“I would guess, frankly, that no other school district union in the country has had a leader who has served as long as John,” Bellman said. “Because a union is democratic, his longevity is vivid evidence of the way he’s perceived by the people he serves. His ability to interact with members, to serve them, … Continue reading John Matthews, longtime head of Madison teachers union, to retire in January
Manski declined to name the other people who recruited her and has not returned calls since last Friday.
Soglin said when he spoke to Manski he did not know who the other candidates were or which seat she was going to run for.
“I thought she would be a good candidate committed to public education,” Soglin said. “The only discussion I had with Sarah Manski was her candidacy for the School Board. There was nothing else to discuss.”
Soglin said he was “disappointed for our community and disappointed for her” at the news of her withdrawal.
Matthews said in an email that Soglin referred Manski to him for a discussion about her candidacy, but that the grad school application never came up. He said he learned Manski would be moving to California when she called him at 6 p.m. on Feb. 20, the night before she announced her withdrawal from the race.
Related: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools” by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.
Madison’s long time disastrous reading results and the school board.
2013 Madison School Election Intrigue (Public!)
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections, here.
I’m glad DeFour continues to dig.
The Madison Machine has put the fix in to elect a school board wholly beholden to the teachers union. No one suffers more than the poorly served minority community in Madison. Its candidates are being undermined for the benefit of the insider power structure that has allowed the minority achievement gap to grow to alarming levels.
Madison School Board member Mary Burke supports my suspicions. She says Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews is the brains behind Sarah Manski’s Trojan horse candidacy. Whoever is its author, the gambit succeeded in blocking a freethinking minority candidate, Ananda Mirilli, from surviving the front-end-loaded primary, so precipitously concluded.
For the record, John Matthews responded with a monosyllabic “no” mid-Sunday afternoon to my inquiry: “Is Mary Burke correct? Are you the brains behind the Sarah Manski bait and switch?”
So far, School Board member Marj Passman, the union’s most vociferous defender, and a longtime water carrier for the union, is left holding the bag. Matthew DeFour’s fine reportage in Saturday’s Wisconsin State Journal reports this:
Manski said she didn’t plan to run for School Board, but entered the race because Passman and a few other people [my italics] very strongly encouraged her to run. She declined to say who the other people were.
CT: What about the training and capabilities of Madison school teachers and how they deliver in the classroom day to day — is there room for improvement there?
JM: Well, there’s always room for improvement — there’s room for improvement in what I do. I can only say that the Madison School District has invested all kinds of things in professional development. One thing teachers tell us if they have time to work together, they can make strides. I found early in my career if I’m having a teacher identified as having a performance problem, ask the principal who is the best at doing what they want this teacher to do. Then you go to that teacher and say: “You have a colleague who needs help, will you take them under your wing?” I don’t have access to any of what they talk about, management doesn’t have access to that — it’s been a remarkably successful venture.
CT: In discussion of the achievement gap in Madison I’ve heard from African-American parents up and down the economic spectrum who say that their children are met at school with low expectations that really hamper their performance.
JM: I’ve heard that too. The Madison School District has an agreed-upon mandatory cultural course that people have to take. But there are people in society who don’t like to be around other races. I don’t see that when teachers are together. And we have a variety of people who are leaders in MTI — either Asian or Indian or black — but there are people who have different expectations from people who are different from them.
CT: Does the union have a role in dealing with teachers whose lowered expectations of students of color might contribute to the achievement gap?
JM: The only time MTI would get involved is if somebody was being criticized for that, we’d likely be involved with that; if someone were being disciplined for that, we would be involved. We’ve not seen that.
Following the exploits of Madison Teachers Inc. leader John Matthews in the State Journal makes it obvious that he is a negotiator extraordinaire.
He’s managed to have his people on one side of the “negotiating table” and at least some he helped elect on the other side, so it is not a “bargaining table” but a “collaboration table.”
Maybe, however, he has gone too far in not enthusiastically promoting measuring teacher performance, as encouraged by President Barack Obama. Now it seems Wisconsin’s taxpayers need to take back some of the functions, like measuring employee performance, usually ascribed to management but, through negotiation, given to the employee.
I appreciated the respect for John Matthews’ achievements conveyed by Madison labor mediator Howard Bellman’s comment in Sunday’s article, and his concern about the possible effect of Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to destroy the Madison teachers union and public employee unions throughout Wisconsin:
“It would be like somebody watching all their paintings burn up… What he’s accomplished over the years would have been just a memory.”
However, that analogy fails to give consideration to the value of his work beyond creating a robust and effective union. For the artist, the joy of the creation might be lasting, but the product of his efforts would be gone. That would not be the case for what Matthew’s efforts have produced.
fter encouraging Madison teachers in February to stage an illegal sick-out, which robbed children of educational opportunities and caused disruption for many parents, he now says teachers are “ready to do whatever it takes” to continue the protest of state budget reductions. He was also quoted as saying; “It’s going to get down and dirty.”
Wow! This kind of rhetoric coming from a 71-year-old man who receives about $310,000 in annual income and benefits from union fees. Makes you ask the question: What is his priority?
In an article about teacher retirements in the State Journal a couple of weeks ago, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews had some harsh comments about the Madison school district and school board. Referring to the Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program, or TERP, Matthews said, “The evidence of the ill will of the board of education and superintendent speaks for itself as to why we have grave concern over the benefit continuing. . . . They tore things from the MTI contract, which they and their predecessors had agreed for years were in the best interest of the district and its employees.”
In an article in Isthmus last week, Lynn Welch followed up with Matthews. Matthews comes out swinging against the school district in this article as well, asserting, “The bargaining didn’t have to [involve] so much animosity. . . . If they wanted to make revisions, all they had to do is talk with us and we could have worked through something that would be acceptable to both sides. But they didn’t bother to talk about it. You don’t buy good will this way.” While the contract includes very significant economic concessions on the part of the teachers, Matthews expressed unhappiness with the non-economic changes as well, labeling them “inhumane.”
In the Isthmus article, Matthews asserts that the changes in the collective bargaining agreement “show how Walker’s proposed legislation (still tied up in court) has already produced an imbalance of power forcing unions to make concessions they don’t want to achieve a contract deal.”
The collective bargaining process is useful because it provides an established framework for hammering out issues of mutual concern between the school district and its employees and for conflict resolution. However, if the collective bargaining agreement were to disappear, the school district wouldn’t immediately resort to a management equivalent of pillaging the countryside. Instead, the district would seek out alternative ways of achieving the ends currently served by the collective bargaining process, because the district, like nearly all employers, values its employees and understands the benefits of being perceived as a good place to work.
But when employers aren’t interested in running sweat-shops, organizations set up to prevent sweat-shop conditions aren’t all that necessary. It may be that John Matthews’ ramped-up rhetoric is best understood not as a protest against school district over-reaching in bargaining, since that did not happen, but as a cry against the possibility of his own impending irrelevance.
A dispute has developed between Madison teachers and the school district over changes to contracts secured during quickie negotiations in March. John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., is upset about what he calls an “unfair and unreasonable” process.
“The bargaining didn’t have to [involve] so much animosity,” says Matthews. “If they wanted to make revisions, all they had to do is talk with us and we could have worked through something that would be acceptable to both sides. But they didn’t bother to talk about it. You don’t buy good will this way.”
Elsewhere, in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Matthews referred darkly to “the ill will of the board of education and superintendent” toward his members, as shown in these contract talks.
But school board members and district administrators take a different view, saying Matthews and his staff were at the bargaining table and agreed to all changes made to the contracts during an all-night negotiation that ended March 12; MTI members ratified the deal the next day. School Board President Maya Cole suggests that Matthews now has “buyer’s remorse.”
Jason Joyce’s useful look at Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s weekly schedule often reveals a few nuggets of local political trivia. Today, the Mayor met with Madison Teachers, Inc. Executive Director John Matthews and former WEAC Executive Director Morris (Mo) Andrews.
- City of Madison faces slower tax receipt growth
- Wisconsin state budget structural deficit: $1,682,000,000
- Madison School District’s 2008/2009 $367,806,712 budget (up from $217M in 1995, while enrollment has been flat the demographics have changed significantly)
- MTI has clashed in the past with WEAC
- Incoming Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad met with Mayor Dave in March.
- Retiring Superintendent Art Rainwater met with Dave in April.
- Madison Mayor proposes expansion of low income housing throughout Dane County.
- Morris Andrews searches: Clusty / Google / Live / WisPolitics
- Andrews previous efforts at reform of Wisconsin’s redistributed school tax dollars generated some controversy, as this letter from former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist illustrates [WEAC press release]. Andrews is an interesting guy.
- 2001 “Morris Andrews Plan to replace shared revenues with a county sales tax increases.
- Mayor Dave’s campaign website.
- Jason Shephard: John Matthews has run Madison’s teachers union for 40 years. Is it time for a change?
- Wisconsin’s tax burden drops to 11th.
Might parents and taxpayers have a meeting?
But while Matthews laments the failures of government to improve teaching and learning, he glosses over his own pivotal role in local educational leadership. That role includes standing in the way of programs like 4-year-old kindergarten that could help the district meet its educational objectives.
Beginning in the next few weeks, a school board made up mostly of rookies will begin to address the challenges ahead. A new superintendent starting July 1 — Daniel Nerad, formerly top dog in Green Bay — inspires hope of new solutions to nagging problems. But the third pillar of power is John Matthews. He’s been around the longest and arguably knows the most.
Already, Matthews has cemented his legacy from building a strong, tough union. But now, some are wondering if Matthews will also leave behind a legacy of obstructing key educational change.
Clusty Search: John Matthews.
Susan Troller: The key architect behind that transformation was the tough young executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., John Matthews, who had come to Madison eight years earlier from Montana. Thirty years later, Matthews is still tough and, more than ever, still casts a powerful shadow across the public education landscape of Madison as a … Continue reading 30 Years of Clout: MTI’s John Matthews & the ’76 Teacher’s Strike
Despite a written agreement between Madison Teachers Incorporated and the Board of Education that aims at settling the teachers contract for 2005-07 by June 30, union executive director John Matthews and Superintendent Art Rainwater made a jovial � and unprecedented – announcement that they would delay discussion of wages and benefits until after the April … Continue reading News Flash: John Matthews Is Willing to Delay Negotiations for Teachers’ Wages Until After the April 5 School Board Elections
MTI Executive Director John Matthews on LaFollette Principal Mike Meissen’s basketball coach selection process.
John Matthews, writing in the Wisconsin State Journal: For many years, recognizing the value to both children and the community, Madison Teachers Inc. has endorsed 4-year-old kindergarten being universally accessible to all. This forward-thinking educational opportunity will provide all children with an opportunity to develop the skills they need to be better prepared to proceed … Continue reading MTI’s John Matthews on 4 Year Old Kindergarden
Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter (PDF) 1.25.2016 Newsletter: MTI – Teachers who worked full-time in the Madison Metropolitan School District for the entire calendar year in 2015 (January through December) paid dues/fair share in the amount of $1,042.10. Of that amount, $260 was for WEAC, $183.60 for NEA, $570.00 for MTI, and $28.50 for MTI VOTERS … Continue reading Madison Teachers, Inc. Dues, Taxes and Recent Newsletters; Matthews Reflects on Service to MTI
It’s ironic that John Matthews, executive director for Madison Teachers Inc., writes in a State Journal guest column that Madison Prep charter school could be implemented only if it was more like Nuestro Mundo.
In 2004, when Nuestro Mundo applied, Matthews didn’t support the formation of a charter school. He opposed the charter despite the fact that Nuestro Mundo wanted teachers to remain in the collective bargaining agreement as members of MTI.
If the Madison School Board had listened to Matthews back in 2004, there would not be a Nuestro Mundo charter school.
Nuestro Mundo came into existence through the work of members of the community and the efforts of three Madison School District board members, Ruth Robarts, Ray Allen and Juan Jose Lopez. In spite of the many legal and economic questions, they found a way to make Nuestro Mundo a reality.
Matthews has not assisted in the formation of charter schools. Don’t look to him for a balanced opinion — he’s anti-charter.
— Peter Joyce, Madison
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
While attending a recent party on the shores of Lake Mendota, the use of drug-sniffing dogs in city high schools became a discussion topic. As parents and taxpayers, we concluded that the use of random sweeps is an excellent idea because Madison and Dane County have seen dramatic increases in drug use among younger people.
We thought it incredible that John Matthews, the teachers union boss, would utter such nonsense that there wouldn’t be better control with drug-sniffing dogs and “why do we want to make kids go to school in that environment?”
Via a Johnny Winston, Jr. MMSD email: It is with great humility that I announce that I have been elected to serve as President of the Madison School Board. I am honored to have the opportunity to provide leadership to our school district and community. Serving as President is the culmination of part of a … Continue reading Announcement from Madison School Board President Johnny Winston, Jr. (and the 04 / 07 elections)
When Dane Country Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas held officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration in contempt this week, he was pushing back against a level of unchecked lawlessness by this administration that is “practically seditious,” says attorney Lester Pines.
Colas had already ruled a year ago that parts of Act 10 — the law that ended most collective bargaining rights for most public employees — were unconstitutional. This included Act 10’s requirement that unions hold annual recertification elections. But commissioners at the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission decided to ignore that decision. They went ahead and prepared for recertification elections for more than 400 school district and worker unions in November.
“The commissioners knew full well” they were flouting the court, Colas said, despite their cute argument that the word “unconstitutional” applied only to the specific plaintiffs in the case — teachers in Madison and city workers in Milwaukee.
As John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., put it, Colas’ decision “is one of the most important decisions not only in public-sector labor history, but also in democracy.”
The principle here is simple. If a law is unconstitutional on its face, it’s unconstitutional in every case. That has always been understood in Wisconsin courts. And, Judge Colas pointed out, the Walker officials understood it, too.
Local teacher union officials say they are hopeful after Monday’s ruling by a Madison judge finding state labor commissioners in contempt of court for continuing to enforce collective bargaining restrictions he deemed unconstitutional last year.
Meanwhile, some area school districts are saying it’s too soon to tell if the ruling will produce new calls for negotiations.
“We are back to the point that unions and the people they represent have equal standing,” said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., one of two plaintiffs that brought a lawsuit challenging Act 10, resulting in Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas’ 2012 decision.
The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission had argued that decision applied just to the plaintiff unions. Colas said Monday the ruling applied statewide and the commission was purposefully ignoring it.
In Madison, teachers and the district just extended a contract through June 2015.
Madison School District teachers and staff will be covered under a collective bargaining agreement through the 2014-15, pending approval by the Madison School Board.
Madison Teachers Inc. members gathered Wednesday evening at Madison Marriott West in Middleton to ratify a one-year contract extension with the district. MTI’s five bargaining units, which include teachers, education assistants, clerical and security staff, and other district employees, all ratified the deal.
The Madison School Board will vote on the agreement Monday.
John Matthews, executive director of the union, said that pending school board approval, MTI would be the only teachers’ union in Wisconsin with a contract through the 2014-15 school year.
Related: Proposed City of Madison budget raises property taxes by 1.5%, while the Madison School District’s 2013-2014 budget increases taxes by 4.5%, after a 9% increase two years ago (and a substantial jump in redistributed state tax dollars last year).
Given MTI’s victory in Circuit Court, wherein Judge Juan Colas found Act 10 unconstitutional, MTI and the District have agreed to commence Contract negotiations (PDF).
Details of this were announced in a joint letter to all District employees last Friday from Superintendent Jen Cheatham and MTI Executive Director John Matthews. Their letter stated that, “… to be successful this year and in the years to come, District employees must have a work environment that is both challenging and rewarding, and one which includes economic and employment security”. Matthews complimented the Superintendent and Board members for their progressive philosophy in recognizing the essentials in positive employment relations.
Contracts existed in all 423 school districts at the time Act 10 was passed in 2011. Currently, workers in only four school districts enjoy the wages, benefits and rights which a Collective Bargaining Agreement provides. The current Contracts for MTI’s five bargaining units expire June 30, 2014.
The State has appealed Judge Colas’ decision. The matter will be heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in November or December. In his ruling, Judge Colas stated that Act 10 was passed in a very controversial manner, skipping several steps mandated by legislative rules and Wisconsin law, and that it violated public workers’ Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, as well as the Constitutional guaranteed Equal Protection Clause.
I wonder what the sentiment across the teacher population might be? Perhaps there have been surveys?
Scheduled pay raises for union-represented city employees may need to be trimmed to help balance the 2014 city budget, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and City Council President Chris Schmidt said Friday.
Schmidt said he didn’t relish the step — calling city workers “already underpaid for the jobs they do” — but he argued there could be no other choice.
Revenue limits under state law, rising city costs for fuel and health insurance, and a steadfast goal to protect funding for basic city services increasingly tie the city’s hands, he said.
“It’s understandable why it’s on the table, why we’re discussing it,” he said about the possible action, in which a 3 percent raise scheduled to start in the last pay period in December could be scaled back or eliminated for many employees in March.
Contract talks for Madison School District employees set to start this month, letter says contract negotiations for Madison School District employees are set to begin later this month, according to a letter sent Friday to district staff by superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews.
Cheatham said in a phone interview that she and employee unions will be negotiating “as soon as we can” in order to create collective bargaining agreements that will take effect after the current contracts end in June 2014.
MTI asked the district to begin collective bargaining in May, but the new superintendent wanted to adjust to her role, become acquainted with the staff and hear their requests before bargaining with the teachers union and other employee unions.
Although the timeline is unclear, Cheatham said she expects to complete the contracts “fairly quickly” while also taking time to ensure the process is done correctly and has an outcome acceptable to all parties.
Much more on the Madison School District’s 2013-2014 budget (including a 4.5 property tax increase, after 9% two years ago), here.
To each and every one of the nearly 5,000 District employees who are represented by MTI, welcome, as the 2013-14 school year begins! MTI is the collective bargaining agent for all teachers and non-supervisory professional staff, educational assistants (EA-MTI), clerical/technical personnel (SEE-MTI), substitute teachers (USO-MTI), and school security assistants (SSA-MTI) who are employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District. It is the Union’s mission to negotiate the best possible Collective Bargaining Agreements, and to provide the best representation and service possible, when assisting members with any Contract or work-related matter. Contact your Union staff at MTI Headquarters (257-0491 or www.madisonteachers.org) should you have a question or need assistance with any Contract or work-related matter.
This school year will be one of challenge as MTI moves to preserve members’ wages, benefits and rights. MTI is one of the few public employee unions with contracts in place, given the devastating impact of Walker’s Act 10.
MTI Greets New Hires
Members of MTI’s Board of Directors, Bargaining Committee and Union staff greeted the District’s newly hired teachers at New Teacher Orientation last Monday. On Tuesday MTI hosted a luncheon for the 250 new members of MTI’s teacher bargaining unit.
MTI President Peg Coyne and MTI Executive Director John Matthews addressed the District’s new teachers during Tuesday’s luncheon. In doing so, Matthews provided a brief history of the Union, its reputation of negotiating outstanding Collective Bargaining Agreements which provide both employment security and economic security, and in explaining the threat to both, given Act 10, said all MTI members would need to pull together to preserve the Madison Metropolitan School District as a quality place to teach.
President Coyne gave a warm MTI welcome to those present, discussed MTI’s structure and stressed the need for member participation in political action, if public employees are to regain the right to collectively bargain and if schools are to be adequately funded.
District retiree Jan Silvers lighted up the room when discussing how her life and career was much more enjoyable and rewarding having MTI as her advocate, especially when it came to the ability to experience religious freedom and work during pregnancy. She was awarded 16 years of back pay plus interest as a result of MTI’s litigation. Teachers, through the early 1970’s, had to advise their principal “immediately upon becoming pregnant” and were obligated to resign when the pregnancy “began showing”. As a result of MTI’s accomplishments, such antiquated and degrading policies are history.
Madison teachers are eager to nail down another labor contract — through June 2015 at least — while the door to legally do so is open.
But it’s going to be a while before Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham is ready to consider sitting down with them.
Madison Teachers Inc. hopes to negotiate a contract beyond the one-year pact quickly approved by School Board members last fall after a local judge ruled parts of Act 10 unconstitutional, delaying implementation of the state law curbing collective bargaining rights.
“I’m just starting” on the job, Cheatham told a crowd of 150 gathered at West High School last week to talk with the superintendent, who took the helm of the Madison School District on April 1. “I need to finish this entry plan before I would be willing to consider, with (MTI Executive Director John Matthews) and our colleagues at MTI, entering into negotiations.”
MTI has filed notice with the Board of Education and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) to open bargaining for 2014-15 Collective Bargaining Agreements for all five (5) MTI bargaining units. Bargaining is enabled by Judge Colas’ decision that Act 10, which sought to bar public sector bargaining, is unconstitutional. The City of Madison and the County of Dane have contracts with all City and County unions through 2015.
Last week MTI filed an additional petition with Judge Colas because of the failure of the Governor and the WERC Commissioners to implement those parts of Act 10 which Colas found to violate the Wisconsin Constitution. The WERC Commissioners contend that, because Judge Colas did not issue an injunction, they may ignore his declaratory judgment when considering cases filed at the WERC. The WERC Commissioners and the Governor apparently believe that without a specific injunction directing them to abide by the Court’s declaration of unconstitutionality, they are free to apply the law as they, not the Court, interprets it.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews said, “The above-described actions of the WERC Commissioners and the Governor, who are parties to the case, are unprecedented. They argued that the law was constitutional and they lost. They asked for a stay from the Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals and they lost. By implementing and enforcing a law determined to be unconstitutional, they are saying ‘We are above the law.’ That is intolerable. Consequently, MTI has returned to court to seek an injunction to force the WERC Commissioners, and the Governor who controls them, to respect the Courts and follow the law.”
MTI expects to exchange bargaining proposals with the District within the next few weeks. MTI represents approximately 5,000 District employees in five different bargaining units. They are teachers (MTI), educational assistants (EA-MTI), clerical/technical employees (SEE-MTI), substitute teachers (USO-MTI) and school security assistants (SSA-MTI).
In addition to the usual topics, MTI bargaining will include District proposals to amend Contract terms about parent-teacher conferences and possible extension, in some schools, of the school day and school year.
Fascinating. It appears likely that Madison’s “status quo” governance model will continue.
Commentary on Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes’ Teacher Salary Increase Colloquy.
Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.
Madison School District property taxes for 2013 could increase 7.4 percent under budget recommendations being presented Monday to the Madison School Board.
That would be the biggest percent increase in the district’s property tax levy in a decade. Taxes on an average Madison home valued at $230,831 would total $2,855, a $182 increase from last year.
However, district officials cautioned the numbers likely will change once the state budget is finalized and new superintendent Jennifer Cheatham conducts a review of the district.
“Before I can feel comfortable recommending a tax increase I would want to make sure that every dollar is spent effectively and I can feel confident that the funds that we’re investing are going to pay off for students,” Cheatham said.
Did you get a 7.4% pay raise this year? State employees have forgone a pay raise the last couple years. They had to reach in their pockets to pay new health insurance and pension co-pays. Annuitants covered by the Wisconsin Retirement System have been treading water since 2009. Those who retired nine or more years ago are facing a 9.6% reduction in their pensions. Many of those, ironically, are retired teachers.
Yet the Madison School Board proposes a 1.5% across-the-board pay increase. Actually, reporter DeFour underreported the proposed pay increase. Add another 1% for the “step” increases to account for longevity to equal a 2.5% increase. Almost uniquely among taxpayer-supported employees these days, the district’s teachers still would pay nothing toward their generous health insurance benefits. Job security is nearly guaranteed. Meanwhile, the district acts as bagman for union boss John Matthews, deducting dues from teacher paychecks.
Can we expect the district to end that statutorily forbidden practice when the current contract expires after this June? Let’s hope so, unless the district hides behind Dane County Judge Juan Colas’ Act 10 ruling.
What would get the axe? Parent-teacher conferences. So much for addressing the achievement gap.
Related: Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.
Congratulations to Madison’s white power elite, especially to Democrats, organized labor, John Matthews and his teachers union. You very well may have elected a teachers union-first (“Collectively we decide …”), children second school board. You also just handed Scott Walker a powerful case for expanding private school vouchers.
What are you afraid of? That more parents might not choose the taxpayer-coerced public school monopoly? What do you expect, when you leave them no (ahem) … choice.
I would like to hold out hope that absentee ballots will make the difference, but 279 votes is probably too many for Wayne Strong to overcome to defeat Dean Loumos, who holds an 18,286 to 18,007 lead. If there are 1,333 absentee ballots that need to be counted, as the city clerk’s website advertises, Strong would have to beat Loumos 806 to 527 in those uncounted votes.
(BTW: Is this the new normal? As absentee voting becomes more popular, winners won’t be declared for a week after the election?)
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.
“I have no doubt that the way we’re going to improve student achievement is by focusing on what happens in the classroom,” Cheatham said.
Clash with unions
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews and others say poverty drives the achievement gap more so than classroom factors.
“We do have a high-quality teaching force in Madison — it’s been that way for years,” Matthews said. He added that one challenge he’d like to see Cheatham address is the administration’s tendency to adopt new programs every few years.
Cheatham’s salary will be $235,000, 17 percent more than predecessor Dan Nerad. Unlike Nerad, a former Green Bay social worker and superintendent, Cheatham has never led an organization. She also hasn’t stayed in the same job for more than two years since she was a teacher in Newark, Calif., from 1997 to 2003.
Mitchell, who beat out Cheatham for the top job at Partners in School Innovation where she worked for a year before moving to Chicago, said Cheatham has the talent to become schools chief in a major city like Chicago or New York in seven to 10 years. That’s a benefit for Madison because Cheatham is on the upswing of her career and must succeed in order to advance, Mitchell said.
“The thing about Madison that’s kind of exciting is there’s plenty of work to do and plenty of resources with which to do it,” Mitchell said. “It’s kind of a sweet spot for Jen. Whether she stays will depend on how committed the district is to continuing the work she does.”
Related: A history of Madison Superintendent experiences.
I asked the three (! – just one in 2013) 2008 Madison school board candidates (Gallon, Nerad or McIntyre), if they supported “hiring the best teachers and getting out of the way”, or a “top down” approach where the District administration’s department of “curriculum done our way” working in unison with Schools of Education, grant makers and other third parties attempt to impose teaching models on staff.
Union intransigence is one of the reasons (in my view) we experience administrative attempts to impose curricula via math or reading “police”. I would prefer to see a “hire the best and let them teach – to high global standards” approach. Simplify and focus on the basics: reading, writing, math and science.
Madison School Board Seat 5 Candidate TJ Mertz Sued Twice for Unpaid Utility Bills by WKOW TV.
Missed Campaign Finance Filings: Paging Sarah Manski: You can’t leave for California just yet by David Blaska.
Sarah Manski keeps Nan Brien out of court; reports lots of Green by David Blaska:
She blew through Monday’s campaign finance reporting deadline as blithely as she ran – and then quit – her race for Madison School Board. (“Paging Sarah Manski: You can’t leave for California just yet.”) But Sarah Manski has finally made an honest woman of her treasurer and protector of the union-dominated old guard, Nan Brien.
(The former school board member, nemesis of public schools chartered to address the racial achievement gap, told WKOW TV-27 that her role as treasurer was only as a figurehead. Like Sgt. Schultz, so many in Madison are saying about the Manski campaign: “I knew nothing!”)
The Manski fundraising report filed Friday – four days late – reveals quite the haul in just a few weeks for a local race: $7,733 since Feb. 5 for a race that she ended two days after the Feb. 19 primary election. That makes a total of $11,136 since entering the race in December. That’s a lot of Green! As in very Green green.
Now, if Sarah had been a conservative instead of a professional Walker stalker (see: Wisconsin Wave), The Capital Times would have staged one of its pretend ethics meltdowns about the evils of out-of-state money. An example of their situational ethics is “Pat Roggensack’s out-of-state cash”:
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack makes little secret of her ideological and partisan alliances. And most of [her] money is coming from outside Wisconsin.
You want “outside Wisconsin”? How about St. Louis, Mo.; Lansdale, Pa.; N. Hollywood, Calif.; Edina, Minn.; Mishakawa, Ind.; Vancouver, Wash.; Kensington, Md.; Palo Alto, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Port Orford, Ore.; Flossmoor, Ill.; Sheffield, Mass.; Orange, Calif.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Chevy Chase, Md.; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Corvallis, Ore.; Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Redlands, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Boulder, Colo.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Detroit, Mich.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Seattle, Wash.; Carmel, Calif.; Houston, Texas; Philadelphia, Pa.
That is only a partial list of postmarks for “Manski for Wisconsin,” as her Madison School Board campaign was grandiosely named. Yes, when it comes to “outside cash,” John Nichols’ protégés get a pass. Manski collected 107 contributions in the latest reporting period, of which only 32 bore a Madison address, including: MTI boss John Matthews, $50; Mayor Soglin aide Sarah Miley’s husband, $100; and of course, Marj “Somebody Good” Passman, $50.
Blaska’s Bring It! finds that Mertz’s spouse, Karin Schmidt, is employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District as a special education assistant at Madison West High School. That necessitates that Mertz recuse himself on such important votes as teacher and staff salary, benefits, working conditions, length of school day and year.
The odd thing is that nowhere on his campaign website does Mertz refer to his wife. He mentions two sons but no spouse. Why is she The Woman Who Must Not Be Named?
“No particular reason why she is not listed there,” Mertz told me today. Seriously? And what about the obvious conflict of interest?
“If elected, I will recuse myself as advised by district legal staff,” Mertz told this blog. I asked what would trigger a recusal. He responded, “As to recusals, I don’t know. I will take the legal advice of the district counsel. You could ask her; I have not yet, as it is not appropriate for her to be giving advice to a candidate.”
Really? You’re running for school board but you don’t know when and on what you can vote?
I have posed the conflict-of-interest issue to MMSD legal staff as well as to the Wisconsin School Board Assn. This being the Easter weekend holiday, answers may not be forthcoming before the election. However, Mertz supporter Bill Keys, the former school board president who banned the Pledge of Allegiance at Madison schools, a year ago declared that school board candidate Nichelle Nichols “will be unable to work fully with her colleagues,” because she was a Madison Urban League employee:
When I served on the board, our attorney instructed me to avoid Madison Teachers Inc. negotiations and not even be in the room during discussions. As a retired teacher, I benefited only from the life insurance policy provided by the district. Even so, discussions or votes on MTI benefits would violate state law.
Here’s a good idea.
In light of the retirement of Pope Benedict, Madison should demand a similar transition.
Pope John Matthews I, the Vicar of Madison Education, should step down from his throne. Admittedly this suggestion is informed by my participation on the board of the Urban League of Greater Madison and the now-defunct Madison Prep board.
But look, Matthews is still in good health. His $300K per annum package at the helm of Madison Teachers Inc. has placed him among the very one percent many of his followers revile. Like the Pope–and Don Vito Corleone–John has fought too many wars. He now prowls his mansion at night, toying with the local Democratic Party he has purchased, fighting enemies that do not exist, in battles that need not be waged.
No better example of why John’s retirement would be good for our New Madison, rich with faces of many colors and voices, than The Manski Debacle. Never have Progressive White Folk appeared so utterly smug and ruthless as when Sarah made her dash.
First, it has to be asked: Why was Manski even running for the Madison School Board? Kids? No. A passion for education? No. So why? Because The John Father wanted it to be so.
So The John Father, like Don Corleone, unleashed his money and powerful networks. The usual list of progressive endorsers fell in line creating a snapshot for Manski whiter than Ronald Reagan’s cabinet. The Cap Times played its part, never seeming to understand that “all white progressive” is an oxymoron. Did any of them think for a minute that the sea of white faces for Manski communicated something to minority Madison? This is how tone deaf they have become.
That led minority leaders to complain about the perceived control white Madison liberals — including teachers union leaders — exert on elections and on efforts meant to raise minority student achievement. Some local leaders have undertaken soul-searching while others say more minorities need to seek elective office.
“You could not have constructed a scenario to cause more alienation and more mistrust than what Sarah Manski did,” longtime local political observer Stuart Levitan said, referring to the primary winner for seat 5. “It exposed an underlying lack of connection between some of the progressive white community and the progressive African-American community that is very worrisome in the long run.”
In the last few weeks:
- Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire in a lengthy email described the failed negotiations involving him, district officials and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews over Caire’s proposed Madison Preparatory Academy geared toward low-income minority students.
- Ananda Mirilli, who placed third behind Manski for seat 5, released emails in which Sarah Manski’s husband, Ben Manski, accused Caire of recruiting Mirilli to run for School Board and linking Caire to a conservative foundation. Caire confirmed the email exchange, but said he didn’t recruit Mirilli. The Manskis did not respond to requests for comment.
- Two School Board members, Mary Burke and Ed Hughes, vigorously backed former police lieutenant Wayne Strong, who is black, to counter the influence of political groups supporting his opponent. In the seat 3 race, Strong faces Dean Loumos, a low-income housing provider supported by MTI, the Dane County Democratic Party, Progressive Dane and the local Green Party.
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.
During last month’s Committee meeting, we presented a new, rewritten Policy 10000. At that time, we explained that the changes contained therein were intended to reflect the time the Board has spent reviewing and discussing Dr. Julie Mead’s work regarding principle-based policymaking. Over the course of the last meeting, several members suggested changes for and improvements to Draft 1 of the rewritten Policy 10000. Tonight we present Draft 2, which we believe incorporates the Board’s suggestions and input. Attached hereto is a redline draft highlighting the differences between Draft 1 of the rewritten policy and Draft 2.
The changes include:
- Express language stating only instrumentality schools will be considered (p. 10-1)
- Refinement of the guiding principles (pp. 10-1and10-2)
- Revisions to the timeline to include more Board involvement and specificity (p.10-3)
- Board review and approval of Initial Applications (p. 10-5)
- Clarification of the timing of the Superintendent’s Administrative Analysis (p. 10-6)
- Removal of the term “qualified” in Section IV (p. 10-7)
- Additional detail regarding location requirements (p. 10-8)
The changes in Draft 2 do not reflect any of the proposed statutory amendments contained in Governor Walker’s biennial budget. At this time, the changes are only proposals and may or may not be passed as law. Obviously, if any of the proposed changes, which primarily relate to independent and instrumentality charter schools, do become law, we will need to review Policy 10000 again to insure compliance.
Related: Madison Mayor Paul “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools” Soglin Asked Sarah Manski to Run for the School Board; “Referred” her to MTI Executive Director John Matthews.
Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is speaking out against the campaign of deception waged against people of color and others who support doing something now about Madison’s yawning achievement gap instead of blaming Gov. Scott Walker.
In a statement issued this week, Caire writes, “As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. … We are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring ….”
Walker had not even been sworn in as governor when the Urban League proposed establishing a charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, to address an achievement gap in which barely half of black and Hispanic children graduate from high school in the Madison public schools.
Caire mentioned as the two worst offenders in this campaign of dishonesty T.J. Mertz, candidate for School Board seat #5, and Green Party activist Ben Manski.
Manski’s wife, Sarah, jumped into the seat #5 race hoping to squeeze out an already announced candidate, Latina immigrant Ananda Mirilli. Sarah Manski’s candidacy was apparently encouraged by both Mayor Paul Soglin, who gave her a glowing campaign testimonial, and teachers union boss John Matthews, to whom Soglin referred Sarah Manski. On Dec. 30, Ben Manski blasted an email containing this outright distortion of minority candidate Ananda Mirilli’s position:
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.
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.
Strengthening the Bridge Between Education and Work
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Invest in the Urban League
Urban League 2012 Third Quarter Progress Report
The Memorandum from Kaleem Caire to John Matthews (Madison Teachers, Inc)
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
President & CEO
336K PDF Version
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.
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.
I feel like my head is going to explode.
As a Dem-leaning, Urban League board member; fiscally cautious, small business-owning product of both private and public education; and a native Madisonian proud of our city’s progressive past, why do I feel caught in a remake of the Temptations’ old-school classic “Ball of Confusion”?
Maybe it began December 19, 2011. That’s when I heard Madison School Board member Marj Passman painfully explain why she was going to vote against Madison Prep, the initiative designed to get more of Madison’s black students college ready.
In artfully prepared notes, an emotional Passman, who is a former teacher and proud Madison Teachers Inc. member, echoed her earlier op-ed for the The Capital Times defining her view of public schools, including the important and noble benefits of equal opportunity and the responsibilities of preparing students to be economically self-sufficient and improving social conditions.
Yet Passman voted against the sentiment of black parents that night who eloquently described an experience in Madison’s schools that ran counter to the very goals she listed.
Passman was caught in a progressive conundrum of the first order. Vote for current educational models and justice for teachers unions, or listen to the voices of a community asking for new ideas and justice for their struggling kids? A tough call for any progressive.
The head spun more during a conversation with MTI leader John Matthews. He offered his view on teacher accountability. A champion of union rights, Matthews maintained teachers shouldn’t compete against each other for pay, but rather work together collaboratively to create better schools. Yet, at a later meeting, Matthews was put on his heels when Urban League president and native Madisonian Kaleem Caire asked why, in 2010 with less than fifty percent of young black males in Madison graduating from high school, not one of Madison’s 2,700 teachers was dismissed for any reason, including substandard performance.
Our kids compete for grades and are held accountable for performance. Yet teachers shouldn’t compete, and accountability for them is a word rife with conflict? So a champion of Madison’s black poor challenges the champion of teachers. The head spins.
Related: And so it continues……
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.
As the District contemplates consequences for those teachers who are not using Infinite Campus, MTI has heard from several members about the difficulty in meeting this District expectation. District Assistant Superintendent Joe Gothard sent a letter to all middle and high school teaching staff in late August, mandating that they use the grade book within IC and enter grades at least once weekly. While this poses challenges across the board, it has been especially difficult for specials teachers as they see literally hundreds of students each week.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews and Assistant Director Sara Bringman have spoken with Gothard about how to alleviate this burden for specials teachers. Gothard reports that he has spoken with principals and shared this message: “If specials teachers have large classes, and/or an A/B day (schedule), they would not be held to the standard of weekly input. At a minimum they should be using it for progress and grade reports.” Gothard’s accommodation should help allay concerns among specials teachers for not following the District’s earlier mandate.
Often one does not realize how information gathered may be used to benefit others when the information is first received. Such is the case of the Memorial High School Evening Meal Program. Several years ago, Art Camosy, MTI Vice President and MTI’s Senior Faculty Representative for Memorial High School, attended a lecture given by Columbia Teachers’ College Professor Richard Rothstein. The lecture was sponsored by MTI, State Representative Cory Mason (Racine), and several entities within the UW. Professor Rothstein spoke about the impact of poverty on learning, citing, among other things, that a lack of medical and dental care result in lack of readiness for school, one of the causes of an achievement gap for the children growing up in poverty.
According to Rothstein in his book, “Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Achievement Gap” (www.epi.org/publication/books_class_and_schools/), children of high school drop-outs probably know 400 words by the time they enter school; children of high school graduates 1600 words; and children of college graduates 2400 words. That preparedness deficit added to poor nutrition and lack of regular meals makes it almost impossible for a child to catch up with his/her peers who do not experience the described complicating factors. Rothstein states, “Low-income kindergartners whose height and weight are below normal children for their age tend to have lower test scores …. Indeed, the relationship between good nutrition and achievement is so obvious, that some school districts, under pressure recently to increase poor children’s test scores, boosted caloric content of school lunches on test days.”
Having heard Rothstein’s passion on the impact of poverty on nutrition, and nutrition on the achievement gap, Camosy approached MTI Executive Director John Matthews about providing an evening meal at Memorial. Matthews approached United Way President Leslie Howard, who was excited about the idea and offered UWDC support. MTI and United Way met last spring with various Memorial staff, students, parents and community members to get the project rolling. The Memorial Evening Meal Project got under way. Matthews also contacted Madison Mayor Paul Soglin to ensure appropriate bus transportation. Kick-off was last Monday, with 100 meals served and the number of participants rising. Added benefit to the students participating is tutoring by upper level students and teachers, all of whom are volunteering their time and talents. Thanks to the progressive Memorial Principal Bruce Dahmen, who not only has worked with Camosy to make the project a reality, but whose efforts in working with others in the District have made the Evening Meal Program an instant success. Camosy’s idea is sure to spread to other schools. It’s impact on the achievement gap is certain.
Why should parents, citizens, taxpayers and students pay attention to this type of “rulemaking” case?
WKCE (Wisconsin’s oft-criticized soft academic standards – soon to be replaced) and MTEL-90 (Wisconsin adopts Massachusetts’ teacher content knowledge requirements).
I found Ed Treleven’s article interesting, particularly the special interests funding the rule making legal challenge. I am a big fan of our three part government system: judicial, legislative and executive. That said, the Wisconsin DPI has not exactly distinguished itself over the past decade. The WKCE “tyranny of low expectations” is exhibit one for this writer.
Even before the change in the law, rules ultimately have to be approved by the Legislature.
Democrats had labeled the law a power grab by Walker when it was proposed after Walker was elected and before he took office. He signed it into law in May 2011.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Madison Teachers Inc., the Wisconsin Education Association Council and others. Defendants were Walker, DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch and schools superintendent Tony Evers. Smith’s decision, however, notes that Evers also asked the court to block the law. Evers issued a statement Tuesday saying he was pleased with Smith’s ruling.
Lester Pines, who represented the teachers groups in court, said the law as applied to DPI ran counter to a unanimous state Supreme Court decision in 1996 that said the Legislature cannot give equal or superior authority to any “other officer.”
Finally, it appears that current DPI Superintendent Tony Evers is ready to roll for the spring, 2013 election. I have noticed a number of DPI related inquiries on this site. Perhaps this will be a competitive race!
UPDATE: Gilman Halsted:
The Madison teachers union was one was one of seven plaintiffs that challenged this provision of ACT 21. Union President John Matthews says he’s pleased with the ruling.
“It’s simply because of the way the Constitution defines the role of the state superintendent,” he said. “The governor has equal authority not superior authority to the state superintendent and we think because of the enterprise if you will of public education that should not be a political issue. And Judge Smith saw it our way.”
But a spokesman for the governor’s office says he’s confident that Judge Smith’s ruling will be overturned on appeal and that the governor will retain his rule making veto power. Opponents of this new executive power see it as a power grab. And although this ruling appears to limit the governor’s power over rules that affect education it leaves his authority intact for administrative rules from any other state agency. State Superintendent Tony Evers released a statement hailing the ruling and pointing out that he had proposed language that would have carved out his exemption from the governor’s rule vetoes before the law was passed.
Last week state schools superintendent Tony Evers presented his status of education in Wisconsin report and encouraged residents to show more respect and value for teachers. He missed the point — he should have challenged teachers to cease their whining, their defiant and disorderly assemblies and illegal strikes, which we have endured in recent years.
The teachers and Madison union leader John Matthews should recognize the considerable damage they have done to their reputation and credibility. They have forgotten who continues to provide their generous salaries for a nine-month job.
MTI’s September 14 Circuit Court victory, in which significant portions of Governor Walker’s union busting legislation (Act 10) were found to be unconstitutional, has gained world-wide attention.
Recognition has been noted twice in The Wall Street Journal, along with articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, in Great Britain, and numerous newspapers throughout Wisconsin. It has also been the subject of daily TV and radio coverage. Announcement of the decision received a standing ovation at the Fighting Bob Fest, and at the Osaka, Japan Social Forum. Public employees in Osaka are suffering from Act 10-like legislation.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews hailed Judge Colas’ decision as restoring the basic rights of collective bargaining to Wisconsin’s public employees. He said, “This is the ticket to restoring employees’ equal voice in the workplace, and the means of assuring justice for those not only represented by MTI, but by numerous other Wisconsin public sector unions.” MTI has requested that the Madison Metropolitan School District timely engage in collective bargaining with MTI to establish contract terms for MTI’s five (5) collective bargaining units, for the 2013-14 contract term.
The State has asked Judge Colas to stay (delay) implementation of his decision pending appeal.
Educators are waking up all over Madison this morn able to concentrate on students like it’s Jan 2011. It’s beautiful. #bargainingworks
— Madison Teachers Inc (@MtiMadison) September 25, 2012
The Madison School Board on Monday approved using an employee survey as part of its potential process for devising new employee work rules, although such a tool would be illegal if the state’s collective bargaining law is overturned, district lawyer Matt Bell said.
The School Board agreed not to issue the survey until the legal uncertainties related to last week’s court ruling overturning key parts of the state’s new collective bargaining law, known as Act 10, are resolved.
Prior to Friday’s ruling, Superintendent Jane Belmore told the board the survey results would be collected and analyzed by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards at a cost of $1,000.
The survey would ask respondents whether they “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “agree,” “strongly agree” or have “no opinion” about questions such as “The hours I work are reasonable” and “Layoffs should be based on seniority.”
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews said the union is opposed to the district using an employee survey.
“Let’s have people who teachers already trust providing that input,” Matthews said.
The Madison teachers union will be demanding that the district begin new collective bargaining contract negotiations in light of a court ruling overturning parts of a state law that previously forbid it.
John Matthews, head of the Madison teachers union, said Monday that the request is likely to be sent to the district on Tuesday. District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson had no immediate comment.
Madison school employees are currently covered under a union contract that ends on June 30, 2012. Typically, talks for the next two-year contract wouldn’t begin until February.
There are a lot of good things about public-sector unions, but solidarity for solidarity’s sake isn’t always one of them.
Wisconsin’s public-sector unions wasted no time showing solidarity with Chicago’s union teachers on Monday, when the latter hit the picket lines for the first time in 25 years.
“Their fight is really our fight,” John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., told this newspaper. “Whether we’re talking about Scott Walker or (Chicago Mayor) Rahm Emanuel, it’s the same thing.”
Except it’s not, and already embattled public-sector unions risk credibility by insisting otherwise.
In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Walker used his party’s takeover of state government last year to essentially push through the death penalty for most public-sector unions.
Unions that choose to take on the newly arduous task of recertifying can expect little more for their efforts than the right to bargain for raises limited to the rate of inflation.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Members of MTI’s Board of Directors and Union staff greeted the District’s newly hired teachers at New Teacher Orientation on Monday. There are 250 new members of MTI’s teacher bargaining unit.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews addressed the District’s new teachers during their Tuesday session. In doing so, Matthews provided a brief history of the Union, its reputation of negotiating outstanding Collective Bargaining Agreements which provide both employment security and economic security, and in explaining the threat to both, given Act 10, said all MTI members would need to pull together to preserve the Madison Metropolitan School District as a quality place to teach.
Matthews told the new hires that these benefits and rights, along with MTI’s action to assure due process and workplace justice, has earned MTI the reputation of being one of the best Unions in the country. To illustrate the magnitude of MTI’s accomplishments over the years, Matthews told about school board policy mandating female teachers, through the early 1970’s, having to advise their principal “immediately upon becoming pregnant”, and being obligated to resign when the pregnancy “began showing.” As a result of MTI’s accomplishments, such antiquated, degrading policies are history, he said.
Matthews also cited MTI’s precedent setting accomplishments in advancing employee rights regarding race, religion, sexual orientation, and negotiating such things as the school calendar and health insurance. Until the early 1970’s, the school calendar only accommodated Christian holidays. MTI’s litigation expanded the benefit to cover all religions.
Continue the Awareness, Continue the Protest, Wear Red for Education
Since February, 2011, MTI members have been tirelessly protesting and working to end the disastrous impact on public sector workers of Governor Scott Walker’s union busting destructive budget. The most important reasons for resistance vary from one union member to another and include: the Legislation jeopardizes children’s future and the viability of public education and other public services; its provisions are dishonest and immoral; they constitute an attack on Wisconsin’s working-class and middle-class values; they ask for no shared sacrifice from the wealthy or profitable corporations.
Payroll checks for all public employees have been substantially lessened because of Act 10, causing financial hardship for many families. Walker’s Law forces all public employees to pay 50% of retirement contributions, even though MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District have agreed as part of one’s total compensation package dating to the early 1970’s, that the District would pay 100% of the contribution and many have increased contributions for health insurance.
MTI leaders are working with other public sector union leaders across Wisconsin to reverse this disastrous legislation.
Ready, Set, Goal Conferences
As previously reported in MTI Solidarity!, the Ready, Set Goal (RSG) memorandum has been amended, as a result of grievance mediation.
The Memorandum of Understanding between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District, which governs RSG Conferences has been amended to include the following parameters which apply, when determining the amount of compensation due a teacher for holding RSG Conferences during times other than scheduled school day(s)/ hours:
- Teachers receive up to 15 minutes per student for conference preparation.
- Teachers receive up to 30 minutes for each conference held.
- Teachers are compensated for up to two parent “no shows” per student, at 30 minutes per scheduled conference. Teachers are not obligated to schedule a RSG conference after there have been two parent “no shows”. However, a teacher will be compensated pursuant to Section 2b (second bullet above), if the teacher thereafter holds a RSG conference for the student.
- Compensation will continue to include traveling to/from homes of parents, or other mutually agreed upon meeting place(s), or traveling to/from school if the conferences are not at a time adjacent to the Contract day. Mileage shall be paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and reasonable expenses for refreshments shall be reimbursed.
The full RSG agreement is located on MTI’s website (www.madisonteachers.org). Questions can be directed to Assistant Director Eve Degen at MTI (257-4091 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Welcoming today’s youth at school w/ big smiles, friendly demeanor & high expectations. It’s going to be a good year for our future leaders.
— Madison Teachers Inc (@MtiMadison) September 4, 2012
Madison will be looking to its own collective bargaining agreement as well as handbooks adopted by other districts and input from employees, Nadler said. Unlike previous collective bargaining discussions, however, School Board meetings on the subject will be held in open session.
Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews, who in 45 years has had a hand in expanding the collective bargaining agreement from four to 157 pages, has been emphasizing since Act 10 passed that everything in the agreement has been jointly agreed upon by the School Board and union.
“Instead of collective bargaining it’s going to be meet and confer,” Matthews said. “We have really 50 years of developing things together that make the school system work.”
Don Severson, president of a conservative watchdog group and MTI critic, sees the handbook as an opportunity for the district to break away from MTI’s influence over school operations. He wants a middle school to be able to hire a math teacher from outside the district with math certification, for example, rather than be forced to hire a district teacher who meets minimum requirements but lacks such certification.
“They need to keep in mind that the only thing the union has any involvement or responsibility for is negotiating salary,” Severson said.
Related: Current 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. Collective Bargaining Agreement (PDF) and Concessions before negotiations (“Voluntary Impasse Resolution Procedure“)
I suspect that 90% of the existing collective bargaining agreement will end up in the District’s “Handbook“. Perhaps someone might setup a prediction @ Intrade on this matter.
Conversely, some Districts will think differently and create a far different and more appealing world for some teachers.
New Wisconsin School District Handbooks take effect.
The leadership of Madison Teachers Inc. is letting its membership know it has unearthed yet another reason to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
In its weekly “Solidarity!” newsletter that was mailed out Friday, the union warns how administrative rules recently released by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission related to the implementation of Act 10 could result in teachers’ pay being cut.
“This is causing a lot of angst,” says John Matthews, executive director of MTI.
“This could be very bad for teachers,” adds state Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, who sits on the Assembly’s Committee on Education. “These rules allow for teachers’ base pay to be redefined, and I think that’s absurd.”
The roots of this story reach back to last summer, when Act 10 eliminated most public employees’ ability to collectively bargain over virtually anything except “base wages.” Even then, workers are limited to bargaining over raises that can’t exceed the consumer price index (CPI), unless voters approve a hike via a referendum.
After receiving requests to explain what “base wages” could be bargained over, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) — a state agency designed to settle labor disputes — worked on rules to clarify the matter.
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).
- Omaha Superintendent Search: Wisconsin educator dealt with unions, protesting teachers
- Madison Superintendent Candidate Dan Nerad’s Public Appearance: January, 2008
- Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad to Leave when Contract Expires in 2013
- Oh, the Places We Go, Madison Superintendents…
- Is $14,858.40 Per Student, Per Year Effective? On Madison Superintendent & School Board Accountability…
The Milwaukee teachers union just helped Gov. Scott Walker score “a major victory” heading into his recall election.
Or so says John Matthews, head of the Madison teachers union.
Actually, the real winners were Milwaukee teachers, other school employees and students who now may be able to avoid further cuts in school staff and programming.
The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, School Board and administration just convinced the Republican-run Legislature to quickly approve a bill during this final week of regular session. It permits Milwaukee teachers to reopen their contract without nullifying it.
Leaders of the Madison Teachers Inc. union were among those who signed a letter dated Tuesday telling Milwaukee union officials that the legislation would harm public employees and the recall effort.
“Such legislation will enable Governor Walker to claim victory of his policy to (rein) in public employee wages and benefits,” said the letter, signed by MTI executive director John Matthews and president Peggy Coyne, along with their counterparts in Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha. “Allowing Governor Walker to make such a claim just before the recall election will prove detrimental to recalling him and, therefore, will only enhance his ability to further harm all Wisconsin public employees.”
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said that without the concessions, members of the Milwaukee union may lose their jobs.
“The latest letter from public sector union bosses shows clearly that Democrats and their allies put their politics before everything else, even their own members’ jobs,” Werwie said in a statement.
Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee teachers union would get 30 days to negotiate salary or fringe-benefit concessions from employees, under a bill the Legislature sent to Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday.
After a lightning-fast circuit through the Legislature on Tuesday and Wednesday, the bill cleared both houses on a voice vote with no debate. Walker favors it, but leaders of several other teachers unions in large cities criticized the move because they say the action initiated by MPS and the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association could undermine the Walker recall effort. Because the bill was passed on voice votes in both houses, there was no roll call that would identify which lawmakers supported the bill or opposed it.
The bill is intended to allow the state’s largest district and its teachers union to open up the teachers’ contract for 30 days to discuss potential economic concessions because of an extra $10 million payment the district needs to make to the City of Milwaukee’s pension system. The city informed the district in January that it needed the payment because of a downturn in the stock market.
John Matthews, the very long-time president of the Madison teachers union said something that shouldn’t go unnoticed in today’s Cap Times story about the Madison school board races.
Referring to Mary Burke, a candidate for an open seat on the board, Matthews is quoted as saying, “you want somebody who understands what it’s like to be a parent and understands the needs of parents to be involved.” Burke has no children.
There’s little room to interpret that statement as anything but a claim that childless adults need not apply for positions on the school board as far as John Matthews is concerned. John did not go on to suggest that his members who teach children but don’t have any themselves are unqualified to teach, but that would seem to be a logical conclusion.
John can’t be serious. Single-person households now make up one out of four American households and the percentage is almost half in large cities. While all of those single person homes are not made up of childless individuals, there’s a good chance that the trend indicates that there are more of us who have made that choice to not have kids.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
Both races for Madison School Board feature matchups between a candidate with strong business acumen and boardroom experience versus a minority candidate with experience more representative of the district’s growing student population.
That contrast is especially pronounced in the contest between former Commerce Secretary and Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke and firefighter Michael Flores.
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews even characterizes Burke as a “1 percenter” who doesn’t know “what it is like for a child to go to bed or go to school hungry.”
Burke, a Democrat who was endorsed by former Gov. Jim Doyle, whose wife was a teacher and whose mother served as School Board president, objects to that description.
“People who know me sort of laugh, because I don’t fit the profile of what (Matthews) is saying,” Burke said, adding she supports Occupy Wall Street values such as progressive taxation and reducing the influence of corporations in government.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Labor was even overshadowed by a multitude of non-policy-related issues Democrats launched at Republicans, such as (ultimately recalled) Sen. Randy Hopper’s extra-marital affair and a conservative group’s use of a narrator whose voice is strikingly similar to that of actor Morgan Freeman. (Incredibly, it’s not the first time somebody has accused Republicans of mimicking the star’s patented Delta drawl in TV ads)
“I think that the terminology of collective bargaining is not one that if you did a poll resonates because of the way the right-wing has killed private sector unions,” says John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the local teachers union.
Jim Palmer, the head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, agrees, and says unions should take some of the blame for the public’s lack of understanding of labor rights.
No matter what candidates are saying, however, Matthews makes one point clear:
“Any Democrat would be better than Walker.”
One year ago this week, Madison teachers voted overwhelmingly to walk off the job, and walk into the Capitol to protest the budget repair bill (later known as Act 10), which stripped public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. As journalist John Nichols noted in a recent speech, “The teachers felt they had to go to the Capitol, because the Legislature had forgotten them.”
The decision was not taken lightly, as Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews recalls: “I got notice of what the governor planned to include in his budget repair bill, and it was more than financial issues, it was going to start attacking workers’ rights and that goes to the very core of the operation of what a union does, what it can provide for those it represents. When the word came that he was going to attempt to do away with public sector bargaining in Wisconsin, we’re talking about 50 years of work that we have put into developing not only rights but wages and benefits.”
Matthews noted that the timing happened to coincide with meetings that were already scheduled: “That very evening I had a scheduled meeting with the MTI board of directors and they immediately said, well, just get us the list of all of our reps and their phone numbers, we have reps at every one of 60 different work sites. … And they sat there at that time calling those reps. … Frequently in February and March our board of directors meeting is followed the next day by a representative council meeting. We had 120 people show up at that meeting. And I gave my same presentation, and immediately a motion came from the floor: We need to go to the Legislature tomorrow. And that motion passed immediately with little debate. The only discussion was are we gonna call in sick or are we going to call in well and simply tell the school district that we aren’t going to be at work tomorrow?”
he state teachers union is taking criticism from some members around the state for an early endorsement of Kathleen Falk [blekko] in the likely recall election against Gov. Scott Walker but is sticking with the decision.
Since the announcement of the Falk endorsement, the criticism of it has included a website soliciting signatures to have Wisconsin Education Association Council change its mind.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the second-largest member union within WEAC and a union with members in the heart of Falk’s home county, said the endorsement came before it was clear whether there would be other challengers to Walker. He said his union would wait to make its own endorsement.
“We have a lot of our members who wish they would have waited until all the candidates were known. I think they made the wrong decision but I don’t see how they can get out of it,” Matthews said of WEAC.
David Blaska has more.
Two seats on the eight-member board are opening up. In both races, opponents of the proposed charter school, which is being championed by the Urban League of Madison as a way to target the long-standing achievement gap between white and minority students, are pitted against supporters of the plan.
Arlene Silveira, an incumbent who voted against Madison Prep, is being challenged by Nichelle Nichols, the vice president of learning for the Urban League. Similarly, in an open seat that Madison Prep supporter Lucy Mathiak is vacating, Mary Burke, a wealthy philanthropist (and former state secretary of Commerce) who pledged $2.5 million to the Madison Prep project, is running against Michael Flores, a firefighter with union backing.
John Matthews, president of Madison Teachers Inc, says his union is planning to be very active in support of Silveira and Flores. In not-so-subtle terms, he challenged Burke’s ability to understand the challenges that the Madison middle class and poor face in the school system.
“She’s a one percenter,” he said, invoking the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “She’s a very nice person, a very well-intentioned person but you want somebody who understands what it’s like to be a parent and understands the needs of parents to be involved.”
Related: 1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A.
One of the last remaining opportunities for a locally-elected government body to stop the increasing spread of the entitlement society and the dumbing down of education will occur Monday when the Madison School Board, together with their highly paid educational professionals, will determine the fate of Madison Prep Academy.
Based on news reports, the local teachers union and its always pushy head, John Matthews, oppose the venture. Why? Because the proposal advocates flexibility by hiring non-union teachers at a cost savings of millions!
To Matthews and MTI, your argument that “it’s all about the kids” rings hollow and empty again.
Even though I am not a member of a minority and I dislike paying more real estate taxes for unnecessary projects, this non-union driven proposal by Kaleem Caire deserves approval for the future benefit of Madison’s kids and residents.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The Madison Metropolitan School District has a problem educating minority pupils. Less than 50 percent of African-Americans graduate in four years and only 31 percent even take the ACT, an important prerequisite for admittance to four-year colleges. Yet the Madison School Board appears poised to vote down Kaleem Caire’s promising proposal to educate the very demographic the district has proved incapable of reaching.
Caire’s proposed school, Madison Prep, has several attributes that differentiate it from traditional MMSD schools. Among other things the school would have an extended school day and offer an International Baccalaureate program. Both features have proven track records in schools in Milwaukee.
Much has been made of the fact that there is no guarantee that Madison Prep would be successful. Well no, but the strength of the charter model is that, if the school is unsuccessful, the MMSD board is empowered to terminate its contract. Given the achievement levels of Madison’s minority students, any hesitation of the board to try the innovative model is inexplicable.
Worse yet, the reasons for rejecting Madison Prep are divorced from education. The proposed school is a non-instrumentality charter, meaning the School Board authorizes the school but the school is not required to use MMSD employees, including union teachers. Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews finds this problematic, telling The Capital Times that the Madison Prep proposal could “easily be implemented” if it was an instrumentality school employing union teachers. Perhaps it would be easier, but it would also take away from Caire’s goal of raising minority student achievement. There are key advantages to the non-instrumentality structure, most notably the ability to assemble and compensate a staff free from the pay schedule and work rules contained in the MTI contract.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
John Matthews, Executive Director of Madison Teachers, Inc., via email:
The Urban League proposes that Madison Prep be operated as a non-instrumentality of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Urban League’s proposal is unacceptable to Madison Teachers, because it would effectively eliminate supervision and accountability of the school to the Madison School Board regarding the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and because it would also violate long-standing terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Madison Metropolitan School District and MTI.
The Urban League proposes to use District funds to hire non-District teaching staff at lower salaries and benefits than called for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It was recently stated in a meeting between representatives of Madison Prep, the School District and MTI that the Urban League plans to hire young African-American males and asks that MTI and the District enable them to pay the teachers they hire less than their counterparts, who are employed by the District. MTI cannot agree to enable that. We believe that such is discriminatory, based both on race and gender. The MTI/MMSD Contract calls for teachers to be compensated based upon their educational achievement and their years of service. MTI and MMSD agreed in the early 1970’s that the District would not enable such undermining of employment standards. The costing of the Contract salary placement was explained by both Superintendent Nerad and John Matthews. Those explanations were ignored by the Urban League in their budgeting, causing a shortfall in the proposed operational budget, according to Superintendent Nerad.
It is also distasteful to MTI that the Urban League proposes to NOT ADDITIONALLY pay their proposed new hires for working a longer day and a longer school year. Most employees in the United States receive overtime pay when working longer hours. The Urban League proposes NO additional compensation for employees working longer hours, or for the 10 additional school days in their plan.
Finally, the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that MTI and the District could modify the MMSD/MTI Contract without triggering Act 10, Governor Walker’s draconian attack on teachers and other public employees. The Contract would be destroyed if MTI and the District agreed to amend it. Such is caused by Walker’s Law, Act 10. MTI is not willing to inflict the devastating effects of Act 10 on its members. The Urban League states that Walker’s Act 65 would enable the Contract to be amended without the horrible impact cause by Act 10. That claim is unfounded and in error.
The Madison Prep proposal could easily be implemented if it followed the Charter Plan of Wright School, Nuestro Mundo, and Badger Rock School, all of which operate as instrumentalities of the District, under its supervision and the MMSD/MTI Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Madison Preparatory Academy could easily open if it followed the same model as the district’s other charter schools, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews said in response to yesterday’s Urban League press conference.
But the current proposal is “unacceptable” to Madison teachers because it would “effectively eliminate School Board oversight of the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money” and violate the district’s contract with its union, Matthews said.
Matthews initially declined to comment on Madison Prep when I contacted him yesterday, but later responded in an e-mail.
In his response, Matthews criticized Madison Prep’s plan to pay its teachers lower salaries and benefits than other district teachers, and not offer overtime for working longer days.
He also said the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that the current union contract can be modified without nullifying it under the state’s new collective bargaining law.
Related: Some Madison Teachers & Some Community Members (*) on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
Related: student learning has become focused instead on adult employment – Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman.
Supporters of a controversial, single-sex charter school Thursday blasted the Madison School District for its opposition to the proposal and said the teachers union is an impediment to improving student achievement.
At a news conference, the Urban League of Greater Madison’s president, Kaleem Caire, also said the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, which would target low-income, minority students, isn’t dead and called on the School Board to put “learning before labor” when it votes Dec. 19 whether to approve the charter.
“Our children aren’t there to be subjects of teachers and teachers unions,” Caire said. “But the decisions that have been made in the Madison Metropolitan School District for a mighty long time have been determined by adults getting what they need first before kids.”
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews declined comment Thursday.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Late last week the proposal cleared a major hurdle with the announcement that the Urban League had struck a deal with MTI to employ unionized teachers, nurses and clerical staff.
AFSMCE Local 60 President Tom Coiyer asked the district to use its own unionized custodial staff rather than allow them to be contracted. And Don Severson, president of a conservative district watchdog group, withdrew his previous support because of the deal struck between the Urban League and MTI, which didn’t involve the School Board.
MTI executive director John Matthews, who attended but did not speak at the hearing, said the union would no longer oppose the proposal. However, he remains skeptical that Madison Prep would be more successful than the district’s high schools at closing the achievement gap.
Several major impediments facing the proposed Madison Prep charter school appear closer to resolution after a series of meetings and communications Friday between Urban League CEO Kaleem Caire, district Superintendent Daniel Nerad and John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.
The changes are just in time for a public hearing on the Urban League-backed school on Monday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building, 545 W. Dayton St.
In a major shift, the proposed charter school will now be what’s called an “instrumentality” of the Madison Metropolitan School District. That means a significant portion of the school’s staff will be covered by the contract the district has with the local teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc. The contract runs through the end of June 2013
On the eve of a public hearing for Madison Preparatory Academy — a proposed charter school with single-sex classrooms focused on raising the academic performance of minority students — backers of the school agreed to employ union staff, eliminating a potential hurdle to approval of the school.
A budget plan for Madison Prep, proposed by the Urban League of Greater Madison, also was released late Friday. It estimates the Madison School District would spend $19.8 million over five years on the school, or about $2,000 less per student than it spends on other secondary-school students.
In lengthy meetings Friday, Urban League officials hammered out an agreement with Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents Madison school teachers. MTI executive director John Matthews said the union, which previously opposed creation of Madison Prep, will remain neutral on whether the school should be approved.
Fascinating. It will be interesting to see the substance of the arrangement, particularly its implications for the current MMSD schools and Madison Prep’s curriculum and operating plans.
A friend notes that the change is “stunning” and that it will likely “cost more” and perhaps “gut” some of Madison Prep’s essential components.
A Madison teachers union will receive a national award for its organizational work during last spring’s protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill throughout Wisconsin.
The Institute for Policy Studies, located in Washington, D.C., announced Tuesday Madison Teachers Incorporated would be honored with the Letelier-Motiff Human Rights Award on Oct. 12, said ISP spokesperson Lacy MacAuleyet.
IPS annually presents two awards to honor those who the group believes to be “unsung heroes of the progressive movement.” One award is presented domestically and one internationally, she said.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews said the union has never received an award of this caliber.
“This is a first,” Matthews said. “[The national distinction represents] significant recognition for MTI’s leadership. MTI hasn’t slowed its effort in the movement.”
The Madison School District has reached an agreement with its teachers union over changes to planning time — a resolution Superintendent Dan Nerad said fits within the bounds of the state’s new collective bargaining law.
An earlier proposal prompted hundreds of teachers to protest at a School Board meeting in May and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews to threaten a job action if the matter wasn’t resolved.
The issue relates to changes in the district’s 2011-13 collective bargaining agreement with MTI, which was approved in March before the state’s collective bargaining law took effect.
In the past, disagreements over contract language were often resolved through memorandums of understanding (MOUs). But once the collective bargaining law took effect June 29, districts that approved contracts after Feb. 1 couldn’t modify them through MOUs, or else they would be
Read more: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/article_82b5f386-b25e-11e0-873a-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1SblqTZYo
“They’re ready,” Matthews said afterward, “to do whatever it takes.”
After 43 years as executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., Matthews is in the spotlight again after encouraging a four-day sick-out that closed school in February. The action allowed teachers to attend protests at the Capitol over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to curb collective bargaining by public employees. The matter remains in the courts, but it prompted a hasty contract negotiation between the district and union.
Teachers aren’t happy about some of the changes, and Matthews is preparing for a street fight.
“It’s going to get down and dirty,” Matthews said, alluding to the possibility of more job actions, such as “working the contract” – meaning teachers wouldn’t work outside required hours – if the School Board doesn’t back off changes in the contract. “You can’t continually put people down and do things to control them and hurt them and not have them react.”
Moreover, the latest battle over collective bargaining has taken on more personal significance for Matthews, whose life’s work has been negotiating contracts.
The April 28 State Journal editorial urged punishment of sick note scammers (some teachers and doctors during the recent protests), and included a column by Chris Rickert titled “Don’t cry for teachers who choose early retirement.” Many taxpayers in Madison and Wisconsin would say “amen.”
It’s ironic and hypocritical that a national radio ad expresses support for Teacher Appreciation Week and touts teachers so soon after over 1,700 Madison teachers didn’t show up for work — 84 of them turning in fraudulent sick notes. The teachers used students as pawns at protest marches and contributed to protester damage at our Capitol.
In the minds of many property taxpayers and even some students, teachers have lost much respect and trust. This could be reversed if teachers and their arrogant union boss John Matthews would express in a public statement regret for their selfish and illegal actions.
Two-thirds of Madison teachers participated in at least one day of a coordinated four-day absence in February to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to curb collective bargaining, according to information released by the school district Friday.
According to the district, 1,769 out of 2,655 teachers took time off during the four days without a legitimate excuse. The records also show 84 teachers submitted fraudulent sick notes; 38 received suspensions for failing to rescind the notes by April 15, a deadline set by the district.
The exact number of teachers who caused school to shut down on Feb. 16-18 and 21 was unknown until now. The numbers “validate our decision to close our schools,” Superintendent Dan Nerad said in a statement.
“We realize the challenges that our students’ families experienced as a result of these school closings,” Nerad said. “So we appreciate that we have been able to return since then to normal school schedules and that students have returned to advancing their learning through the work of our excellent staff members.”
Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews acknowledged Feb. 15 that the union was encouraging members to call in sick to attend protests at the Capitol. It was the union’s first coordinated work stoppage since 1,900 out of 2,300 teachers called in sick to protest contract negotiations in September 1997.
On Friday, Matthews emphasized that teachers accepted the consequences of their actions by agreeing to docked pay for the days missed. He called the suspension letters “a badge of honor for standing up for workplace justice.”
One indication of how disingenuous the world of public education has become is the sympathy some of us apparently feel for veteran Madison teachers who feel compelled to retire early.
As this newspaper detailed Sunday, early retirements have spiked over concerns about what Gov. Scott Walker’s bid to curtail public sector collective bargaining rights will mean for teachers’ retirements.
It’s clear teachers beginning their careers today could be subjected to lots of things the private sector has had to endure for a long time (e.g., merit evaluations, higher health care costs). What puzzles me is what veteran teachers risk by working a few more years — especially given the love they express for the job.
Take, for example, teachers’ ability to parlay unused sick days into health insurance coverage or other benefits after they retire.
District spokesman Ken Syke said the district’s legal team has not produced an opinion on this. But teachers union president John Matthews was certain it was a benefit long-time teachers would retain.
More than 130 Madison teachers — many of them worried that Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law could lead to changes in post-retirement benefits — are retiring in June, a big increase over recent years.
As of the April 15 deadline, 138 Madison teachers have decided to retire, Superintendent Dan Nerad said. That’s a 62 percent increase over the average number of retirements over the previous five years.
The district plans to fill all of the positions, Nerad said, though the loss of so many more veteran teachers than usual could have a more noticeable effect on students and novice teachers.
“A lot of these people have been working with generations of students and influencing people for a long, long time,” Nerad said. “Our intention is to replace them with knowledgeable people, but as a rule they will be less experienced.”
More than 60 teachers indicated they were retiring earlier than anticipated because of concerns about the collective bargaining changes, said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.
Republican legislators in Wisconsin aren’t the only ones getting violent threats. On Thursday, Katherine Windels pleaded not guilty to making death threats to Republican state lawmakers. Her crazed threats have gotten a lot of media attention.
But what hasn’t gotten attention is the ugliness directed against labor.
“We’ve gotten a lot of threats,” says John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc (MTI).
MTI received a death threat on April 15.
“You’re all going to die. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you,” said a man’s voice calling from the (252) area code, which MTI saw on caller ID. That area code is in North Carolina.
A misdialed union voicemail message, emails obtained through an open records request and official court documents reveal new details about the Madison teachers’ work stoppage [Google Cached Link] that closed the district’s public schools for four days.
The Madison Metropolitan School District called the “sickouts” a “strike” and accused the union of organizing it. The union, Madison Teachers Inc., however, maintained that teachers were calling in sick on their own initiative. New evidence suggests the union’s claim is not true.
The MacIver News Service obtained dozens of emails in response to an open records request filed with the school district.
On Tuesday, February 15th, the day before the four day sick out began, Dan Nerad, Madison Schools Superintendent, sent out a mass email to teachers stating “Throughout the day we have received significant information indicating that staff members will call in ill tomorrow, Thursday and/or Friday to protest the Governor’s actions. While I believe his actions warrant protest, I am asking that this course of action not be taken,”
John Matthews, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director, replied to that email with one of his own, “What teachers are doing is based on their own conscience, for education, the children in our schools, for their own families,” he wrote.
Wednesday, March 9th.
Nerad was floored when he found out Matthews was telling the union MMSD was not willing to meet that past weekend. He said Matthews never confirmed a meeting with them.
Howard Bellman, the arbitrator, responded that he had suggested to Nerad they meet sometime over the weekend. Nerad said he wasn’t available until Tuesday, and Bellman relayed that to the union.
Matthews then sent Nerad an email stating “Dan: I know that you are dealing with your Mother’s illness at this time, and I respect that. However, for MMSD to not be prepared to deal with the issues facing both MMSD and MTI (your employees) today is reprehensible.”
Later that day the Senate passed an amended version of the budget repair bill, and Nerad wondered if he could expect his staff to report to work on Thursday.
Matthews responded the union asked all teachers to go to work in the morning. He also pushed for a contract agreement for MTI’s support staff groups.
“You have to know that our negotiations are at a very serious juncture. We simply must reach an agreement on Friday or the volcano may just erupt. It is not fair to those in the support unites to be treated differently than those in the professional unit. Because AFSCME took an inferior contract is no reason for MTI to do so. This matter is clearly in your hands to resolve, so be fair, creative and decisive. We have no time left to wring our hands. It is very difficult to hold people back from taking further action,” said Matthews.
Let’s face it: Teachers union president John Matthews decides when to open and when to close Madison schools; the superintendent can’t even get a court order to stop him. East High teachers marched half the student body up East Washington Avenue Tuesday last week. Indoctrination, anyone?
This Tuesday, those students began their first day back in class with the rhyming cadences of professional protester Jesse Jackson, fresh from exhorting unionists at the Capitol, blaring over the school’s loudspeakers. Indoctrination, anyone?
Madison Teachers Inc. has been behind every local referendum to blow apart spending restraints. Resist, as did elected school board member Ruth Robarts, and Matthews will brand you “Public Enemy Number One.”
When then-school board member Juan Jose Lopez would not feed out of the union’s hand, Matthews sent picketers to his place of business, which happened to be Briarpatch, a haven for troubled kids. Cross that line, kid!
The teachers union is the playground bully of state government. Wisconsin Education Association Council spent $1.5 million lobbying the Legislature in 2009, more than any other entity and three times the amount spent by WMC, the business lobby.
Under Gov. Doyle, teachers were allowed to blow apart measures to restrain spending and legislate the union message into the curriculum. Student test scores could be used to determine teacher pay — but only if the unions agreed.
The most liberal president since FDR came to a school in Madison to announce “Race to the Top” grants for education reform. How many millions of dollars did we lose when the statewide teachers union sandbagged the state’s application?
Kaleem Caire, via email: Chris Rickert:
At some point in the next couple months, members of the Madison School Board are almost certain to be in the unlucky position of having to decide whether to admit what is most fairly characterized as a colossal failure.
Approving a charter for Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire’s all-boy, mostly black, non-union Madison Preparatory Academy will make it clear that, when it comes to many black schoolchildren, teachers have failed to teach, parents have failed to parent, and the rest of us have failed to do anything about either.
Reject the charter and risk the false hope that comes from thinking that all these children need is another program and more “outreach.” A tweak here and a tweak there and we can all just keep on keeping on. Never mind that the approach hasn’t seemed to work so far, and that if past is prologue, we already know this story’s end.
Caire’s model would be a radical departure for Madison. The district’s two existing charter schools — Wright Middle School and Nuestro Mundo — don’t exactly trample on hallowed educational ground. They employ union teachers and have the same number of school days and teaching hours as any other non-charter and “broadly follow our district policies in the vast majority of ways,” said district spokesman Ken Syke.
I want to thank Kaleem Caire for coming home to Madison and making positive changes. If anyone can make an all-male charter school happen here, he can. The statistics in the article may be alarming to some, but not as alarming to the students and parents who are living these statistics.
I support integration, but how can it be true integration when the education gaps are so large? Who is benefiting? In my eyes, true integration in the school system would support the same quality of education, the same achievement expectations, the same disciplinary measures and so on.
Numbers don’t lie, and what they tell us is that we need to go another route to ensure educational success for black males. If that means opening a charter school to intervene, then let’s do it!
Instead of the headline “All-male charter school a tough sell,” imagine this one, “Loss to society: Madison schools graduated only 52 percent of black male students in 2009.” Then the reaction to the Urban League’s plan to start a charter school intended to boost minority achievement might have been different.
Reaction in the article discussed all the reasons why people will or should oppose the idea of an all-male charter school, despite its benefits. Let’s not talk about why we should be aghast at the cultural performance disparities in Madison’s schools. And let’s not talk about what we lose as a society when almost half of all black males attending Madison schools fail to graduate.
The comments of John Matthews, head of the Madison teachers union, on charter schools are hyperbole. Saying that the Madison School Board will have no control is a cover for the union not having control.
We can’t argue the importance of good teachers. But the idea that a degree in education, and a union membership, make you the only one capable of performing this role is specious. All of us are teachers, or have been taught meaningfully by individuals with teaching skills. Are we going to let successful teachers teach, or are we going to let their union dictate?
According to Carlo D’Este’s book “Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War,” Churchill, during a lull in his career, learned bricklaying. Hearing this, the British Trade Union Council, in a public relations gesture, offered him a Master’s card.
Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire applied for a charter school for males because only 52 percent of black males graduate in Madison schools, while black males are suspended significantly more than the majority white students.
Before anyone responds, they should answer two questions:
- Are you concerned about these statistics?
- What are you doing about it?
Much more on the proposed IB Charter school: Madison Preparatory Academy.
Caire was one of four main presenters, the others being Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad, the dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, and — sure enough — Madison Teachers Inc. union president Mike Lipp.
Nerad was o.k. He got off a good line: “Children are the future but we are our children’s future.” He even quoted Sitting Bull but on first reference made certain to use his actual Native American name. This IS Madison, after all.
UW Education Dean Julie Underwood was atrocious — a firm defender of the status quo denouncing the “slashing” of school budgets, “negative ads,” and demanding that the community become “public school advocates.” I.E., the whole liberal litany.
Say, Dean Julie, how about the community become advocates for teaching children — in other words, the goal — instead of a one-size-fits-all, government-ordained delivery mechanism? Isn’t competition the American way?
Union apologist Mike Lipp reminded me of Welcome Back Kotter — looks and mien. He could be humorous (I am certain he is a good teacher) but he spent his allotted time on the glories of that holy grail of education: the union’s collective bargaining agreement. I expected an ethereal light beam to shine down on this holy writ, which Lipp lamented that he did not bring with him. His other purpose was to defuse the powerhouse documentary, “Waiting for Superman.”
Indeed, it was that indictment of public education’s “failure factories” and the hidebound me-first teachers unions that prompted Tuesday evening’s “conversation.” I wrote about it, and Kaleem Caire, here.
When Lipp was finished he returned to his table next to union hired gun John Matthews. No sense in sitting with parents and taxpayers.
When it came time for the participants to respond, one parent said of the four presenters that only Kaleem Caire took to heart the evening’s admonition to “keep students as the focus.” I think that was a little unfair to Nerad, who deserves credit for opening this can of worms, but otherwise right on target.
Caire reported that only 7% of African-American students tested as college-ready on the ACT test. For Latinos, the percentage is 14. Those are 2010 statistics — for Madison schools. In these schools, 2,800 suspensions were handed down to black students — of a total black enrollment of 5,300 students!
“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).
School District and School Board members expressed interest in the concept, though they’re still waiting for more details, especially a financial plan.
“I don’t want more charter schools simply for the sake of having more charter schools,” board member Ed Hughes said. “It (has to be for) something we would have a hard time achieving or even attempting under a traditional structure.”
Madison hasn’t approved as many charter schools as other parts of the state. Of the 208 public charter schools in Wisconsin, only two are in Madison, though on Nov. 29 the School Board is expected to approve a third – an urban-agriculture-themed middle school south of the Beltline near Rimrock Road.
The biggest hurdle, however, might involve a proposal to use non-union teachers employed by the charter school’s governing board, as opposed to the School District. Only 21 of the state’s public charter schools have a similar setup.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., said teachers would oppose a non-union charter school.
“It would be foolish public policy and a foolish commitment of the public’s funds to finance a project over which the elected body committing the public’s money does not have full control over both the expenditures and the policies of the operation,” Matthews wrote in an e-mail.
Caire wants the school year to span 215 days, rather than the standard 180 days, and the school day to run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
High school students would have an extra hour to sleep on Tuesday mornings next year under a plan being considered by the Madison School District and the teachers union.
Officials are in negotiations to make Tuesdays a “late start” day for students at East, West, Memorial and possibly La Follette High Schools in 2010-11 to give teachers a morning hour to collaborate with colleagues.
“Collaboration among professionals is like cross-fertilization,” John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., said Thursday. The weekly sessions could give teachers a chance to discuss “what is a better way to approach a subject, a concept, what works with this kid and his individual learning style, etc.”
Since Labor Day, County Exec Kathleen Falk has been calling it “the toughest budget since the Great Depression”. Her mouthpiece, Josh Wescott, echoes the depression line, and adds another cliché – “the perfect storm” of declining revenues. Falk has proposed a 7.9% property tax increase and is hoping for a 3 percent wage cut from county employees.
Mayor Cieslewicz calls his plan “a budget for hard times”, and says “the primary theme is steadiness”. He’s proposed the lowest spending increase in the past fifteen years. His operating budget will increase taxes 3.8% on the average Madison home. He’s hoping other city employees will join the firefighters, who’ve agreed to no raises for two years, and then 3% at the end of the two-year period.
Meanwhile, a couple weeks ago, Madison teachers hauled in a 4% raise in each of the next two years – a quarter of it in salary increases (1%) and the rest in other bennies, mainly insurance. They get a small pay increase, while county workers may take a cut, and city workers will likely get nothing.
Moral of the story: you want John Matthews on your side of the bargaining table.
via a kind reader’s email (200K PDF):
The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers Inc. reached a tentative agreement Tuesday evening on the terms and conditions of a new two-year Collective Bargaining Agreement for MTI’s 2,600 member teacher bargaining unit. Negotiations began April 15.
The Contract, for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, needs ratification from both the Board of Education and MTI. The Union will hold its ratification meeting on Wednesday, October 14, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center, Dane County Forum. The Board of Education will tentatively take up the proposal in a special meeting on October 19 at 5:00 p.m.
Terms of the Contract include:
Base Salary Raise – 1.00% Base Salary Raise – 1.00%
Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.93% Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.99%
Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,242 Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,575
A key part of this bargain involved working with the providers of long term disability insurance and health insurance. Meetings between MTI Executive Director John Matthews and District Superintendent Dan Nerad and representatives of WPS and GHC, the insurance carriers agreed to a rate increase for the second year of the Contract not to exceed that of the first year. In return, the District and MTI agreed to add to the plans a voluntary health risk assessment for teachers. The long term disability insurance provider reduced its rates by nearly 25%. The insurance cost reductions over the two years of the contract term amount to roughly $1.88 million, were then applied to increase wages, thus reducing new funds to accomplish this.
The new salary schedule increase at 1% per cell, inclusive of Social Security and WRS, amount to roughly $3.04 million. Roughly 62% of the salary increase, including Social Security and WRS, was made possible by the referenced insurance savings.
Key contract provisions include:
Inclusion in the Contract of criteria to enable salary schedule progression by one working toward the newly created State teacher licensure, PI 34. Under the new Contract provision, one can earn professional advancement credits for work required by PI 34.
- Additive pay regarding National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, i.e. an alternative for bargaining unit professionals who are not teachers (nurses, social workers, psychologists, et al) by achieving the newly created Master Educator’s License.
- Continuance of the Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP).
- The ability after retirement for one to use their Retirement Insurance Account for insurance plans other than those specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This will enable one to purchase coverage specific to a geographic area, if they so choose, or they may continue coverage with GHC or WPS – the current health insurance providers.
For elementary teachers, the frequency and duration of meetings has been clarified, as have several issues involving planning time. All elementary teachers and all elementary principals will receive a joint letter from Matthews and Nerad explaining these Contract provisions.
- For high school teachers who volunteer for building supervision, there is now an option to enable one to receive compensation, rather than compensatory time for the service. And there is a definition of what “class period” is for determining compensation or compensatory time.
- For elementary and middle school teachers, MTI and the District will appoint a joint committee for each to study and recommend the content and frequency of report cards.
For elementary specials (e.g. art, music) teachers, the parties agreed to end the class and a half, which will mean that class sizes for specials will be similar to the class size for elementary classroom teachers.
- For coaches, and all others compensated on the extra duty compensation schedule, the additive percentage paid, which was frozen due to the State imposed revenue controls, will be restored.
- School year calendars were agreed to through 2012-2013.
- Also, MTI and the District agreed to a definite five-year exemption to the Contract work assignment clause to enable the District to assist with funding of a community-based 4-year-old kindergarten programs, provided the number of said 4-K teachers is no greater than the number of District employed 4-K teachers, and provided such does not cause bargaining unit members to be affected by adverse actions such as lay off, surplus and reduction of hours/contract percentage, due to the District’s establishment of, and continuance of, community based [Model III] 4-K programs. (See note below.)
Last March, the Regents forfeited a WIAA tournament upset victory over Baraboo for using a player who had an unexcused absence prior to the game.
Hodge, 46, who was the boys basketball coach, athletic director and minority service coordinator at his alma mater, claimed West principal Ed Holmes and school district administrators used that instance to railroad him out of West. He said it was a retaliatory move for rebutting the district’s stance during a controversial arbitration hearing in 2008.
“It had nothing to do with my coaching,” said Hodge, who took the Regents to the WIAA state tournament twice, won six WIAA regional titles and two Big Eight Conference titles during his tenure. He had a 121-149 overall record.
“It was all about the theory of retaliating against me because I went public about how the district treats its employees if they have an issue.”
Data provided to The Capital Times and Hodge from an anonymous source showed there were 82 unexcused absences logged by players from his team that went unpunished.
Madison East had 117 unexcused absences that would have forced the Purgolders to relinquish 15 victories and a regional title, while Madison La Follette had 73 unexcused absences and Madison Memorial 12, according to the source’s data.
According to the data, Memorial — which won the WIAA Division 1 state title — had only one case of an ineligible player scoring in a game.
The source also has data that claimed that some of East’s unexcused absences were changed to excused absences after Hodge lodged a complaint about all the schools’ unexcused absences with the WIAA March 9.
Hodge gave the data he received before and after he lodged the complaint with the WIAA to John Matthews, the executive director of Madison Teachers, Inc. He said Matthews brought the data to the attention of MMSD superintendent Dan Nerad.
The district then investigated Hodge’s assertions and recently sent its conclusions to the WIAA, according to the WIAA’s Dave Anderson, “Their findings did not reveal substance to the allegations that were made,” said Anderson, who will begin duties as the WIAA’s executive director Monday.
But there is controversy with 4K, and not just because of the cost. In other districts that have started programs, operators of private centers that stand to lose tuition dollars have emerged as opponents.
That’s unlikely to be true for Renee Zaman, director of Orchard Ridge Nursery School on Madison’s west side, who said last week that her center would be in a good position to participate with a 4K program because they already teach 84 4-year-olds and because all of their early childhood teachers are state certified.
But Zaman also said she hopes that the district doesn’t push a 4K program through too quickly. She is particularly worried that the curriculum might focus too heavily on academics.
One sticking point in past 4K discussions in Madison was concern from the teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., that preschool teachers at off-site programming centers might not be employees of the school district.
But Nerad and MTI Executive Director John Matthews have had many discussions about 4K over the past several months, and Matthews said as long as no district teachers are displaced, he is in favor of the program.
At a joint news conference at MTI headquarters, Madison schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad and MTI Executive Director John Matthews said the settlement resolves issues that have festered for up to eight years.
Among other things, the agreement reinstates Boyce Hodge, the longtime West High School athletic director, to that position and as coach of the boys basketball team for the current school year. The district’s other three major high schools also will have full-time athletic directors.
The district and the union also have quarreled over the role of MTI members in online learning for seven years. Under the new agreement, any instruction of district students will be supervised by Madison teachers. The deal doesn’t change existing practice but confirms that that practice will continue.
Matthews said he was pleased with the negotiations and agreements, and added that he’s enjoyed working with Nerad.
“I think probably the over-reaching issue that this resolution provides is an improved problem-solving relationship between the union and the school district that’s possible now with the coming of Dan Nerad as the superintendent in Madison,” Matthews said.
The Madison School District and Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers union, may be nearing a wide-ranging settlement on staffing issues that have divided them for up to eight years.
“I would say it is a big deal and that’s about all I can tell you at the moment,” MTI Executive Director John Matthews said Friday afternoon. “I just feel compelled to keep my mouth shut. That’s the agreement I reached with the superintendent so I’m not going to violate it.”
Matthews said he expects to announce details at a news conference early next week with Madison schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad.
Total police calls to Madison’s four main high schools declined 38 percent from the fall semester of 2006 to last spring. But those figures tell only a partial story, and not a very meaningful one.
That’s because the numbers include all police calls, including ones for 911 disconnects, parking lot crashes and stranded baby ducks. (It happened at La Follette last May.)
The State Journal then looked at police calls in eight categories closely related to safety — aggravated batteries, batteries, weapons offenses, fights, bomb threats, disturbances, robberies and sexual assaults. Those calls are down 46 percent from fall 2006 to spring 2008.
The schools varied little last spring in the eight categories. Memorial and West each had 13 such calls, La Follette 14 and East 16.
School officials are relieved by the downward trend but careful not to read too much into the figures.
“We know there’s almost a cyclical nature to crime statistics and even to individual behavior,” said Luis Yudice, who is beginning his third year as district security coordinator.
Art Camosy, a veteran science teacher at Memorial, said he thinks the climate is improving at his school. Yet he views the police figures skeptically, in part because the numbers are “blips in time” but also because he wonders if the district’s central office is behind the drop.
“Are our building administrators being pressured not to call police as often?” he asks.
John Matthews, the longtime executive director of Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI), the district’s teachers union, contends that the district’s leadership has indeed done this from time to time, directing building administrators to hold off on calling police so often.
Yudice, a former Madison police captain, said there was a time years ago when the district was extremely sensitive about appearing to have a large police presence at its schools. He rejects that notion now.
“It’s just the opposite,” he said. “We are more openly acknowledging that we have issues that need to be dealt with by the police. Since I’ve been working here, there has never been a directive to me or the school principals to minimize the involvement of police.”
All four Madison high schools feature an open campus. It appears that Erickson only reviewed calls to the High Schools, not those nearby. 1996-2006 police calls near Madison High Schools is worth a look along with the Gangs & School violence forum.
Finally, I hope that the Madison Police Department will begin publishing all police calls online, daily, so that the public can review and evaluate the information.
On June 19, Rainwater told the Wisconsin State Journal that the district wouldn’t appeal Flaten’s decision, saying, “The standard to overturn an arbitrator’s ruling is just really, really high.”
“It is,” Bob Nadler, the district’s executive director of human resources, agreed in an interview Friday.
The district, Nadler said, filed the suit because Friday was the deadline for filing a challenge to Flaten’s decision, and the district needed to preserve that option in case ongoing talks break down.
The district and union will continue to negotiate, outside of court and the WERC, to seek a settlement, Nadler said. The next session is Tuesday.
Nadler said the suit shouldn’t be viewed as a signal that Daniel Nerad, who succeeded Rainwater as superintendent on July 1, is taking a harder line with the union.
“I think this is just a very specific case that we feel we may have to challenge in the future,” Nadler said.
But John Matthews, executive director of the teachers union, called the filing of the suit “a stupid waste of money because there’s absolutely no way that they can succeed.
Certainly a change from past practices.
Superintendent Art Rainwater attended his last Madison School Board meeting Monday night, and everything seemed so collegial and functional that it was easy to imagine it had always been this way.
But, of course, it was not.
Art Rainwater took over a school district that was in crisis.
When he succeeded former Superintendent Cheryl Wilhoyte a decade ago, the administration was at odds with much of the School Board, the community and, most seriously, with unions representing teachers and other school employees.
Much of the trouble had to do with Wilhoyte’s unwillingness — perhaps inability — to communicate in a straight-forward manner.
Rainwater changed things immediately.
He was frank and accessible, never spoke in the arcane jargon of education bureaucrats and set up a regular schedule of meetings with board members, community leaders and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews.
Related: MMSD Today feature on Art Rainwater. Notes and links on Madison’s incoming Superintendent, Dan Nerad
Much more on retiring Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater.
Tamira Madsen covers Art’s last school board meeting.
Time Flies by Art Rainwater.
The Madison School District’s budget was $200,311,280 (24,710 enrollment) in 1994 and is $367,806,712 for the 2008/2009 (24,268 enrollment) school year.
The Madison School District must reinstate four high school athletic directors and “make them whole for any financial loss, ” according to an arbitrator ‘s ruling made public Monday.
Arbitrator Milo Flaten ruled the district violated its contract with Madison Teachers Inc. a year ago when it replaced the four athletic directors — who were union members — with two managers hired from other school districts.
In the decision, dated Friday and released by MTI on Monday, Flaten wrote that under its existing contract with MTI, the district promised that “athletic directors in the four schools would be represented by the union and that they would be members of the bargaining unit. No amount of reassignment of duties or creation of superficial boundaries can change that.”
MTI Executive Director John Matthews on Monday estimated the decision could cost the district more than $230,000.
Of that amount, each of the four former athletic directors would receive about $8,000 apiece — the extra compensation the four, who still work for the district, would have received this school year as athletic directors.
School districts in Stoughton, Columbus, Deerfield, Sauk Prairie and Janesville were among 32 statewide named Monday to receive Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction grants to start kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds.
But it may not be enough for at least one area district.
Getting 4-year-olds enrolled in kindergarten is a key step to raising student achievement levels and graduation rates, particularly among children from low-income families, national research has shown, DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper said.
School districts’ efforts to launch 4K programs have been hampered because it takes three years to get full funding for the program under the state’s school-finance system, according to DPI.
That’s what these grants are supposed to address with $3 million announced for 4K programs to start this fall.
Columbus, one of the school districts that qualified for the grant, would get an estimated $62,814 to enroll 87 children this fall.
The good news is that the feds refused to fund the school district’s proposal to revamp the high schools. The plan was wrongheaded in many respects, including its seeming intent to eliminate advanced classes that are overwhelmingly white and mix kids of distressingly varied achievement levels in the same classrooms.
This is a recipe for encouraging more middle-class flight to the suburbs. And, more to the point, addressing the achievement gap in high school is way too late. Turning around a hormone-surging teenager after eight years of educational frustration and failure is painfully hard.
We need to save these kids when they’re still kids. We need to pull them up to grade level well before they hit the wasteland of middle school. That’s why kindergarten for 4-year-olds is a community imperative.
As it happens, state school Supt. Elizabeth Burmaster issued a report last week announcing that 283 of Wisconsin’s 426 school districts now offer 4K. Enrollment has doubled since 2001, to almost 28,000 4-year-olds statewide.
Burmaster nailed it when she cited research showing that quality early-childhood programs prepare children “to successfully transition into school by bridging the effects of poverty, allowing children from economically disadvantaged families to gain an equal footing with their peers.”
Madison Teachers Inc.’s John Matthews on 4 Year Old Kindergarten:
For many years, recognizing the value to both children and the community, Madison Teachers Inc. has endorsed 4-year-old kindergarten being universally accessible to all.
This forward-thinking educational opportunity will provide all children with an opportunity to develop the skills they need to be better prepared to proceed with their education, with the benefit of 4- year-old kindergarten. They will be more successful, not only in school, but in life.
Four-year-old kindergarten is just one more way in which Madison schools will be on the cutting edge, offering the best educational opportunities to children. In a city that values education as we do, there is no question that people understand the value it provides.
Because of the increasing financial pressures placed upon the Madison School District, resulting from state- imposed revenue limits, many educational services and programs have been cut to the bone.
During the 2001-02 budget cycle, the axe unfortunately fell on the district’s 4-year-old kindergarten program. The School Board was forced to eliminate the remaining $380,000 funding then available to those families opting to enroll their children in the program.
This includes its opposition to collaborative 4-year-old kindergarten, virtual classes and charter schools, all of which might improve the chances of low achievers and help retain a crucial cadre of students from higher-income families. Virtual classes would allow the district to expand its offerings beyond its traditional curriculum, helping everyone from teen parents to those seeking high-level math and science courses. But the union has fought the district’s attempts to offer classes that are not led by MTI teachers.
As for charter schools, MTI has long opposed them and lobbied behind the scenes last year to kill the Studio School, an arts and technology charter that the school board rejected by a 4-3 vote. (Many have also speculated that Winston’s last minute flip-flop was partly to appease the union.)
“There have become these huge blind spots in a system where the superintendent doesn’t raise certain issues because it will upset the union,” Robarts says. “Everyone ends up being subject to the one big political player in the system, and that’s the teachers union.”
MTI’s opposition was a major factor in Rainwater’s decision to kill a 4-year-old kindergarten proposal in 2003, a city official told Isthmus last year (See “How can we help poor students achieve more?” 3/22/07).
Matthews’ major problem with a collaborative proposal is that district money would support daycare workers who are not MTI members. “The basic union concept gets shot,” he says. “And if you shoot it there, where else are you going to shoot it?”
At times, Matthews can appear downright callous. He says he has no problem with the district opening up its own 4K program, which would cost more and require significant physical space that the district doesn’t have. It would also devastate the city’s accredited non-profit daycare providers by siphoning off older kids whose enrollment offsets costs associated with infants and toddlers.
“Not my problem,” Matthews retorts.
Mitchell Schmidt: Andrews became executive director of WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union, in 1972. At the time, the association of 40,000 teachers had little involvement in state politics or lobbying efforts. But that soon changed. Andrews was considered a force to be reckoned with in the statehouse halls and advocated for teachers, bus drivers, … Continue reading Former WEAC leader and longtime teachers advocate Morris Andrews dies
Matthew DeFour: Soglin offered some of the sharpest zingers aimed at Walker. Asked how he would “undo the damage Walker has done to public education,” Soglin said, “We understand the purpose of education is not a career and a technical job, the purpose of an education is to teach young people how to think, which … Continue reading Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s Education (Governor campaign) Rhetoric
Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore: The Illinois crisis is so severe that paying the promised pensions would require a 30-year property-tax increase that would cost the median Chicago homeowner $2,000 a year, according to a study from three economists at the Chicago Fed. Not a penny of that added tax money would pay for better … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: By limiting the power of public unions, Janus may help them (States) avert fiscal disaster.
Molly Beck: John Matthews, former longtime executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., called Evers a “hero” and said he deserves to be re-elected. He said Wisconsin “residents know of his advocacy for their children.” “That said, I do worry that the far right and the corporations which want to privatize our public schools and make … Continue reading Wisconsin Education Superintendent Tony Evers faces re-election amid big GOP wins, union membership losses
Chris Rickert: In a brief speech last weekend at the shindig for John Matthews — who retired in January after 48 years as executive director of the Madison teachers union — Kloppenburg said she “couldn’t miss gathering with some of the best people in Wisconsin to honor the most amazing John Matthews.” Matthews is not … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Teachers Union and a State Supreme Court Election
Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email: Longtime MTI activist Peg Coyne (Black Hawk), who was elected a year ago to her third term as MTI President, has decided to retire at the conclusion of the school year. Coyne also served as Union President for the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school … Continue reading MTI President Peg Coyne Retires; President-elect Andy Waity Assumes Presidency
David Wahlberg: Madison Teachers Inc. and five other Madison-based unions are so concerned about significant financial losses at Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, they’re urging members to vote for particular candidates in Group Health’s board election Thursday. “MTI cannot stand idly by and watch GHC disappear,” John Matthews, the teacher union’s executive director, … Continue reading Healthcare Costs & The Madison Schools
Madison Teachers, Inc., via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): MTI Executive Director John Matthews and MMSD Asst. Superintendent for Finance Mike Barry, along with District HR Director Deirdre Hargrove-Krieghoff and Benefits Manager Sharon Hennessy, have met with representatives of the three firms (Unity, GHC and Dean Health) which provide health insurance for District employees, … Continue reading MTI & District Working to Freeze Health Insurance Premiums
David Blaska Voters just approved a $41 million spending referendum. Now the Madison Metro School District says it needs to cut $10.8 million to cover a deficit. This is after rewarding its unionized teachers and support staff with a 2.5% pay increase in the budget approved late last year. Who is running this store? Hint: … Continue reading Commentary on Madison Schools’ Governance, Priorities & Spending