Commentary on temporary madison school board memBer appoIntment, replacing Mary Burke

Logan Wroge: The temporarily six-person School Board is scheduled to decide Monday who will join the body for a nine-month stint. During that time, the board will hire a permanent superintendent and work on a potentially large November 2020 facilities referendum. Those interested in the appointment have until 4 p.m. Friday to apply for the … Continue reading Commentary on temporary madison school board memBer appoIntment, replacing Mary Burke

Mary Burke resigns from the Madison School Board

Briana Reilly: Mary Burke announced Friday she’s stepping down from her position on the Madison School Board after seven years. Burke, who was first elected to the board in 2012, said in a statement her departure comes as her “personal and professional commitments do not allow me the time and energy needed to fulfill my … Continue reading Mary Burke resigns from the Madison School Board

Madison K-12 Status Quo? Anna Moffit, Mary Burke running for re-election to Madison school board in 2018

Lisa Speckhard Pasque: Madison School Board members Anna Moffit and Mary Burke have announced they will be running for re-election in 2018. In April, the terms will expire for seats 1 and 2 on the Madison Metropolitan School Board, currently occupied by Moffit and Burke. Burke has filed a declaration of candidacy with the Madison … Continue reading Madison K-12 Status Quo? Anna Moffit, Mary Burke running for re-election to Madison school board in 2018

Madison School Board: Mary Burke Seeks Re-Election, Arlene Silveira Will Not

Molly Beck Mary Burke, the incumbent Madison School Board member who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Scott Walker last month, confirmed Friday she will seek re-election in April. But Arlene Silveira, the longest serving board member and in her second stint as president, will not seek another term. And Anna Moffit, who has served on the district’s … Continue reading Madison School Board: Mary Burke Seeks Re-Election, Arlene Silveira Will Not

Madison School Board Member & Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke Apologizes to Neenah’s Superintendent over Act 10 Remarks

The Neenah Superintendent wrote a letter to Madison School Board Member & Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke on 19 September. Ms. Burke recently apologized for her Act 10 remarks: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has apologized to the superintendent of the Neenah school district for comments she made on the campaign trail. Burke had been citing … Continue reading Madison School Board Member & Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke Apologizes to Neenah’s Superintendent over Act 10 Remarks

Will the Madison School Board Prove Mary Burke Wrong (or Right)?

James Wigderson, via a kind reader: We should not have been surprised when Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke voted with the rest of the Madison school board to negotiate a contract extension with the teachers union. After all, it was just a month ago that Burke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a video … Continue reading Will the Madison School Board Prove Mary Burke Wrong (or Right)?

Mary Burke’s campaign to revise website after initially not mentioning her Madison School Board role

Matthew DeFour:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke launched a new, more detailed website Tuesday with one notable omission: her only experience in elective office, as a Madison School Board member.
But after the State Journal inquired about it, the campaign said it would update the site to include her role on the board.
A campaign spokesman called the omission an “oversight.” However, the website in several places downplays Burke’s ties to the city where she lives.
The website focuses on Burke’s experience as a top executive at Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle, which her father founded, and her time as Commerce secretary in the Gov. Jim Doyle administration.
Burke, the only Democrat so far who announced plans to run against Gov. Scott Walker next fall, launched burkeforwisconsin.com in October with a video announcement and ways for supporters to provide an email and donate to the campaign.

Madison schools’ academic challenges and above average spending & taxes will likely receive greater scrutiny during the upcoming gubernatorial election.
That said, a healthy debate on Madison’s long time, agrarian era governance model vs the more dynamic school choices available in most urban areas would be welcome.
– Phil Hands

Mary Burke shares views on voucher schools

Tom Kertscher:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke shared some of her views on school vouchers in a lengthy interview she did over the weekend with blogger Heather DuBois Bourenane, a prominent critic of Gov. Scott Walker.
Some of Burke’s remarks, based on a transcript:
Q. “What do you really think you can you do to move past this sort of toxic and divisive rhetoric without seeming like you’re not willing to take a stand on the issues that really matter the most to preserving Wisconsin values and to standing up for Wisconsin workers and students and educators?”
“I talk about jobs a lot because I do believe that there are a lot of people who are unemployed and really struggling to get by and we do have to emphasize what’s going to get jobs growing here in Wisconsin. But also I think that the direction that we’re headed in terms of education is really frightening to me. The statewide voucher expansion we’re talking about, I actively fought against and I think that I am very worried about what will happen in the next four years with regards to taking the caps off and funding them through a continued siphoning of funds that should be going to public education.”
Q.”If you don’t support a full repeal of the voucher system, how exactly do you plan to improve their performance and accountability without draining more taxpayer funds from the public school budget?”
“Sure. Well, first, in the interview I gave regarding the voucher, statewide voucher expansion, the emphasis I definitely placed is in not taking off the caps or letting the voucher expand. Then in terms of rolling back that statewide voucher expansion, you know, as governor I would have to work with the Legislature and certainly would do that, but it would be obviously only in conjunction with the Legislature that could happen.

Pity the kids who cannot read: Mary Burke masters triangulation with Madison schools budget vote

Alan Talaga:

But voting down a bill with a relatively minor tax increase, one that was less than the maximum allowed by the district, makes it look like she might offer an austerity budget if she sat in the governor’s chair. That’s why Burke made sure to toss a little red meat to the deep blue crowd.
“My concern is that very little of it (the property tax increase) went into increasing pay for teachers,” she said.
Ta-da! She voted against the budget because it wasn’t paying teachers enough! There’s another campaign slogan: “Mary Burke: She fights to pay teachers more!”

Yet, the same service tax, spending and curricular approach continues in Madison, despite long term disastrous reading results.
Rhetoric and vote parsing does nothing for the thousands of young people who cannot read.
Bread & circuses.

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.

Democrats testing the waters for Scott Walker challengers, including Madison School Board Member Mary Burke

Patrick Marley:

With a recently leaked poll, the first contours of the 2014 race for governor are coming into view.
Democrats have contended for months that they see Gov. Scott Walker as vulnerable, but they have not offered a candidate to run against him. But last month a poll was conducted testing the viability of Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive.
The poll was conducted around the same time an unknown person registered five Burke-themed Internet addresses, such as BurkeForWisconsin.com and BurkeForGovernor.com. None of the websites are active.
Burke, who was elected to the Madison School Board last year, has not responded to interview requests since the poll surfaced in June. Mike Tate, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, issued a statement at the time saying Democrats were conducting polls for “several potential strong challengers” to Walker.
Democrats are hungry for a victory after Walker became the first governor in the nation’s history to survive a recall election last year. Republicans are equally motivated to keep him in office after having to elect him twice for one term.
Democratic strategists said Burke is seriously considering a run but has not made a final decision. They noted others could run, but they hoped to have just one candidate to avoid a Democratic primary.
Democrats said they liked Burke’s background in business and economic development — as well as the personal funds she could bring to the race — while Republicans pointed to her ties to former Gov. Jim Doyle and other issues as matters they could exploit.

GOP complaint: Poll tests possible gubernatorial run by Madison School Board Member Mary Burke

Matthew DeFour

A Democratic poll testing gubernatorial candidates asks respondents their opinions about Madison School Board member Mary Burke, a complaint with state regulators says.
In one of the strongest signs yet that Madison School Board member Mary Burke is considering a run against Gov. Scott Walker in November 2014, a polling firm is apparently testing her favorability rating among potential voters.
The poll came to light Tuesday after the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board regarding a telephone poll that included questions about the former Trek Bicycle executive and Commerce Secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
The Associated Press also reported Tuesday that online records show that on June 12, the day before the poll was conducted, six Internet domain names that point toward a Burke candidacy were registered anonymously, including: Burkeforwisconsin.org, Burkeforwisconsin.com, Maryburke.org, Burkeforgovernor.com, and Burkeforgovernor.org.
Burke did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
The GOP complaint, filed against Burke and the state Democratic Party, alleges a telephone pollster asked questions about Burke and whether certain statements would influence the respondent’s vote.

The PDF complaint (1.2MB).
Not much, if anything has changed within our public schools over the past year that Mary has been on the Board. There is plenty to do, starting with the District’s long-term, disastrous reading scores.

Vote for Mary Burke for School Board

The Capital Times

The contest between Mary Burke and Michael Flores presents a tough choice. Both candidates are outspoken critics of Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public education, and defenders of the unions that represent educators. Both have genuine stakes in the Madison public schools — Flores as a parent and volunteer, Burke as a tutor, mentor and co-founder of AVID/TOPS, an innovative program for closing the racial achievement gap in Madison public schools.
We would be satisfied with either of these fine candidates, but our endorsement goes to Burke. She has a remarkable long-term record of engagement with public education at every level in Madison — as the co-founder of AVID/TOPS, board member of the Foundation for Madison Public Schools, a 13-year veteran of the Schools of Hope tutoring program at Allis Elementary School, a mentor at East High, a volunteer and board member for the Boys & Girls Club. She also knows the broader issues when it comes to state policy on education and achievement gap issues, as a former commerce secretary, Trek Bicycle executive, and active player in an initiative relating to the Milwaukee schools.

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

Madison school board candidates Michael Flores and Mary Burke discuss tests, teacher evaluation, and No Child Left Behind

Isthmus:

School board elections are usually sleepy affairs.
But the proposal this year for Madison Prep, a single-gender charter school, has sparked a lively, and sometimes controversial, conversation about one of the most pressing problems facing Madison schools: the achievement gap between students of color and their white peers. The debate has, in turn, sparked interest in the school board.
In the race for Seat 2, which is being vacated by retiring board member Lucy Mathiak, philanthropist Mary Burke is running against firefighter Michael Flores.
While there are an unprecedented number of candidate forums and listening sessions under way, we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. We focus on evaluation this week, of students, teachers, schools, and the district. What is the importance of student test scores, and how do they reflect upon teachers? What is the impact of No Child Left Behind on Madison schools?

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

Madison school board candidates Mary Burke and Michael Flores discuss the achievement gap and Madison Prep

Isthmus:

School board elections are usually sleepy affairs.
But the proposal this year for Madison Prep, a single-gender charter school, has sparked a lively, and sometimes controversial, conversation about one of the most pressing problems facing Madison schools: the achievement gap between students of color and their white peers. The debate has, in turn, sparked interest in the school board.
In the race for Seat 2, which is being vacated by retiring board member Lucy Mathiak, philanthropist Mary Burke is running against firefighter Michael Flores.
While there are an unprecedented number of candidate forums and listening sessions under way, we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week we ask the candidates how they would address what might be the primary issue of the election: the achievement gap. What would they do to address this gap, and balance the needs of both high and low achieving students? More specifically, we ask about their view of Madison Prep, and whether they would vote for or against it in the future.

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

Mary Burke for Madison School Board

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Mary Burke and Michael Flores are vying to replace Lucy Mathiak on the Madison School Board. Judged by their background, experience and skills and by the extent to which they’re prepared to grapple with the tough issues the Board faces, there is simply no comparison between the two. Mary Burke stands out. Mary may be the best-qualified candidate to run for Madison School Board in quite a while. (She’s far better qualified than I was when I first ran, for whatever that’s worth).
Let’s run through some of the dimensions of experience that can be helpful for School Board service. Involvement with our schools? Check. Mary is the co-founder and co-chair of the AVID/TOPS program, a widely-praised partnership between the school district and Boys and Girls Club that started at East High and is now in all our high schools and spreading to our middle schools. She is a mentor to a sophomore at East and to a foster teen in the district’s program for school-aged parents and she tutors first graders as a Schools of Hope volunteer at Frank Allis School.
Business experience? Check. Mary has started a business, worked for Trek Bicyle, worked as a business consultant and served as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. Board experience? Check. Mary has served on the Boards of the Foundation for Madison Public Schools, the Madison Community Foundation, the United Way, and the Evjue Foundation, and was a long-time president of the Board of the Boys and Girls Club.

Much more on Ed Hughes, here.
Madison School Board Election Notes and Links:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
The “status quo” vs. reform battle appears to be underway. Change is very, very hard at the local, state and federal levels. Progress is further subject to lobbying….

Philanthropist Mary Burke believes everybody deserves a chance to be successful

Nathan Comp:

The phone call came late one afternoon last March. Rachel Krinsky — then the executive director for the Road Home, a nonprofit agency serving homeless families in Dane County — was preparing to meet with the board of directors, which had recently voted to end a three-year campaign to raise money to build apartments for homeless families.
Having fallen $900,000 short of its fundraising goal, the board decided to build seven apartment units instead of the 15 it had sought, meaning eight families would remain on the street. “We had been fundraising for a long time and were out of ideas,” Krinsky recalls. “Everyone was tapped out.”
On the phone was Mary Burke, a wealthy 52-year-old philanthropist and former business executive, calling with unexpected news: She wanted to give the $450,000 needed to build those eight additional units. (The remaining $450,000 was an endowment goal.)
Krinsky’s jaw dropped.
“I was just stunned,” she says. “Mary wasn’t even in our database.”

Burke announced recently that she plans to run for one of two Madison School Board seats on the April, 2012 ballot.

Mary Burke to run for Madison School Board

Matthew DeFour:

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

Madison Prep Charter School Receives $2.5M Gift from Mary Burke

Madison Preparatory Academy, via email:

Today, Madison Preparatory Academy Board Chair, David Cagigal, announced a gift of $2.5 million presented to the public charter school from Madisonian Mary Burke.
Ms. Burke, a retired business executive whose family owns Trek Bicycles and who served as Wisconsin’s Secretary of Commerce during the Doyle Administration, described the reason for her gift.
“We all know Madison can do better. I am happy to do my part to invest in our community and the future of all of our youth. Madison Prep is a powerful idea backed up by a powerful and cost-effective plan. It offers real hope to Madison students, teachers and families who want to realize their expectations and dreams.”
Ms. Burke also shared, “I understand we are in tight budget times and don’t want concerns about the cost of Madison Prep or the availability of public funding to supersede the real need for the School Board to support it. I am confident Madison Prep will be a great opportunity for children and want to see it happen. I hope my gift helps the School Board overcome its financial concerns.”
Gloria Ladson-Billings, Vice Chair of Madison Prep’s Board and the Kellner Family Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison sees Ms. Burke’s gift as an investment in innovation and human potential.
“We need to search for new solutions to solve the achievement gap in our Madison schools. To do this, we must be willing to innovate. Madison can be a perfect incubator for new educational methods and approaches. Mary Burke’s gift is stunning in its generosity and powerful in its potential.”
Mr. Cagigal sees the gift as the start of an important trend in the region. “Mary is absolutely committed to eliminating the achievement gap and is investing her resources in multiple approaches to achieve this goal. Whether it’s Madison Prep or the Boys & Girls Club’s AVID/TOPS program, Mary believes that supporting such efforts will ultimately benefit our entire community in the future. She is setting a great example for others and we are very thankful to have her in our corner.”
With Ms. Burke’s gift, the Urban League of Greater Madison will further reduce its request for per pupil funding from the Madison Metropolitan School District from $11,471 per pupil to $9,400 in the school’s first year, and $9,800 per pupil in years two through five of the school’s proposed five year budget. The Madison district currently spends $13,207 per pupil to educate students in middle and high schools.
Madison Preparatory Academy plans to open two college preparatory public charter schools in the fall of 2012, one for boys and one for girls. Their mission will be the same: to prepare students for success at a four year college or university by instilling excellence, pride, leadership and service. Both academies will be tuition-free, offer an identical curriculum in a single-sex education environment, and serve as catalysts for change and opportunity, particularly for young people of color.
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the Academies will serve 60 sixth grade boys and 60 sixth grade girls when they open next year, eventually growing to serve 820 students total.
Madison’s Board of Education will vote next month on the new charter schools.

Madison Schools’ 2014-2015 Budget a No No for Governor Candidate Burke

Chris Rickert: It’s no surprise Democratic nominee for governor and Madison School Board member Mary Burke isn’t saying how she plans to vote Monday on a proposed school district budget that includes a $100 tax increase for the average homeowner. For purely political reasons, dropping that particular dime would be a pretty dumb thing to … Continue reading Madison Schools’ 2014-2015 Budget a No No for Governor Candidate Burke

Gubernatorial Candidate Burke’s Voucher & Status Quo Governance Commentary

Patrick Marley: Democrat Mary Burke told education officials Friday she would fight as governor to stop the expansion of voucher schools but would leave alone the long-standing program in Milwaukee. “This is something that may sound like a good political sound bite, but it is bad public policy,” she said of expanding the voucher program. … Continue reading Gubernatorial Candidate Burke’s Voucher & Status Quo Governance Commentary

Madison School Board member Burke spent $128,000 to win seat

Matthew DeFour:

Madison School Board member Mary Burke spent more than $128,000 on her spring campaign — all of it her own — surpassing by far the most spent in recent city school board elections, according to available data.
Since 2001, the earliest online city clerk records are available, the most spent on a Madison School Board campaign was $28,349 by Marj Passman in 2007, when she lost to Maya Cole. That amount also was surpassed this year by incumbent Arlene Silveira, who reported spending $36,530.
Burke, a former state Commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive, said she made most of the expenditures, mostly for marketing and advertising, after the local teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., backed her opponent, firefighter Michael Flores.

Rhetoric on the Burke – Flores Madison School Board Race

Lukas Diaz:

So a Forward Lookout spy has forwarded me a scan of a Mary Burke attack mailer…If it’s too small to see, you can click on it to make it big.
The interesting thing about this piece is that it simply takes Mary Burke’s person experience and then says Michael Flores doesn’t have the same experience. If you’ll note the section where Mary Burke touts her Budget Experience, she notes her work in the Wisconsin Department of Commerce…I mean, most people have not worked in the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. That hardly makes them unqualified for the school board.

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

Burke spends big, Silveira rakes it in

Matthew DeFour, a local newspaper writer:

Madison School Board candidate Mary Burke reported spending six times as much as her opponent Michael Flores between Jan. 1 and March 19, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday with the Madison City Clerk’s Office.
And two-term School Board incumbent Arlene Silveira collected twice as much in campaign contributions as challenger Nichelle Nichols during the same period.
Burke has already spent $27,554 — all of it her own money in keeping with a pledge not to accept contributions — on her campaign so far. She reported contributing a total of $30,025 to her own campaign.
Flores reported contributions of $7,175.34 in the first three months of the year. That includes $1,560 from the teachers union’s political action committee, MTI Voters. He reported spending $4,448.21.
MTI Voters reported spending $4,272 on independent radio, online and print ads for Flores and the same amount for Silveira. That amount is on top of the money the candidates reported spending on the campaign so far.

Burke, Nichols best for Madison schools; “More Independence & a Fresh Perspective”

Wisconsin State Journal

A sense of urgency distinguishes Mary Burke and Nichelle Nichols in the spring election for Madison School Board.
Madison “can’t accept another 20 years of snail’s pace” on narrowing the achievement gap, says Nichols, a mother of four African-American boys and vice president of education and learning for the Urban League of Greater Madison.
Burke, a longtime child advocate in Madison who served as state Commerce secretary and a Trek bicycle executive, says: “I want to be part of that positive change” that’s so critical in the Madison district.
The State Journal endorses Nichols in Seat 1 and Burke in Seat 2 on the April 3 ballot.
All of the candidates for the Madison School Board offer passion for public education. All are impressive individuals committed to helping more young people succeed.
Yet Burke and Nichols are more convincing when they say they will always prioritize the needs of students above all else.

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

Nichols, Burke will put new energy into schools

Joann Pritchett:

Regarding the upcoming Madison School Board election, it’s time to stop hiding the achievement gap and its associated ills under the umbrella of collective bargaining. The gap and other stated concerns existed long before this governor’s assault on collective bargaining.
Instead of addressing these problems head on, Arlene Silveira attempts to curry favor by campaigning on a slogan of how many times she walked around the Capitol demonstrating against the governor and the Legislature. There were countless others (myself included) exhorting those same sentiments.
Her accomplishments during the last three years as a general board member and three years as board chairwoman haven’t addressed the achievement gap. Where was that “leadership and experience” that she now hails as her trademark? Our children cannot be held hostage while Silveira works on an employee handbook (her first priority).
Nichelle Nichols and Mary Burke will provide desperately needed new voices, perspectives and strategies to the board. These include criteria and measurable outcomes that lead to the behavioral changes and best practices that we expect and that are worthy of our investment as we prepare the next generation.

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

Madison School Board Grows Taxes & Spending: 6-1 vote

Molly Beck:

Property taxes in the Madison School District will increase by about $67 for the average homeowner as part of the final $392 million 2013-14 budget approved by the school board on Monday.
The board voted 6-1 to approve this year’s amended budget and also to set the levy at $257.7 million, a 3.38 percent increase over last year.
That increase is about 1 percentage point less than originally projected in July, before Gov. Scott Walker unveiled his two-year $100 million property tax relief bill that sent an additional $2.5 million in state aid to Madison schools.
Total property taxes will increase by $66.74 on average. That’s $39.24 less of an increase than originally expected earlier this year, according to district budget documents. A property tax bill for the average $231,000 Madison home is now estimated to be $2,739.66 for school purposes.
School board member Mary Burke, a candidate for governor, cast the lone votes against the final amended budget and against the levy, citing the desire to see a better balance between the needs of the district and the needs of taxpayers.
“Next year, as we look at this, we really need to look at how many people are struggling to make ends meet,” Burke said about the levy increase, noting the district and board should consider whether salary increases among district families are not keeping pace with property tax increases.

Much more on the 2013-2014 budget, here.
The City of Madison’s portion of local property tax will grow 2.2%.
Middleton’s property taxes are 16% less than Madison’s on a comparable home.

Madison School Board Passes 2013-2014 Budget, including a 4.5% Property Tax Increase

Jeff Glaze, via a kind reader’s email:

The Madison School Board adopted on Monday a $433.6 million budget for the 2013-14 school year.
The budget and levy both passed by 6-1 votes with board member Mary Burke representing the lone no vote.
The $433.6 million budget includes a $260.4 million tax levy. The levy means homeowners will pay $12.03 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 51 cents from last year.

Much more on the Madison School District’s 2013-2014 budget, here.
Mr. Glaze’s article once again fails to mention Madison’s substantial increase in redistributed state tax dollar receipts one year ago… Remarkable. Perhaps a Washington Post style District investigative finance article might one day occur here.

Commentary on New Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s “Style”….

Paul Fanlund

he gist of her framework is hard to argue. It calls for a renewed focus on learning, a school system that makes curriculum consistent across the district and better measures student and teacher performance. In sum, it is a back-to-basics approach that does not require new money, at least for now.
Madison, of course, has been grappling with its changing demographics where many students, especially minority children, struggle academically. In shorthand, it’s called the “achievement gap,” and the approach to date has been a long list of seemingly laudable, logical programs.
Now comes Cheatham saying we don’t need more money, at least not yet, but instead we need to rebuild the foundation. Might some see that as counterintuitive, I wonder?
“It might be,” she responds. “My take is that we were adding on with a big price tag to an infrastructure that was weak. … Does that make sense? The bones of the organization were weak and we didn’t do the hard work of making sure that the day-to-day processes … were strong before deciding to make targeted investments on top of a strong foundation.”
She continues: “That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some targeted investments down the line. I suspect that will be in things like technology, for instance, which is a real challenge … and is going to have a price tag later. I need to make sure that the foundation is strong first.”
Cheatham alludes to her Chicago experience. “Having worked with lots of schools — and lots of schools that have struggled — and worked with schools targeting narrowing and closure of the achievement gap, these fundamental practices” make the biggest difference. “It’s that day-to-day work that ultimately produces results and student learning.”

We shall see. Local media have greeted prior Superintendents, including Cheryl Wilhoyte with style points, prior to the beginning of tough decision-making.
Related: 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”.
Another interesting governance question, particularly when changes to the 157 page teacher union contract, or perhaps “handbook” arise, is where the school board stands? Two seats will be on the Spring, 2014 ballot. They are presently occupied by Marj Passman and Ed Hughes. In addition, not all members may vote on teacher union related matters due to conflict of interests. Finally, Mary Burke’s possible race for the Governor’s seat (2014) may further change board dynamics.
I hope that Superintendent Cheatham’s plans to focus the organization on teaching become a reality. Nothing is more important given the District’s disastrous reading results. That said, talk is cheap and we’ve seen this movie before.

Stagnant School Governance; Tax & Spending Growth and the “NSA’s European Adventure”

The Madison School District’s recent rhetoric around annual property tax increases (after a significant increase in redistributed state tax dollars last year and a “return to normal” this year) is, to the ongoing observer, unsurprising. We appear to be in the Rainwater era “same service” approach to everything, from million$ spent on a partially implemented Infinite Campus to long-term disastrous reading scores.
Steve Coll’s 5 July 2013 New Yorker column nails it:

The most likely explanation is that President Obama never carefully discussed or specifically approved the E.U. bugging, and that no cabinet-level body ever reviewed, on the President’s behalf, the operation’s potential costs in the event of exposure. America’s post-September 11th national-security state has become so well financed, so divided into secret compartments, so technically capable, so self-perpetuating, and so captured by profit-seeking contractors bidding on the next big idea about big-data mining that intelligence leaders seem to have lost their facility to think independently. Who is deciding what spying projects matter most and why?

Much more on annual local property tax increases, here:

The Madison School Board should limit the school property tax hike to the rate of inflation next year, even if that means scaling back a proposed 1.5 percent across-the-board salary increase for school district employees, says member Mary Burke.
“I think in an environment where we’ve seen real wages in Dane County decrease, and a lot of people are on fixed incomes, we have to work as hard as possible to limit any increase to the inflation rate,” Burke said Tuesday in an interview.

But School Board discussions have focused around reducing the proposed salary hike, and cutting back on facility maintenance to pare down the $392 million proposed budget enough to bring the property tax increase to 4 or 5 percent, board President Ed Hughes told me.
The district under state law could increase its levy by as much as $18,385,847 or 9 percent. Keeping the increase to around the rate of inflation would mean an increase of less 2 percent.

Board member TJ Mertz can’t vote on salaries because his wife is a teacher’s aide with the school district, he told me, but he has long been outspoken in his belief in good pay for teachers to ensure the best academic achievement for students.
“As a citizen, I understand our staff needs to be compensated,” he said, adding that teachers have taken losses in take-home pay since they were required to begin making contributions to their pensions in 2011. “If the state won’t invest in our children, it has to come from the property tax,” he said.
Mertz said he would prefer a tax increase steeper than the 4 percent or 5 percent the board as a whole is focusing on. “I firmly believe the most important thing we can do is invest in our students; the question should not be what property tax levy can we afford,” he said.

I appreciate Schneider’s worthwhile questions, including a discussion of “program reviews”:

Several School Board members interviewed for this story stressed that the 2013-2014 budget will be a transitional one, before a broad re-evaluation of spending planned by Cheatham can be conducted.

Yet, it would be useful to ask if in fact programs will be reviewed and those found wanting eliminated. The previous Superintendent, Dan Nerad, discussed program reviews as well.
Madison Schools’ 2013-2014 Budget Charts, Documents, Links, Background & Missing Numbers.
The Madison School Board seat currently occupied by Mr. Hughes (Seat 7, and Seat 6 – presently Marj Passman) will be on the Spring, 2014 ballot (candidate information is available at the Madison City Clerk’s website).









Redux: Up, Down & Transparency: Madison Schools Received $11.8M more in State Tax Dollars last year, Local District Forecasts a Possible Reduction of $8.7M this Year; taxes up 9% a few years ago


Matthew DeFour:

Madison’s aid amount is about the same as it was in 2010-11. The district received a $15 million boost in aid last year mostly because 4-year-old kindergarten enrollment added about 2,000 students.
The Madison School Board taxed the maximum amount allowed last year, resulting in a 1.75 percent property tax increase. That amount was low compared to previous years because of the state aid increase. The additional funds allowed the district to spend more on building maintenance and a plan to raise low-income and minority student achievement.
Property tax increase coming
Cheatham said she hopes to propose a lower property tax increase than 6.8 percent when she introduces her budget on July 15. A group of local and national experts recently advised the district that it should reallocate more funding from the administration into classrooms. Cheatham expects to do a deeper review of district finances for the 2014-15 budget.
“I would not be reluctant to ask the taxpayers of Madison to support us with additional funding moving forward if I knew that we were spending every dollar in the best possible way to support the students in our school district,” Cheatham said. “I’ll know that next budget cycle.”
To reduce the budget, Cheatham said she doesn’t expect any major changes that will affect classroom learning.
Instead she could cut a 1.5 percent proposed increase in the employee salary schedule, reduce maintenance spending or make some previously recommended reductions in administrative positions.

Much more in the 2013-2014 budget, here.
Related: Up, Down & Transparency: Madison Schools Received $11.8M more in State Tax Dollars last year, Local District Forecasts a Possible Reduction of $8.7M this Year.
Madison spends significantly more per student than most districts. Property taxes were increased 9% just a few years ago.
Finally the ongoing tax increases may play a role in Madison School Board member Mary Burke’s rumored race for Governor

Commentary on Madison’s Incoming Superintendent Cheatham

Pat Schneider:

But Cheatham, who served as what amounts to an area superintendent overseeing 25 schools and later as chief of instruction and curriculum for the entire 400,000-student, $5.1 billion-budget school system, not only got strong recommendations, she demonstrated intellect and ideas to Madison school officials, Passman said. The Madison School District, in comparison, has a $376 million budget and an enrollment of about 27,000.
Board member Mary Burke told me she wasn’t thrilled at first to be considering a candidate from the perennially troubled Chicago Public Schools. “I feel Madison is the type of district that should be able to attract people from the best school districts,” Burke said. So she used a method that had served her well in hiring situations over a career that has included executive positions in the private and public sectors: Burke and other School Board members went beyond resumes and references and contacted additional people Cheatham had worked with in the past.
“They were very consistent in terms of what they said: She’s a great instructional leader, really smart and hardworking, and the schools under her made incredible progress raising students’ level of achievement,” Burke told me.
Like the board members, I also turned to people Cheatham had worked with in Chicago to get a glimpse of how her skills and personality will dovetail with the Madison community.

Pat Schneider refers to the Madison School District’s $376,000,000 budget, yet Matthew Defour just a few days ago, put it at $394,000,000. A subsequent email from the District’s Donna Williams placed the 2012-2013 budget at $392,789,303 for approximately 27,000 students, or $14,547/student about 12% more than Chicago’s $12,750, according to Schneider’s article.
Many notes and links on Jennifer Cheatham, here.

Race a Factor in the 2013 Madison School Board Election? I believe it is more of a “class” and/or “we know best” issue

Matthew DeFour (and many others):

That led minority leaders to complain about the perceived control white Madison liberals — including teachers union leaders — exert on elections and on efforts meant to raise minority student achievement. Some local leaders have undertaken soul-searching while others say more minorities need to seek elective office.
“You could not have constructed a scenario to cause more alienation and more mistrust than what Sarah Manski did,” longtime local political observer Stuart Levitan said, referring to the primary winner for seat 5. “It exposed an underlying lack of connection between some of the progressive white community and the progressive African-American community that is very worrisome in the long run.”
In the last few weeks:

  • Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire in a lengthy email described the failed negotiations involving him, district officials and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews over Caire’s proposed Madison Preparatory Academy geared toward low-income minority students.
  • Ananda Mirilli, who placed third behind Manski for seat 5, released emails in which Sarah Manski’s husband, Ben Manski, accused Caire of recruiting Mirilli to run for School Board and linking Caire to a conservative foundation. Caire confirmed the email exchange, but said he didn’t recruit Mirilli. The Manskis did not respond to requests for comment.
  • Two School Board members, Mary Burke and Ed Hughes, vigorously backed former police lieutenant Wayne Strong, who is black, to counter the influence of political groups supporting his opponent. In the seat 3 race, Strong faces Dean Loumos, a low-income housing provider supported by MTI, the Dane County Democratic Party, Progressive Dane and the local Green Party.

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

Is teachers union boss John Matthews behind the Manski-gate conspiracy?

David Blaska:

The Madison Machine has put the fix in to elect a school board wholly beholden to the teachers union. No one suffers more than the poorly served minority community in Madison. Its candidates are being undermined for the benefit of the insider power structure that has allowed the minority achievement gap to grow to alarming levels.
Madison School Board member Mary Burke supports my suspicions. She says Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews is the brains behind Sarah Manski’s Trojan horse candidacy. Whoever is its author, the gambit succeeded in blocking a freethinking minority candidate, Ananda Mirilli, from surviving the front-end-loaded primary, so precipitously concluded.
For the record, John Matthews responded with a monosyllabic “no” mid-Sunday afternoon to my inquiry: “Is Mary Burke correct? Are you the brains behind the Sarah Manski bait and switch?”
So far, School Board member Marj Passman, the union’s most vociferous defender, and a longtime water carrier for the union, is left holding the bag. Matthew DeFour’s fine reportage in Saturday’s Wisconsin State Journal reports this:
Manski said she didn’t plan to run for School Board, but entered the race because Passman and a few other people [my italics] very strongly encouraged her to run. She declined to say who the other people were.

With superintendent candidate set to visit, Madison School Board on hot seat

Matthew DeFour:

As a top Chicago Public Schools administrator visits Madison on Thursday to make her case to be the next Madison superintendent, questions linger about the School Board’s selection process.
The day after the other finalist for the job suddenly withdrew amid questions about his past, two Madison School Board members stood by the board’s decision to move forward with the visit by Jennifer Cheatham. The other five did not return calls seeking comment.
Board members Ed Hughes and Mary Burke also said they weren’t ready to pass judgment on the search consultant, Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after Walter Milton Jr., superintendent in Springfield, Ill., withdrew, and it was not clear how much board members knew about his background.
“We understand why people have questions about our process because it hasn’t gone as smoothly as we’d like,” Hughes said. “That said, I think we are excited about the possibility of Jennifer Cheatham. She sounds like she could be a terrific candidate.”

Much more on Madison’s latest Superintendent search, here.
Jennifer Cheatham links: Bing, Blekko, Clusty, Google, Twitter.

$1.2 million Madison schools foundation grant targets achievement gap

Matthew DeFour:

Two yet-to-be-determined Madison elementary schools will split a $1.2 million grant to accelerate low-income and minority student achievement, the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools announced Wednesday.
School Board member Mary Burke contributed the funding for the grant, which will be awarded in $200,000 installments over three years.
The foundation currently distributes about $400,000 a year to Madison schools, so the grant will double that amount, foundation executive director Stephanie Hayden said. The goal of the grant is to demonstrate that closing the achievement gap can be done more quickly than currently expected.
“We would hope that others in the community would step forward and fund similar things,” Hayden said. “We really view these as a demonstration project to show it can be done.”
The eligible non-charter schools must have at least 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Eighteen elementary schools meet that threshold this year.

On Madison School District Administrator Accuracy & Accountability

TJ Mertz:

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

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

Madison School Board Members 2012-2013 “Budget Amendments”

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

Madison School District Strategic Plan Update

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

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

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

School Board Winners Face Big Challenges

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial

Congratulations to all of Tuesday’s spring election winners — especially those willing to take on the challenges facing our public schools.
First-time candidate Mary Burke and incumbent Arlene Silveira won big in their bids for Madison School Board.
They and their opponents (Michael Flores and Nichelle Nichols, respectively) deserve credit for leading a community conversation on the future of Madison schools during their high-profile campaigns.
Now comes the time for action. And something bold is needed to boost dismal graduation rates for blacks and Latinos. The status quo isn’t working for a huge portion of minority students.

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

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

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

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

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

Related:

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

Know your Madison School Board candidates

Gretchen Miron:

Madison schools’ Superintendent Dan Nerad’s announcement that he will resign by June 2013 has given the April 3 School Board election new meaning. In addition to addressing the achievement gap and educational budget cuts, the Board will also be responsible for hiring Nerad’s replacement. Madison Commons talked to the four candidates to find out what makes them uniquely qualified for the position, and how they plan to tackle the problems facing the district.

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

Madison School Board Candidates Make Final Push

Chris Woodard:

Tonight Madison School Board candidates are making a last minute push for votes.
4 people are battling for 2 seats with some big decisions looming.
Candidate Nichelle Nichols says, “I think it’s really important that people are paying attention.”
It is a much different political world in Madison than we’ve seen in years past.
Incumbent Arlene Silveira says, “I’ve never seen quite this much attention before but I think it’s great”
At this point the arguments are coming fast and furious.
Candidate Mary Burke says, “I sort of have about 20 years more of experience.”
Silveira says, “I think I’m the candidate who has actually made changes.”
Nichols says, “I don’t know that the incumbent is always as honest about areas where we need to improve.”
One of the two battles is between incumbent and 6 year board member Silveira and newcomer Nichols.
Silveira says her experience is important.

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

Last Minute Letters in Support of Madison School Board Candidates

Dean Anderson in support of Nichelle Nichols:

We need nothing short of wholesale change in the Madison public schools. In a city full of well-educated, so-called progressives, the graduation rate for blacks and Latinos should be considered an embarrassment.
If education is to be both a civil right and a social justice issue, we need to treat it as such.
The only real power voters have lies with School Board elections.
Please send a clear message to the school district power brokers by voting for Nichelle Nichols. She will stand up for all students and bring hope back to the school district.

Bob and Nan Brien in support of Arlene Silveira:

Trusted leadership is needed now, more than ever, on the Madison School Board. Arlene Silveira has provided, and will continue to provide, that leadership.
Under her direction, this community passed a $13 million referendum, with two-thirds of voters approving, to allow the district to weather significant cuts in state aid without devastating programs.
Silveira spearheaded efforts to begin early education for all Madison youngsters, and made sure federal dollars offset the cost for local property taxpayers.
She knows that a significant effort must be directed at improving graduation rates for all Madison students, that our highest achieving students must be challenged, and this all must be accomplished while respecting taxpayers.
Silveira is a leader we can trust to move the district forward. And she will do so in collaboration with the city, county and community organizations like the United Way (Schools of Hope) and Dane County Boys and Girls Club (AVID/TOPS).

David Leeper in support of Mary Burke:

I started school at Randall School in 1958. My family moved to Madison in large part because of its excellent schools. My three children have benefited from Madison’s public schools, and my wife is currently teaching there.
We are facing a serious crisis in our public schools. Mary Burke recognizes this crisis. She has the courage to name this crisis, and has put in countless volunteer hours for the last decade seeking to address it.
Madison needs the hard work and strategic planning experience that Burke will bring to the Madison School Board. Goodwill and genuine concern are important, but they are not enough. Madison’s schools need dynamic leadership to go beyond this crisis to a better day. Mary Burke can provide that leadership.

Karen Vieth in support of Michael Flores:

Recently, my Saturdays have been spent meeting with people with the common vision of electing Michael Flores to the Madison School Board. We are amateurs, but that doesn’t stop the level of inspiration.
Flores’ campaign has been a feet-on-the-ground, coffee-at-the-kitchen-table, grassroots campaign.
This is one way I fight for our public schools. I do it because I believe Flores can unite our community and empower our students.
I was shocked when I learned that Mary Burke had spent $28,000 on her campaign. That parallels how much I made my first year teaching.
This makes one difference very clear — Burke has put forth financial resources to get her word out to the community. Meanwhile, Flores’ campaign has come from the heart of our community.
Michael Flores is the change we need on our Madison School Board.

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

Vote for candidates who will help our hurting children

Fabu, Madison’s former poet laureate:

I’ve listened carefully to all of the School Board candidates — Nichelle Nichols and Arlene Silveira in one race, Mary Burke and Michael Flores in the other. After a panel in the Atrium of the Park Village, I wanted Silveira to look in my face and hear me say as a mother, a tax-paying citizen, educator and poet that I believe she has not done enough to support the success of African-American students in her time on the School Board. I moved on to Flores and we had a lively conversation. Flores said that he supports all children in Madison. I told him that when you have several children, and one is sick, you help the sickest one first even though you love all of your children. Flores told me that “first you have to determine who hurts the most.” Well, I know that African-American children, regardless of economic status, hurt the most in the current school district and we need new board members who will immediately address that pain, as well as to choose a new superintendent to begin the healing process.
After considering the positions of all of the candidates, I believe that Nichelle Nichols and Mary Burke are the candidates who will work urgently to help hurting children.

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

What Madison can learn from Nerad’s exit

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

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

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

Madison School Board responsible, too

Wisconsin State Journal:

Superintendent Dan Nerad’s departure is probably for the best.
The Madison School Board was split on Nerad’s performance, rating him as barely proficient in an evaluation completed last month.
Among other challenges, Madison is struggling to improve its atrocious graduation rates for black and Latino students.
Yet board members can’t dodge their own responsibility for better results. More than half of the School Board — Arlene Silveira, Beth Moss, Maya Cole and Lucy Mathiak — hired Nerad for the district’s top job just four years ago. And, ultimately, the superintendent’s role is to carry out the board’s vision, which hasn’t always been clear.
Nerad has been a measured and thoughtful leader. What he lacked in charm he sometimes made up for in knowledge and diplomacy.

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

Channel3000.com on the 2012 Madison School Board Candidates

Nichols Sees Need For Change On MMSD School Board
Silveira Seeks Third Term On MMSD School Board
Achievement Gap Top Focus For Flores’ School Board Run
Burke Says She’s Ready To Take On Issues On MMSD School Board
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Nerad resignation adds new wrinkle to School Board races

Matthew DeFour, a local education reporter:

Nichols said declining test scores and low graduation rates for minority students over the past six years have been a reflection of the board and superintendent not having shared priorities. She said a change in board leadership is necessary “because we can’t afford to lose more precious time.”
Silveira did not respond Wednesday to a request to discuss Nerad’s departure.
Burke said she would have liked to see Nerad stay and worries his departure could expend the momentum for addressing the achievement gap that has built up over the last year.
Hiring Nerad’s replacement, she said, is “probably the most important issue now facing the board.”
Flores said he has mixed feeling about Nerad’s departure. On one hand, the district now has a new issue to address on top of the achievement gap and the budget. At the same time, there arises the potential for finding a leader who the community embraces and will make difficult decisions.

Related:

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

Nichols’ job may prevent participation

Bill Keys, Madison, former member Madison School Board

Thursday’s State Journal reported on the Government Accountability Board’s warning of potential conflict of interest should Nichelle Nichols serve on the Madison School Board.
Nichols will be unable to work fully with her colleagues, because her election may affect her employer, the Urban League of Greater Madison, should the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal return to board agendas or other items dealing with funds received by the Urban League, such as the Schools of Hope project.
When I served on the board, our attorney instructed me to avoid Madison Teachers Inc. negotiations and not even be in the room during discussions. As a retired teacher, I benefited only from the life insurance policy provided by the district. Even so, discussions or votes on MTI benefits would violate state law.
I had to avoid any discussion or votes taken regarding the district’s appropriations to Kajsiab House, which received a district grant to work with Hmong families. I volunteered there, but it was one of the programs in the Mental Health Center of Dane County, my wife’s employer.
Nichols, whose integrity is intact, will find herself more restricted than I was, and will be excluded from significant board work that may be construed as benefiting her or her employer.
Arlene Silveira will not be affected by such potential conflicts, another reason she will be a more effective board member.

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

Madison School board candidates face off in key 2012 election

A. David Dahmer:

“We’re at a critical junction right now. We’re not trending positive,” says MMSD school board seat 2 candidate Mary Burke. “We have to turn the ship around. But I see opportunity. There aren’t any challenges that scare me or that we can’t do something about, but we need a sense of urgency.
“I really believe that if we’re going to make substantial progress, it has to be a collective effort and the school board will have to play a very important part,” she adds. “We need to make it a top priority.”
The achievement gap is a community issue, not just a schools issue, Burke tells The Madison Times in an interview outside of Jade Mountain Cafe on Madison’s near east side. The MMSD’s dismal four-year graduation rate of just 48 percent for Black students and 57 percent for Latinos has been well documented.
“It’s the most critical and pressing issue facing the district. I think we’ve progressed a huge amount just in the last six months in terms of awareness,” Burke says. “I’ve been working on educational and achievement gap and educational issues on a full-time basis for the past five years.”

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

Madison school board candidates address sustainability at Isthmus/Sustain Dane forum

Nathan Comp:

What a difference a few months have made for the four Madison school board candidates, each of whom gave polished A-game performances during Monday night’s game show-style forum that drew around 100 spectators.
Isthmus and Sustain Dane sponsored the four round, 90-minute event, held at the First Unitarian Society, and featuring a three-person panel that asked a variety of questions centering on the role sustainability principles might play in district decision-making.
Panelists included Isthmus editor Dean Robbins, Sustain Dane executive director Kristen Joiner and East High School Junior Erin Barry.
Sustain Dane communications director and Isthmus contributor Phil Busse moderated the event, which featured four rounds of questions in five categories: curriculum, facilities management, community collaboration, leadership development and student health.
During Round 1, candidates made their introductory statements, followed by a 20-question Round 2.

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

Madison school board candidates Nichelle Nichols and Arlene Silveira discuss the achievement gap and Madison Prep

Isthmus:

School board elections are usually sleepy affairs.
But the proposal this year for Madison Prep, a single-gender charter school, has sparked a lively, and sometimes controversial, conversation about one of the most pressing problems facing Madison schools: the achievement gap between students of color and their white peers. The debate has, in turn, sparked interest in the school board.
In the race for Seat 1, two-term incumbent Arlene Silveira is being challenged by Nichelle Nichols, who works at the Urban League of Greater Madison, the main sponsor of Madison Prep.
While there are an unprecedented number of candidate forums and listening sessions under way, we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week we ask the candidates how they would address what might be the primary issue of the election: the achievement gap. What would they do to address this gap, and balance the needs of both high and low achieving students? More specifically, we ask about their view of Madison Prep, and whether they would vote for or against it in the future.

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

Politics: Urban League ties would create conflict of interest if Nichols elected to School Board, GAB says

Matthew DeFour, via a kind reader’s email:

“She would definitely have to abstain,” GAB spokesman Reid Magney said. “You shouldn’t be accepting anything from anyone that could influence your decision.”
Madison Prep supporters have vowed to continue pressing their case for the charter school. The election could influence the charter school’s chances of future approval as Nichols, who has backed the charter school, is running against incumbent Arlene Silveira, who voted along with four other board members against Madison Prep.
Nichols, the Urban League’s vice president of learning, acknowledged there could be a conflict of interest that would prevent her from voting on the issue. But she said if the Madison Prep board proposes and runs the school as a separate nonprofit entity, she would be able to vote. That’s consistent with state law, according to the GAB.
“If the proposal included any contractual services from the Urban League or shared leadership between the Urban League and the Madison Prep Board, … I believe there would still be a conflict of interest and I would therefore follow all ethical and conflict of interest policies,” Nichols said.

“You shouldn’t be accepting anything from anyone that could influence your decision.” Is the Urban League the only candidate supporter in this position?
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

WORT-FM Radio Interview with the 2012 Madison School Board Candidates

wort-fm.org 43MB mp3 audio file, via a kind reader’s email.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

MMSD School Board Elections: The Future of Our Public Schools

Madison Teacher Karen Vieth:

Times are rough for public education; there is no contesting that fact. The Madison media is full of talk about charter schools and anti-union sentiment. Next year’s allocations are forcing teachers to face the abysmal reality of our declining budget. Sitting in staff meetings, hearing numbers being crunched, it is difficult to look around and wonder whose job will be cut and what that will mean to our students. Yet, in a recent Wisconsin State Journal article the focus is somehow on a false choice between supporting our teachers or caring for our students. The author neglects the simple fact that teachers exist for the children and the families they serve.
To make matters worse, the author inserts this quote from a school board candidate, “One of the most important needed changes is the use of student learning as a component of a teacher’s evaluation.” This statement discounts the damage that could be caused by this type of assessment. The author doesn’t analyze the perils of making it a more attractive position to teach the students already experiencing success. He also chooses to ignore the many factors of society that cannot be controlled by a teacher or that cannot be evaluated in a test. Student mobility, homelessness and truancy are not mentioned. Nowhere is it referenced that there is cultural bias in our standardized testing or that these tests occur at the end of October, just shortly after students enter a teacher’s classroom for the first time. Unfortunately, these types of simplified solutions have become common place in the mainstream media, where apparently everyone is an expert on the teaching profession. It is another effort to blame the teachers and take the emphasis off of recent budget cuts and a community where poverty is becoming more and more prevalent.

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

Teachers Union & (Madison) School Board Elections

Matthew DeFour:

A Madison Teachers Inc. endorsement hasn’t always guaranteed victory for Madison School Board candidates.
But this year, with union members mobilized by Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining changes, the upcoming recall elections, a divisive debate over a charter school proposal the union opposed and a looming rewrite of employee work rules, the endorsement could be influential.
“It will be very hard for someone not endorsed by the teachers union to win,” said former School Board member Ruth Robarts, who won re-election in 2004 despite MTI labeling her “Public Enemy No. 1.”
Robarts is one of four candidates in 13 contested races over the past decade who defeated MTI-backed candidates.
This year the union endorsed incumbent Arlene Silveira over Nichelle Nichols, an executive at the Urban League of Greater Madison, which proposed the charter school plan.
The union also endorsed Michael Flores, who gained attention during Capitol protests last year, over Mary Burke for an open seat being vacated by Lucy Mathiak.

Teacher union influence can extend far beyond local school board elections. The influence process can be quite sophisticated and encompasses local and state elections along with the legal system. Teachers are certainly not the only groups to pull different levers, but a complete understanding of the K-12 governance model requires an awareness of the players (it is also useful to consider the “schw­er­punkt“, that is “creating a result around a central theme”). The following links are well worth reading:

  • WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators
  • Arbitrator Rules in Favor of MTI vs WEAC over legal fees
  • Sparks fly over Wisconsin budget’s labor-related provisions:

    To make matters more dire, the long-term legislative proposal specifically exempts school district arbitrations from the requirement that arbitrators consider and give the greatest weight to revenue limits and local economic conditions. While arbitrators would continue to give these two factors paramount consideration when deciding cases for all other local governments, the importance of fiscal limits and local economic conditions would be specifically diminished for school district arbitration.

  • Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman in a 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:

    “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).

Matt DeFour’s article failed to include a critical quote: “The school district election is just one piece in the larger chess match”.

Madison school board showdown: Four candidates face off in the most hotly contested election in years

Nathan Comp:

During a March 1 candidate forum, four candidates vying for two seats on the Madison school board explained their positions to a large audience at the Warner Park Recreation Center.
It was the sixth forum since January, and, for 90 minutes, the audience listened intently, though a lot of them were supporters, campaign volunteers, district watchdogs and union reps who likely already knew whom they would be voting for on April 3.
For many, the battle lines were drawn near the end of last year’s debate over Madison Preparatory Academy, the charter school proposed by the Urban League of Greater Madison that the board rejected on Dec. 19, largely because the teachers union opposed it. Accordingly, two candidates who opposed Madison Prep shored up early union endorsements, including from Madison Teachers Inc.
One of them, two-term incumbent Arlene Silveira, 53, is fighting to retain her seat against Nichelle Nichols, 43, who entered the Seat 1 race in response to the board’s rejection of Madison Prep. Nichols says the race is a choice between new leadership and the status quo. Silveira, on the other hand, says the district needs a board member “who can hit the ground running.”
The Seat 2 race to replace outgoing board member Lucy Mathiak pits firefighter Michael Flores, 34, against philanthropist Mary Burke, 52, in a contest couched in the language of the Occupy movement. Flores, a member of Fire Fighters Local 311, has gained union support in part because of his opposition to Madison Prep, while Burke had donated $2.5 million to the effort. Flores’ most vocal supporters have tried to obscure Burke’s extensive experience by assailing her as an out-of-touch 1 percenter.
Madison Prep engaged the community more than any other educational issue in years, sparking an outsized interest in the schools that shows little sign of waning. Candidates this year will have taken part in an unprecedented 12 candidate forums, among dozens of smaller events and listening sessions. (Candidates in seven of the last nine elections ran unopposed.)

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
new Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
Is $14,858.40 Per Student, Per Year Effective? On Madison Superintendent & School Board Accountability…

Madison School Board Candidates Face Tough Questions At Forum

channel3000:

In a room filled with rough drywall and lives that took left turns when most would have gone right, four energetic school board candidates and students who said they feel failed by Madison’s schools gathered on Wednesday night for a forum featuring Madison school board candidates.
Participants in Operation Fresh Start, a program that helps Dane County youth get back on a path to success, hosted Wednesday’s forum at the program office.
At the front were three newcomers: Mary Burke and Michael Flores are vying for the Board of Education seat being vacated by Lucy Mathiak. Then, there’s Nichelle Nichols, who is challenging incumbent board member Arlene Silveira, who is working to show she hasn’t always sided with the superintendent.
Some attendees asked the candidates pointed questions: “Do you support the current superintendent?” was one question.

Silveira’s commitment merits another term

Amy Noble:

Challenges coming before the Madison School Board in the next two years include changing the way we educate students of color, working with a staff no longer represented by a contract and approving a budget.
As a taxpayer, a parent and a Madison School District employee, I need a School Board member I can really trust to listen, think and then listen some more during these challenging times. I can trust Arlene Silveira.
I first encountered her in 2004 when she ran a meeting about proposed redistricting to relieve crowding at some of our elementary schools. Silveira was PTO president for Leopold Elementary at that time.
She has made a life commitment to learn about the work of educating children and make quality education happen in Madison. She has courage and a just and kind heart.
She will fight for public education with her actions, not just her words. How many School Board members did you see at the recall training? Arlene was at the one I attended.
I appreciate the hard choice she made when she decided to stick it out and run again. I have complete trust and confidence in her. I celebrate her courage to run again and I will stay with her. Vote for Silveira on April 3.

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

Budgets & Collective Bargaining: Madison School Board Candidates Q & A

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

Achievement Gap Plan Front And Center At Madison School Board Candidate Forum

Amelia Wedemeyer:

About 20 people attended a 2012 School Board candidate forum, co-sponsored by the Northside Planning Council (NPC) and the East Attendance Area PTO Coalition (EAAPTOC), held at Warner Park Community Recreation Center on March 1.
Community members were introduced to the four candidates running for two available seats on the School Board.
The candidates, who include incumbent, Arlene Silveira, vice president of education and learning at Urban League of Greater Madison, Nichelle Nichols, former Commerce Secretary, Mary Burke, and firefighter, Michael Flores, gave brief introductory statements and then answered questions posed by the NPC and the EAAPTOC.
Nichols will take on Silveira, and Burke and Flores will face each other at the polls on April 3.
One of the first questions of the night referred to the recent achievement gap plan proposed by the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). Each candidate was asked what they thought the single most important part of the plan was.
Burke mentioned the significance of the broad array of programs designed to affect students of all ages, while her opponent, Flores, likened the plan to his job as a firefighter.

2012 Madison School Board Candidates
Seat 1:

Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com

Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Tea Leaves in the Madison School Board Election: Arlene Silveira: “After budget cuts, school board needs priorities”

Madison School Board Member Arlene Silveira

Let me tell you a bit about why I’m running and what issues the Board faces.
Public schools face unprecedented challenges. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently called public school systems “anachronistic.” Walker’s budget contains the biggest cut to education in Wisconsin history.
Here in Madison, the Board of Education faces many significant issues: an upcoming budget with a multi-million dollar deficit; children of color, often living in poverty, who do less well in school and graduate at lower rates and a difficult transition from collective bargaining agreements, which Walker eliminated, to a personnel “handbook” that will define our relationships with teachers and staff.
When our schools face multiple challenges, board members must have the backbone to focus on what is most effective in helping all children learn and achieve. We must prioritize initiatives that provide the biggest bang for our buck. When there are hard choices to be made, we owe it to the children we serve to engage in respectful debate in order to find solutions.
I approach my work on the board from many perspectives: as a parent, businessperson, taxpayer and advocate for public education. I will continue to fight against assaults on public education, whether they are attempts to privatize public education or ones that demonize teachers.

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

Madison School District “Handbook” must make students top priority

Chris Rickert:

Assuming Democrats aren’t able to take over state government early next year and reinstate full-fledged public sector collective bargaining, we’re talking about the replacement of some 400 pages of detailed contract language for five district bargaining units.
Madison teachers union-backed board candidates Arlene Silveira, an incumbent, and Michael Flores have indicated to the union that they would essentially be OK with the handbook becoming the collective bargaining agreements by another name.
Mary Burke, who is running against Flores, and Nichelle Nichols, who is challenging Silveira, have not.
“One of the most important needed changes is the use of student learning as a component of a teacher’s evaluation,” Burke told me, while Nichols predicted that employee evaluations, compensation practices and a longer school day or year are likely to be contentious handbook topics.
Silveira told me she’d like the handbook to allow for more flexible scheduling, possibly including more classroom time.
Whatever the specifics of the final product, though, it’s unlikely to be anything but a fair — if not a better-than-fair — deal for employees. Madison, with its public worker union sympathies, won’t stand for anything less.

Madison school board candidates Nichelle Nichols and Arlene Silveira discuss why they are running, poverty in the schools

Isthmus Take Home Test (Nichelle Nichols & Arlene Silveira):

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE ON THE MADISON SCHOOL BOARD ? WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STAKE IN THE MADISON SCHOOLS?
Nichelle Nichols
Our school board must be a governing body that is effective in setting the direction and priorities of our district. We need to elect board members who are honest about our current realities and who share a fundamental belief that we must make bold changes in order to better educate all students. Our students, families and taxpayers deserve it.
I bring a future-oriented mindset to the table and a commitment to solutions. Our heart-breaking graduation rate for Black and Latino students eloquently testifies that we do not fully understand the dynamics of poor student performance or the educational changes required to remedy it. I am personally and professionally committed to making systemic changes to close the racial achievement gap. It is time for defenders of the status quo to step aside.
I am qualified as a parent, as an engaged community member, and as a professional who has worked the last 15 years in community-based organizations throughout Madison. I bring a critical perspective from the service delivery level focused on equity for those who are most disadvantaged. As a woman of color, a parent of African American sons, and through my work at the Urban League, I am immersed in the realities of our minority students, yet in touch with the experiences of all students and parents. I am informed beyond the constraints of the boardroom.
I have a personal stake in the Madison schools that spans two generations. I am a Madison native who attended Longfellow Elementary, Cherokee Middle, and graduated from West High. I have a B.S. from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University. I am the mother of four African American sons. My eldest graduated from West High School in 2011, which leaves me with three yet to graduate. Based on the 48% graduation rate, the odds are that two of my sons won’t graduate. This is unacceptable.
My experience transcends the experience gained from currently sitting on the board, because where we must go will not rely strictly on what we’ve always known. I welcome the challenge.
Arlene Silveira
Our schools face multiple challenges, and board members must have the backbone to focus on what is most effective in helping all children learn and achieve. We must prioritize initiatives that provide the biggest bang for our buck. When there are hard choices to be made, we owe it to the children we serve to engage in respectful debate in order to find solutions.
That is my record on the school board. My commitment to public education, to Madison’s 27,000 students, to our outstanding teachers and staff, and to staying in the fight for good public schools are the reasons I am running for re-election.
My belief in public education has roots in my personal story. I am the grandchild of immigrants, the daughter of two working class parents, and the mother of a child of color who graduated from the Madison schools. I have a degree in secondary education, biology and chemistry from Springfield College (Massachusetts), and a masters in molecular biology from the University of Connecticut.
I have seen first-hand the advantages public education brings and the equalizing effect public schools have in our society. I have seen first-hand the struggles a child can face in the schools. I am a businesswoman who works at a global scientific company. I know the need for an educated workforce, and I know that good schools strengthen a city because they attract businesses and families.
I am also a taxpayer. The state funding system for public education is not sustainable. We must find a way to better fund our schools, not on the backs of taxpayers. I will continue to advocate for fair funding.
The skills I use on a daily basis as Director of Global Custom Sales at Promega Corporation are also skills I use as a board member — budgeting, communication, evaluation, facilitation, negotiation and project management.
In short, I approach the board’s complex work from many perspectives: parent, businessperson, taxpayer, and advocate for public education. I will continue to fight against assaults on public education and advocate for what is most effective for all the students we serve.

Isthmus Take Home Test (Mary Burke & Michael Flores):

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE ON THE MADISON SCHOOL BOARD? WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STAKE IN THE MADISON SCHOOLS?
Mary Burke
When I began tutoring two brothers on Madison’s south side, I saw how tough it is for children with serious challenges at home to learn and thrive in school. School was a refuge for these boys, and education was the best way for them to build a better future. I have worked with teachers striving every day to meet the needs of each student, to challenge the gifted child and the one just learning English. In the past 13 years, I have mentored five youth, have seen great things in our schools, and opportunities to do better.
I care about our children. My broad experience in education, non-profits, government, finance, and business will make me an effective school board member. After receiving an MBA from Harvard, I was an executive at Trek Bicycle, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce under Governor Doyle, board president of the Boys & Girls Club, and co-founder of the AVID/TOPS program. AVID/TOPS is the district’s premier program to address the achievement gap, and has 450 students across all four Madison high schools. For those in the program, grade point averages are 30% higher, school attendance higher, discipline issues down, and 100% of seniors have gone onto college. I’ve served on the boards of United Way, Madison Community Foundation, Evjue Foundation, and Foundation for Madison Public Schools. One current school board member said, “Mary Burke stands out. Mary may be the best-qualified candidate to run for Madison School Board in quite a while.”
Success in school for our children is important to me and to our entire community. Our public schools shape our future neighbors and workforce. Success in school is a leading factor in whether a student is on the path to UW-Madison, Madison College, or the county jail. Nothing is more important and critical to our city’s future than our public schools.
I have been a catalyst for positive change in Madison. On the school board, my focus will be bringing our community together to ensure students learn and thrive — taking smart action for them, for our neighborhoods, for all of Madison.
Michael Flores
I have real world experience. I am part of a minority group and have walked the path that a number of our students are encountering. I have worked since I was 14, and supported myself from the age of 17 on. I have worked as a bank loan officer and small businessman, and know what it means to face budget constraints. My training as a paramedic has made me skilled in high emergency prioritizing and urgency in decision-making — skills that will translate to the work on the school board. As a parent and member of this community, I have a vested interest in education.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.

Citizen Dave: Does being childless disqualify you from serving on the Madison school board?

Dave Cieslewicz:

John Matthews, the very long-time president of the Madison teachers union said something that shouldn’t go unnoticed in today’s Cap Times story about the Madison school board races.
Referring to Mary Burke, a candidate for an open seat on the board, Matthews is quoted as saying, “you want somebody who understands what it’s like to be a parent and understands the needs of parents to be involved.” Burke has no children.
There’s little room to interpret that statement as anything but a claim that childless adults need not apply for positions on the school board as far as John Matthews is concerned. John did not go on to suggest that his members who teach children but don’t have any themselves are unqualified to teach, but that would seem to be a logical conclusion.
John can’t be serious. Single-person households now make up one out of four American households and the percentage is almost half in large cities. While all of those single person homes are not made up of childless individuals, there’s a good chance that the trend indicates that there are more of us who have made that choice to not have kids.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

(Madison) District in distress: School Board races buffeted by achievement gap tensions

Jack Craver:

Since 2007, there have been nine elections for seats on the Madison School Board. Only two have been contested. Thus, in seven instances, a candidate was elected or re-elected without having to persuade the community on the merits of his or her platform, without ever facing an opponent in a debate.
This year, two seats on the School Board are hotly contested, a political dynamic that engages the community and that most members of the board welcome.
“What an active campaign does is get the candidate out and engaged with the community, specifically on larger issues affecting the school district,” says Lucy Mathiak, a School Board member who is vacating one of the seats that is on the April 3 ballot.
Competition may be healthy, but it can also be ugly. While the rhetoric in this year’s School Board races seems harmless compared to the toxic dialogue we’ve grown accustomed to in national and state politics, there is a palpable tension that underpins the contests.
Teachers and their union worry that Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on collective bargaining rights and support for school vouchers could gain more traction if candidates who favor “flexibilities” and “tools” get elected to the board. Meanwhile, many in the black community feel their children are being neglected because policy-makers are not willing to challenge the unions or the status quo. District officials must contend with a rising poverty level among enrolled students and concerns about “white flight.”
In addition to massive cuts to education funding from the state, the current anxiety about the future of Madison’s schools was fueled by last year’s debate over the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, a charter school plan devised by Kaleem Caire, the head of the Urban League of Greater Madison, to help minority students who are falling behind their white peers in academic achievement. Minority students in the Madison district have only a 48 percent four-year graduation rate and score much lower on standardized tests than do white students.
Objections to Madison Prep varied. Some thought creating a school focused on certain racial groups would be a step backward toward segregation. Others disliked the plan for its same-sex classrooms.
However, what ultimately killed the plan was the Urban League’s decision to have the school operate as a “non-instrumentality” of the Madison Metropolitan School District, meaning it would not have to hire union-represented district teachers and staff. In particular, Caire wanted to be able to hire non-white social workers and psychologists, few of whom are on the district’s current staff.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Candidates for open Madison School Board seat bring different backgrounds to race

Matthew DeFour:

Both races for Madison School Board feature matchups between a candidate with strong business acumen and boardroom experience versus a minority candidate with experience more representative of the district’s growing student population.
That contrast is especially pronounced in the contest between former Commerce Secretary and Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke and firefighter Michael Flores.
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews even characterizes Burke as a “1 percenter” who doesn’t know “what it is like for a child to go to bed or go to school hungry.”
Burke, a Democrat who was endorsed by former Gov. Jim Doyle, whose wife was a teacher and whose mother served as School Board president, objects to that description.
“People who know me sort of laugh, because I don’t fit the profile of what (Matthews) is saying,” Burke said, adding she supports Occupy Wall Street values such as progressive taxation and reducing the influence of corporations in government.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio

Nichols seeks to unseat Silveira on School Board

Matthew DeFour:

When Arlene Silveira first ran for School Board in 2006, there was community dissatisfaction with the “status quo.” In one race, a four-term incumbent was unseated. Silveira ran for an open seat and won, but only after a recount.
There hasn’t been as much interest in a School Board election until this year, when once again the election features a closely contested open seat and an incumbent facing a spirited challenge.
However, Silveira’s opponent, Nichelle Nichols, vice president of education and learning at the Urban League of Greater Madison, acknowledged she faces an uphill battle.
Silveira wrapped up numerous early endorsements, including Madison Teachers Inc., the local teachers union. Moreover, when asked to make an argument for why voters shouldn’t re-elect her opponent to a third term, Nichols treads lightly, crediting Silveira for shepherding the district through a strategic planning process and the hiring of Superintendent Dan Nerad.
“She hasn’t ruffled any feathers,” Nichols said. “No one can point out any specific flaws.”

012 Madison School Board Candidates:
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio

Q&A with Madison School Board candidates

Wisconsin State Journal:

The Wisconsin State Journal, as part of its coverage of the Madison School Board election, is posing questions to the four candidates on various topics. Here the candidates react to Superintendent Dan Nerad’s achievement gap plan.
What are three strengths of the plan?
Mary Burke: Emphasis on K-3 literacy, research proves this is most effective in closing the achievement gap; AVID (expansion), in four years, I’ve seen AVID be effective, accountable and generate school support; and parental liaisons, but should be from low-income communities and trained to help parents engage in children’s education.
Michael Flores: Those that have the direct impact on children and families, such as expanding AVID/TOPS, parent liaisons to bridge the cultural gap that can exist between home and school, and implementing the mentor academy to provide positive role models to struggling minority students.
Nichelle Nichols: The document presented to the community is a document of ideas. It is not yet a plan. When the community is presented with a comprehensive plan for addressing the achievement gap in schools, and I have had sufficient time to review it, I will be happy to share my view.
Arlene Silveira: Early literacy programming and intervention focus because being able to read is critical for success. Expansion of the school day/year options to provide more time for our students in a learning environment. Parent engagement models because caregivers are important partners in supporting the education of our youth.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent) 2006 election links & video
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio & Transcript.

“Concessions Before Negotiations, Redux”; What can School Board candidates promise the teachers union?

Jack Craver:

Of the 33 questions on the questionnaire for School Board candidates crafted by Madison Teachers Inc., one asks the candidate whether he or she will “introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District as [school district] policy.”
Both Arlene Silveira, who is running for re-election on the board, and Michael Flores, who is running for an open seat, responded “yes.” Both candidates received MTI’s endorsement.
Ed Hughes, a fellow board member, is dismayed by what he sees as a pledge that will restrict the administration’s ability to develop new solutions for district issues.
“The pledge of the MTI-endorsed candidates isn’t to exercise good judgment; it’s a pledge to renounce the exercise of any judgment at all,” he says.
In particular, Hughes is worried that retaining certain elements of the existing contract, such as the non-compete clause that keeps the district from contracting with non-union employees, will limit schools’ ability to get kids help from qualified outsiders.

Seat 1 Candidates:

Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com

Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

Related: Chris Rickert: (Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidate Kathleen) Falk’s pledge to union leaders hypocritical or admirable?
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio & Transcript.
Concessions Before Negotiations” has been going on for some time locally.

Arlene Silveira: Focus on what’s most effective for all students

Arlene Silveira:

There are few topics that engender more debate, emotion and passion than our public schools. I wouldn’t have it any other way. For me, public education is one of the most critical components of a community’s ability to create a better future, not only for our children, but for all of us.
We have work to do in our community when it comes to our schools. My commitment to public education, to Madison School District’s 25,000 students, to our outstanding teachers and staff, and to staying in the fight for good public schools are the reasons I am running for re-election.
When our schools face challenges, as they do today, our agenda must be focused on what is most effective in helping all children learn and achieve. When there is a budget deficit and declining state revenues, we must prioritize initiatives that really work and provide the biggest bang for our buck. When there are hard choices to be made, we owe it to the children we serve to engage in respectful debate to find solutions.
Big issues face Madison’s schools. This spring, the board will pass a budget made more difficult by shrinking state dollars and exacerbated by the Walker administration’s unprecedented assault on teachers and education. Throughout my service on the board, I have balanced the current and future needs of the district with the needs of the taxpayer.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A.

2012 Madison School Board Candidates at Dane County Democrats Forum

Jack Craver. (Video)
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A.

Madison School Board Candidate Notes

Matthew DeFour (Facebook link… beware privacy issues)

Yesterday I asked Nichelle Nichols and Mary Burke to respond to the post I shared about the DaneDems Forum. Nichelle posted the following response.
It’s worth noting that the “original” plan for Madison Prep was for a non-instrumentality, which changed to an instrumentality right before last October’s official public hearing because of an agreement reached with Madison Teachers Inc. When that agreement proved too expensive because of provisions in the current collective bargaining agreement, Madison Prep was again put forward as a non-instrumentality.

Much more on the 2012 Madison School Board Candidates, here.

We must unite to help (Madison) schools

Michael Flores:

As a parent of three children in the Madison public school system, I am deeply invested in ensuring that our city provides an excellent quality of education — not only for my own children, but also for thousands of their peers in this district.
Growing up poor in Madison, I can personally identify with many of the issues that an ever-increasing number of children in our city face, including a lack of parental involvement at home and in their educational experience. Understanding the struggles of these children, often without high educational expectations placed on them and a painful awareness of being in poverty, I can see why many resign to academic failure.
Recently the Madison School District and School Board have been under scrutiny regarding the racial academic achievement gap. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to close this gap that is caused by poverty, a lack of education and dysfunctional family situations. Any attempt to close it will require a variety of interventions, the most important being parental and community involvement, sometimes on behalf of children that are not our own.

2012 Madison School Board Elections:
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols (SIS Search)
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent) (SIS Search) 2006 election notes, links and video
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke (SIS Search)
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores (SIS Search)
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

Madison Prep, unions overshadow School Board races

Jack Craver:

Two seats on the eight-member board are opening up. In both races, opponents of the proposed charter school, which is being championed by the Urban League of Madison as a way to target the long-standing achievement gap between white and minority students, are pitted against supporters of the plan.
Arlene Silveira, an incumbent who voted against Madison Prep, is being challenged by Nichelle Nichols, the vice president of learning for the Urban League. Similarly, in an open seat that Madison Prep supporter Lucy Mathiak is vacating, Mary Burke, a wealthy philanthropist (and former state secretary of Commerce) who pledged $2.5 million to the Madison Prep project, is running against Michael Flores, a firefighter with union backing.
John Matthews, president of Madison Teachers Inc, says his union is planning to be very active in support of Silveira and Flores. In not-so-subtle terms, he challenged Burke’s ability to understand the challenges that the Madison middle class and poor face in the school system.
“She’s a one percenter,” he said, invoking the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “She’s a very nice person, a very well-intentioned person but you want somebody who understands what it’s like to be a parent and understands the needs of parents to be involved.”

Related: 1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A.

‘Business as usual’ isn’t working for Madison schools

Nichelle Nichols:

I am running for the Madison School Board because I care about the state of our public schools and this community.
The facts are: I am employed at the Urban League of Greater Madison and spoke in support of Madison Prep as a parent and citizen. Am I running because Madison Prep was voted down? No. My focus is broader than the charter school proposal, but the Madison Prep vote was a defining moment in my decision to declare candidacy.
It became apparent to me as I sat in the auditorium that night that we can no longer afford to wait for our district to take the casual approach to the urgent matter of minority under-achievement. Our entire community is affected by the failure to do so.
Every child in this district — from the at-risk, the middle-of-the-road student, to the most academically talented — should have an equal opportunity to thrive in our school system. And here’s the reality, Madison — we are not delivering.
It’s been hard for us to accept that we are a different community than we were 10 years ago, but we are. If we move beyond politically correct conversations about race and poverty, we’d readily realize that we cannot go about “business as usual.”

The 2012 Madison School Board Contest:

Seat 1 Candidates:

Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com

Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

Listen to the recent DCCPA candidate forum via this 75MB mp3 audio file.

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.

Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Michael Flores
Arlene Silveira
Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:

Given Act 10’s negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?

Both Silveira and Flores answered Yes.

Seat 1 Candidates:

Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com

Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
I suspect that at least 60% of Wisconsn school districts will adopt their current teacher contracts as “handbooks”. The remainder will try different approaches. Some will likely offer a very different environment for teachers.

Madison Teachers Candidate Endorsement(s)



To all of you with #recallwithdrawal: Time to focus on Arlene and Micheal for #MMSDBOE!! #99percent
MTI is officially endorsing Arlene Silviera for Madison School Board. Come meet her tonight! 100 WI Ave #700 5-7pm


1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
via a kind reader’s email

Progessive Dane Endorses Michael Flores & Arlene Silveira (i) for Madison School Board

Progressive Dane:

Madison School District Board
Seat 1: Arlene Silveira Website / Facebook
Seat 2: Michael Flores Website / Facebook
Now we have to make sure they get elected! That takes money (some) and work (lots).
The money part is easy–come to the Progressive Dane Campaign Fund-raiser
Sunday February 12, 5-7 pm
Cardinal Bar, 418 E Wilson St
(Potluck food, Cash Bar, Family Friendly)
Meet the candidates, hear about Madison School District and Dane County issues, pick some to work on this year!

Both Madison School Board races are contested this year.

Seat 1 Candidates:

Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com

Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.

Let’s evaluate all ways to close gap

Madison School Board Candidate Mary Burke

n recent listening sessions with Madison parents, I heard how we can improve our schools, what we can be really proud of and stories about our wonderful teachers. In these discussions and in others, people have talked about addressing the racial achievement gap and shared concerns about Madison Prep.
For the 12 years I have been involved in Madison schools, I have been championing education and addressing the racial achievement gap. An East High teacher and I co-founded the AVID/TOPS program, which I also supported financially and continue to co-chair. This program has increased the number of students graduating and going on to post-secondary education. But AVID TOPS alone is not enough. We need to do more.
When Madison Prep was discussed last fall, it was the only proposal put on the table in the last five years to significantly address the racial achievement gap. At that time the teachers union and the planners of Madison Prep were in agreement that the school would run with Madison School District employees, union teachers and under the leadership of the district (as an instrumentality). A major concern raised was that Madison Prep would pull resources needed by existing schools.

1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio







Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
The event was sponsored by the Dane County Council of Public Affairs.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
via a kind reader. It is great to see competitive races.
UPDATE 2.8.2012: A transcript is now available.

2012 Madison School Board Candidate Website & Contact Information

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
via a kind reader. It is great to see competitive races.

Competition for 2 Madison School Board Seats

Matthew DeFour:

Nichols said though she disagreed with Silveira’s vote, “This is bigger than Madison Prep.”
“My motivation comes from listening to a lot of the community dialogue over the last year and hearing the voices of community members who want greater accountability, who want more diversity in the decision-making and just a call for change,” Nichols said.
Silveira did not return a call for comment Friday.
Two candidates have announced plans to run for the other School Board seat up for election next spring, which is being vacated by Lucy Mathiak. They are Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive, and Michael Flores, a Madison firefighter, parent and East High graduate.

$2.6 million drives unique Boys & Girls Club, MMSD partnership
New joint program aims to double minority/low-income student college enrollment

Via the Madison School District [Press Release | AVID – TOPS Fact Sheet]:

The Boys & Girls Club (BGC) and Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) announced today a new joint initiative that intends to double the number of minority and low-income students who plan to pursue four-year college and technical college degrees upon high school graduation. The launch of the initiative is made possible through private commitments of $2.6 million to the Boys & Girls Club covering 50% of the first five years of the programs cost.
“We are so excited to partner with the Madison Metropolitan School District on this groundbreaking initiative, said Mary Burke, President of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club. “combining the school district’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program with the Boys & Girls Club Teens Of Promise program (TOPs) we will make a difference, not only in the lives of the students involved in the program but also in the community at large. The health of our community is closely tied to having an educated, skilled workforce. This initiative is designed to do just that.”
The AVID program is a rigorous in-school elective that students take throughout high school to their improve study skills, grades, time management, reading and writing skills to better prepare them for college. The TOPs program offers summer job internships, mentors, scholarships, field trips, career exploration and financial support for tutoring. Students commit to staying on the college track, maintaining a 2.5 GPA, taking courses that will prepare them for college and having a good attendance record.

Kevin Murphy:

Impressed with the success of the 28 East High students enrolled in the program last year, the Boys and Girls Club of Madison has committed to raising $2.6 million, half the funding needed to increase enrollment to 100 students districtwide this fall and to add 100 each year until an 800-student cap is reached.
“This will fund college preparation for students not currently getting that opportunity,” said Boys and Girls Club board President Mary Burke.
Developed in California and based partly on a similar Milwaukee program, AVID is aimed at students from low-income households who want to develop the motivation to succeed in school. It is a daily elective students take throughout high school to improve their study skills, grades and time management.

Karen Rivedal:


Madison School District leaders on Monday announced a partnership with Boys and Girls Club of Dane County aimed at doubling the number of minority and low-income students who will be ready to enter college after high school.
District officials stressed that the new offering was not a remedial program or a free ride but instead was geared to help motivated students with average grades who have the desire to attend college but lack the practical skills and knowledge to get there and be successful.
And to do that really well, it was vital to involve the community, Pam Nash, assistant superintendent for the district ‘s four high schools, said at a news conference at East High School.

Commentary on The taxpayer supported Madison School Board’s GoVernance Plans: Replacement member and SuperintendenT search

Negassi Tesfamichael: “Given that Mary will not be attending any future meetings, I do feel a sense of urgency in getting this filled,” Reyes said. “I don’t want to move forward through some of the important discussions and decisions we’ll have to make … so i think it is going to be imperative that we … Continue reading Commentary on The taxpayer supported Madison School Board’s GoVernance Plans: Replacement member and SuperintendenT search

Madison School Board eyes renewal of several partnerships despite worries of not enough success

Negassi Tesfamichael: “It’s really difficult after all of these years to look and see no academic improvement in outcomes, and it’s not because people aren’t working hard or don’t have the right intentions or all of these things,” said board member Mary Burke. “But I’d like to hear we’re looking at how we reimagine the … Continue reading Madison School Board eyes renewal of several partnerships despite worries of not enough success

A crack in Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model: independent charter One City Schools

Logan Wroge: In a previous attempt at a charter school, Caire proposed the Madison Preparatory Academy, which would have served a similar population as One City Schools, but would have been for grades 6-12. The Madison School Board rejected the idea in December 2011. Caire sought to bring his “change-maker” approach to the Madison School … Continue reading A crack in Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model: independent charter One City Schools

Commentary on the taxpayer supported Madison K-12 climate

David Blaska: Would that there have been a few more courageous citizens. These names come to mind for lack of courage: Dave Cieslewicz. The former mayor has condemned identity politics on his Isthmus column; he could have spoken up. The Madison police union considered endorsing Blaska because he is the only candidate on the local … Continue reading Commentary on the taxpayer supported Madison K-12 climate

Madison School Board backs contract that would keep police officers in high schools

Logan Wroge: The Madison School Board on Monday backed a proposed contract that would keep police officers at Madison’s four main high schools. Board members voted 4-2 in favor of the proposed contract, which would emphasize alternative disciplines instead of arresting or citing students, lay the groundwork for a new complaint procedure against the officers … Continue reading Madison School Board backs contract that would keep police officers in high schools

Wisconsin Election Commentary on our disastrous reading results

Molly Beck: But Walker and his campaign accused Evers of flip-flopping on the issue of school funding because Evers once said in an interview with WisconsinEye that improving academic outcomes for students struggling the most could still be achieved even if the state didn’t provide a significant funding increase. Evers in the interview did say … Continue reading Wisconsin Election Commentary on our disastrous reading results

Continuing to grow Madison School $pending: now nearly $20k / student

Karen Rivedal: But board members Mary Burke and TJ Mertz offered cautions, urging the administration to be sure every possible building efficiency has been achieved before going to the voters again and every proposed project in any referendum under the plan truly advances the district’s central mission of providing a good education. “My guess is … Continue reading Continuing to grow Madison School $pending: now nearly $20k / student

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 … Continue reading A Madison “instrumentality Charter School” Approved

Comments On The Madison School District’s Third “Annual Report”

Doug Erickson: The annual report is a selective rather than exhaustive view of the district, with only some grades and some demographic groups highlighted in detail. The report cited proficiency rates in reading at grade 3 and reading and math in grades 5 and 8, as measured by the Measures of Academic Progress exam, which … Continue reading Comments On The Madison School District’s Third “Annual Report”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: No end in sight to Wisconsin’s politics of resentment

Paul Fanlund A nationwide exit poll on Election Day revealed that 70 percent viewed the economy as “not so good” or “poor.” Only 22 percent thought life for the next generation would be better than for this one. Second, because those with the most education are doing better (and Madison is jammed with academic elites) … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: No end in sight to Wisconsin’s politics of resentment

Elections, Rhetoric & Madison’s Planned $454,000,000 2014-2015 Budget That Features a 4.2% Property Tax Increase

Molly Beck: Mary Burke faces a key vote on the Madison School Board on Monday a week before the gubernatorial election: whether or not to back a $454 million budget that raises taxes and delivers a 1 percent base pay raise to teachers. Burke, challenging incumbent Gov. Scott Walker in a tight race, declined Tuesday … Continue reading Elections, Rhetoric & Madison’s Planned $454,000,000 2014-2015 Budget That Features a 4.2% Property Tax Increase

Commentary on 0.0015% of Wisconsin K-12 spending over the past 10 years

Molly Beck: Over the past 10 years, Wisconsin taxpayers have paid about $139 million to private schools that were subsequently barred from the state’s voucher system for failing to meet requirements related to finances, accreditation, student safety and auditing, a State Journal review has found. More than two-thirds of the 50 schools terminated from the … Continue reading Commentary on 0.0015% of Wisconsin K-12 spending over the past 10 years

Opponents to N.J.’s Urban Hope Act keep changing their arguments

Laura Waters Charter school opponents were in mourning this week after they failed to derail a set of amendments to a 2012 bill called the Urban Hope Act that permits the opening of hybrid district/charter schools in Camden, Trenton, and Newark. 
Save Our Schools-N.J., Education Law Center, and New Jersey Education Association had mounted a … Continue reading Opponents to N.J.’s Urban Hope Act keep changing their arguments