, who made headlines recently for pledging $2.5 million to Madison Preparatory Academy, a controversial charter school proposal, plans to run for the seat being vacated by Lucy Mathiak.
Burke also served as president of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County for nine years and along with the Burke Foundation has donated about $2.6 million to the AVID/TOPS program, which has shown promising results in improving achievement among low-income, minority students.
Burke emphasized closing the district’s racial achievement gap as a motivation for her decision to run.
Several others have expressed interest in running for the seat, including Joan Eggert, a Madison schools parent and reading specialist in the McFarland School District, who issued an official announcement last week.
Others who said they are considering a run include parents Jill Jokela and Mark Stokosa. Tom Farley, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 against James Howard, said Monday he is no longer interested in running and Burke’s entry in the race makes him confident in that decision.

Will The Madison School Board Madison Prep IB Charter School Vote Spill over to the 2012 Spring Elections, and More?

Matthew DeFour:

And no matter which way the Dec. 19 vote goes, there’s no way to know now whether the school will be entirely effective.
“This is the most difficult decision I will ever make on the School Board,” said Marj Passman, who plans to vote against the proposal. “It has the potential for polarizing our community, and that’s the last thing I want to happen.”
The vote comes more than a year after the charter was proposed and in the wake of a School District report outlining its opposition to Madison Prep. The school would violate the district’s contract with its teachers and preclude sufficient oversight of the $17.5 million in district funds the school would receive over five years, the report said.
District opposition likely will lead the board to reject the proposal, said School Board president James Howard.
“I don’t see how it can pass,” said Howard. He and Lucy Mathiak are the only two board members who said they will vote to approve the school.
In interviews last week, Passman, Maya Cole and Ed Hughes said they expect to vote against the proposal. Arlene Silveira and Beth Moss declined to disclose how they plan to vote.
Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire, the lead proponent of the charter, acknowledged he doesn’t have the votes. But he’s engaged in a full-court press to generate public support for the proposal.
“We have a moral obligation to do whatever it takes to support our children and special interest of adults should not come before that,” Caire said last week.

Two School Board seats will be on the Spring, 2012 ballot. They are currently occupied by Lucy Mathiak, who is not running again and Arlene Silveira. I suspect the outcome of this vote will drive new candidates, and perhaps, even recalls.

Madison School District agrees to release teachers’ sick notes

Steve Verburg:

The Madison School District has agreed to terms for releasing more than 1,000 sick notes submitted by teachers who missed work in February during mass protests over collective bargaining.
The district will remove the teachers’ names and other identifying information from the notes, under an agreement reached Monday with the Wisconsin State Journal, which requested the records under the state’s Open Records Law.
“It’s essentially what we asked for in May,” State Journal Editor John Smalley said Tuesday. “It was never our intention to publish any names or individual situations, but to look at the collective situation of all of these sick notes and how the district as an institution handled it.”
School Board President James Howard said the agreement protects teachers while complying with the newspaper’s needs and a Nov. 21 court ruling ordering the district to turn over the notes. The newspaper sued the district for the records after the district denied requests for them.

Jack Craver:

Many friends of mine are upset with the legal battle the Wisconsin State Journal waged to obtain the 1,000 sick notes Madison teachers used to get off work during the union protests in February. My own radio host and boss, Kurt Baron, referred to the paper as the “Wisconsin State Urinal” in describing his decision to no longer have the paper as his home page online. Some called into the show and promised to cancel their subscriptions.
Teachers should have a right to individual privacy over their medical records. We shouldn’t know whether John Q. cited herpes or hemorrhoids on his doctor’s note.
I am less sympathetic, however, to the teachers’ right to collective privacy. As long as their names are redacted, the public has the right to know if 273 teachers cited malaria and 345 claimed to suffer from ebola.
Unfortunately the recent ruling will violate individual privacy by allowing the State Journal to see the names of the teachers on the sick notes.

Madison School District Trying Alternatives to Large Public Hearings

Matthew DeFour:

If you didn’t get the Madison School District’s invitation to Thursday’s meeting about a controversial proposal to let police bring drug-sniffing dogs into schools, don’t take it personally; neither did School Board President James Howard.
The meeting was for minority community leaders to ask questions and provide feedback about the proposal, which the School Board is expected to vote on Aug. 29.
School Board members weren’t invited, which Howard, who learned about the meeting Wednesday from a television reporter, said is a problem.
“Board members should always be informed of these meetings,” Howard said. “I don’t know why the ball got dropped.”
The School District’s revamped communications department organized the meeting at the Urban League on South Park Street as part of a new outreach effort, said Marcia Standiford, the department’s new manager.

Milwaukee Voucher School WKCE Headlines: “Students in Milwaukee voucher program didn’t perform better in state tests”, “Test results show choice schools perform worse than public schools”, “Choice schools not outperforming MPS”; Spend 50% Less Per Student

Erin Richards and Amy Hetzner

Latest tests show voucher scores about same or worse in math and reading.
Students in Milwaukee’s school choice program performed worse than or about the same as students in Milwaukee Public Schools in math and reading on the latest statewide test, according to results released Tuesday that provided the first apples-to-apples achievement comparison between public and individual voucher schools.
The scores released by the state Department of Public Instruction cast a shadow on the overall quality of the 21-year-old Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which was intended to improve results for poor city children in failing public schools by allowing them to attend higher-performing private schools with publicly funded vouchers. The scores also raise concerns about Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to roll back the mandate that voucher schools participate in the current state test.
Voucher-school advocates counter that legislation that required administration of the state test should have been applied only once the new version of the test that’s in the works was rolled out. They also say that the latest test scores are an incomplete measure of voucher-school performance because they don’t show the progress those schools are making with a difficult population of students over time.
Statewide, results from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam show that scores didn’t vary much from last year. The percentage of students who scored proficient or better was higher in reading, science and social studies but lower in mathematics and language arts from the year before.

Susan Troller:

Great. Now Milwaukee has TWO failing taxpayer-financed school systems when it comes to educating low income kids (and that’s 89 per cent of the total population of Milwaukee Public Schools).
Statewide test results released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction include for the first time performance data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which involves about 110 schools serving around 10,000 students. There’s a total population of around 80,000 students in Milwaukee’s school district.
The numbers for the voucher schools don’t look good. But the numbers for the conventional public schools in Milwaukee are very poor, as well.
In a bit of good news, around the rest of the state student test scores in every demographic group have improved over the last six years, and the achievment gap is narrowing.
But the picture in Milwaukee remains bleak.

Matthew DeFour:

The test results show the percentage of students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program who scored proficient or advanced was 34.4 percent for math and 55.2 percent for reading.
Among Milwaukee Public Schools students, it was 47.8 percent in math and 59 percent in reading. Among Milwaukee Public Schools students coming from families making 185 percent of the federal poverty level — a slightly better comparison because voucher students come from families making no more than 175 percent — it was 43.9 percent in math and 55.3 percent in reading.
Statewide, the figures were 77.2 percent in math and 83 percent in reading. Among all low-income students in the state, it was 63.2 percent in math and 71.7 percent in reading.
Democrats said the results are evidence that the voucher program is not working. Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, the top Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, said voucher students, parents and taxpayers are being “bamboozled.”
“The fact that we’ve spent well over $1 billion on a failed experiment leads me to believe we have no business spending $22 million to expand it with these kinds of results,” Pope-Roberts said. “It’s irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Milwaukee students.”
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who is developing a proposal to expand the voucher program to other cities, took a more optimistic view of the results.
“Obviously opponents see the glass half-empty,” Vos said. “I see the glass half-full. Children in the school choice program do the same as the children in public school but at half the cost.”

Only DeFour’s article noted that voucher schools spend roughly half the amount per student compared to traditional public schools. Per student spending was discussed extensively during last evening’s planning grant approval (The vote was 6-1 with Marj Passman voting No while Maya Cole, James Howard, Ed Hughes, Lucy Mathiak, Beth Moss and Arlene Silveira voted yes) for the Urban League’s proposed Charter IB School: The Madison Preparatory Academy.
The Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Examination (WKCE) has long been criticized for its lack of rigor. Wisconsin DPI WKCE data.
Yin and Yang: Jay Bullock and Christian D’Andrea.
Related: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.

Nerad gets one-year extension as Madison schools superintendent

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School Board approved a one-year extension of Superintendent Dan Nerad’s contract on a 5-2 vote Monday.
Board members Lucy Mathiak and Arlene Silveira voted against the extension. Maya Cole, Beth Moss, Ed Hughes, Marj Passman and James Howard voted to extend the contract through June 30, 2013.
Only Mathiak and Hughes spoke during the meeting. The board has been discussing Nerad’s contract in multiple closed-door meetings.
Mathiak didn’t address why she voted against the extension but said that she had reviewed board minutes, e-mails, notes of conversations and newspaper articles as she completed an evaluation that she received in December.

ACLU Wisconsin Opposed to Single Sex Charter School (Proposed IB Madison Preparatory Academy)

Chris Ahmuty 220K PDF:

Superintendent Daniel Nerad School Board President Maya Cole School Board Members Ed Hughes, James Howard, Lucy Matthiak,
Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman & Arlene Silveira, and
Student Representative Wyeth Jackson
Madison Metropolitan School District
545 W Dayton St
Madison WI 53703-1967
RE: Opposition to Single Sex Charter School
Dear Superintendent Nerad, President Cole, and School Board Members:
We are writing on behalf of the ACLU of Wisconsin to oppose the proposal for an all-male charter school in Madison. Single sex education is inadvisable as a policy matter, and it also raises significant legal concerns.
The performance problems for children of color in Madison public schools cross gender lines: it is not only African-American and Latino boys who are being failed by the system. Many students of color and low income students – girls as well as boys – are losing out. Further, there is no proof that separating girls from boys results in better-educated children. What’s more, perpetuating gender stereotypes can do nothing more than short-change our children, limiting options for boys and girls alike. For these reasons, the ACLU of Wisconsin opposes the effort to open a single-sex, publicly-funded charter school in Madison.
To be clear: the ACLU does not oppose the idea of providing a public charter school with a rigorous academic program and supplemental resources as an alternative to existing school programs in the Madison district. And we strongly encourage efforts to ensure that programming is available to children in underserved communities. Were this an effort to provide an International Baccalaureate program to both boys and girls in Madison – such as the highly- rated, coeducational Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, whose students are predominantly low-income children of color – we would likely be applauding it.

Clusty Search: Chris Ahmuty.
Much more on the proposed IB Charter School Madison Preparatory Academy, here.

Madison School District Draft Superintendent Evaluation Documents

Beth Moss & James Howard 450K PDF

Attached is the final draft of the Superintendent evaluation document to be used for the summative or end -of-year evaluation to be voted on at the November 29 meeting. The document has two parts. The first part is the Superintendent of Schools Performance Expectations Standards Assessment, a rubric based on the following:

  1. The Superintendent Position Description, adopted Sept. 21, 2009; and
  2. Feedback from the formative (mid-year) evaluation for the Superintendent, July 2010

The second part of the evaluation involves feedback on the following elements:

  1. The Superintendent goals, approved December 15, 2009;
  2. Two elements from the additional evaluation framework identified by Mr. Howard: Diversity and Inclusion and Safety.

From the original draft sent to the Operational Support Committee on November 8, these are element numbers 3 and 4. In addition to approving a final version of the evaluation plan, the Board needs to discuss the date for evaluations to be submitted for compilation to the Board president and dates for a closed session meeting(s) to discuss the results. To complete the process by February, January 3, 2011 is the recommended date for submittal. January 10, 24, and 31 are possible meeting dates. During this period Board members also need to provide input on the Superintendent’s goals for 2011.
If you have any questions, please email James or Beth.

Much more on the Superintendent evaluation, here. A side note: the lack of annual, substantive evaluations of former Superintendent Art Rainwater was an issue in mid 2000’s school board races. Related: Who Does the Superintendent Work For?

Madison School District Board of Education Progress Report–March through June 2010

Maya Cole, Board President & Beth Moss Board Vice-President, Via email:

The 2009-10 school year is over, and the Board is wrapping up a very busy spring 2010. After several months of hard work, the Board finalized the preliminary 2010-11 budget on June 1. For the second year in a row, the state legislature decreased the amount of per pupil state aid by 15%. This decrease in revenue, coupled with a decrease in property values in the Madison Metropolitan School District, created a much larger than usual budget shortfall. This year is different because unlike previous years when the Board of Education was not allowed to raise property taxes to cover the shortfall, this year the state gave the Board the authority to raise taxes by an extreme amount. The Board and administration have worked hard to mitigate the tax impact while preserving programs in our schools.
2010-11 Budget Details:
The Board approved a preliminary budget of $360,131,948 after creating savings of over $13 million across all departments in the district. This budget represents a decrease of over $10 million from 2009-10. The final tax impact on a home of average value ($250k) is $225. The Board made reductions that did not directly affect instruction in the classroom, avoiding mass teacher lay-offs as experienced by many districts around the country and state.
Other State action:
The School Age Guarantee for Education (SAGE) Act was changed from funding K-3 class sizes of 15:1 to 18:1. The Board is considering how to handle this change in state funding.
Race to the Top is a competitive grant program run through the federal government. The state of Wisconsin applied for Race to the Top funding in round 1 and was denied. The Board approved the application for the second round of funding. Federal money will be awarded to states that qualify and the MMSD could receive $8,239,396.
Board of Education Election:
Thank you for 6 years of service and good luck to Johnny Winston, Jr. Taking his seat is James Howard, an economist with the Forest Service and MMSD parent. New Board officers are Maya Cole, president, Beth Moss, vice president, Ed Hughes, clerk, and James Howard, treasurer.
Sarah Maslin, our student representative from West High School, will be off to Yale University in the fall. Thank you for your service and good luck, Sarah! Congratulations to Wyeth Jackson, also from West, who won the election for student representative to the Board of Education. Jessica Brooke from La Follette will return as Student Senate president and alternate to the BOE Student Representative.
Other news:
In April the board received the following reports:
The Facility Assessment Report, a compilation of district maintenance needs over the next 5 years.
The Board of Education/Superintendent Communication Plan, providing a template for reports to the Board.
The District Reorganization Plan, a plan to restructure the administration and professional development department of the district.
The Board held a public hearing on the proposed budget at UW Space Place. In addition, the School Food Initiative Committee and the 4-K Advisory Committee met.
In May the Strategic Planning Steering Committee met. Stakeholders reviewed accomplishments achieved thus far and discussed and reprioritized action steps for the next year. A second public hearing on the budget was also held in May.
In June the Board finalized the Preliminary Budget after a statutory public hearing. During committee meetings on June 7, the ReAL grant team presented action plans for each of the large high schools and gave the Board an update on the ReAL grant and the Wallace grant. The four high schools have collaborated for the past two years to improve engagement and achievement at our high schools. The Student Services and Code of Conduct/Expulsions Committee presented a proposal for a new code of conduct and abeyance, with an emphasis on restorative justice.
Congratulations and good luck to all graduates! Have a safe and restful summer break.

Madison schools could consider teacher pay freeze

Gayle Worland:

The Madison School Board on Monday could discuss reopening the district’s 2009-11 teacher contract to institute a salary freeze estimated to save about $3.5 million.
And some board members who said they oppose renegotiating the current contract said they are open to the idea of asking for a pay freeze for teachers when bargaining begins again next year for the 2011-13 school years.
“I think it’s a small chance of it happening, but I definitely would support re-opening it,” said newly elected board member James Howard, referring to the current two-year contract that the district and Madison Teachers Inc. settled last October after months of talks. “I think teachers and everyone else have to play their part in this.”

Madison School Board Candidate Issue Essays

Tom Farley School district must shift philosophy:

an Madison afford a new School Board member who requires time to understand the issues, study the research, or develop a good relationship with board members and union leaders? These are all certainly desirable objectives, and over time it is important that they occur. Yet these are exceptional times for Madison and its public school system.
The federal government has demanded that educational leaders in every community must start demonstrating a willingness to challenge the status quo, seek innovative solutions, and begin executing change management efforts. Only those school districts that show a willingness to radically alter their approaches to education, in order to achieve real results, will be supported and funded. The time has come to bring that level of leadership to the Madison School Board.
Management of the Madison School District cannot continue operating in its present form, or under its current philosophies. We have called for additional funding and referendums to increase taxes, and this has not produced the promised results. Clearly, it is not lack of money that hinders our education system; it is the system itself. That needs to change.

James Howard: We must make cuts, but not in classroom

As parents, teachers, taxpayers and voters evaluate the financial woes our Madison public schools face, there are several key points to keep in mind.
First, the taxpayers in our district have been very generous by passing several referendums that have helped close the gap between what schools can spend and what it really costs to educate our kids. However, due to the depressed economy voters are focused on direct family financial impacts and less on the indirect costs that result from any decline in quality of our public schools. Since the district is currently operating under a three-year recurring referendum, it would be a lot to ask of taxpayers to vote yes on a new referendum.
That means we must look elsewhere for answers on how to close what might be a gap of as much as $30 million. Let me be very clear as to where I wouldn’t look: the classroom. We need to protect learning by keeping class sizes small; by funding initiatives that help at-risk children perform up to grade level in basic subjects; and by funding those things that make Madison schools so special, like programs in the arts and athletics.

Progressive Dane to host Madison School Board Candidate Forum 2/21/2010

via a TJ Mertz email [PDF Flyer]:

What: Public Forum featuring all candidates for Madison Board of Education.
When: Sunday February 21, 2010; 1:30 to 3:30 PM.
Where: JC Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Rd. Madison, WI.
Contact: Thomas J. Mertz, tjmertz@sbcglobal.net; (608) 255-4550
On Sunday, February 21, voters in the Madison Metropolitan School District will have their first opportunity to hear and question the School Board candidates on the ballot in the April 6 election. Unopposed incumbents Beth Moss and Maya Cole will begin with short statements on their service and why they are seeking re-election. Next the candidates for Seat 4, James Howard and Tom Farley, will answer questions from Progressive Dane and the audience. Madison District 12 Alder and member of the Board of Education
– Common Council Liaison Committee Satya Rhodes-Conway will serve as the moderator.
Progressive Dane is hosting this event as a public service to increase awareness of this important election.”The seven people on the School Board are responsible for the education of about 24,000 students and an annual budget of roughly $400 million.” explained Progressive Dane Co-Chair and Education Task Force Chair Thomas J. Mertz. “We want people to know what is going on, choose their candidate wisely and get
involved.
Candidates Tom Farley and James Howard welcome this opportunity to communicate with the voters. Farley expects a substantive discussion; he is “looking forward to participating in the Progressive Dane forum. It will certainly be our most in-depth public discussion of the issues – and most likely the liveliest and most enjoyable one too.”
Howard expressed his appreciation for “this opportunity to talk to the voters about my record of service with public schools and my unique perspective that I will add to the Board of Education” and is also ready to discuss “how to maintain and strengthen Madison schools.”
Incumbents Cole and Moss are also pleased to take part. Cole said she is “happy to have this opportunity to meet with members of our community to discuss the work of the Board, to listen to their concerns and to share the opportunities we are embracing to make our district better for all children. Moss also appreciates the chance to share her thoughts on “the good work that is going on in the schools and some of the challenges we face.”
Progressive Dane is a progressive political party in Dane County, Wisconsin. Progressive Dane is working to make Dane County a better place for everyone (no exceptions!). Progressive Dane helps community members organize around issues that are important to them and also works on the grassroots level to elect progressive political candidates.
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The most important (Madison) race this spring

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

t almost didn’t happen.
And Madison should be grateful that it did.
Two enthusiastic candidates are seeking an empty seat on the Madison School Board this spring.
James Howard, an economist and father of city school children, lists “high expectations” as a top priority.
Tom Farley, director of a nonprofit foundation and father of Madison school children, touts President Barack Obama’s call for innovation.
It’s the only competitive race for three seats because incumbents Maya Cole and Beth Moss are unopposed.
That leaves Howard’s and Farley’s campaigns to shine a needed spotlight on the many challenges and opportunities facing city schools.
Both men hope to replace Johnny Winston Jr., who announced last year he would not seek a third term.

Madison School Board Spring, 2010 Election Climate: Tommy Boy (oh boy) Farley, what a candidate!

Bill Lueders:

Tom Farley Jr., the brother of the late comedian Chris Farley, is emerging as perhaps the oddest candidate for local public office since Will Sandstrom.
First there was the confusion he caused in announcing on Twitter last September that he was running for lieutenant governor as a Republican. He later backtracked, saying he was merely considering the idea, a claim undercut by the words he’d used: “I’m in.” (His announcement of candidacy has apparently been unTwittered.)
Farley later announced his candidacy for Madison school board; he’s running for an open seat against James Howard, an economist with the Forest Products Laboratory. Commenting on the Advocating on Madison Public Schools (AMPS) blog, Farley sought to distance himself from the notion that he is a Republican merely because he announced his plans to run for office as one.

2010 Madison School Board Election Notes and Links

A number of folks have asked why, like 2009, there are two uncontested seats in this spring’s Madison School Board election. Incumbents Maya Cole and Beth Moss are running unopposed while the open seat, vacated by the retiring Johnny Winston, Jr. is now contested: Tom Farley (TJ Mertz and Robert Godfrey have posted on Farley’s travails, along with Isthmus) after some nomination signature issues and an internal fracas over the School District lawyer’s role in the race, faces James Howard [website].
I think we’ve seen a drop on the ongoing, very small amount of school board activism because:

Finally, with respect to the Howard / Farley contest, I look forward to the race. I had the opportunity to get to know James Howard during the District’s 2009 strategic planning meetings. I support his candidacy.

Remarkable: Three Uncontested Madison School Board Seats for the April, 2010 Election

Gayle Worland:


Three uncontested candidates will run for three-year terms on the Madison school board in April.
Incumbents Beth Moss and Maya Cole are running for school board Seats 3 and 5, respectively. James Howard is running for Seat 4, currently held by Johnny Winston, Jr., who announced in November that he would not seek a third term.
Thomas Farley, director of the nonprofit Chris Farley Foundation and an expected candidate for Seat 4, filed two of the three necessary documents to get his name on the ballot, said Adam Gallagher, deputy clerk for the City Clerk’s office. However, candidates also must file a minimum of 100 signatures of electors who reside in the Madison school district, and only 94 of signatures gathered by Farley by Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline met that criteria, Gallagher said.

Wisconsin School Board power may change, due to legislation under consideration at the Capitol.

Ananda Mirilli is running for Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael:
 A second candidate has announced that she will run for a seat on the Madison School Board this spring.
Ananda Mirilli, who first ran for School Board in 2013, filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office Wednesday announcing she will run for Seat 5, which is currently held by TJ Mertz.
Mirilli finished third in […]

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

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

Unaccountable

Madison School Board President James Howard’s remarks prior to the recent Montessori “charter” school contract vote (which failed 3-4). Well worth watching. Madison lacks K-12 governance diversity. A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preporatory Academy IB Charter School. Madison spends more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, while tolerating long […]

Civics: Ruminating On Governance

James Howard Kunstler: Note: it’s now deemed illicit for US government officials to talk to Russian diplomats. I wonder what would happen if government officials in other lands decided that it was improper to talk with US diplomats. The Democratic Party seems to be building a case that the world would be better off without […]

Commentary On Running And Serving On The Madison School Board…

Chris Rickert: Because members are elected during low-turnout spring elections, special interest groups have a proportionally bigger voice in who wins. In Madison, it’s nearly impossible to win without union support unless you have tons of money. But under a system of geographically assigned seats, there might be enough grassroots support in, say, a south […]

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

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

Media Reality Check on Madison’s K-12 Tax & Spending

Molly Beck, writing for the Wisconsin State Journal: Madison schools could see a $2.6 million increase in state aid next school year, but that’s about $5.6 million less than what district officials assumed when the School Board passed its preliminary budget last month, according to state estimates released Tuesday. The Madison School District expected its […]

Members of the East Task Force

At large representatives representing an ethnic group who reside within the attendance areas: James Howard Ramona Natora Name Community member without children in the district: Pat Mooney One East High School student: Rebecca Berkenstadt School & Representative Emerson – Linda Galang – Michelle Rawlings (Alternate) Gompers – Amy Riedemann Hawthorne Lake View Lapham – Mike […]

Capital Times Madison School Board Endorsements

The Capital Times

The Madison School Board will face difficult, perhaps definitional, choices in the next several years. To make those choices, the board must have the right mix of members. Members must be absolutely committed to public education. Yet that’s not enough. They must have varied experience and bold visions for how to address the district’s challenges. With this in mind, we recommend: Howard, Mertz (Primary winner Sarah Manski dropped out of the race, remains on the ballot), Strong

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

Martin to discuss 90-year study on longevity

Chuck Hagan:

Want to live a long, healthy and happy life?
It’s not all about broccoli or jogging or vitamins, says a noted researcher, who re-examined and updated results of a famous longevity study that started in the 1920s to determine that much of contemporary advice on aging well is wrong.
Wearing your seat belt, watching stress, being cheerful and optimistic — all may be factors in making one’s life more enjoyable,Leslie Martin and co-author Howard Friedman wrote in “The Longevity Project.”
But their study findings “clearly revealed that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness,” they wrote. People who had aged well tended to have shown — already as children and consistently through life — the qualities of prudence, persistence and organization.

At Last, A Reason Why Stress Causes DNA Damage

Duke Medicine News and Communications:

For years, researchers have published papers that associate chronic stress with chromosomal damage.
Now researchers at Duke University Medical Center have discovered a mechanism that helps to explain the stress response in terms of DNA damage.
“We believe this paper is the first to propose a specific mechanism through which a hallmark of chronic stress, elevated adrenaline, could eventually cause DNA damage that is detectable,” said senior author Robert J. Lefkowitz, MD, James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at Duke University Medical Center.
The paper was published in the August 21 online issue of Nature.

Harvard Education School

When my father graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1927, I am pretty sure it was not called “The Harvard Graduate School of Medical Education.” People I know who got their degrees from Harvard Law School tell me that it was never, to their knowledge, called the “Harvard Graduate School of Legal Education.” I think that the Harvard Business School does not routinely refer to itself as the “Harvard Graduate School of Business Education.” Harvard College (this is my 50th reunion year) has never seen the need to call itself “The Harvard Undergraduate School of Academic Subjects,” as far as I know. But the Harvard Education School, where I was informed, in the late 1960s, that I had been made a “Master of Education,” (!?) calls itself the “Harvard Graduate School of Education.” Perhaps that makes it a status step up from being called the Harvard Normal School, but the name is, in my view, a small symptom of a deeper problem there.
I had lunch in Cambridge yesterday with a man from Madagascar, who was bringing his daughter (one of The Concord Review’s authors), for her first year at Harvard College. He asked me why there seemed to be so much emphasis in United States schools on nonacademic efforts by students (I assumed he was referring to things like art, band, drama, chorus, jazz ensemble, video workshop, sports of various kinds, community service, etc., etc.). Now you have to make allowances for a geophysicist from Madagascar. After all, on that large island, and indeed in the whole Southern Hemisphere, they think that June, July, and August are Winter months, for goodness’ sake!
As I tried to explain to him the long tradition of anti-intellectualism in American life, and the widespread anti-academic attitudes and efforts of so many of our school Pundits, I thought again about the way the Harvard Education School defines its mission.
As you may know, I am very biased in favor of reading and writing, especially by high school students, and since 1987, I have published 912 exemplary history essays by secondary students from 39 countries in the only journal in the world for such work, so when I have failed to stir some interest in faculty at the Harvard Education School, it has disposed me to look closer at what they are interested in other than the exemplary academic work of students at the high school (or any other) level.
To be fair, there have been a few Harvard people who have taken an interest in my work. Harold Howe II wrote to fifteen foundations on my behalf (without success) and Theodore Sizer wrote the introduction to the first issue in the Fall of 1988, and served on my Board of Directors for several years. Recently, Tony Wagner has taken an interest, and, a very good friend, William Fitzsimmons, Harvard Dean of Admissions, got his doctorate there.
But what are the research interests of faculty at the Harvard Education School, if they don’t include the academic work of students? I recommend that anyone who is curious about this odd phenomenon may review the interests of this graduate faculty by looking at their website, but here a few revealing examples:

“Dr. Ronald F. Ferguson is a Lecturer in Public Policy and Senior Research Associate at the Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he has taught since 1983. His research publications cover issues in education policy, youth development programming, community development, economic consequences of skill disparities, and state and local economic development. For much of the past decade, Dr. Ferguson’s research has focused on racial achievement gaps…”
“During the past two decades, [Howard] Gardner and colleagues have been involved in the design of performance-based assessments; education for understanding; the use of multiple intelligences to achieve more personalized curriculum, instruction, and pedagogy; and the quality of interdisciplinary efforts in education. Since the mid-1990s, in collaboration with psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon, Gardner has directed the GoodWork Project, a study of work that is excellent, engaging, and ethical. More recently, with longtime Project Zero colleagues Lynn Barendsen and Wendy Fischman, he has conducted reflection sessions designed to enhance the understanding and incidence of good work among young people. With Carrie James, he is investigating trust in contemporary society and ethical dimensions entailed in the use of the new digital media. Underway are studies of effective collaboration among nonprofit institutions in education and of conceptions of quality in the contemporary era. In 2008 he delivered a set of three lectures at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on the topic ‘The True, The Beautiful, and the Good: Reconsiderations in a post-modern, digital era.'”
“Nancy Hill’s area of research focuses on variations in parenting and family socialization practices across ethnic, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood contexts. In addition, her research focuses on demographic variations in the relations between family dynamics and children’s school performance and other developmental outcomes. Recent and ongoing projects include Project PASS (Promoting Academic Success for Students), a longitudinal study between kindergarten and 4th grade examining family related predictors of children’s early school performance; Project Alliance/Projecto Alianzo, a multiethnic, longitudinal study of parental involvement in education at the transition between elementary and middle school. She is the co-founder of the Study Group on Race, Culture, and Ethnicity, an interdisciplinary group of scientists who develop theory and methodology for defining and understanding the cultural context within diverse families. In addition to articles in peer-reviewed journals, she recently edited a book, African American Family Life: Ecological and Cultural Diversity (Guilford, 2005) and another edited volume is forthcoming (Family-School Relations during Adolescence: Linking Interdisciplinary Research, Policy and Practice; Teachers College Press).”

This is really a random sample and there are scores of faculty members in the School, studying all sort of things. If I were to summarize their work, I would suggest it tends toward research on poverty, race, culture, diversity, ethnicity, emotional and social disability, developmental psychology, school organization, “The True, the Beautiful, and the Good…in a post-modern, digital era,” and the like, but as far as I can tell, no one there is interested in the academic study (by students) of Asian history, biology, calculus, chemistry, foreign languages, European history, physics, United States History, or any of the academic subjects many taxpayers think should be the main business of education in our schools.
Of course all the things they do study are important, and can be funded with grants, but how can the academic work of students in our schools be of no importance to these scholars? How can they have no interest in the academic subjects which occupy the time and efforts of the teachers and students in our schools?
Perhaps if they were interested in the main academic business of our schools, the place would have to change its name to something less pretentious, like the Harvard Education School?
===============
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®
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Announcing the SUMMER 2010 Online Issue of Gifted Education Press Quarterly

via a Maurice Fisher email:

Dear Subscriber —
Could you share the following message with your STAFF, TEACHERS OR PARENTS? We are offering a complimentary copy of Gifted Education Press Quarterly. They would need to email me directly to receive our SUMMER 2010 issue. My email address is:
gifted@giftededpress.com
Please encourage your colleagues and friends to email me for a complimentary online subscription to GEPQ.
I need your help in locating new subscribers, and would greatly appreciate your asking colleagues and friends to contact me. We are now in a major political battle with federal and state governments to maintain gifted education programs in the public schools. I need your support in making Gifted Education Press Quarterly a resource available to all educators and parents who want to maintain and expand programs for gifted students! Your colleagues and friends should email me at: gifted@giftededpress.com. Thank you.
We’re all on a mission to advance the well-being of gifted education, and we all share a vision of excellence in this field. At this time in our nation’s history, it is important to maintain our leadership in education, science and the humanities. Therefore, I am asking the readers of Gifted Education Press Quarterly for your support to insure that we can continue publishing this Quarterly. Please consider sending a few dollars to help defray the costs of producing this important periodical in the gifted education field or ordering some of our books. We have been publishing GEPQ for 23 years with the goal of including all viewpoints on educating the gifted. Our address is: Gifted Education Press; 10201 Yuma Court; P.O. Box 1586; Manassas, VA 20109. Thank you.
I would also like to give you a special treat. Joan Smutny, the editor of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children Journal has given me permission to place the entire Spring 2010 Journal on the Gifted Education Press web site in PDF format. This is a very important journal issue in the gifted education field because it contains 27 excellent articles on Advocating for Gifted Education Programs. I invite you to read and/or print any or all of these articles from our web site. There is no charge for accessing this journal! Just go to my web site at www.GiftedEdPress.com and click the link for Gifted Advocacy – Illinois Association for Gifted Children Journal. Happy reading!
Members of the National Advisory Panel for Gifted Education Press Quarterly are:
Dr. Hanna David — Ben Gurion University at Eilat, Israel; Dr. James Delisle — Kent State University; Dr. Jerry Flack — University of Colorado; Dr. Howard Gardner — Harvard University; Ms. Margaret Gosfield – Editor, Gifted Education Communicator, Published by the California Association for the Gifted; Ms. Dorothy Knopper — Publisher, Open Space Communications; Mr. James LoGiudice — Bucks County, Pennsylvania IU No. 22; Dr. Bruce Shore — McGill University, Montreal, Quebec; Ms. Joan Smutny — National-Louis University, Illinois; Dr. Colleen Willard-Holt — Dean, Faculty of Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario; Ms. Susan Winebrenner — Consultant, San Marcos, California; Dr. Ellen Winner — Boston College.
Sincerely Yours in the Best Interests of the Gifted Children of America,
Maurice
Maurice Fisher, Ph.D.
Publisher
Gifted Education Press

The Madison School District’s 2009 Strategic Planning Team

Members include:
Abplanalp, Sue, Assistant Superintendent, Elementary Schools
Alexander, Jennifer, President, Chamber of Commerce
Atkinson, Deedra, Senior Vice-President, Community Impact, United Way of Dane County
Banuelos, Maria,Associate Vice President for Learner Success, Diversity, and Community Relations, Madison Area Technical College
Bidar-Sielaff, Shiva, Manager of Cross-Cultural Care, UW Hospital
Brooke, Jessica, Student
Burke, Darcy, Elvehjem PTO President
Burkholder, John, Principal, Leopold Elementary
Calvert, Matt, UW Extension, 4-H Youth Development
Campbell, Caleb, Student
Carranza, Sal, Academic and Student Services, University of Wisconsin
Chandler, Rick, Chandler Consulting
Chin, Cynthia, Teacher, East
Ciesliewicz, Dave, Mayor, City of Madison
Clear, Mark, Alderperson
Cooper, Wendy, First Unitarian Society
Crim, Dawn, Special Assistant, Academic Staff, Chancellor’s Office, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dahmen, Bruce, Principal, Memorial High School
Davis, Andreal, Cultural Relevance Instructional Resource Teacher, Teaching & Learning
Deloya, Jeannette, Social Work Program Support Teacher
Frost, Laurie, Parent
Gamoran, Adam Interim Dean; University of Wisconsin School of Education
Gevelber, Susan, Teacher, LaFollette
Goldberg, Steve, Cuna Mutual
Harper, John, Coordinator for Technical Assistance/Professional Development, Educational Services
Her, Peng,
Hobart, Susie, Teacher, Lake View Elementary
Howard, James, Parent
Hughes, Ed, Member, Board of Education
Jokela, Jill, Parent
Jones, Richard, Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Juchems, Brian, Program Director, Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools
Katz, Ann, Arts Wisconsin
Katz, Barb, Madison Partners
Kester, Virginia, Teacher, West High School
Koencke, Julie, Information Coordinator MMSD
Laguna, Graciela, Parent
Miller, Annette, Community Representative, Madison Gas & Electric
Morrison, Steve, Madison Jewish Community Council
Nadler, Bob, Executive Director, Human Resources
Nash, Pam, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools
Natera, Emilio, Student
Nerad, Dan, Superintendent of Schools
Passman, Marj, Member, Board of Education
Schultz, Sally, Principal, Shabazz City High School
Seno, Karen,Principal, Cherokee Middle School
Sentmanat, Jose, Executive Assistant to the County Executive
Severson, Don, Active Citizens for Education (ACE)
Steinhoff, Becky, Executive Director, Goodman Community Center
Strong, Wayne, Madison Police Department
Swedeen, Beth, Outreach Specialist, Waisman Center
Tennant, Brian, Parent
Terra Nova, Paul, Lussier Community Education Center
Theo, Mike, Parent
Tompkins, Justin, Student
Trevino, Andres, Parent
Trone, Carole, President, WCATY
Vang, Doua, Clinical Team Manager, Southeast Asian Program / Kajsiab House, Mental Health Center of Dane County
Vieth, Karen, Teacher, Sennett
Vukelich-Austin, Martha, Executive Director, Foundation for Madison Public Schools
Wachtel, Lisa, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
Zellmer, Jim, Parent
Much more here.
The Strategic Planning Process Schedule [PDF]