On Mary Burke, the Rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School, The School Board and Running for Governor

Madison School Board President Ed Hughes:

Mary Burke’s past activities are coming under increased scrutiny now that she is an active candidate for governor. Mary has generously supported different educational initiatives for many years. Her primary focus has been the AVID/TOPS partnership between the Madison School District and the Boys and Girls Club. But her pledge of support for the Madison Prep charter school proposal has drawn the most attention. Since I was more involved in the Madison Prep saga than most, I thought it might be helpful if I provided a summary of what I know about Mary’s involvement.
In December, 2010, the Urban League of Greater Madison presented an initial proposal to the Madison School Board to establish a charter school called Madison Prep. The Urban League described the school as “a catalyst for change and opportunity among young men, particularly young men of color.” The school was intended to inculcate a culture of hard-work and achievement among its students through a host of practices, including single-sex classrooms, an International Baccalaureate curriculum, longer school days and school years, intensive mentoring, and obligatory parental involvement.
Madison Prep was controversial from the start and the initial proposal was adjusted in response to various concerns. By the fall of 2011, Madison Prep was planned to be an instrumentality charter school, like our existing charter schools Nuestro Mundo and Badger Rock. As an instrumentality, all teachers and staff would have been union members.

Burke’s candidacy will bring additional statewide attention (and rhetoric) to the Madison schools, particularly its challenges. It will be interesting to see what, if anything Mary Burke says about her time on the local school board.

Madison Preparatory IB Charter school deserves city support

Matt Beaty:

It is easy to look at the upcoming Spring elections and focus solely on the potential recall of Gov. Scott Walker. It has become a national issue, and millions of dollars from both Wisconsin and out-of-state are being thrown into the election. But there is another important choice to make on the ballot: two candidates for Madison school board representatives.
While most school district elections are fairly boring and forgettable, this year’s vote could help seal the fate of Madison Preparatory Academy. The proposed charter school is aimed at helping lower-income students gain access to college-prep courses. It is championed by Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire, but has not gained his level of enthusiasm in the rest of the city. Voters should support Mary Burke and Nichelle Nichols who have pledged support for the school.

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

Madison Schools’ Administration Opposes the Proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School

Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Recommendations:
We are in agreement that the achievement gaps for low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English Language Learners must be eliminated. The Administration agrees that bolder steps must be taken to address these gaps. We also know that closing these gaps is not a simple task and change will not come overnight, but, the District’s commitment to doing so will not waiver. We also know that to be successful in the long run, we must employ multiple strategies both within our schools and within our community. This is why the District has held interest in many of the educational strategies included in the Madison Prep’s proposal like longer school days and a longer school year at an appropriately compensated level for staff, mentoring support, the proposed culture of the school and the International Baccalaureate Program.
While enthusiastic about these educational strategies, the Administration has also been clear throughout this conversation about its concern with a non-instrumentality model.
Autonomy is a notion inherent in all charter school proposals. Freedom and flexibility to do things differently are the very reasons charter schools exist. However, the non-instrumentality charter school model goes beyond freedom and flexibility to a level of separateness that the Administration cannot support.
In essence, Madison Prep’s current proposal calls for the exclusion of the elected Board of Education and the District’s Administration from the day-to-day operations of the school. It prevents the Board, and therefore the public, from having direct oversight of student learning conditions and teacher working conditions in a publicly-funded charter school. From our perspective, the use of public funds calls for a higher level of oversight than found in the Madison Prep proposal and for that matter in any non-instrumentality proposal.
In addition, based on the District’s analysis, there is significant legal risk in entering into a non- instrumentality charter contract under our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.
In our analysis of Madison Prep’s initial instrumentality proposal, the Administration expressed concerns over the cost of the program to the District and ultimately could not recommend funding at the level proposed. Rather, the Administration proposed a funding formula tied to the District’s per pupil revenues. We also offered to continue to work with Madison Prep to find ways to lower these costs. Without having those conversations, the current proposal reduces Madison Prep’s costs by changing from an instrumentality to a non-instrumentality model. This means that the savings are realized directly through reductions in staff compensation and benefits to levels lower than MMSD employees. The Administration has been willing to have conversations to determine how to make an instrumentality proposal work.
In summary, this administrative analysis finds concerns with Madison Prep’s non-instrumentality proposal due to the level of governance autonomy called for in the plan and due to our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. Based on these issues, we cannot recommend to the Board that Madison Prep be approved as a non-instrumentality charter school.
We know more needs to be done as a district and a community to eliminate our achievement gaps. We must continue to identify strategies both within our schools and our larger community to eliminate achievement gaps. These discussions, with the Urban League and with our entire community, need to continue on behalf of all of our students.

Matthew DeFour:

In anticipation of the recommendation, Caire sent out an email Friday night to School Board members with a letter responding to concerns about the union contract issue.
The problem concerns a “work preservation” clause in the Madison Teachers Inc. contract that requires all teaching duties in the district be performed by union teachers.
Exceptions to the clause have been made in the past, such as having private day-care centers offer 4-year-old kindergarten, but those resulted from agreements with the union. Such an agreement would nullify the current union contract under the state’s new collective bargaining law, according to the district.
Caire said a recent law signed by Gov. Scott Walker could allow the district to amend its union contract. However, School Board member Ed Hughes, who is a lawyer, disagreed with Caire’s interpretation.
Nerad said even if the union issue can be resolved, he still objects to the school seeking autonomy from all district policies except those related to health and safety of students.
…..
Caire said Madison Prep’s specific policies could be ironed out as part of the charter contract after the School Board approves the proposal. He plans to hold a press conference Tuesday to respond to the district’s review.
“The purpose of a charter school is to free you from red tape — not to adopt the same red tape that they have,” Caire said. “We hope the board will stop looking at all of those details and start looking at why we are doing this in the first place.”

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The fate of Madison Prep, yea or nea, will resonate locally for years. A decisive moment for our local $372M schools.

10.7.2011 Draft; Proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School Business Plan

2.6MB PDF, via a kind reader’s email:

Black and Latino boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Likewise, boys in general lag behind girls in most indicators of student achievement.
Research indicates that although boys of color have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein men of color find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young men of color will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Likewise, girls of color are failing to graduate high school on-time, underperform on standardized achievement and college entrance exams and are under-enrolled in college preparatory classes in secondary school. The situation is particularly pronounced in the Madison Metropolitan School District where Black and Latino girls are far less likely than Asian and White girls to take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in high school or successfully complete such courses with a grade of C or better when they do. In this regard, they mimic the course taking patterns of boys of color.
Additionally, data on ACT college entrance exam completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement tests scores provided to the Urban League by the Madison Metropolitan School District show a significant gap in ACT completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement scores between students of color and their white peers.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Women will be established to serve as catalysts for change and opportunity among young men and women in the Greater Madison, Wisconsin area, particularly young men and women of color. It will also serve the interests of parents who desire a nurturing, college preparatory educational experience for their child.

Public Comments on The Proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School

Matthew DeFour:

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.

Madison Preparatory IB Charter School School Board Discussion Notes

Matthew DeFour:

Madison Preparatory Academy will receive the first half of a $225,000 state planning grant after the Madison School Board determined Thursday that the revised proposal for the charter school addresses legal concerns about gender equality.
Madison Schools Superintendent Dan Nerad announced the decision following a closed School Board meeting.
Questions still remain about the cost of the proposal by the Urban League of Greater Madison, which calls for a school for 60 male and 60 female sixth-graders geared toward low-income minorities that would open next year.
“I understand the heartfelt needs for this program,” Nerad said, but “there are other needs we need to address.”

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes

The school district does not have a lot of spare money lying around that it can devote to Madison Prep. Speaking for myself, I am not willing to cut educational opportunities for other students in order to fund Madison Prep. If it turns out that entering into a five-year contract with Madison Prep would impose a net cost of millions of dollars on the school district, then, for me, we’d have to be willing to raise property taxes by that same millions of dollars in order to cover the cost.
It is not at all clear that we’d be able to do this even if we wanted to. Like all school districts in the state, MMSD labors under the restrictions of the state-imposed revenue caps. The law places a limit on how much school districts can spend. The legislature determines how that limit changes from year to year. In the best of times, the increase in revenues that Wisconsin school districts have been allowed have tended to be less than their annual increases in costs. This has led to the budget-slashing exercises that the school districts endure annually.
In this environment, it is extremely difficult to see how we could justify taking on the kind of multi-million dollar obligation that entering into a five-year contract with Madison Prep would entail. Indeed, given the projected budget numbers and revenue limits, it seems inevitable that signing on to the Madison Prep proposal would obligate the school district to millions of dollars in cuts to the services we provide to our students who would not attend Madison Prep.
A sense of the magnitude of these cuts can be gleaned by taking one year as an example. Since Madison Prep would be adding classes for seven years, let’s look at year four, the 2015-16 school year, which falls smack dab in the middle.

TJ Mertz:

Last night I (TJ) was asked to leave the meeting on African American issues in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) advertised as being facilitated by the Department of Justice Community Relations Service (DOJ CRS) and hosted or convened by the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) with the consent and participation of MMSD. I was told that if I did not leave, the meeting would be canceled. The reason given was that I write a blog (see here for some background on the exclusion of the media and bloggers and here for Matt DeFour’s report from outside the meeting).
I gave my word that I would not write about the meeting, but that did not alter the request. I argued that as a parent and as someone who has labored for years to address inequities in public education, I had both a legitimate interest in being there and the potential to contribute to the proceedings. This was acknowledged and I was still asked to leave and told again that the meeting would not proceed if I did not leave. I asked to speak to the DOJ CRS representatives in order to confirm that this was the case and this request was repeatedly refused by Kaleem Caire of the ULGM.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

An idea hatched in Madison aims to give parents with boys in Wisconsin’s second-largest city another positive option for their children. It’s an idea that ought to be channeled to Milwaukee.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men would feature the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, longer days, a longer school year and lofty expectations for dress and behavior for boys in sixth grade through high school. And while it would accept all comers, clearly it is designed to focus on low-income boys of color. Backers hope to open a year from now.
One of the primary movers behind Madison Prep is Kaleem Caire, the head of the Urban League of Madison, who grew up in the city and attended Madison West High School in 1980s, Alan J. Borsuk explained in a column last Sunday. Caire later worked in Washington, D.C., as an education advocate before returning to Madison.
Caire saw too many young black men wash out and end up either dead or in jail, reported Borsuk, a senior fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School. And Caire now is worried, as are we, about the atrocious statistics that place young black boys so far behind their white peers.

Rebecca Kemble:

The Department of Justice official explained the shadowy, confidential nature of the Community Relations Service to the audience by describing the kinds of situations it intervenes in, mostly having to do with hate crimes and rioting. He said in no uncertain terms, “We are not here to do an investigation,” and even asked for the audience members to repeat the sentence with him. He then went on to ask for people to respect the confidentiality of those raising issues, and laid out the structure of the meeting: 30 minutes for listing problems relating to the achievement gap and 45 minutes generating solutions.
I will respect the confidentiality of the content of the meeting by not repeating it. However, I will say that what was said in that room was no different that what has been said at countless other open, public meetings with the School District and in community groups on the same topic, the only difference being that there were far fewer parents in the room and few if any teachers.
It turned out that the Department of Justice secretive meeting was a convenient way to pack the house with a captive audience for yet another infomercial about Madison Prep. Kaleem Caire adjourned the one meeting and immediately convened an Urban League meeting where he gave his Madison Prep sales pitch yet again. About 1/3 of the audience left at that point.

Walker gives Madison Preparatory IB Charter School a better chance

Wisconsin State Journal:

Gov. Scott Walker just gave a boost to the Urban League of Greater Madison’s intriguing proposal for an all-male charter school.
As part of his state budget address late Tuesday afternoon, Walker said he wants to let any four-year public university in Wisconsin create a charter school for K-12 students.
That gives the Urban League of Greater Madison a second potential partner for its proposal, should the Madison School Board reject the League’s idea.
Kaleem Caire, president and CEO of the Urban League, has made a powerful case for an all-male charter school with high standards, uniforms and a longer school day and year.
Charter schools are public schools allowed more freedom to try new things in exchange for greater accountability for results.

The Problem With Kaleem Caire’s (Madison Preparatory IB Charter School) Plan

Forward Lookout:

Before I get into this, Kaleem Caire, who is going to be on Oprah later today, does have a point in that the minority achievement gap in Madison and in Wisconsin is very troubling. Madison and Wisconsin need to do a lot better job making sure all students have opportunities to excel…
But I don’t think his solution is going to do much good:

a male-only charter school using a rigorous curriculum geared toward boys of color in grades 6 through 12

There are two issues I have with this proposal:
1. A segregated school? Really? Seriously? Yeah, okay it’s only targeted towards boys of color and not strictly segregated, but really….it’s not a good idea. It doesn’t matter what the motivations are, segregating by race is unwise…and is race even the right way to look at this? What about economics?

Much more on the Madison Preparatory Academy here.
The Forward Lookout writer(s) appear to suggest that Caire work within the current system to address the achievement gap. An optimist all around, I believe that to be a challenging strategy, for any large organization.

On the 5-2 Madison School Board No (Cole, Hughes, Moss, Passman, Silveira) Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School Vote (Howard, Mathiak voted Yes)

The Madison School Board voted early Tuesday morning against a charter school geared toward low-income minority students.
Moments later, Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire announced to a crowd of emotional supporters that he planned to file a racial discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department. He also urged the supporters to run for School Board.
“We are going to challenge this school district like they’ve never been challenged before, I swear to God,” Caire said.
The School Board voted against the plan 5-2, as expected, just after midnight. In the hours leading up to the vote, however, hundreds of Madison Preparatory Academy supporters urged them to change their minds.
More than 450 people gathered at Memorial High School for public comments, which lasted more than four hours.
It was the first School Board meeting moved to Memorial since a 2001 debate over the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.

Nathan Comp:

But the night’s harshest criticism was leveled not at the proposal but at the board itself, over a perceived lack of leadership “from the superintendent on down.”
“You meet every need of the unions, but keep minority student achievement a low priority,” said one parent.
Others suggested the same.
“This vote is not about Madison Prep,” said Jan O’Neill, a citizen who came out to speak. “It’s about this community, who we are and what we stand for — and who we stand up for.”
Among the issues raised by opponents, the one that seemed to weigh heaviest on the minds of board members was the non-instrumentality issue, which would’ve allowed Madison Prep to hire non-union staff.
A work preservation clause in the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the teacher’s union requires the district to hire union staff. Board member Ed Hughes said he wanted to approve Madison Prep, but feared that approving a non-instrumentality school would put the district in breach of its contract with Madison Teachers, Inc.
“It’s undeniable that Madison school district hasn’t done very well by its African American students,” he said. “But I think it’s incumbent upon us to honor the contract.”

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

Madison Teachers, Inc. on The Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School

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.

Some Madison Teachers & Some Community Members (*) on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School



200K PDF File, via a kind reader.
Madison Teacher’s Inc. Twitter feed can be found here.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
* Please see TJ Mertz’s comment below. A link to the document was forwarded to me via a kind reader from Madison Teachers, Inc. Twitter Feed (a “retweet” of Karen Vieth’s “tweet”). Note that I enjoyed visiting with Karen during several Madison School District strategic planning meetings.
A screenshot of the link:

The outcome of the Madison Prep “question” will surely reverberate for some time.
Finally, I suspect we’ll see more teacher unions thinking different, as The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has done: Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.

Madison School District Administrative Analysis of the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School; WKCE Rhetoric

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Critique of the District (MMSD)
Page # 23: MPA – No College Going Culture among Madison’s New Student Population
The data on student performance and course-taking patterns among students in MMSD paint a clear picture. There is not a prevalent college going culture among Black, Hispanic and some Asian student populations enrolled in MMSD. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. The majority of these students are failing to complete a rigorous curriculum that would adequately prepare them for college and 21st century jobs. Far too many are also failing to complete college requirements, such as the ACT, or failing to graduate from high school.
Page # 23: No College Going Culture among Madison’s New Student Population –
MMSD Response
MMSD has taken many steps towards ensuring college attendance eligibility and readiness for our students of color. Efforts include:
AVID/TOPS
East High School became the first MMSD school to implement AVID in the 2007-2008 school year. Teens of Promise or TOPS became synonymous with AVID as the Boys and Girls Club committed to an active partnership to support our program. AVID/TOPS students are defined as:
“AVID targets students in the academic middle – B, C, and even D students – who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. These are students who are capable of completing rigorous curriculum but are falling short of their
potential. Typically, they will be the first in their families to attend college, and many are from low-income or minority families. AVID pulls these students out of their unchallenging courses and puts them on the college track: acceleration instead of remediation.”
Source: http://www.avid.org/abo_whatisavid.html
The MMSD has 491 students currently enrolled in AVID/TOPS. Of that total, 380 or 77% of students are minority students (27% African-American, 30% Latino, 10% Asian, 10% Multiracial). 67% of MMSD AVID/TOPS students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The 2010- 2011 school year marked an important step in the District’s implementation of AVID/TOPS. East High School celebrated its first cohort of AVID/TOPS graduates. East Highs AVID/TOPS class of 2011 had a 100% graduation rate and all of the students are enrolled in a 2-year or 4- year college. East High is also in the beginning stages of planning to become a national demonstration site based on the success of their program. This distinction, determined by the AVID regional site team, would allow high schools from around the country to visit East High School and learn how to plan and implement AVID programs in their schools.
MMSD has a partnership with the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and they are conducting a controlled study of the effects of AVID/TOPS students when compared to a comparison groups of students. Early analysis of the study reveals positive gains in nearly every category studied.
AVID pilot studies are underway at two MMSD middle schools and support staff has been allocated in all eleven middle schools to begin building capacity towards a 2012-2013 AVID Middle School experience. The program design is still underway and will take form this summer when school based site teams participate in the AVID Summer Institute training.

I found this commentary on the oft criticized WKCE exams fascinating (one day, wkce results are useful, another day – this document – WKCE’s low benchmark is a problem)” (page 7):

Page # 28: MPA – Student Performance Measures:
85% of Madison Prep’s Scholars will score at proficient or advanced levels in reading, math, and science on criterion referenced achievement tests after three years of enrollment.
90% of Scholars will graduate on time.
100% of students will complete the SAT and ACT assessments before graduation with 75% achieving a composite score of 22 or higher on the ACT and 1100 on the SAT (composite verbal and math).
100% of students will complete a Destination Plan before graduation.
100% of graduates will qualify for admissions to a four-year college after graduation.
100% of graduates will enroll in postsecondary education after graduation.
Page # 28: Student Performance Measures – MMSD Response:
WKCE scores of proficient are not adequate to predict success for college and career readiness. Cut scores equated with advanced are needed due to the low benchmark of Wisconsin’s current state assessment system. What specific steps or actions will be provided for students that are far below proficiency and/or require specialized support services to meet the rigorous requirements of IB?
Recommendation:
No Child Left Behind requires 100% proficiency by 2014. Madison Prep must be held to the same accountability standards as MMSD.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Madison School District links & notes on Madison Prep.
TJ Mertz comments, here.

Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School Business & Education Plans

Education Plan (PDF) via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

Madison Preparatory Academy’s educational program has been designed to be different. The eight features of the educational program will serve as a powerful mix of strategies that allow Madison Prep to fulfill its mission: to prepare students for success at a four-year college or university by instilling Excellence, Pride, Leadership and Service. By fulfilling this mission, Madison Prep will serve as a catalyst of change and opportunity for young men and women who live in a city where only 48% of African American students and 56% of Latino students graduate from high school. Madison Prep’s educational program will produce students who are ready for college; who think, read, and write critically; who are culturally aware and embrace differences among all people; who give back to their communities; and who know how to work hard.
One of the most unique features of Madison Prep is the single gender approach. While single gender education has a long, successful history, there are currently no schools – public or private – in Dane County that offer single gender education. While single gender education is not right for every student, the demand demonstrated thus far by families who are interested in enrolling their children in Madison Prep shows that a significant number of parents believe their children would benefit from a single gender secondary school experience.
Madison Prep will operate two schools – a boys’ school and a girls’ school – in order to meet this demand as well as ensure compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The schools will be virtually identical in all aspects, from culture to curriculum, because the founders of Madison Prep know that both boys and girls need and will benefit from the other educational features of Madison Prep.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is one of those strategies that Madison Prep’s founders know will positively impact all the students the schools serve. IB is widely considered to be the highest quality curricular framework available. What makes IB particularly suitable for Madison Prep is that it can be designed around local learning standards (the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and the Common Core State Standards) and it is inherently college preparatory. For students at Madison Prep who have special learning needs or speak English as a second language, IB is fully adaptable to their needs. Madison Prep will offer both the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP) to all its students.
Because IB is designed to be college preparatory, this curricular framework is an ideal foundation for the other aspects of Madison Prep’s college preparatory program. Madison Prep is aiming to serve a student population of which at least 65% qualify for free or reduced lunch. This means that many of the parents of Madison Prep students will not be college educated themselves and will need the school to provide considerable support as their students embark on their journey through Madison Prep and to college.
College exposure, Destination Planning, and graduation requirements that mirror admissions requirements are some of the ways in which Madison Prep will ensure students are headed to college. Furthermore, parents’ pursuit of an international education for their children is increasing rapidly around the world as they seek to foster in their children a global outlook that also expands their awareness, competence and comfort level with communicating, living, working and problem solving with and among cultures different than their own.
Harkness Teaching, the cornerstone instructional strategy for Madison Prep, will serve as an effective avenue through which students will develop the critical thinking and communication skills that IB emphasizes. Harkness Teaching, which puts teacher and students around a table rather than in theater-style classrooms, promotes student-centered learning and rigorous exchange of ideas. Disciplinary Apprenticeship, Madison Prep’s approach to literacy across the curriculum, will ensure that students have the literacy skills to glean ideas and information from a variety of texts, ideas and information that they can then bring to the Harkness Table for critical analysis.
Yet to ensure that students are on track for college readiness and learning the standards set out in the curriculum, teachers will have to take a disciplined approach to data-driven instruction. Frequent, high quality assessments – aligned to the standards when possible – will serve as the basis for instructional practices. Madison Prep teachers will consistently be analyzing new data to adjust their practice as needed.

Business Plan (PDF), via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

Based on current education and social conditions, the fate of young men and women of color is uncertain.
Black and Hispanic boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Likewise, boys in general lag behind girls in most indicators of student achievement.
Research indicates that although boys of color have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein men of color find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young men of color will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Likewise, girls of color are failing to graduate high school on-time, underperform on standardized achievement and college entrance exams and are under-enrolled in college preparatory classes in secondary school. The situation is particularly pronounced in the Madison Metropolitan School District where Black and Hispanic girls are far less likely than Asian and White girls to take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in high school or successfully complete such courses with a grade of C or better when they do. In this regard, they mimic the course taking patterns of boys of color.
Additionally, data on ACT college entrance exam completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement tests scores provided to the Urban League of Greater Madison by the Madison Metropolitan School District show a significant gap in ACT completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement scores between students of color and their White peers.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Women will be established to serve as catalysts for change and opportunity among young men and women in the Greater Madison, Wisconsin area, particularly young men and women of color. It will also serve the interests of parents who desire a nurturing, college preparatory educational experience for their child.
Both schools will be administratively separate and operated by Madison Preparatory Academy, Inc. (Madison Prep), an independent 501(c)(3) established by the Urban League of Greater Madison and members of Madison Prep’s inaugural board of directors.
The Urban League of Greater Madison, the “founder” of Madison Prep, understands that poverty, isolation, structural discrimination, limited access to schools and classrooms that provide academic rigor, lack of access to positive male and female role models in different career fields, limited exposure to academically successful and achievement-oriented peer groups, and limited exposure to opportunity and culture experiences outside their neighborhoods contribute to reasons why so many young men and women fail to achieve their full potential. At the same time, the Urban League and its supporters understand that these issues can be addressed by directly countering each issue with a positive, exciting, engaging, enriching, challenging, affirming and structured learning community designed to specifically address these issues.
Madison Prep will consist of two independent public charter schools – authorized by the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education – designed to serve adolescent males and females in grades 6-12 in two separate schools. Both will be open to all students residing within the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) who apply, regardless of their previous academic performance.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.

Further Commentary on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School: Gender discrimination likely a red herring in charter school discussion

Chris Rickert:

The Madison School District now has another justification for killing a charter school aimed at doing what the district hasn’t: consistently educate minority students.
Last week, the state Department of Public Instruction said the first half of a planning grant for Madison Preparatory Academy would be released. Madison Prep would focus on low-income minority students and was originally just for boys but has since been revamped to include girls in separate classrooms.
But DPI had a catch: In order to get the rest of the grant, the school must provide scientific research that single-gender education is effective. If you’re going to discriminate by gender, DPI is saying, at least have a good reason for it.
I can’t help but wonder: Is this the best DPI can do?
I don’t know much more than what I’ve read in this newspaper about how Madison Prep would organize itself, what kinds of educational approaches it would use or how capable its sponsor, the Urban League of Greater Madison, would be.

TJ Mertz:

ewsletter (as of this writing PD has not taken a position on the Madison Prep proposal). I’ve only changed minimally for posting here; one thing I have added is some hyperlinks (but I did not link as thoroughly as I usually do), another is a small “For Further Reading” set of links at the end,” and of course the song. This is intended to be a broad overview and introduction to what I think are some of the most important issues concerning the decision on the Madison Preparatory Academy presented in the context of related national issues. Issues raised in this post have been and will be treated in more depth — and with hyperlinks — in other posts]

For decades free market advocates such as the Bradley Foundation, the Walton Foundation and the Koch brothers have a waged a multi-front campaign against the public sector and the idea of the common good. Public education has been one of the key battlegrounds. In the coming weeks the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will decide whether to approve a proposal for the Madison Prep Charter School. This proposal and the chief advocate for it – Kaleem Caire of the Urban League of Greater Madison – have their roots in the Bradley/Walton/Koch movement, and like much of that movement they offer false promises of educational progress in order to obscure the damage being done to every child in our public schools.

A Public Hearing on the Madison Prep proposal has been scheduled for Monday October 3, at 6:00 PM in the Doyle Building Auditorium; The Madison Prep proposal is on the agenda of the PD General Membership Meeting (Wed , 9/28 , 6:00 p.m, Hawthorne Branch Library, guests welcome).

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.

Wisconsin DPI announces $6 million for charter school planning and dissemination grants; Proposed IB Madison Preparatory Academy Charter School Not Funded

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, via a kind reader’s email:

Groups planning new charter schools and established charter schools that want to replicate their success are sharing $6 million in federal charter school grants.
Planning grants total $4.5 million and will go for planning activities in 23 charter schools that have already been approved by their local school board or authorizing authority. Five of those grants are going to districts that do not currently have charter schools. Five grants, totaling $625,000, will support the expansion of successful charter school models. Another seven grants, totaling $875,000, will help charter schools that are in the second year dissemination activities.
“Planning grant proposals in this round of funding are for a mix of innovative charter schools,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “This is just what the charter school law promotes: local solutions to serve students and their families.”

Matthew DeFour has more.

Kaleem Caire’s Speech on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School to the Madison Rotary Club

Kaleem Caire, via email:

Based on current educational and social conditions, the fate of boys of color is uncertain. African American and Latino boys are grossly over-represented among young men failing to achieve academic success and are at greater risk of dropping out of school. Boys in general lag behind girls on most indicators of student achievement.

  • In 2009, just 52% of African American boys and 52% of Latino boys graduated on-time from Madison Metropolitan School District compared to 81% of Asian boys and 88% of White boys.
  • In the class of 2010, just 7% of African American seniors and 18% of Latino seniors were deemed “college-ready” by ACT, makers of the standardized college entrance exam required for all Wisconsin universities.

Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (Madison Prep) is a public charter school being developed by the Urban League of Greater Madison. Madison Prep will serve as a catalyst for change and opportunity, particularly young men of color. Its mission is to prepare scholars for success at a four year college by instilling excellence, pride, leadership and service. A proposed non-instrumentality charter school located in Madison, Wisconsin and to be authorized by the Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison Prep will serve 420 students in grades 6 through 12 when it reaches full enrollment in 2017-2018.

Watch a video of the speech, here.

Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School Budget

Urban Leage of Greater Madison:

The Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) is submitting this budget narrative to the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education as a companion to its line‐item budget for Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (Madison Prep). The budget was prepared in partnership with MMSD’s Business Services office. The narrative provides context for the line items presented in the budget.
Madison Prep’s budget was prepared by a team that included Kaleem Caire, President & CEO of ULGM; Tami Holmquist, Business Manager at Edgewood High School; Laura DeRoche‐Perez, ULGM Charter School Development Consultant; and Jim Horn, ULGM Director of Finance. Representative of ULGM and MMSD met weekly during the development of the Madison Prep budget. These meetings included including Erik Kass, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services and Donna Williams, Director of Budget & Planning. The budget was also informed by ULGM’s charter school design teams and was structured in the same manner as start‐up, non‐instrumentality public charter school budgets submitted to the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board in Washington, DC. DCPCSB is widely regarded as one of the most effective authorizers of charter schools in the nation.
In addition, Madison Prep’s Facilities Design Team is led by Dennis Haefer, Vice President of Commercial Banking with Johnson Bank and Darren Noak, President of Commercial Building with Tri‐North Builders. Mr. Noak is also the Treasurer of ULGM’s Board of Directors. This team is responsible for identifying Madison Prep’s school site and planning for related construction, renovation and financing needs.
……
Budget Highlights
A. Cost of Education
In 2008‐09, the Madison Metropolitan School District received $14,432 in revenue per student from a combination of local, federal and state government and local property taxes. The largest portion of revenue came from property taxes, $9,049 (62.7%), followed by $3,364 in state aid (23.3%), $1,260 in federal aid (8.7%) and $759 in other local revenue (5.3%). That same year, MMSD spent $13,881 per student on educational, transportation, facility and food service costs for 25,011 students for a total of $347,177,691 in spending.
In 2010‐11, MMSD’s Board of Education is operating with an amended budget of $360,131,948, a decrease of $10,155,522 (‐2.74%) from 2009‐10. MMSD projects spending $323,536,051 in its general education fund, $10,069,701 on food service and $8,598,118 on debt service for a total of $342,203,870. Considering the total of only these three spending categories, and dividing the total by the official 2010‐11 enrollment count of 24,471 students, MMSD projects to spend $13,984 per student.3 This is the amount per pupil that ULGM used as a baseline for considering what Madison Prep’s baseline per pupil revenue should be in its budget for SY2011‐12. ULGM then determined the possibility of additional cutbacks in MMSD revenue for SY2011‐12 and reduced its base per pupil revenue projection to $13,600 per student. It then added a 1% increase to it’s per pupil base spending amount for each academic year through SY2016‐17.
ULGM recognizes that per pupil funding is an average of total costs to educate 24,471 children enrolled in MMSD schools, and that distinctions are not made between the costs of running elementary, middle and high schools. ULGM also understands that the operating costs between all three levels of schooling are different. Middle schools costs more to operate than elementary schools and high schools costs more than middle schools.
Reviewing expense projections for middle and high schools in MMSD’s SY2010‐11 Amended Preliminary Budget, ULGM decided to weight per pupil spending in middle school at 1.03% and 1.16% in high school. Thus, in SY2012‐13 when Madison Prep opens, ULGM projects a need to spend $14,148 per student, not including additional costs for serving English language learners and students with special needs, or the costs of Madison Prep’s third semester (summer).
B. Cost Comparisons between Madison Prep and MMSD
Staffing Costs
In 2010‐11, MMSD projected it would spend $67,133,692 on salaries (and benefits) on 825.63 staff in its secondary (middle and high) schools for an average salary of $81,312. This includes teachers, principals and in‐school support staff. In its first year of operation (SY2012‐13), ULGM projects Madison Prep it will spend $1,559,454 in salaries and benefits on 23 staff for an average of $67,802 in salary, including salaries for teachers, the Head of School (principal) and support staff. In its fifth year of operation, Madison Prep is projected to spend $3,560,746 in salaries and benefits on 52 staff for an average of $68,476 per staff person. In both years, Madison Prep will spend significantly less on salaries and benefits per staff member than MMSD.
Additionally, MMSD spends an average of $78,277 on salaries and benefits for staff in its middle schools and $79,827 on its staff in its high schools.

Additional documents: budget details and Madison Prep’s Wisconsin DPI application.
Matthew DeFour:

The high cost results from the likelihood that Madison Prep will serve more low-income, non-English speaking and special education students, said Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, which is developing the charter school. The school also plans to have a longer school year, school day and require students to participate in volunteer and extracurricular activities.
“What we’re asking for is based on the fact that we’re going to serve a high-needs population of kids,” Caire said. “We don’t know yet if what we’re projecting is out of line.”
Caire said the proposal will likely change as potential state and federal revenues are assessed.
A Republican charter school bill circulated in the Legislature this week could also alter the landscape. The bill would allow charter schools to receive approval from a state board, rather than a local school board, and those that don’t use district employees, like Madison Prep, would be able to access the state retirement and health care systems.

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

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

Chris Ahmuty 220K PDF:

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

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

Talking Points for the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, an IB Charter School

Kaleem Caire, via email

What are Charter Schools?

  • Charter schools are public schools that have more freedom to innovate because they are exempt from many (but not all) policies that govern traditional public schools. There are more than 200 public charter schools in Wisconsin and two in Madison.
  • Charter schools employ fully qualified teachers and participate in statewide testing programs just like traditional public schools do.
  • Wisconsin has two kinds of charter schools: instrumentality (staff employed by a school district) and non-instrumentality (staff not employed by a school district, but by a nonprofit organization).

Read the initial proposal, here.

More on the Proposed IB Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men Charter School

522K PDF via a Kaleem Caire email:

Based on current education and social conditions, the fate of boys of color is uncertain.
Black boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve to their dreams and aspirations.
Research indicates that although black boys have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein black males find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young Black men will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (aka Madison Prep) will be established to serve as a catalyst for change and opportunity among young men of color. Its founders understand that poverty, isolation, structural discrimination, lack of access to positive male role models and achievement-oriented peer groups, limited exposure to opportunity and culture outside their neighborhood or city, and a general lack of understanding – and in some cases fear – of black boys among adults are major contributing factors to why so many young men are failing to achieve to their full potential. However, the Urban League of Greater Madison – the “founders” of Madison Prep – also understand that these issues can be addressed by directly countering each issue with a positive, exciting, engaging, enriching, challenging, affirming and structured learning community designed to exclusively benefit boys.

More here.

Wisconsin wins $95 million charter school grant

Wisconsin DPI, via a kind reader: Wisconsin won more than $95 million from a competitive, five-year federal grant for the Wisconsin Charter Schools Program, according to an announcement last week by the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, the largest in the country this year, will support the growth of high-quality charter schools, especially secondary […]

When charter schools unionize, students learn more, study finds

Matt Barnum: When charter school teachers push to unionize, charter leaders often fight back. That’s happened in Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Unionizing, they argue, would limit the schools’ ability to innovate, ultimately hurting kids. But a new study of California schools finds that, far from harming student achievement, unionization of […]

Seeking K-12 Governance diversity in Madison

“Bennett said he continues to work closely with the district, noting he recently met with district lawyer Dylan Pauly to work out an agreement for the internal sharing and public posting of any Madison charter school applications that are submitted. Proposals are to be posted on the district’s website within two weeks of the submission […]

Ongoing Status Quo Madison School Board Governance

Karen Rivedal The Madison School Board’s narrow rejection of a proposed five-year contract for a public Montessori charter school on Monday isn’t deterring supporters and may not represent the end of the process around the proposal. Ali Muldrow, described in the proposed contract as one of the school’s seven founders, said Tuesday she isn’t giving […]

Commentary on school choice in Madison

Madison Teacher and Parent Jen Greenwald: I have worked as a teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District since 1997. I have raised my two biracial daughters in and out of Madison public schools. And, like many of the people who support Isthmus Montessori, I would like to see radical change in our district. A […]

Madison School Board Continues Non Diverse Governance Practices with Proposed Montessori Academy School

Amber Walker: In a 5-2 decision on Monday, the Madison School Board voted to postpone the charter approval of Isthmus Montessori Academy. The board wanted more clarity around the school’s proposed attendance area, financial and academic accountability standards at their three-year mark, and language in the proposal that asks for waivers that apply to early […]

Independent (!) Charter School RFP: Madison OR Milwaukee (!)

University of Wisconsin System Office of Educational Opportunity, via a kind email: As home to the nation’s first public kindergarten, Wisconsin has a proud history of visionary educators incubating innovative educational opportunities for students, families, and their communities. The Office of Educational Opportunity is proud to be a partner in the Badger State’s living legacy […]

On expanding Madison’s Least Diverse schools

It’s interesting to consider recent Madison School Board/Administration decisions in light of David Brooks’ 7/11/2017 column: Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances […]

On Madison’s lack of K-12 Diversity and choice

Karen Rivedahl: “The best thing my office can do is increase access to educational opportunities and increase equity,” he said. “The worst thing it can do is create fights for fights’ sake.” Independent charter schools, while funded by state taxpayers, operate outside most traditional public school rules in a way that supporters say make them […]

Are Charter Schools Good or Bad for Black Students

Graham Vyse: Black History Month began Wednesday, and this year’s theme is “The Crisis in Black Education.” According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the group that founded BHM—this crisis “has grown significantly in urban neighborhoods where public schools lack resources, endure overcrowding, exhibit a racial achievement gap, and […]

University of Wisconsin System Charter School Opportunities, including Madison; Draft Recovery School Legislation

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, via Gary Bennett: The University interprets its responsibility to authorize charter schools as a part of a larger attempt to improve education for children and in this instance, the education of children in the City. Charter schools must have programs that provide quality education to urban students and address the critical issues […]

A Madison “instrumentality Charter School” Approved

Doug Erickson: Board member Mary Burke said it was critically important to her that the student body of the new charter school reflect the demographics of the overall district in terms of racial diversity and the percentages of students with special needs. The school’s founders and its supporters convinced her through their testimonials and their […]

Isthmus Montessori School’s Madison K-12 Proposal

5.7MB PDF: We submit this proposal to open MMSD’s first AMI Montessori school. Isthmus Montessori Academy, Inc. was founded in the goal of providing expanded access to Montessori as a brain-based scientifically developed method of education. We are inspired by MMSD’s direction and leadership, and are excited and prepared to join the district in providing […]

Charters In Madison? Lack Of Governance Diversity To Continue…..

Doug Erickson: If successful in its bid, the academy would become what’s called an “instrumentality” of the district. It would retain considerable autonomy but receive state education funding and be tuition-free just like any public school. As an instrumentality charter, the School Board would have ultimate governance responsibility and employ the school staff. The academy’s […]

As charter renewal looms, Badger Rock Middle School pledges to improve its performance

Doug Erickson: A small, environmental-themed charter school in Madison with a substandard academic record is facing heightened School Board scrutiny as its charter comes up for renewal. Badger Rock Middle School, 501 E. Badger Road, opened in 2011 amid great enthusiasm for its emphasis on urban agriculture, environmental sustainability and project-based learning. Last month, though, […]

Competitive School Board Races! Minneapolis, home of a diverse K-12 climate – Compared To Madison’s Monoculture

Erin Hinrichs Bob Walser’s induction into Minneapolis school board politics has been pleasant, so far. A newbie to the campaign trail, he secured the endorsement of the DFL Party and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers last spring and has been encouraged by the well-wishes he’s received from constituents in District 4. “When the community comes […]

Politics, rhetoric, Achievement And Charter Schools

Thomas Sowell The one bright spot in black ghettos around the country are the schools that parents are free to choose for their own children. Some are Catholic schools, some are secular private schools and some are charter schools financed by public school systems but operating without the suffocating rules that apply to other public […]

The Great Massachusetts Charter Schools Debate

Rachel Slade In November, Massachusetts voters will decide whether the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) can raise the cap on the number of charter schools allowed, or increase enrollment in existing charters in underperforming districts. If the referendum is approved, the city of Boston—which currently has 27 Commonwealth charter schools that operate independently […]

Why do I and other black families support charter schools?

Citizen Stewart: Most Black families support charter schools, not because they are duped or privatizers, but because many see their neighborhood schools, and know their children need better options. I know, because I saw it first hand in West Oakland, struggling to get my brother the education he deserved, in a system that didn’t treat […]

NYT Hatchet Job on Charters

Jay Greene: And on the specific claim the article makes that “half the charters perform only as well, or worse than, Detroit’s traditional public schools” this is what the Stanford study has to say: “In reading, 47 percent of charter schools perform significantly better than their traditional public school market, which is more positive than […]

K-12 Diversity May Arrive In Madison

Doug Erickson: Gary Bennett, a former public school teacher, will begin April 1, according to the UW System. He will establish and lead the new Office of Educational Opportunity, an entity proposed by Darling and other Republican legislators and approved last year as part of the state’s biennial budget process. The office will have the […]

Reviewing and Renewing Madison’s Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School “Charters”

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): Issue: The charter contracts for Badger Rock Middle School (BRMS) and James C. Wright Middle School (Wright) expire on June 30, 2016. Per respective contracts, the Board is required to make a decision whether or not to renew Wright’s contract at least six months before the contract’s expiration and BRMS’ contract […]

Madison Government Schools Charter (and Innovation) Climate

Julie F. Mead & Preston C. Green III This policy brief addresses the challenge of using charter school policy to enhance equal educational opportunity. Three overriding assumptions guide the brief’s recommendations: (1) charter schools will be part of our public educational system for the foreseeable future; (2) charter schools are neither inherently good, nor inherently […]

Madison’s Schwerpunkt: Government School District Power Play: The New Handbook Process is worth a look

Wisconsin’s stürm and drang over “Act 10” is somewhat manifested in Madison. Madison’s government schools are the only Wisconsin District, via extensive litigation, to still have a collective bargaining agreement with a teacher union, in this case, Madison Teachers, Inc. The Madison School Board and Administration are working with the local teachers union on a […]

K-12 Governance: Proposal May Change Madison’s Non-Diverse School Governance/Choice Model

Molly Beck: “We are confident the proposal can fundamentally transform the educational opportunities that are available to students in Wisconsin’s two largest school districts,” he said. Delaporte pointed to Department of Public Instruction data that shows less than 40 percent of Madison students have tested proficient in reading in recent years — slightly higher than […]

High expectations At success Academy charter school

Kate Taylor: At most schools, if a child is flailing academically, it is treated as a private matter. But at Success Academy Harlem 4, one boy’s struggles were there for all to see: On two colored charts in the hallway, where the students’ performance on weekly spelling and math quizzes was tracked, his name was […]

Already a friend to charter schools, Wisconsin could see more growth under budget proposal; one size fits all continues in Madison

Molly Beck: “That charter authorizer is without accountability, if you will, to the voter in any way,” she said. “And so why would we want to do that? That’s what I would like explained to me. Why would that be a good thing for the state of Wisconsin? Honestly, I can’t fathom what the justification […]

Shift in NJEA’s stance on charter schools fraught with tension

Laura Waters: The New Jersey Senate Education Committee heard testimony on Sen. Teresa Ruiz’s new charter school bill on Oct. 16. One of the lobbyists there was New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer. As he approached the podium you couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. This well-spoken and diplomatic head of New Jersey’s […]

New Jersey’s charter school law is too restrictive (Madison lacks independent charters)

Laura Waters: Last week the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) published a new study, “The Health of the Public Charter School Movement: a State-by-State Analysis.” No worries here: according to NAPCS’s data, New Jersey is in fine fettle, ranking fourth among twenty-six states. (The analyses are restricted to states that serve more than […]

Year after Rocketship’s scrutinized Milwaukee launch, signs point to progress; Status Quo in Madison

Erin Richards: What were the highlights of Rocketship’s first year here? Strong growth. Rocketship set a goal of having 65% of its Milwaukee students meet the national average for reading and math growth over the course of the year. In fact, 72% of the school’s students, almost all of whom are low-income and Hispanic or […]

Commentary on Charter & Traditional Public Schools

Dave Zweifel: Lafer’s report details how Rocketship teaches only basics like reading and math with “live” teachers, while the rest of the curriculum is taught online. There are no art, music or gym classes. The teachers are recent education school grads who have volunteered for a couple of years with Teach for America, a private […]

“we don’t believe now is the time to move individual (charter school) proposals forward” – Madison Superintendent

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (3MB PDF): While we are busy working in the present day on the improvement of all of our schools, a key aspect of our long-term strategy must include the addition or integration of unique programs or school models that meet identified needs. However, to ensure that these options are strategic and […]

“the analysis shows that in a year’s time, on average, students in Los Angeles charter schools make larger learning gains in reading and mathematics”

Center for Research on Education Outcomes (PDF): Across the country, charter schools occupy a growing position in the public education landscape. Heated debate has accompanied their existence since their start in Minnesota two decades ago. Similar debate has occurred in California, particularly in Los Angeles, with charter advocates extolling such benefits of the sector as […]

Commentary on Madison’s Achievement Gap: “More than Poverty”

Pat Schneider: Yet some of those strategies have been used by the school district for years, and the results have not been good, Hughes acknowledged. “The results have been disappointing not just because African-American kids are achieving at lower rates than white kids, but because our African-American kids are doing worse than African-American kids in […]

Madison’s Nuestro Mundo Charter Contract Revisions

The Madison School District (PDF):

More rigorous and frequent reviews of progress (3.02, 4.04, 24)
Modify student achievement goals and include more robust measures of student performance (4.01, 4.02, 4.03, Appendix 1)
Clarify the admissions process, which is expressly aligned to the process used for other DLI programs (7.04)

Nuestro Mundo generally operates within the traditional District structures. Two proposed charter schools that largely wished to operate in a more independent manner – to varying degrees -, The Studio School and the Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School were rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.

A somewhat connected (one end of the class spectrum) view of the State of Madison’s $395M Public School District

Mary Erpenbach (and This story was made possible by supp​ort from Madison Gas & Electric, Summit Credit Union, CUNA Mutual Foundation and Aldo Leopold Nature Center.):

Today, Caire’s tone has moderated. Somewhat.
“Teachers are not to blame for the problems kids bring into the classroom,” he says. “But teachers have to teach the kids in front of them. And Madison teachers are not prepared to do that. Now we have two choices: Make excuses why these kids can’t make it and just know that they won’t. Or move beyond and see a brighter future for kids.”
Many parents back him up. And many parents of students of color say that their experience with Madison’s public schools–both as students here, themselves, and now as parents–is simply much different and much worse than what they see white students and parents experiencing.
“I just always felt like I was on as a parent, like every time I walked through the door of that school I would have to go to bat for my son,” says Sabrina Madison, mother of a West High graduate who is now a freshman at UW-Milwaukee. “Do you know how many times I was asked if I wanted to apply for this [assistance] program or that program? I would always say, ‘No, we’re good.’ And at the same time, there is not the same ACT prep or things like that for my child. I was never asked ‘Is your son prepared for college?’ I never had that conversation with his guidance counselor.”
Hedi Rudd, whose two daughters graduated from East and son from West, says it has been her experience that the schools are informally segregated by assistance programs and that students of color are more likely to be treated with disrespect by school personnel. “Walk into the cafeteria and you’ll see the kids [of color] getting free food and the white students eating in the hall. I walked into the school office one day,” she recalls. “I look young and the secretary thought I was a student. She yelled, ‘What are you doing here?’ I just looked at her and said, ‘Do you talk to your students like that?'”
Dawn Crim, the mother of a daughter in elementary school and a son in middle school, says lowered expectations for students of color regardless of family income is an ongoing problem. “When we moved to Madison in 1996, we heard that MMSD was a great school district … and for the most part it has been good for our kids and family: strong teachers, good administrators, a supportive learning environment, and we’ve been able to be very involved.”
But?
“Regarding lower expectations for kids of color, not just disadvantaged kids, we, too, have experienced the lower expectations for our kids; overall there is a feeling and a sense of lower expectations,” Crim says. “And that should not come into play. All of our kids should be respected, pushed, have high expectations and should get the best education this district says it gives.”
In the meantime, the school district has been running programs in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Madison, UW-Madison, United Way of Dane County, the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, and other organizations–all designed to lift scholastic achievement, close the gap, and get more kids graduated and on to college.
The Advancement Via Individual Determination program known as AVID (or AVID/TOPS, when coordinated with the Teens Of Promise program) is run by the district and the Boys and Girls Club here, and is a standout in a slew of public/private efforts to change the fate of students of color in Madison.
…..
At the end of the last school year, a total of four hundred forty-two students did not graduate on time from high school in Madison. One hundred nine were white, eighty-six were Hispanic, thirty-three were Asian and one hundred ninety-one were African American. If the graduation rate for African American students had been comparable to the eighty-eight percent graduation rate of white students, one hundred forty more African American students would have graduated from Madison high schools.
But they did not. While it’s true that the district actively searches out students who did not graduate on time, and works with them so that as many as possible do ultimately graduate, the black-and-white dividing line of fifty-five/eighty-eight remains for now the achievement gap’s stark, frightening, final face. What can be said is that many more Madisonians are paying attention to it, and many people in a position to make a difference are doing their level best to do something about it.
……
“One of the reasons we haven’t been as successful as we could be is because we’ve lacked focus and jumped from initiative to initiative,” she (Cheatham) says of the Madison schools.

Related: notes and links on Mary Erpanbach, Jennifer Cheatham and Madison’s long term disastrous reading scores.
Background articles:
Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before (2005).
Notes and Links on the Madison K-12 Climate and Superintendent Hires Since 1992.
My Life and Times With the Madison Public Schools
Latest Madison Schools’ 2013-2014 $391,834,829 Budget.

‘Lefty hypocrisy’ in the Madison School District

Chris Rickert:

But the writer’s view of Madisonians as a bunch of liberals whose actions belie their highfalutin ideals rings true when it comes to at least one Madison institution: the schools.
Despite decades of embarrassing gaps in achievement between white and minority and poor and rich students, the Madison School District has:
Moved slowly to ramp up the AVID/TOPS (Advancement Via Individual Determination/Teens of Promise) program, which has been shown to boost academic achievement among the district’s students of color, who make up more than half the student body. It served 7 percent of middle and high school students in 2012-13, up from 0.2 percent when AVID was introduced in 2007-08 (TOPS was added a year later).
Done nothing to change regressive union rules that make teachers’ career advancement and promotion almost entirely a matter of their seniority and degree attainment — as opposed to, say, their ability to engage and educate students of color and poor students.
Turned down a bid by the Urban League of Greater Madison to create a charter school that would have focused on serving poor and minority students.
Declined to broach the idea of year-round school despite research showing that students from poor families suffer most from the “summer slide.”
Declined to seek changes to a school board elections system that has already basically ensured a win for the one white candidate on the ballot this April. The black candidate and the Latino candidate will have to fight it out for the other districtwide seat.
None of this is news. What is new, however, is the attention Madison’s long-standing race-based disparities in the schools and other areas are getting from the politically liberal people who run this town.

Hey, guilty liberals, how about OK for Madison Prep?

David Blaska:

Nobody does guilt like a Madison liberal! The president of the Madison School Board tells me that I really didn’t make that. All along, I have been swimming in the water of white privilege.
I wish Ed Hughes had told me about white privilege when, growing up on the farm, I was mucking out the old barn with a shovel. I knew I was swimming in something but I didn’t think it was white privilege.
Ed is an honorable public servant, mindful of the dismayingly poor unemployment, incarceration, and graduation rates among people of color here in the Emerald City.
“We white folks pretty much get to set the rules in Madison,” Hughes apologizes. He meant “liberal white folks.” They’ve been running Madison for 40 years, since Paul Soglin first became mayor. It’s 50 years since LBJ’s Great Society. Something besides the Obamacare website ain’t workin’.
Allow this Madison minority — I’m a conservative — to propose a fix: If a crusading young black educator named Kaleem Caire returns to the Madison School Board with a plan for a school focused on tackling minority underachievement, give it a chance! Ed, you voted with the majority to kill Madison Prep.

Much more on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.

Newark district and charter schools join together for universal enrollment plan

Peggy McGlone:

A reference to nuclear warheads may seem out of place at a meeting of Newark educators, but not when you consider what’s at stake.
The Newark Public School district and the city’s charter schools are considering a plan that would blow up the status quo in what they say is an effort to provide equity to the city’s schoolchildren.
School officials are creating what some say is a first-in-the-nation voluntary effort to offer universal enrollment for students citywide to all of Newark’s 71 public schools and 21 public charter schools.
Under the plan, there would be one application, one timeline and one central clearing space for information about all city schools. Essentially, it would eliminate the need for parents to go from school to school filling out applications and participating in separate lotteries in the hopes of getting a spot in a particular school.

Via Laura Waters
Related: a majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.

Madison: The most racist city in the U.S.?

Sarah Blaskey and Phil Gasper:

MADISON, WIS., has a reputation as one of the most liberal cities in the country. It is also possibly the most racially unequal.
In early October, Race to Equity–a Madison-based initiative started by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families–released a report detailing racial disparities in Madison, and more broadly in Dane County, Wis. The findings are staggering.
The Race to Equity researchers expected the numbers compiled for racial disparities in Dane County to be similar or slightly better than the national averages. After all, Madison has long prided itself on having quality public education, good jobs, access to health care and human services programs, a relatively high standard of living and, in general, a progressive outlook on social, economic and political questions.
But while living standards for the white population in Dane County are higher than the national average, for the Black population, the opposite is true. On every indicator, with only two exceptions out of 40 measures, statistics collected in Dane County demonstrated equal or higher racial disparities between whites and Blacks than the national averages.

Related: The failed battle over the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school and our disastrous reading scores.

Legislation could boost old Madison Prep proposal

Chris Rickert:

More important than whether UW-Madison might take a chance on Madison Prep, though, is whether such a school chartered by UW-Madison would work. Caire said “higher education institutions tend to be more careful about who gets a charter and tend to charter some high-quality schools.”
There appears to be some evidence of this. Ten of 11 UW-Milwaukee-authorized charters have an average state report card score some 14 points higher than the Milwaukee Public Schools generally, with one charter school not rated.
The MPS and charter schools have comparable rates of poverty, although MPS schools have higher proportions of disabled students and English language learners. A special state test for disabled students and other accommodations can help mitigate the negative effect on a school’s overall performance but not necessarily completely, according to James Wollack, an associate professor and expert in testing and evaluation at UW-Madison.

Much more on the Madison Preparatory Academy, an IB charter school proposal rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.
Madison’s non-diverse K-12 governance model spends about double the national average per student yet has sustained disastrous reading results for some time. The “same service” governance model has long run its course.

On Madison’s Lack of K-12 Governance Diversity

Chris Rickert:

Similarly, when I asked Madison School Board member T.J. Mertz — a critic of nontraditional public education models — about the bill, he framed it as a question of “local control.”
“The big issue in this bill is the loss of local control,” he said. “It allows for the authorizing of charters without any role for elected boards and mandates the approval of replicant charters, regardless of the needs of the community.”
It’s a funny notion, this “local control.”
Used by tea partiers to object to the new “common core” standards and by liberals to object to charter and voucher schools, the principle of “local control” tends to be so dependent on circumstance as to be not much of a principle at all.
True local control would dictate that if a state university is to refrain from authorizing charter schools, it should refrain from authorizing many of their affiliated centers and institutes because they use public money but lack direct public oversight, too.
True local control would mean electing Madison School Board members by geographic districts, not by randomly assigned at-large “seats.”
The state’s most recent school report cards show the Milwaukee school district scoring 14 points lower than 10 of the 11 charters authorized as of last year by UW-Milwaukee (one wasn’t rated). This despite very similar student poverty levels — 82.3 percent for Milwaukee and 75.96 percent for the charters.

Related: A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School. I am somewhat surprised that the Madison Prep rejection has not been challenged via legal venues.

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
…..
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

Terry Flores

Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.

Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.

The Dichotomy of Madison School Board Governance: “Same Service” vs. “having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district”.

The dichotomy that is Madison School Board Governance was on display this past week.
1. Board Member TJ Mertz, in light of the District’s plan to continue growing spending and property taxes for current programs, suggests that “fiscal indulgences“:

Tax expenditures are not tax cuts. Tax expenditures are socialism and corporate welfare. Tax expenditures are increases on anyone who does not receive the benefit or can’t hire a lobbyist…to manipulate the code to their favor.

be applied to certain school volunteers.
This proposal represents a continuation of the Districts’ decades long “same service” approach to governance, with declining academic results that spawned the rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.
2. Madison’s new Superintendent, Jennifer Cheatham introduced her “Strategic Framework” at Wednesday’s Downtown Rotary Club meeting.
The Superintendent’s letter (jpg version) (within the “framework” document) to the Madison Community included this statement (word cloud):

Rather than present our educators with an ever-changing array of strategies, we will focus on what we know works and implement these strategies extremely well. While some of the work may seem familiar, having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district. This is what it takes to narrow and eliminate gaps in student achievement.

The Madison School Board’s letter (jpg version) to the community includes this statement:

Public education is under sustained attack, both in our state and across the nation. Initiatives like voucher expansion are premised on the notion that public schools are not up to the challenge of effectively educating diverse groups of students in urban settings.
We are out to prove that wrong. With Superintendent Cheatham, we agree that here in Madison all the ingredients are in place. Now it is up to us to show that we can serve as a model of a thriving urban school district, one that seeks out strong community partnerships and values genuine collaboration with teachers and staff in service of student success.
Our Strategic Framework lays out a roadmap for our work. While some of the goals will seem familiar, what’s new is a clear and streamlined focus and a tangible and energizing sense of shared commitment to our common goals.
The bedrock of the plan is the recognition that learning takes place in the classroom in the interactions between teachers and students. The efforts of all of us – from school board members to everyone in the organization – should be directed toward enhancing the quality and effectiveness of those interactions.
There is much work ahead of us, and the results we are expecting will not arrive overnight. But with focus, shared effort and tenacity, we can transform each of our schools into thriving schools. As we do so, Madison will be the school district of choice in Dane County.

Madison School Board word cloud:

Related: North Carolina Ends Pay Boosts for Teacher Master’s Degrees; Tenure for elementary and high-school teachers also eliminated

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed a budget bill Friday that eliminates teacher tenure and–in a rare move–gets rid of the automatic pay increase teachers receive for earning a master’s degree.
The legislation targets a compensation mechanism that is common in the U.S., where teachers receive automatic pay increases for years of service and advanced degrees. Some research has suggested those advanced degrees don’t lead to improved teaching.
Although a few other states have talked about doing away with the automatic pay increase for advanced degrees, experts say North Carolina is believed to be the first state to do so.
The budget bill–which drew hundreds of teachers to the Capitol in protest earlier this week–also eliminates tenure for elementary and high-school teachers and freezes teacher salaries for the fifth time in six years.
It comes as states and districts across the country are revamping teacher evaluations, salaries and job security, and linking them more closely to student performance. These changes have been propelled, in part, by the Obama administration and GOP governors.

The challenge for Madison is moving away from long time governance structures and practices, including a heavy (157 page pdf & revised summary of changes) teacher union contract. Chris Rickert’s recent column on Madison’s healthcare practices provides a glimpse at the teacher – student expenditure tension as well.
Then Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 Madison Rotary speech offers important background on Madison’s dichotomy:

“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).

“Budget Cuts: We Won’t Be as Bold and Innovative as Oconomowoc, and That’s Okay”.

Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s Rotary Club Talk (audio & slides): “What will be different this time?”

15mb mp3 audio.

Superintendent Cheatham’s slides follow (4MB PDF version). I hope that the prominence of Madison’s disastrous reading scores – slide 1 – indicates that this is job one for our $15,000ish/student organization.





























A few of the Superintendent’s words merit a bit of analysis:
1. “What will be different this time?” That rhetoric is appropriate for our Madison schools. I compiled a number of notes and links on this subject, here.
2. “Ready to partner with local businesses and other organizations”. Great idea. The substance of this would certainly be a change after the Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school debacle (Urban League) and, some years ago, the rejection of Promega’s kind offer to partner on Madison Middle Schools 2000.
3. Mentions “all Madison schools are diverse”. I don’t buy that. The range of student climate across all schools is significant, from Van Hise and Franklin to LakeView, Mendota and Sandburg. Madison school data by income summary. I have long been astonished that this wide variation continues. Note that Madison’s reading problems are not limited to African-American students.
4. Mentioned Long Beach and Boston as urban districts that have narrowed the achievement gap. Both districts offer a variety of school governance models, which is quite different than Madison’s long-time “one size fits all approach”.
5. Dave Baskerville (www.wisconsin2.org) asked a question about benchmarking Madison students vs. the world, rather than Green Bay and Milwaukee. Superintendent Cheatham responded positively to that inquiry. Interestingly, the Long Beach schools prominently display their status as a “top 5 school system worldwide”.
6. “Some teachers and principals have not been reviewed for as long as 7 years”. This points to the crux of hard decision making. Presumably, we are at this point because such reviews make no difference given rolling administrator contracts and a strong union umbrella (or floor depending on your point of view). Thus, my last point (below) about getting on with the hard decisions which focus the organization on job number one: reading.
Pat Schneider and Matthew DeFour summarize the Superintendent’s press release and appearance.
Finally, I found it a bit curious that the Superintendent is supporting spending (and related property tax growth) for current programs in light of the larger strategy discussed today along with the recent “expert review”. The review stated that the “Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap”
This would be a great time to eliminate some programs such as the partially implemented Infinite Campus system.
Superintendent Cheatham’s plan indicates that choices will be made so that staff and resources can focus on where they are most needed. I wholeheartedly agree. There is no point in waiting and wasting more time and money. Delay will only increase the cost of her “strategy tax“.

Charter Schools Receive a Passing Grade: Overall Reading Gains Stronger Than on Regular Public Campuses, but Results Vary Widely by State

Stephanie Banchero:

Students attending publicly funded, privately run charter schools posted slightly higher learning gains overall in reading than their peers in traditional public schools and about the same gains in math, but the results varied drastically by state, according to one of the most comprehensive studies of U.S. charter schools.
The study [PDF], published Tuesday by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, found that charter students in Rhode Island, for example, gained the equivalent of an additional 86 days of reading comprehension and 108 days of math comprehension annually compared with peers in traditional public schools. In Nevada, however, charter students had 115 fewer days of learning in reading and 137 fewer in math annually, the study found.
Overall, the new study found that charter students gained an additional eight days of reading, while the math gains were identical. Low-income Hispanic and African-American students did much better in charters than their peers in the traditional school option, while white children did worse in charters.
The researchers and some charter proponents said the results suggest some states need to be more particular about which groups they award charters, and more aggressive about shutting low-performers.

Center for Research on Education Outcomes Press Release:

According to the 26-state study:

  • Students in poverty, black students, and those who are English language learners (ELL) gain significantly more days of learning each year in both reading and math compared to their traditional public school peers. Performance differences between charter school students and their traditional public school peers were especially strong among black and Hispanic students in poverty and Hispanic students who are ELL in both reading and math.
  • Charter school enrollment has grown among students who are in poverty, black students, and Hispanic students.
  • The 11 new states added marginally to the mathematics gains seen since the 2009 study, but more so to gains in reading.

More from Stephanie Simon.
Related:One year in, Oconomowoc High School staff, students adjusting to change and May, 2012: Budget Cuts: We Won’t Be as Bold and Innovative as Oconomowoc, and That’s Okay.
A majority of Madison school board members rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School in 2012.
Madison’s long term, disastrous reading scores.

Madison’s public schools go to lockdown mode; no new ideas wanted

David Blaska:

Graphical user interface? I think not, Mr. Jobs. Mainframe is where it’s at. Big and honking, run by guys in white lab coats. Smart phones? iPads? You’re dreaming. Take your new ideas somewhere else.
That is the Madison School Board. It has decided to batten the hatches against change. It is securing the perimeter against new thinking. It is the North Korea of education: insular, blighted, and paranoid.
Just try to start a charter school in Madison. I dare you. The Madison School Board on Monday took three measures to strangle new ideas in their crib:
1) Preserving the status quo: Any proposed charter school would have to have “a history of successful practice.” That leaves out several existing Madison public schools – never mind new approaches.
2) Starvation: Cap per-pupil reimbursement at around $6,500 – less than half what Madison public schools consume.
3) Encrustation: Unionized teachers only need apply.
I spoke to Carrie Bonk, executive director of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association.

Related:
Madison’s disastrous reading results.

The rejected Studio charter school.

Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.

“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.

Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13.

Madison’s disastrous long term reading results..

Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Elementary School.

Madison’s School Board to Finalize “Charter School Policy”……

Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel Steve Hartley, Chief of Staff (PDF):

It is the policy of the School Board to consider the establishment of charter schools that support the DISTRICT Mission and Belief Statements and as provided by law. The BOARD believes that the creation of charter schools can enhance the educational opportunities for Madison Metropolitan School District students by providing innovative and distinctive educational programs and by giving parents/students more educational options within the DISTRICT. Only charter schools that are an instrumentality of the DISTRICT will be considered by the BOARD.
The BOARD further believes that certain values and principles must be integrated into all work involving the conceptualization, development and implementation of a new charter school. These guiding principles are as follows:
1. All charter schools must meet high standards of student achievement while providing increased educational opportunities, including broadening existing opportunities for struggling populations of students;
2. All charter schools must have an underlying, research-based theory and history of successful practice that is likely to achieve academic success;
3. All charter schools will provide information to parents and students as to the quality of education provided by the charter school and the ongoing academic progress of the individual student;
4. All charter schools will ensure equitable access to all students regardless of gender, race and/or disability;
5. All charter schools must be financially accountable to the DISTRICT and rely on +’ sustainable funding models;
6. All charter schools must ensure the health and safety of all staff and students;
7. All externally-developed charter schools must be governed by a governance board that is registered as a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charitable organization;
8. All charter schools must have a plan to hire, retain and recruit a highly-qualified, diverse staff;
9. All charter schools must have a clear code of student conduct that includes procedures for positive interventions and social emotional supports

Related:
Matthew DeFour’s article.
The rejected Studio charter school.
Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.
“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.
Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13.
Madison’s disastrous long term reading results..
Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Elementary School.

Another Proposed Madison School District Charter Policy

Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel Steve Hartley, Chief of Staff, Madison School District via a kind reader’s email (700K PDF):

– removes the ability of an individual board member to initiate a charter proposal – must be initiated by the board instead (superintendent can also initiate)
– $6,500 per pupil funding formula, with reductions in district funding after the 3rd or 4th year (unclear) of between 10-20% based on private fundraising.

Madison will spend about $15k/student during the 2012-2013 school year.
Related: Many notes and links on the rejected (by a majority of the Madison School Board) Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”. More, here.

Charter school experiment a success; The arrival of charter schools in any city usually starts a fight.

USA Today Editorial:

Critics — whether district superintendents or teachers’ unions or school boards or a traveling band of academic doubters — snipe at the newcomers, arguing that they’re siphoning students and money from traditional public schools.
But as evidence from the 20-year-old charter experiment mounts, the snipers are in need of a new argument. There’s little doubt left that top-performing charters have introduced new educational models that have already achieved startling results in even the most difficult circumstances.
That doesn’t mean all charters are automatically good. They’re not. But it’s indisputable that the good ones — most prominently, KIPP — are onto something. The non-profit company, which now has 125 schools, operates on a model that demands much more of students, parents and teachers than the typical school does. School days are longer, sometimes including Saturday classes. Homework burdens are higher, typically two hours a night. Grading is tougher. Expectations are high, as is the quality of teachers and principals, and so are the results.
KIPP’s eighth-grade graduates go to college at twice the national rate for low-income students, according to its own tracking. After three years, scores on math tests rise as if students had four years of schooling, according to an independent study.

Related: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”
.
A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school.
Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools
.

Manski and Democrats used Madison’s minorities as partisan cannon fodder (2013 Madison School Board Election)

David Blaska

Madison Prep was the mouse that roared. How can you explain the fear and loathing Madison’s power elite directed at the Madison Urban League’s proposed charter school?
The Urban League’s Madison Prep charter school would have been just one school amid 50 Madison public schools. It would have taught 800 kids out of 27,000 enrolled in the district. The school board would have retained the ultimate authority to shut it down. So why the sturm und drang over this niche school? Two reasons:
• Because it would have been non-union.
• Because it might have succeeded. The Democratic Party cannot allow one small chink in the solid teachers union barricades.
How else does one explain Sarah Manski’s endorsement from the leader of the State Assembly Democrats, Peter Barca of Kenosha? How else does one explain an endorsement from the leader of the State Senate Democrats, Chris Larson of Milwaukee?
The purpose of the Manski campaign was all about staving off any threat to the teachers union hegemony. The power structure encouraged her to run after Ananda Mirilli, an immigrant Latina who supports the charter school (a public school, by the way), entered the race.
Husband Ben Manski said as much in his notorious December email blast.

Madison Urban League head calls out Manski and Mertz for dishonest school board campaign

David Blaska

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.

The Madison School Board Elections; setting the record straight

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email

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

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

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

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

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

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

336K PDF Version
jpg version
Related Links:

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

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

Madison Prep tension carries over into School Board races

Jack Craver:

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

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

“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”



Larry Winkler kindly emailed the chart pictured above.

Where have all the Students gone?

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin:

We are not interested in the development of new charter schools. Recent presentations of charter school programs indicate that most of them do not perform to the level of Madison public schools. I have come to three conclusions about charter schools. First, the national evidence is clear overall, charter schools do not perform as well as traditional public schools. Second where charter schools have shown improvement, generally they have not reached the level of success of Madison schools. Third, if our objective is to improve overall educational performance, we should try proven methods that elevate the entire district not just the students in charter schools. The performance of non-charter students in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago is dismal.
In addition, it seems inappropriate to use resources to develop charter schools when we have not explored system-wide programming that focuses on improving attendance, the longer school day, greater parental involvement and combating hunger and trauma.
We must get a better understanding of the meaning of ‘achievement gap.’ A school in another system may have made gains in ‘closing’ the achievement gap, but that does not mean its students are performing better than Madison students. In addition, there is mounting evidence that a significant portion of the ‘achievement gap’ is the result of students transferring to Madison from poorly performing districts. If that is the case, we should be developing immersion programs designed for their needs rather than mimicking charter school programs that are more expensive, produce inadequate results, and fail to recognize the needs of all students.
It should be noted that not only do the charter schools have questionable results but they leave the rest of the district in shambles. Chicago and Milwaukee are two systems that invested heavily in charter schools and are systems where overall performance is unacceptable.

Related links:

I am unaware of Madison School District achievement data comparing transfer student performance. I will email the Madison School Board and see what might be discovered.
Pat Schnieder:

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has some pretty strong ideas about how to improve academic achievement by Madison school children. Charter schools are not among them.
In fact, Madison’s ongoing debate over whether a charter school is the key to boosting academic achievement among students of color in the Madison Metropolitan School District is distracting the community from making progress, Soglin told me.
He attended part of a conference last week sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Madison that he says overstated the successes elsewhere of charter schools, like the Urban League’s controversial proposed Madison Preparatory Academy that was rejected by the Madison School Board a year ago.
“A number of people I talked with about it over the weekend said the same thing: This debate over charter schools is taking us away from any real improvement,” Soglin said.
Can a new committee that Soglin created — bringing together representatives from the school district, city and county — be one way to make real progress?

The City of Madison’s Education Committee, via a kind reader’s email. Members include: Arlene Silveira, Astra Iheukemere, Carousel Andrea S. Bayrd, Erik Kass, Jenni Dye, Matthew Phair, Maya Cole and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff.

Education reform advocates Canada, Legend urge bold changes for Madison schools

Matthew DeFour:

Two national education reform advocates encouraged about 100 attendees at an Urban League luncheon Thursday to advocate for institutional changes in the school system or “watch your city disappear.”
Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, and Grammy-award-winning R&B musician John Legend participated in an hour-long discussion moderated by local television journalist Neil Heinen.
Canada said Madison leaders need to allow more educational innovation, such as charter schools, if it wants to raise achievement for low-income and minority students.
“You’ve got the cancer, but no one’s allowed to do any research,” Canada said. “If you care about this city, you’re going to end this (achievement gap). There is no future in allowing large numbers of your citizens to fail.”
…..
State Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, left the luncheon early because he didn’t like what he was hearing from the presenters.
“What they’re saying, I don’t know what it had to do with making our schools better for our kids,” Hulsey said. “We need to invest in our schools to hire more teachers, not talk about firing more teachers.”

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

Emanuel’s push for more Chicago charter schools is in full swing: Now that the teachers strike is over, mayor is free to expand charter schools in Chicago

Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann and John Chase:

Chicago Public Schools officials expect about 53,000 of the district’s roughly 400,000 students will attend charter schools this year, and the number of charters will increase to more than 100. The city is aiming to add 60 charter schools in the next five years with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is trying to expand charters across the country.
The biggest push for charter schools locally comes from some of the wealthiest backers of Emanuel, including Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist who regularly advises the mayor. At a seminar of business and political leaders held the same day teachers voted to return to school, Rauner said the strike would only energize reform efforts that he called a “multiyear revolution.”
“I think we’re going to have a coalescing of interests that’s a focus and drive some major change. And there are some plans in the works, some charter community education innovators who are now focusing on Chicago, and I think in the coming years we can innovate,” he said.
Experts called the union’s stand against privately run networks unique in the United States, where several big cities, including New York, also have pushed charter schools.
“What’s different is this is really the first mass movement against that comprehensive strategy” for privatization, said Janelle Scott, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studies school policy.

Related:

Words: Madison’s Plan to Close the Achievement Gap: The Good, Bad, and Unknown

Mike Ford:

Admittedly I did not expect much. Upon review some parts pleasantly surprised me, but I am not holding my breath that it is the answer to MMSD’s achievement gaps. It is a classic example of what I call a butterflies and rainbows education plan. It includes a variety of non-controversial, ambitious, and often positive goals and strategies, but no compelling reason to expect it to close the achievement gap. Good things people will like, unlikely to address MMSD’s serious problems: butterflies and rainbows.
What follows is a review of the specific recommendations in the MSSD plan. And yes, there are good things in here that the district should pursue. However, any serious education plan must include timelines not just for implementation, but also for results. This plan does not do that. Nor does it say what happens if outcomes for struggling subgroups of students do not improve.
Recommendation #1: Ensure that All K-12 Students are Reading at Grade Level

The rejected Madison Preparatory IB charter school was proposed to address, in part Madison’s long standing achievement gap.
Related: Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Elementary School (an inner-city voucher school).

More Outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad Reflections

Matthew DeFour

Q: Given a chance to oversee the Madison Prep debate again, would you have done anything differently?
A: My approach was I was attempting to make that work as an instrumentality of the district, and costs were prohibiting that. In terms of it being a non-instrumentality proposal, there were two big problems there. One was the fact that contractually it wasn’t permissible. The other area was the need for accountability to the public body and the governing board.
Q: So what would you have done differently?
A: I’ve looked into myself quite a bit on that and I don’t know what that is.
Q: So you think you were decisive enough?
A: Let other people judge that. But if I didn’t have an interest in looking at a program like Badger Rock Middle School and other innovative program designs, we wouldn’t have spent the time we did on Madison Prep. We put considerable effort into trying to find alternative ways to work that out and the reality of it is that it didn’t work out.

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

“Good Thing We Have Some Time”; on Madison’s Next Superintendent Hire….

Paul Fanlund:

As for superintendent candidates, someone with the pugnacious edge of our 67-year-old mayor might serve the city well.
In a recent interview, Paul Soglin told me he’s believed for 40 years that the quality of a school system is the “number one driver” for a city’s success.
Soglin said Madison’s schools are excellent, and, yes, the achievement gap needs attention. But Soglin said it’s unfair to expect schools here to shoulder blame for children who arrived only recently. The school district “has not done a good enough job explaining itself,” Soglin said.
It is hard to disagree.
So, in sum, our next school chief should have Soglin-like skills at the big vision and respond to sniping at public schools, be able to boost the morale of embattled teachers and staff, collaborate effectively with a disparate set of civic partners, and bring experience and keen judgment to tackling the achievement gap.
Good thing we have some time.

I’m glad that Paul has written on this topic. I disagree, however, regarding “time”. The District’s singular administrative focus must be on the basics: reading and math.
Those behind the rejected Madison Preparatory IB charter school may have a different view, as well.

Madison School Board Members 2012-2013 “Budget Amendments”

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