One City Learning Invites You to a Special Event

Via a kind Kaleem Caire email: Mobilizing One City: Early Experiences Elevate Everything High quality preschool education contributes significantly to a child’s long-term success. Their first 1,000 days of life set the stage for the rest of their lives. We can close the achievement gap that’s holding back children if we start early. Join us … Continue reading One City Learning Invites You to a Special Event

Chinese model for early learning part of One City Schools’ educational approach

Logan Wroge: A Chinese approach to teaching preschool students has made its way to Madison. One City Schools, a Madison charter school founded by former Urban League president Kaleem Caire and authorized by an office within the University of Wisconsin System, was the first school in the United States to practice Anji Play and is … Continue reading Chinese model for early learning part of One City Schools’ educational approach

Madison’s One City Early Learning preschool implements new international play system

Lisa Speckhard: My mom and dad would let me go run the neighborhood. I would play with friends and I was back before the sun went down. I think kids, especially in this generation, have lost some of that, so this is giving them the play back,” he said. Bailey acknowledges that much of what … Continue reading Madison’s One City Early Learning preschool implements new international play system

One City Early Learning Centers of Madison, WI named first U.S. pilot site outside of China to implement revolutionary new education approach

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: One City Early Learning Centers of Madison, Wisconsin will be the first U.S. pilot site for the ground­breaking AnjiPlay curriculum. One City will feature environments and materials designed by AnjiPlay program founder Ms. Cheng Xueqin, and One City teachers and staff will receive training from Ms. Cheng and Dr. … Continue reading One City Early Learning Centers of Madison, WI named first U.S. pilot site outside of China to implement revolutionary new education approach

One City Early Learning Center looks to help revitalize South Madison

David Dahmer: Two facts that we know to be true: One, children who can read, who love to learn, and who can work effectively with others will be best prepared to lead happy lives and raise happy and healthy families as adults. Two, many children of color in low-income families don’t start their learning in … Continue reading One City Early Learning Center looks to help revitalize South Madison

One City Early Learning Center

<A href=”“>Channel3000</a>: <blockquote>Neil Heinen talks with Salli Martyniak and Kaleem Caire about the opening of the One City Early Learning Center.</blockquote> 

OneCity Early Learning Centers: A New Plan for South Madison Child Development Incorporated (DRAFT)

OneCity Early Learning Centers by Kaleem Caire and Vivek Ramakrishnan (PDF), via a kind reader In the fall of the 2013-14 school year, public school children across Wisconsin completed the state’s Knowledge and Concepts Exam, an annual test that measures their knowledge, ability and skills in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and … Continue reading OneCity Early Learning Centers: A New Plan for South Madison Child Development Incorporated (DRAFT)

How personal experiences shaped one journalist’s perceptions

Amber Walker: I sometimes wonder where I would be today if my kindergarten teacher hadn’t encouraged my mother to have me take the admissions exam for Chicago’s selective elementary schools. That one test result earned me a coveted spot at Edward W. Beasley Academic Center, one of the city’s gifted and talented elementary programs, where … Continue reading How personal experiences shaped one journalist’s perceptions

S.F. schools see learning gaps widen during pandemic

Jill Tucker: School board President Gabriela López did not specifically address the problem of learning loss, but she said that parents are doing an amazing job helping their students and that learning has not stopped during the pandemic — rather, it is just different. “They are learning more about their families and their cultures, spending … Continue reading S.F. schools see learning gaps widen during pandemic

Virginia schools plan gradual reopening as evidence of online learning gap piles up

Hannah Natanson: More evidence emerged this week that online school is taking its worst academic toll on Virginia’s most vulnerable students, as superintendents in the state — facing mounting pressure to reopen schools — took tentative steps toward in-person instruction. Loudoun County Public Schools went the furthest, welcoming back more than 7,300 elementary school students this … Continue reading Virginia schools plan gradual reopening as evidence of online learning gap piles up

Wisconsin Parents Sue City For Closing Down Schools

Hank Berrien: A group of Wisconsin parents, along with School Choice Wisconsin, is suing the city of Racine after the city closed its schools, defying a Wisconsin Supreme Court restraining order preventing the city from closing the schools. The sequence of events preceding the lawsuit included Dottie-Kay Bowersox, the City of Racine Public Health Administrator, … Continue reading Wisconsin Parents Sue City For Closing Down Schools

Learning pods for all, the Hoosier way

Travis Pillow: Across Indianapolis, hundreds of students are getting help navigating remote learning while school campuses remain closed. The city is now home to two efforts—one led by the local school district, one outside it—to extend an academic lifeline to students who, for a variety of reasons, needed additional support during remote learning.  Once Indianapolis … Continue reading Learning pods for all, the Hoosier way

Expanding One City charter school moves into new south Madison space

Scott Girard: The leadership of the Madison charter school signed the lease Aug. 28 after a search for new space, and D’Abell recalled the busy weekend of preparing the building while also communicating with parents about where the year would begin. “We didn’t know where we were going to be,” D’Abell said during a recent … Continue reading Expanding One City charter school moves into new south Madison space

Public School Superintendent Who Warned Pod-Based Learning ‘Causes Inequities’ Is Sending His Own Kid to Private School

Robby Soave: Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Gregory Hutchings has always been proud to call himself a parent of two children who attend public school. Until recently, his website and Twitter biography both made reference to his children’s enrollment in ACPS. But now, Hutchings has pulled one of his kids from ACPS—which remains all-virtual, … Continue reading Public School Superintendent Who Warned Pod-Based Learning ‘Causes Inequities’ Is Sending His Own Kid to Private School

New OECD PISA report reveals challenge of online learning for many students and schools

PISA, via a kind email: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to school closures across the world and forced teachers and students in many countries to adapt quickly to teaching and learning online. But a new OECD PISA report reveals wide disparities both between and within countries in the availability of technology in schools and of … Continue reading New OECD PISA report reveals challenge of online learning for many students and schools

‘Are They Setting My Children Up for Failure?’ Remote Learning Widens Education Gap. S

Tawnell Hobbs: After schools shut down in March, LaKenya Bunton would get home around 7 a.m. from an overnight quality-control job at a factory, doze for a few hours, then become teacher to her 16-year-old son, Amarrius. Her son, a rising sophomore, had received no remote-learning materials from his school and didn’t hear from most … Continue reading ‘Are They Setting My Children Up for Failure?’ Remote Learning Widens Education Gap. S

Reinforcement Learning Under Moral Uncertainty

Adrien Ecoffet, Joel Lehman: An ambitious goal for artificial intelligence is to create agents that behave ethically: The capacity to abide by human moral norms would greatly expand the context in which autonomous agents could be practically and safely deployed. While ethical agents could be trained through reinforcement, by rewarding correct behavior under a specific … Continue reading Reinforcement Learning Under Moral Uncertainty

Why Success Academy is making remote learning work as regular schools flail

Robert Pondiscio: In the summer of 2013, after New York adopted more rigorous standards, test scores plummeted around the state. Fewer than one in three students in New York City district schools scored proficient in math. Yet students enrolled in the Success Academy charter-school network stunned the education establishment with their performance: More than 80 … Continue reading Why Success Academy is making remote learning work as regular schools flail

Why I’m Learning More With Distance Learning Than I Do in School

Veronique Mintz: Talking out of turn. Destroying classroom materials. Disrespecting teachers. Blurting out answers during tests. Students pushing, kicking, hitting one another and even rolling on the ground. This is what happens in my school every single day. You may think I’m joking, but I swear I’m not. Based on my peers’ behavior, you might … Continue reading Why I’m Learning More With Distance Learning Than I Do in School

One New York Special-Needs School Is Ahead of the Curve With Remote Learning

Lee Hawkins: When New York City special-needs teacher Marie Cornicelli learned in March that the city’s 1.1 million public-school students would be migrating to remote learning, she expected the foray into “crazy, unknown and unfamiliar territory” to be a difficult one. “I wondered if my students would be able to do the work well at … Continue reading One New York Special-Needs School Is Ahead of the Curve With Remote Learning

Madison School District prepping for multiple fall scenarios, including online-only learning

Kelly Meyerhofer: Students in the Madison School District may not return to their schoolroom desks in the fall. That’s one of several scenarios district officials are preparing for in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led Gov. Tony Evers to shutter schools through the end of the current school year. Among the possibilities for fall … Continue reading Madison School District prepping for multiple fall scenarios, including online-only learning

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza tells teachers to stop using Zoom for remote learning due to security concerns

Michael Elsen-Rooney: “The DOE has received various reports documenting issues that impact the security and privacy of the Zoom platform,” schools Chancellor Richard Carranza wrote in his weekly digest to principals. “Based on the DOE’s review of these documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time,” he said. … Continue reading NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza tells teachers to stop using Zoom for remote learning due to security concerns

Sacramento City Schools Superintendent Aguilar Takes a Big Pay Increase While Schools Closed

Katy Grimes: In March 2019, California Globe reported Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and seven other administrators spent more than $35,000 to attend a six-day conference at the Harvard Business School, while the district teetered on the verge of insolvency, and under the threat of state takeover as it struggled with a … Continue reading Sacramento City Schools Superintendent Aguilar Takes a Big Pay Increase While Schools Closed

Virus spurs unexpected test for US schools: Online learning

Jennifer Peltz: The coronavirus shutdowns have launched an unplanned, unprecedented experiment with online education at schools across the U.S., and the nation’s largest school system plunged in Monday as New York City asked over 1.1 million students to log in and learn. After a whirlwind week of planning, students — those who could — signed … Continue reading Virus spurs unexpected test for US schools: Online learning

Three months into Seattle’s new $600 million-plus education levy, where has the money been going?

Neal Morton: A year after Seattle voters approved the city’s largest-ever education tax, money has started flowing from the $600 million-plus levy to expand preschool classrooms and get more students into college. The city’s education department also recently announced a $400,000 initiative with the YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish to help youth experiencing homelessness. And for the first time, charter … Continue reading Three months into Seattle’s new $600 million-plus education levy, where has the money been going?

A “Devastating Look at Providence’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School District”; “Not Enough Learning Going On”

Steph Machado: The 93-page report, conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy, describes a school district that is struggling to support many of its students academically, socially and emotionally, and is bogged down by an organizational structure and red tape that impedes progress. “My initial reaction was devastation,” Angélica Infante-Green, Rhode Island’s … Continue reading A “Devastating Look at Providence’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School District”; “Not Enough Learning Going On”

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

One City to Establish Elementary School in South Madison

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: Madison, WI – One City Schools Founder and CEO Kaleem Caire — with support from One City parents, Board of Directors, and partners — is pleased to announce that One City’s plan to establish One City Expeditionary Elementary School in South Madison has been approved. Last Friday, One City … Continue reading One City to Establish Elementary School in South Madison

“One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”

Christopher Osher: But districts are free to use their READ Act per-pupil funds on whatever curriculum they want, even on interventions researchers have found ineffective. “Typically, as with any education policy, we’re only given so much authority on what we can tell districts to do and what we monitor for,” Colsman said in an interview … Continue reading “One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”

One City Schools Admitted to EL Education’s National Network of Schools

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: One City Schools, Inc., a local nonprofit operating an independent preschool and public charter school, announced today that it has been accepted into a coveted network of more than 150 schools nationwide in the EL Education (EL) program. EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) is an educational model that balances … Continue reading One City Schools Admitted to EL Education’s National Network of Schools

“But more importantly, their parents do not rely on school programming to prepare their children for TJ admissions or any other milestone on their way to top STEM careers.”

Hilde Kahn, via Will Fitzhugh: One of few bright spots in the just-released National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results was an increase in the number of students reaching “advanced” level in both math and reading at the 4th- and 8th-grades. But the results masked large racial and economic disparities. While 30 percent of Asian … Continue reading “But more importantly, their parents do not rely on school programming to prepare their children for TJ admissions or any other milestone on their way to top STEM careers.”

Madison students get hands-on experience working on city vehicles

Pamela Cotant: The fleet service high school apprenticeship program was launched this semester at the division’s central repair shop on North First Street. The students, who are paired with automotive technician mentors, are learning how to inspect and repair equipment like police squad cars, parks department pickup trucks, engineering cargo vans and fire department ambulances. … Continue reading Madison students get hands-on experience working on city vehicles

University of Wisconsin System Approves One City’s Charter School Application

Via a kind email: Dear Friends. Last night, we learned that our application to establish One City Senior Preschool as a public charter school serving children in 4 year-old and 5 year-old kindergarten was approved by the University of Wisconsin System. We are very excited! This action will enable us to offer a high quality, … Continue reading University of Wisconsin System Approves One City’s Charter School Application

CPS, City Colleges expand coding programs with help from Apple

Ally Marotti: Starting this spring, more Chicago Public Schools students will have a new language to learn: the one spoken by iPhone apps and Apple’s iOS operating system. The tech giant is teaming up with the city to get its coding curriculum into more CPS classrooms and into the City Colleges of Chicago, and area … Continue reading CPS, City Colleges expand coding programs with help from Apple

You’re Invited: One City to Launch Preschool Movement and Charter School

One City Early Learning, via a kind Kaleem Caire email: A high quality preschool education, from birth to age 5, should be available and accessible to every child in the United States of America. Please join us on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 11:30am to 1:00pm for lunch and an important presentation and dialogue. We … Continue reading You’re Invited: One City to Launch Preschool Movement and Charter School

Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance

Catherine Brown, Scott Sargrad, and Meg Benner: In 2014, parents of students at Horace Mann Elementary School in Northwest Washington, D.C., spent over $470,000 of their own money to support the school’s programs.1 With just under 290 students enrolled for the 2013-14 school year, this means that, in addition to public funding, Horace Mann spent … Continue reading Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance

Edgewood College and One City Partner to Train Educators

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: Today, One City Early Learning Centers of Madison and Edgewood College’s School of Education announced a new partnership they have formed to provide preschool teachers-in-training with significant hands-on experience in early childhood education in a community setting. Beginning this month, Edgewood College will teach its Pre-student Teaching Practicum Course, … Continue reading Edgewood College and One City Partner to Train Educators

Why is Machine Learning Hard?

S. Zayd Enam: However, machine learning remains a relatively ‘hard’ problem. There is no doubt the science of advancing machine learning algorithms through research is difficult. It requires creativity, experimentation and tenacity. Machine learning remains a hard problem when implementing existing algorithms and models to work well for your new application. Engineers specializing in machine … Continue reading Why is Machine Learning Hard?

Madison Student Enrollment Projections and where have all the students gone?

Madison School District PDF: Executive Summary: As part of its long-range facility planning efforts, MMSD requires a refined approach for predicting enrollment arising from new development and changes in enrollment within existing developed areas. As urban development approaches the outer edges of the District’s boundary, and as redevelopment becomes an increasingly important source of new … Continue reading Madison Student Enrollment Projections and where have all the students gone?

Wrap-Around Services Alone Won’t Improve Student Outcomes

Paul Hill: More and more cities are trying community schools, which wrap health, dental, therapeutic, and family support services around existing schools to try to mitigate the effects of poverty and thereby improve students’ learning and life prospects. This idea is not new; its modern incarnation started in Cincinnati in the early 2000s and has … Continue reading Wrap-Around Services Alone Won’t Improve Student Outcomes

One tired critique of charter schools “its The Unions”

Laura Waters: Here’s the problem, Madam Secretary: The nature of teacher union contracts — rigid and prescriptive — is what typically precludes wider adoption of successful charter school innovations. While Clinton’s recitation of teacher union scripture may win her endorsements, it won’t win any votes from parents of New York City’s 95,000 charter school students, … Continue reading One tired critique of charter schools “its The Unions”

New Orleans: A City That Works—Together

Jay Altman, via a kind Deb Britt email: In addition to nurturing our character, early working experiences, including internships, help young people explore career interests and learn about different professions. This career education dimension can play a critical transitional role for young people who are not planning on attending college immediately after graduation. For those … Continue reading New Orleans: A City That Works—Together

Ohio School District Bets on Technology in Creating New Learning Model

Caroline Porter: After a recent high-tech makeover at Reynoldsburg City Schools in this working-class suburb of Columbus, many staples of traditional education are gone. There are no desks permanently lined up in rows and, in one building, no bells signaling the end of class. College isn’t some far-off place: Students can take classes from a … Continue reading Ohio School District Bets on Technology in Creating New Learning Model

One City: New School, New Look, Great Progress

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: We’ve been quiet because we’ve been building. We have some exciting updates to share with you as we move forward to establish One City Early Learning Centers on Madison’s South Side. Since August, we have: Established a 15-member Board of Directors Filed for nonprofit recognition with the IRS Identified … Continue reading One City: New School, New Look, Great Progress

How education reform drives gentrification: A Portland teachers’ contract negotiation debunks the myth of school choice, which leaves a swath of the city behind

Arun Gupta:: Public school teachers in Portland, Ore., and their students are doing a victory lap. Nearly a year after unveiling a contract proposal that would have put the squeeze on the 2,900-member Portland Association of Teachers (PAT), the Portland School Board on March 3 approved a contract that acceded to virtually every demand from … Continue reading How education reform drives gentrification: A Portland teachers’ contract negotiation debunks the myth of school choice, which leaves a swath of the city behind

Education Bureau rapped over Cantonese ‘not an official language’ gaffe

Johnny Tam and Stuart Lau:

An article on the Education Bureau’s website claiming “Cantonese is not an official language” has been removed after criticism.
The article was posted on the website’s Language Learning Support section on January 24.
It aimed to promote the importance of bilingualism and trilingualism as the city “develops alongside the rapidly growing China” and “the daily usage of Mandarin [in Hong Kong] becomes common”.
It said: “Although the Basic Law stipulates that Chinese and English are the two official languages in Hong Kong, nearly 97 per cent of the local population learn Cantonese (a Chinese dialect that is not an official language) as their commonly used daily language.”
The article was removed yesterday. The webpage is now “being updated”.
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said the bureau had “done wrong” because it was not its business to define what language was official. But he commended it for quickly removing the article and apologising.

Madison’s Achievement Gap Grows While the School Board and City Continue to Ignore Charter Success

Nick Novak:

On Thursday, Chris Rickert – writer for the Wisconsin State Journal – thankfully reminded us about Madison’s dirty little secret. The district has a huge problem when it comes to the achievement gap – how students from different races are learning – and little in terms of a plan to fix it.
Indeed, Madison has one of the largest achievement gaps in Wisconsin. While 86.7 percent of white students in the district graduated in 2012, only 53.1 percent of their African American classmates could say the same. That’s a graduation difference of nearly 34 percent. Even Milwaukee, the state’s most embattled district, beats Madison on this very important issue. African American students in Milwaukee Public Schools were six percent more likely to graduate than their counterparts in MMSD.
For a city that goes out of its way to preach utopian equality and the great successes of union-run public schools, Madison’s lack of an answer for the achievement gap should come as a shock.
Here’s how the district stacked up, in terms of graduation rates, with the state’s other large districts:

Related: Madison’s disastrous reading results.

On this Labor Day, let’s remember what unions have done for America

Fabius Maximus:

To remember the loneliness, the fear and the insecurity of men who once had to walk alone in huge factories, beside huge machines. To realize that labor unions have meant new dignity and pride to millions of our countrymen. To be able to see what larger pay checks mean, not to a man as an employee, but as a husband and as a father. To know these things is to understand what American labor means.
— Adlai Stevenson, in a speech to the American Federation of Labor, New York City on 22 September 1952

Yin & Yang:

“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).

You can’t fire your way to Finland. You actually have to build the capacity of teachers.

Peter Cookson, Jr., via a kind reader’s email

ES: What are your thoughts about evaluating teachers by their students’ standardized test scores? What’s missing from the public debate?
LD-H: Teacher-bashing infuriates me. The commitment of individuals who go into teaching in this country is extraordinary. And many teachers are highly able. We do have a wide range of access to knowledge for teachers, just like we have a wide range of access to knowledge for students. That means that teachers are left with one hand tied behind their backs if they aren’t given the knowledge and the skills they need.
Evaluation has to begin at the very beginning of the career. Finland’s rise to the top of the international rankings is typically attributed by the Finns to the deep training of teachers in a highly professionalized master’s degree program. [In Finland education] students have strong content background, and they study teaching methods while they spend a year in a model school, pursuing a clinically supported internship. In addition, there is a lot of attention to learning how to teach special education students and to personalize teaching for all students. The idea is if you can teach kids who struggle to learn, then you can teach anyone. It really pays off. Finally, teachers learn how to use and conduct research, and [each writes] a thesis in which he or she researches an educational issue as part of the master’s degree.
In Finland there is very little formal evaluation that happens after teachers get into the profession because the bar is so high at the beginning, and there are so many supports to get better. There are some analysts who have claimed, “Oh, if you fire the bottom 10 percent of teachers every year, you’ll get educational outcomes like those in Finland.” In fact, that is not how Finland gets high educational outcomes. You can’t fire your way to Finland. You actually have to build the capacity of teachers.
We ought to be having a conversation about performance assessments for entering the field. [American Federation of Teachers President] Randi Weingarten has called for a “bar exam” for teachers. I’ve been involved in building teacher performance assessments in which beginning teachers demonstrate that they can plan a curriculum, teach it, produce and evaluate student learning. We find that these assessments improve teaching and improve the quality of teacher education.

Related: Wisconsin adopts its first teacher content knowledge licensing requirement – for elementary English candidates, from Massachusetts (MTEL).

Udacity Founder on the Future of Learning

Rachel Metz:

San Jose State University is suspending courses it has been offering through Udacity that involved both high school and San Jose State students, due to low course-passing rates as compared to traditional classes, and plans to start things up again in the spring. How do you feel about this?
We felt we got these kids, they worked really hard, and they stayed with it, but they didn’t get the skills they needed to be proficient. We asked them why, and they said they needed more time. Literally, this is a truly joint decision; I’m totally behind it because I feel the objective must be to give students a great education.
How has online learning changed since you started Udacity?
We’ve evolved the MOOC concept into one that really helps people throughout the course to complete the course. The most recent completion rates in pilots we’ve been running have been 85 percent, as opposed to 5 percent or 4 percent, which is common in MOOC-land.


Will Teachers Unions Kill Virtual Learning?

Katherine Mangu-Ward:

In 2012, education technology firms attracted $1.1 billion from venture capitalists, angel investors, corporations, and private equity–an order of magnitude more than the industry was pulling in 2002. Startups Coursera and Udacity, which offer high-quality online college courses to the masses, have each received more than $20 million from investors. Big corporations are buying their way into the industry, with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. leading the way in 2010 by dropping $360 million to acquire ed-tech firm Wireless Generation and luring education superstar Joel Klein away from his gig as the head of New York City schools.
But will the rush of cash translate into a radically transformed education landscape? When this kind of money flowed into tech companies in other sectors of the economy, we saw radical improvements in everyday transactions, as well as some dramatic booms and busts. Think Amazon instead of the mall, iTunes instead of the record shop, Expedia instead of a travel agent. But also think and Full Tilt Poker, where intense competition and bad politics squelched what looked like good bets. There has been a flowering of good ideas in online education, like hybrid learning, in which kids still head off to school every morning but receive the bulk of their instruction from an infinitely patient piece of software instead of a harried, overworked teacher. Yet education, particularly K-12, has remained mostly immune to the improving and empowering forces of the Internet, leaving millions of kids stuck in offline backwaters for six hours a day. Per-pupil spending on public education has more than doubled over the past three decades, while student performance has flatlined.
As the parent of a toddler, I’d love to start banking on my daughter’s virtual elementary school matriculation. I want more choices than just the neighborhood public school or an exorbitantly priced private school offering pretty much the same curriculum in nicer facilities. Personalized learning and highly specific feedback appeal to me as a parent. But while Wall Street’s interest in online education may bode well for entrepreneurs and students, bullish investors and parents would do well to listen to war stories from weary education policy wonks.
At the university level, MOOCs and other forms of virtual schooling are cheaper alternatives to a wildly overpriced product. But at the K-12 level, companies looking to break into that market have to make a choice: compete with the traditional educational system, which parents think of as free, or jump through the hoops required to get your product integrated into public schools–which will mean satisfying at least 50 different sets of standards, plus watering down, rejiggering, and generally accommodating your product to a system that wasn’t designed for tech-driven plugins in the first place.

Will Teachers Unions Kill Virtual Learning? New educational technologies could be great for kids–if regulations and politics don’t get in the way

Katherine Mangu-Ward:

In 2012, education technology firms attracted $1.1 billion from venture capitalists, angel investors, corporations, and private equity–an order of magnitude more than the industry was pulling in 2002. Startups Coursera and Udacity, which offer high-quality online college courses to the masses, have each received more than $20 million from investors. Big corporations are buying their way into the industry, with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. leading the way in 2010 by dropping $360 million to acquire ed-tech firm Wireless Generation and luring education superstar Joel Klein away from his gig as the head of New York City schools.
But will the rush of cash translate into a radically transformed education landscape? When this kind of money flowed into tech companies in other sectors of the economy, we saw radical improvements in everyday transactions, as well as some dramatic booms and busts. Think Amazon instead of the mall, iTunes instead of the record shop, Expedia instead of a travel agent. But also think and Full Tilt Poker, where intense competition and bad politics squelched what looked like good bets. There has been a flowering of good ideas in online education, like hybrid learning, in which kids still head off to school every morning but receive the bulk of their instruction from an infinitely patient piece of software instead of a harried, overworked teacher. Yet education, particularly K-12, has remained mostly immune to the improving and empowering forces of the Internet, leaving millions of kids stuck in offline backwaters for six hours a day. Per-pupil spending on public education has more than doubled over the past three decades, while student performance has flatlined.
As the parent of a toddler, I’d love to start banking on my daughter’s virtual elementary school matriculation. I want more choices than just the neighborhood public school or an exorbitantly priced private school offering pretty much the same curriculum in nicer facilities. Personalized learning and highly specific feedback appeal to me as a parent. But while Wall Street’s interest in online education may bode well for entrepreneurs and students, bullish investors and parents would do well to listen to war stories from weary education policy wonks.

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

Amy Barrilleaux:

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew DeFour:

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

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

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

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

Building motivation, instilling grit: The necessity of mastery-based, digital learning

Michael Horn:

The potential of a competency-based (or mastery-based) education system powered by digital learning to customize for each individual student’s needs and bolster learning excites many. A question some ask though is: What about the unmotivated students? Won’t they be left behind?
Furthermore, in light of the recent publicity around the research on the importance of grit–defined as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them”–to life success, some further suggest that although competency-based learning and blended learning are nice, unless we solve the problem of instilling grit or perseverance in all students, isn’t it true that those next-generation learning things won’t matter?
These questioners raise good questions. As we discussed in the Introduction to Disrupting Class, the fact that our education system does not intrinsically motivate a large percentage of students is a root cause of the country’s education struggles. Solving this is imperative to improving the nation’s schools.

Reflecting on Teaching & Learning: Designing & Running A MOOC

Professor Baker:

I participated in CCK 11 and the facilitators were Stephen Downes and George Siemens. The course was unlike any learning experience I had ever had before. Here’s why:
1. Changed relationship between teacher & learner
Teacher, as the term is usually understood, is someone who teaches. In CCK 11, that definition gave way to a multiplicity of understandings, articulated by Stephen Downes here:
Stephen Downes: (Long Quote) “We don’t need no educator: The role of the teacher in today’s online education

MOOC Brigade: What I Learned From Learning Online

Harry McCracken:

TIME’s cover package this week is on reinventing college in general and specifically on whether a new breed of online megacourses can finally offer higher education to more people for less money. That story dives deep into Udacity, which was co-f0unded by a former Stanford professor. I’ve been looking into rival Coursera, which has partnered with dozens of prestigious schools, including Princeton, Duke and the University of Virginia. After six weeks of participating in Coursera’s massive open online course (MOOC) on gamification, conducted by Kevin Werbach of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, I’ve successfully completed my studies and earned a certificate. Or at least I’m pretty sure I have.
Actually, Coursera hasn’t told me what my final grade is–it’ll show up within a few weeks, the site says–but I followed the calculations provided by a fellow student in the class forums, and I think I got an 83. That’s more than good enough to receive the certificate, but not enough to brag about.

Everything you need to know about the Chicago teachers’ strike, in one post

Ezra Klein:

Chicago performs quite poorly on national assessments of educational quality. As Reuters notes, fourth-graders in Chicago performed an average of nine points worse than the big city average and sixteen points worse than the national average on the math section of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the national gold standard for measuring learning. On reading, they were eight and seventeen points worse than big city and national averages, respectively. That’s a bit better than Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. but worse than New York.
Chicago also has shorter than average school years and school days. Many students are only in class for 170 days a year as of a few years ago, below the state minimum of 176 days and the national average of 180 days; under Emanuel, the year was lengthened to 180 days. The school day in Chicago averages five hours and forty five minutes in elementary schools (as opposed to the national average of six hours and forty-two minutes) and seven hours for secondary schools, above the national average of 6.6 hours. Emanuel and teachers recently negotiated a deal to hire 500 new teachers to allow for a 90 minute school day extension without increasing hours for current teachers.

How Udacity’s Greatest Effect will be in the Developing World

Nicolas Pottier:

This brings us to Udacity, which takes all the best parts of the above approaches and marries them into an incredible teaching tool.  Audacity combines the personal, approachable first person teaching style of Kahn Academy, but then backs it up with interactive programming in Python, all right in the browser.  
The teachers are ex-Stanford professors, so they have decades of experience teaching this material, which really shows in how they present it. So far in the first week of class, they have done a great job of covering fundamentals without getting bogged down in details, getting students to start learning intuitively, by doing, while still giving them the founding blocks to know why things work the way they do.
Perhaps most importantly, Udacity has structured their CS101 course around a brilliant concept, building a search engine in eight weeks. That single act makes the course not about learning, but about doing. The class never has to answer the question ‘why are we doing this?’, because each topic is directly tied to the overall goal of building your own little Google, every piece is practical.

Teaching With Authenticity & Authority

Eugene Wallingford:

What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
— Mark 1:27
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been processing student assessments from fall semester. Reading student comments about my course and other profs’ courses has me thinking about the different ways in which students “see” their instructors. Two profs can be equally knowledgable in an area yet give off very different vibes to their class. The vibe has a lot to do with how students interpret the instructor’s behavior. It also affects student motivation and, ultimately, student learning.
Daniel Lemire recently offered two rules for teaching in the 21st century, one of which was to be an authentic role model. If students know that “someone ordinary” like a professor was able to master the course material, then they will have reason to believe that they can do the same. Authenticity is invaluable if we hope to model the mindset of a learner for our students.
It is also a huge factor in the classroom in another way as well. Students are also sensitive to whether we are authentic users of knowledge. If I am teaching agile approaches to software development but students perceive that I am not an agile developer when writing my own code outside the course, then they are less likely to take the agile approaches seriously. If I am teaching the use of some theoretical technique for solving a problem, say, nondeterministic finite state machines, but my students perceive that I do something else when I’m not teaching the course, then their motivation to master the technique wanes.

Stanford Professors Daphne Koller & Andrew Ng Also Launching a Massive Online Learning Startup

Audrey Watters:

These are interesting times to be a Stanford professor. Or to stop being a Stanford professor, as the case may be…
Last week, news broke that Professor Sebastian Thrun would be stepping down from teaching at Stanford to launch an online learning company called Udacity. Udacity is an outgrowth of his incredibly popular Artificial Intelligence class offered through Stanford last fall.
Now it appears that two other Stanford professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng (Ng taught last term’s massive Machine Learning class) have started their own company, Coursera, one that offers a very similar service as Thrun’s.
According to the startup’s jobs page, the two are “following up on the success of these courses to scale up online education efforts to provide a high quality education to the world. Out platform delivers complete courses where students are not only watching web-based lectures, but also actively participating, doing exercises, and deeply learning the material.”

Education is undergoing a revolution (curricular deliver, opportunities for students, high and low cost delivery). Will Madison be part of it?

Madison Public Schools: A Dream Deferred, Opportunity Denied? Will the Madison Board of Education Hear the 40-year long cries of its Parents and Community, and Put Children and Learning before Labor and Adults?

Kaleem Caire, via email:

December 10, 2011
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison’s public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it’s not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.
Some days, it has felt like we’re desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who’ve been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children’s education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
Our proposal for Madison Prep has certainly touched a nerve in Madison. But why? When we launched our efforts on the steps of West High School on August 29, 2010, we thought Madison and its school officials would heartily embrace Madison Prep.We thought they would see the school as:
(1) a promising solution to the racial achievement gap that has persisted in our city for at least 40 years;
(2) a learning laboratory for teachers and administrators who admittedly need new strategies for addressing the growing rate of underachievement, poverty and parental disengagement in our schools, and
(3) a clear sign to communities of color and the broader Greater Madison community that it was prepared to do whatever it takes to help move children forward – children for whom failure has become too commonplace and tolerated in our capital city.
Initially, the majority of Board of Education members told us they liked the idea and at the time, had no problems with us establishing Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality – and therefore, non-union, public school. At the same time, all of them asked us for help and advice on how to eliminate the achievement gap, more effectively engage parents and stimulate parent involvement, and better serve children and families of color.
Then, over the next several months as the political climate and collective bargaining in the state changed and opponents to charter schools and Madison Prep ramped up their misinformation and personal attack campaign, the focus on Madison Prep got mired in these issues.
The concern of whether or not a single-gender school would be legal under state and federal law was raised. We answered that both with a legal briefing and by modifying our proposal to establish a common girls school now rather than two years from now.
The concern of budget was raised and how much the school would cost the school district. We answered that through a $2.5 million private gift to lower the per pupil request to the district and by modifying our budget proposal to ensure Madison Prep would be as close to cost-neutral as possible. The District Administration first said they would support the school if it didn’t cost the District more than $5 million above what it initially said it could spend; Madison Prep will only cost them $2.7 million.
Board of Education members also asked in March 2011 if we would consider establishing Madison Prep as an instrumentality of MMSD, where all of the staff would be employed by the district and be members of the teacher’s union. We decided to work towards doing this, so long as Madison Prep could retain autonomy of governance, management and budget. Significant progress was made until the last day of negotiations when MMSD’s administration informed us that they would present a counter-budget to ours in their analysis of our proposal that factored in personnel costs for an existing school versus establishing a modest budget more common to new charter schools.
We expressed our disagreement with the administration and requested that they stick with our budget for teacher salaries, which was set using MMSD’s teacher salary scale for a teacher with 7 years experience and a masters degree and bench-marked against several successful charter schools. Nevertheless, MMSD argued that they were going to use the average years of experience of teachers in the district, which is 14 years with a master’s degree. This drove up the costs significantly, taking teacher salaries from $47,000 to $80,000 per year and benefits from $13,500 to $25,000 per year per teacher. The administration’s budget plan therefore made starting Madison Prep as an instrumentality impossible.
To resolve the issue, the Urban League and Board of Madison Prep met in November to consider the options. In doing so, we consulted with every member of MMSD’s Board of Education. We also talked with parents, stakeholders and other community members as well. It was then decided that we would pursue Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality of the school district because we simply believe that our children cannot and should not have to wait.
Now, Board of Education members are saying that Madison Prep should be implemented in “a more familiar, Madison Way”, as a “private school”, and that we should not have autonomy even though state laws and MMSD’s own charter school policy expressly allow for non-instrumentality schools to exist. There are presently more than 20 such schools in Wisconsin.
What Next?
As the mountains keep growing, the goal posts keep moving, and the razor blades and rose bushes are replenished with each step we take, we are forced to ask the question: Why has this effort, which has been more inclusive, transparent and well-planned, been made so complicated? Why have the barriers been erected when our proposal is specifically focused on what Madison needs, a school designed to eliminate the achievement gap, increase parent engagement and prepare young people for college who might not otherwise get there? Why does liberal Madison, which prides itself on racial tolerance and opposition to bigotry, have such a difficult time empowering and including people of color, particularly African Americans?
As the member of a Black family that has been in Madison since 1908, I wonder aloud why there are fewer black-owned businesses in Madison today than there were 25 years ago? There are only two known black-owned businesses with 10 or more employees in Dane County. Two!
Why can I walk into 90 percent of businesses in Madison in 2011 and struggle to find Black professionals, managers and executives or look at the boards of local companies and not see anyone who looks like me?
How should we respond when Board of Education members tell us they can’t vote for Madison Prep while knowing that they have no other solutions in place to address the issues our children face? How can they say they have the answers and develop plans for our children without consulting and including us in the process? How can they have 51 black applicants for teaching positions and hire only one, and then claim that they can’t find any black people to apply for jobs? How can they say, “We need more conversations” about the education of our children when we’ve been talking for four decades?
I have to ask the question, as uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, “Would we have to work this hard and endure so much resistance if just 48% of white children in Madison’s public schools were graduating, only 1% of white high school seniors were academically ready for college, and nearly 50% of white males between the ages of 25-29 were incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision?
Is this 2011 or 1960? Should the black community, which has been in Madison for more than 100 years, not expect more?
How will the Board of Education’s vote on December 19th help our children move forward? How will their decision impact systemic reform and seed strategies that show promise in improving on the following?
Half of Black and Latino children are not completing high school. Just 59% of Black and 61% of Latino students graduated on-time in 2008-09. One year later, in 2009-10, the graduation rate declined to 48% of Black and 56% of Latino students compared to 89% of white students. We are going backwards, not forwards. (Source: MMSD 2010, 2011)
Black and Latino children are not ready for college. According to makers of the ACT college entrance exam, just 20% of Madison’s 378 Black seniors and 37% of 191 Latino seniors in MMSD in 2009-10 completed the ACT. Only 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors completing test showed they had the knowledge and skills necessary to be “ready for college”. Among all MMSD seniors (those completing and not completing the test), just 1% of Black and 7% of Latino seniors were college ready
Too few Black and Latino graduates are planning to go to college. Of the 159 Latino and 288 Black students that actually graduated and received their diplomas in 2009-10, just 28% of Black and 21% of Latino students planned to attend a four-year college compared to 53% of White students. While another 25% of Black and 33% of graduates planned to attend a two-year college or vocation program (compared to 17% of White students), almost half of all of all Black and Latino graduates had no plans for continuing their education beyond high school compared to 27% of White students. (Source: DPI 2011)
Half of Black males in their formative adult years are a part of the criminal justice system. Dane County has the highest incarceration rate among young Black men in the United States: 47% between the ages of 25-29 are incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision. The incarceration phenomena starts early. In 2009-10, Black youth comprised 62% of all young people held in Wisconsin’s correctional system. Of the 437 total inmates held, 89% were between the ages of 15-17. In Dane County, in which Madison is situated, 49% of 549 young people held in detention by the County in 2010 were Black males, 26% were white males, 12% were black females, 6% were white females and 6% were Latino males and the average age of young people detained was 15. Additionally, Black youth comprised 54% of all 888 young people referred to the Juvenile Court System. White students comprised 31% of all referrals and Latino comprised 6%.
More importantly, will the Board of Education demonstrate the type of courage it took our elders and ancestors to challenge and change laws and contracts that enabled Jim Crow, prohibited civil rights, fair employment and Women’s right to vote, and made it hard for some groups to escape the permanence of America’s underclass? We know this is not an easy vote, and we appreciate their struggle, but there is a difference between what is right and what is politically convenient.
Will the Board have the courage to look in the faces of Black and Latino families in the audience, who have been waiting for solutions for so long, and tell them with their vote that they must wait that much longer?
We hope our Board of Education members recognize and utilize the tremendous power they have to give our children a hand-up. We hope they hear the collective force and harmony of our pleas, engage with our pain and optimism, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the proposal we have put before them, which comes with exceptional input and widespread support, is approved on December 19, 2011.
Madison Prep is a solution we can learn from and will benefit the hundreds of young men and women who will eventually attend.
If not Madison Prep, then what? If not now, then when?
Monday, December 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
Madison Metropolitan School District
Doyle Administration Building Auditorium
545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Contact: Laura DeRoche Perez,
Phone: 608-729-1230
Write the School Board and Tell Them to “Say ‘Yes’, to Madison Prep!”
Madison Prep 2012!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Fax: 608-729-1205
Autonomy: MMSD now says they are concerned that Madison Prep will not be accountable to the public for the education it provides students and the resources it receives. Yet, they don’t specify what they mean by “accountability.” We would like to know how accountability works in MMSD and how this is producing high achievement among the children it serves. Further, we would like to know why Madison Prep is being treated differently than the 30 early childhood centers that are participating in the district’s 4 year old kindergarten program. They all operate similar to non-instrumentality schools, have their own governing boards, operate via a renewable contract, can hire their own teachers “at their discretion” and make their own policy decisions, and have little to no oversight by the MMSD Board of Education. All 30 do not employ union teachers. Accountability in the case of 4K sites is governed by “the contract.” MMSD Board members should be aware that, as with their approval of Badger Rock Middle School, the contract is supposed to be developed “after” the concept is approved on December 19. In essence, this conversation is occurring to soon, if we keep with current district practices.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): MMSD and Madison Teachers, Incorporated have rejected our attorney’s reading of ACT 65, which could provide a path to approval of Madison Prep without violating the CBA. Also, MTI and MMSD could approve Madison Prep per state law and decide not to pursue litigation, if they so desired. There are still avenues to pursue here and we hope MMSD’s Board of Education will consider all of them before making their final decision.

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

Learning to Play the Game to Get Into College

Michael Winerip, via a kind Doug Newman email:

There is rarely a minute when Nathaly Lopera, a high school senior, isn’t working to improve herself.
Since second grade, she has taken advantage of a voluntary integration program here, leaving her home in one of the city’s poorer sections before 6:30 a.m. and riding a bus over an hour to Newton, a well-to-do suburb with top-quality schools. Some nights, she has so many activities that she does not get home until 10 p.m.; often she’s up past midnight studying.
“Nathaly gets so mad if she doesn’t make the honor roll,” says Stephanie Serrata, a classmate.
Last Wednesday, Nathaly did it again, with 5 A’s and 2 B’s for the first marking period.
She has excelled at Newton North High, a school with enormous resources, in part by figuring out whom to ask for help.

‘The Learning’: Foreign Teachers, U.S. Classrooms


When the United States took control of the Philippines at the turn of the 19th century, one of the first things the U.S. did was send in American teachers. The goal was to establish a public school system and turn the Philippines into an English-speaking country.
It worked so well that two centuries later, American schools started traveling to the Philippines to recruit teachers to come here.
In a new documentary called The Learning, filmmaker Ramona Diaz follows four teachers on their journey from the Philippines to classrooms in Baltimore, where 10 percent of the city’s teachers — about 600 — were Filipino in 2010.
“At the height of the recruitment, which was in ’05, ’06 and ’07, they were recruiting from overseas because there was a shortage of math and science and special-ed teachers,” Diaz tells Rebecca Roberts, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered.

Was the $5 Billion Worth It? A decade into his record-breaking education philanthropy, Bill Gates talks teachers, charters–and regrets, Mea Culpa on Small Learning Communities; Does More Money Matter?

Jason Riley:

One of the foundation’s main initial interests was schools with fewer students. In 2004 it announced that it would spend $100 million to open 20 small high schools in San Diego, Denver, New York City and elsewhere. Such schools, says Mr. Gates, were designed to–and did–promote less acting up in the classroom, better attendance and closer interaction with adults.
“But the overall impact of the intervention, particularly the measure we care most about–whether you go to college–it didn’t move the needle much,” he says. “Maybe 10% more kids, but it wasn’t dramatic. . . . We didn’t see a path to having a big impact, so we did a mea culpa on that.” Still, he adds, “we think small schools were a better deal for the kids who went to them.”
The reality is that the Gates Foundation met the same resistance that other sizeable philanthropic efforts have encountered while trying to transform dysfunctional urban school systems run by powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly provider.
In the 1970s, the Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations, among others, pushed education “equity” lawsuits in California, New Jersey, Texas and elsewhere that led to enormous increases in state expenditures for low-income students. In 1993, the publishing mogul Walter Annenberg, hoping to “startle” educators and policy makers into action, gave a record $500 million to nine large city school systems. Such efforts made headlines but not much of a difference in closing the achievement gap.
Asked to critique these endeavors, Mr. Gates demurs: “I applaud people for coming into this space, but unfortunately it hasn’t led to significant improvements.” He also warns against overestimating the potential power of philanthropy. “It’s worth remembering that $600 billion a year is spent by various government entities on education, and all the philanthropy that’s ever been spent on this space is not going to add up to $10 billion. So it’s truly a rounding error.”

Much more on Small Learning Communities, here.

The Story of a Successful Non-Charter School in New York City

A thought-provoking article about a successful district middle school in the Bronx in a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine has led to some interesting public responses from charter advocates in New York. As the article notes, this school’s principal and teachers combine innovative teaching and learning (such as a dual-language immersion program for its high proportion of English Language Learners) with a firm commitment to serving all students who want to come — even if, unlike at charters, those students arrive in the middle of the year or as transfers in upper grades.
One of the most negative reactions to the piece has come from former Chancellor Joel Klein, who (in an email exchange with the reporter) responded defensively to the article’s implied criticism of his own administration’s support for charters:

A thought-provoking article about a successful district middle school in the Bronx in a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine has led to some interesting public responses from charter advocates in New York. As the article notes, this school’s principal and teachers combine innovative teaching and learning (such as a dual-language immersion program for its high proportion of English Language Learners) with a firm commitment to serving all students who want to come — even if, unlike at charters, those students arrive in the middle of the year or as transfers in upper grades.
One of the most negative reactions to the piece has come from former Chancellor Joel Klein, who (in an email exchange with the reporter) responded defensively to the article’s implied criticism of his own administration’s support for charters:

Teachers shouldn’t be judged by test scores alone

David Sanchez:

There are those who think the best way to determine teacher effectiveness is by looking only at students’ test scores. The simplicity of this approach can be seductive, but it is inherently flawed. This approach only makes sense if you assume all children come to school with the same abilities, have the same educational resources and opportunities and return home to the same support systems. As a kindergarten teacher for more than 30 years, I can confirm what you already know to be true: Every child is different.
The fact of the matter is student achievement and teacher effectiveness aren’t simple to measure, and the results of one test are not going to offer a complete assessment of either. Many different measures must be used in order to determine true effectiveness.
So how do you define teacher effectiveness? How to evaluate it? How to reward it? These are all good questions. Most research will tell you an effective teacher is one of the most important factors in a student’s education, and I would agree. Research will also tell you that many other factors can and do influence student success: poverty, hunger, homelessness, language skills, parental involvement and education, the learning environment, hormones and personal motivation.

Welcome to our urban high schools, where kids have kids and learning dies.

Gerry Garibaldi:

In my short time as a teacher in Connecticut, I have muddled through President Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, which tied federal funding of schools to various reforms, and through President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, which does much the same thing, though with different benchmarks. Thanks to the feds, urban schools like mine–already entitled to substantial federal largesse under Title I, which provides funds to public schools with large low-income populations–are swimming in money. At my school, we pay five teachers to tutor kids after school and on Saturdays. They sit in classrooms waiting for kids who never show up. We don’t want for books–or for any of the cutting-edge gizmos that non-Title I schools can’t afford: computerized whiteboards, Elmo projectors, the works. Our facility is state-of-the-art, thanks to a recent $40 million face-lift, with gleaming new hallways and bathrooms and a fully computerized library.
Here’s my prediction: the money, the reforms, the gleaming porcelain, the hopeful rhetoric about saving our children–all of it will have a limited impact, at best, on most city schoolchildren. Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one. There will be no innovation in this quarter, no race to the top. Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch.

Learning Tools: A Look Inside Austin Polytechnical Academy

Jim Kirk:

In 2005 Dan Swinney, chairman of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, approached the Chicago Public Schools for help reviving manufacturing in Chicago. The result was Austin Polytechnical Academy, whose mission is to redefine vocational education in Chicago and beyond, and revive the city’s manufacturing industry by educating the next generation of advanced manufacturers–part engineer and part machinist. Through a diverse curriculum, Polytech aims to prepare students for college but also encourages them to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing that do not require a four-year degree.
This year the school will be graduating its first senior class and Chicago News Cooperative reporter Meribah Knight is following three students, Deandre Joyce, Stran’ja Burge and Marquiese Travae Booker, as they navigate the academic year and carve out their future. Facing a school record of poor academic performance and a community rife with violence, poverty and unemployment, these honor students are determined to stay on track and come out on top. Her first story will be posted on our Web site tonight.

Will Anyone at NBC Ask About the 216?

Conn Carroll

There are plenty of issues the journalists at NBC could be asking about but aren’t: the silent push toward national standards, the assault on for-profit learning, the waste in education spending. But most galling is NBC’s continued refusal to ask about the Obama administration’s war on school choice. The closest accountability moment came when an audience member asked President Obama a question on the Today Show:

Viewer: “As a father of two very delightful and seemingly very bright daughters, I wanted to know whether or not you think that Malia and Sasha would get the same high-quality, rigorous education in a D.C. public school, as compared to their very elite private academy that they’re attending now?”Obama: “I’ll be blunt with you. The answer’s ‘no’ right now. The D.C. public school systems are struggling. Now, they have made some important strides over the years to move in the direction of reform; there are some terrific individual schools in the D.C. system. And that’s true by the way in every city across the country. In my hometown of Chicago there are some great public schools that are on par with any private school in the country. But it goes to the point Matt and I were talking about earlier. A lot of times you’ve got to test in, or it’s a lottery pick for you to be able to get into those schools and so those options are not available for enough children. I’ll be very honest with you. Given my position, if I wanted to find a great public school for Malia and Sasha to be in, we could probably maneuver to do it. But the broader problem is: For a mom or a dad who are working hard but don’t have a bunch of connections, don’t have a choice in terms of where they live, they should be getting the same quality education as anybody else, and they don’t have that yet.”

This would have been a great opportunity for Matt Lauer to ask about the 216. Who are the 216? Like each of the families in Waiting for Superman, thousands of parents in Washington, D.C., are dying to get their children out of violent and non-functioning local public schools and into alternatives like the Sidwell School that President Obama chooses to send his kids too. One-thousand-seven-hundred low-income D.C. school children have attended private schools with the help of the $7,500 scholarships awarded through this D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.

Neal McCluskey:

But the reforms don’t seem promising. Sure, RTTT got some states to lift caps on charter schools and eliminate some barriers to evaluating teachers using student test scores. For the most part, though, RTTT just prodded states to promise to plan to make reforms, and even things like lifting charter caps do little good when the problems go much deeper. Indeed, the only thing of real substance RTTT has done is coerce states into adopting national curriculum standards, pushing us a big step closer to complete federal domination of our schools. That’s especially problematic because special interests like teacher unions love nothing more than one-stop shopping.
But isn’t the President taking on the unions?
Hardly. While he has lightly scolded unions for protecting bad teachers, he has given them huge money-hugs to sooth their hurt feelings. Moreover, perhaps to further heal their emotional ouchies, on Today he offered union-hack rhetoric about teachers, going on about how they should be “honored” above almost all other professions, and how selfless and hard working they are.
Now, lots of teachers work hard and care very much about kids, but shouldn’t individual Americans get to decide how much they want to honor a profession, and how much they are willing to pay for the services of a given professional? Of course they should — who’s to say definitively whether a good teacher is more valuable than, say, a good architect? – but when government controls education, it decides what teachers “should” get paid.
Unfortunately, the President chose to seriously inflate how long and intensively teachers work, saying they work so hard they are downright “heroic.” No doubt many do work very long hours, but research shows that the average teacher does not. A recent “time diary” study found that during the school year teachers work only only about 7.3 hours on weekdays- including work on and off campus — and 2 hours on weekends. That’s 18 fewer minutes per day than the average person in a less “heroic” professional job. Oh, and on an hourly basis teachers get paid more than accountants, nurses, and insurance unerwriters.

Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom

Sara Corbett:

One morning last winter I watched a middle-school teacher named Al Doyle give a lesson, though not your typical lesson. This was New York City, a noncharter public school in an old building on a nondescript street near Gramercy Park, inside an ordinary room that looked a lot like all the other rooms around it, with fluorescent lights and linoleum floors and steam-driven radiators that hissed and clanked endlessly.
Doyle was, at 54, a veteran teacher and had logged 32 years in schools all over Manhattan, where he primarily taught art and computer graphics. In the school, which was called Quest to Learn, he was teaching a class, Sports for the Mind, which every student attended three times a week. It was described in a jargony flourish on the school’s Web site as “a primary space of practice attuned to new media literacies, which are multimodal and multicultural, operating as they do within specific contexts for specific purposes.” What it was, really, was a class in technology and game design.
The lesson that day was on enemy movement, and the enemy was a dastardly collection of spiky-headed robots roving inside a computer game. The students — a pack of about 20 boisterous sixth graders — were meant to observe how the robots moved, then chart any patterns they saw on pieces of graph paper. Later in the class period, working on laptops, they would design their own games. For the moment, though, they were spectators.

Learning ‘Globish’

Matthew Engel:

Stand on the promenade of any British seaside resort on a summer’s afternoon, and you will hear the full, remarkable range of accents of this small island pass by soon enough.
Stand on the seafront in Brighton, and the experience is rather different. The accents come from all over the planet. Most people seem to be speaking English, which is what they are meant to be doing. But it may not be English as we know it.
For if English is now the language of the planet, Brighton might be the new centre of the universe. There are about 40 language schools operating within the city. And at the height of the season – which is right now – about 10,000 students crowd into town, thronging the bars and cafés, practising their fragile English skills.
It’s great business for the locals. This trade seems to be recession-proof; it is certainly weather-proof – these visitors arrive in even the wettest south-coast summers; and the weak pound is a bonus. The students’ presence spreads cash round all corners of the area, since most of them stay with host families – and anyone with a decent spare room can earn some pocket money.

Early Achievement Impacts of The Harlem Success Academy Charter School in New York City

Jonathan Supovitz & Sam Rikoon:

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted two external analyses of the performance of Harlem Success Academy Charter School (HSA) 2008-9 3rd graders on the New York State Test in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The first analysis was based on a comparison of the performance of 2006-7 first graders (who became the 2008-9 3rd graders) who were chosen through a random selection lottery process to attend HSA, and remained in HSA through the 3rd grade, relative to those who were not admitted by lottery to attend HSA and remained in New York City public schools. The second analysis compared the same HSA 3rd graders to 3rd graders in geographically proximate and demographically comparable New York City public schools. Student results were compared separately for ELA and mathematics using ordinary least squares regression and controlling for student gender, age, and special education status. The results indicated that HSA 3rd graders performed statistically significantly better than did either the randomized comparison group or the students in the demographically similar schools. More specifically, attendance at HSA was associated with 34-59 additional scale score points (depending on test subject) for non-special education students, after adjusting for differences in student demographic characteristics. Described another way, these results represent between 13-19 percent higher test performance associated with attending Harlem Success Academy.
The Harlem Success Academy Charter School (HSA) opened its doors in August 2006. The school, located in Harlem Community School District 3 of New York City at 118th street and Lenox Avenue, is currently a K-4 school that intends to add a grade each year as students matriculate until it is a full K-8 school. HSA is one of four existing Harlem Success Academies founded by the Success Charter Network. Over the next ten years, the Success Charter Network plans to expand the network to 40 schools.
Students are admitted into HSA through an annual lottery which randomly selects students to attend the school from the pool of applicants. Any student who lives in New York City can apply to HSA and the school uses the lottery process to determine who will attend the school. Since the school has documented both the students who applied to HSA and were accepted through the lottery, as well as those who applied and were not selected, these conditions make for an experimental study of the impact of HSA on student learning outcomes.

What does authentic learning mean, if anything?

Jay Matthews:

Those of us who wallow in educational jargon have all heard the term “authentic.” It seems to mean lessons that connect to the real world, like a physics class visiting a nuclear power plant or an English class performing a play by Edward Albee.
But like all fashionable terms, its meaning can evolve, or be distorted, depending on your point of view. I often use it to describe the powerful effect of telling Advanced Placement students in inner city schools that they are preparing for the same exam that kids in the richest school in the suburbs are taking. That makes their studies seem more authentic. Am I misusing the word?
How do you use it? Is it important in schools? Or is it just another buzz word gone bad?
I raise this intriguing issue, which had not occurred to me before, because of an email from Carl Rosin, an English and interdisciplinary/gifted class teacher at Radnor High School, 12 miles west of Philadelphia:

More on the Madison School District High School’s Use of Small Learning Communities & A Bit of Deja Vu – A Bruce King Brief Evaluation

Pam Nash 4.5MB PDF:

Introduction and Overview
1. Background and Overview Daniel A. Nerad, Superintendent of Schools
Prior to the fall of 2008, MMSD high schools functioned as four separate autonomous high schools, with minimal focus on working collaboratively across the district to address student educational needs.
In 2008 MMSD received a Federal Smaller Learning Communities for $5.3 million dollars over a five year period. The purpose of that grant is to support the large changes necessary to:

  • Increase student achievement for all students.
  • Increase and improve student to student relationships and student to adult relationships.
  • Improve post-secondary outcomes for all students.

District administration, along with school leadership and school staff, have examined the research that shows that fundamental change in education can only be accomplished by creating the opportunity for teachers to talk with one another regarding their instructional practice. The central theme and approach for REaL has been to improve and enhance instructional practice through collaboration in order to increase stndent achievement. Special attention has been paid to ensure the work is done in a cross – district, interdepartmental and collaborative manner. Central to the work, are district and school based discussions focused on what skills and knowledge students need to know and be able to do, in order to be prepared for post-secondary education and work. Systemized discussions regarding curriculum aligll1nent, course offerings, assessment systems, behavioral expectations and 21 st century skills are occurring across all four high schools and at the district level.
Collaborative professional development has been established to ensure that the work capitalizes on the expertise of current staff, furthers best practices that are already occurring within the MMSD high school classrooms, and enhances the skills of individuals at all levels from administration to classroom teachers needed. Our work to date has laid the foundation for further and more in-depth work to occur.
While we are at the formative stages of our work, evidence shows that success is occurring at the school level. Feedback from principals indicates that district meetings, school buildings and classrooms are feeling more collaborative and positive, there is increased participation by teachers in school based decisions, and school climate has improved as evidenced by a significant reduction in behavior referrals.
This report provides a summary of the REaL Grant since fall of2008 and includes:
1. Work completed across all four high schools.
2. School specific work completed.
3. District work completed.
4. REaL evaluation
5. Future implications
In addition the following attachments are included:
1. Individual REaL School Action Plans for 09-10
2. REaL District Action for 09-10
3. ACT EP AS Overview and Implementation Plan
4. AVID Overview
5. Templates used for curriculum and course alignment
6. Individual Learning Plan summary and implementation plan
7. National Student Clearninghouse StudentTracker System
8. Student Action Research example questions
2. Presenters

  • Pam Nash, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools
  • Darwin Hernandez, East High School AVID Student
  • Jaquise Gardner, La Follette High School AVID Student
  • Mary Kelley, East High School
  • Joe Gothard, La Follette High School
  • Bruce Dahmen, Memorial High School
  • Ed Holmes, West High School
  • Melody Marpohl, West High School ESL Teacher

3. Action requested of the BOE
The report is an update, providing information on progress of MMSD High Schools and district initiatives in meeting grant goals and outlines future directions for MMSD High schools and district initiatives based on work completed to date.

MMSD has contracted with an outside evaluator, Bruce King, UW-Madison. Below are the initial observations submitted by Mr. King:
The REaL evaluation will ultimately report on the extent of progress toward the three main grant goals. Yearly work focuses on major REaL activities at or across the high schools through both qualitative and quantitative methods and provides schools and the district with formative evaluation and feedback. During the first two years ofthe project, the evaluation is also collecting baseline data to inform summative reports in later years of the grant. We can make several observations about implementation ofthe grant goals across the district.
These include:
Observation 1: Professional development experiences have been goal oriented and focused. On a recent survey of the staff at the four high schools, 80% of responding teachers reported that their professional development experiences in 2009-10 were closely connected to the schools’ improvement plans. In addition, the focus of these efforts is similar to the kinds of experiences that have led to changes in student achievement at other highly successful schools (e.g., Universal Design, instructional leadership, and literacy across the curriculum).
Observation 2: Teacher collaboration is a focal point for REaL grant professional development. However, teachers don’t have enough time to meet together, and Professional Collaboration Time (PCT) will be an important structure to help sustain professional development over time.
Observation 3: School and district facilitators have increased their capacity to lead collaborative, site-based professional development. In order for teachers to collaborate better, skills in facilitation and group processes should continue to be enhanced.
Observation 4: Implementing EP AS is a positive step for increasing post-secondary access and creating a common assessment program for all students.
Observation 5: There has been improved attention to and focus on key initiatives. Over two- thirds ofteachers completing the survey believed that the focus of their current initiatives addresses the needs of students in their classroom. At the same time, a persisting dilemma is prioritizing and doing a few things well rather than implementing too many initiatives at once.
Observation 6: One of the important focus areas is building capacity for instructional leadership, work carried out in conjunction with the Wallace project’s UW Educational Leadership faculty. Progress on this front has varied across the four schools.
Observation 7: District offices are working together more collaboratively than in the past, both with each other and the high schools, in support of the grant goals.
Is it likely that the four high schools will be significantly different in four more years?
Given the focus on cultivating teacher leadership that has guided the grant from the outset, the likelihood is strong that staff will embrace the work energetically as their capacity increases. At the same time, the ultimate success ofthe grant will depend on whether teachers, administrators, anddistrict personnel continue to focus on improving instruction and assessment practices to deliver a rigorous core curriculum for all and on nurturing truly smaller environments where students are known well.


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


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

Possible Participants:

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

Madison’s Charter Intransigence

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

Wright & Neustro Mundo Background

Wright Middle School Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Madison Middle School 2000 Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

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

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

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

Nuestro Mundo:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

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

About the Madison Public Schools

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

Education Hot Topics

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

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

Wisconsin State Test Score Comparisons: Madison Middle Schools:

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

About Madison:

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

Rethinking “Small Learning Communities”: A review of the small-schools structure at North Eugene High nears

Anne Williams:

Four years after North Eugene High School set out to reinvent itself, the Eugene School Board wants to take stock. [Eugene School Board Goals, Superintendent’s Proposed Goals.]
Within the next month or two, the district — at the board’s behest — will hire an individual or team of educational researchers to try to gauge how well North Eugene’s “small schools” structure is serving students.
“It’s kind of consistent with board goals; we try to have measurable results,” board Chairman Craig Smith said. “We decided that, since the first class has come through, it’s time to see where we are in terms of progress.”
Showing gains — lower dropout rates, improved student achievement, better attendance and greater college readiness — has been difficult at many schools that have taken North Eugene’s path.
Championed and chiefly bankrolled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the small schools movement aimed to lift student achievement by creating highly personalized schools where all students were known and held to high standards and teachers worked closely together.
But after investing a goodly share of $2 billion into the creation of hundreds of small schools across the country, the Gates Foundation has shifted direction in its high school reform strategy, focusing less on structure and more on effective teaching and curriculum.
“The structural and design changes in schools we focused on in our earlier work simply did not yield those gains,” Vicki Phillips, the foundation’s education director, told Congress last May.
A growing number of grant recipients have dissolved their small schools and are going back to a traditional model, sometimes with some small-school elements intact. Most cite disappointing results or burdensome operating costs, or both. Those schools include Portland’s Madison High School and Mountlake Terrace High School in the Seattle suburbs, a flagship of the initiative that staff members from North visited during the planning phase.


An Interesting Presentation (Race, Income) on Madison’s Public Schools to the City’s Housing Diversity Committee

Former Madison Alder Brenda Konkel summarized the meeting:

The Madison School District shared their data with the group and they decided when their next two meetings would be. Compton made some interesting/borderline comments and they have an interesting discussion about race and how housing patterns affect the schools. There was a powerpoint presentation with lots of information, without a handout, so I tried to capture it the best I could.
The meeting was moved from the Mayor’s office to Room 260 across the street. The meeting started 5 minutes late with Brian Munson, Marj Passman, Mark Clear, Judy Compton, Dave Porterfield, Brian Solomon and Marsha Rummel were the quorum. Judy Olson absent, but joined them later. City staff of Bill Clingan, Mark Olinger, Ray Harmon and Helen Dietzler. Kurt Keifer from the School District was here to present. (Bill Clingan is a former Madison School Board member. He was defeated a few years ago by Lawrie Kobza.

A few interesting notes:

Clear asks if this reflects white flight, or if this just reflects the communities changing demographics. He wants to know how much is in and out migration. Kiefer says they look more at private and parochial school attendance as portion of Dane County and MMSD. Our enrollment hasn’t changed as a percentage. There has been an increased activity in open enrollment – and those numbers have gone up from 200 to 400 kids in the last 8 – 10 years. He says the bigger factor is that they manage their enrollment to their capacities in the private and parochial schools. Even with virtual schools, not much changes. The bigger factor is the housing transition in Metropolitan area. Prime development is happening in other districts
Kiefer says smaller learning communities is what they are striving for in high schools. Kiefer says the smaller learning initiative – there is a correlation in decrease in drop out rate with the program. Compton asks about minority and Caucasian level in free lunch. She would like to see that.
Kiefer says that Midvale population is not going up despite the fact that they have the highest proportion of single detached units in Midvale – they are small houses and affordable, but also highest proportion of kids going to private and parochial schools. He says it was because of access because to parochial schools are located there. Kiefer says they think the area is changing, that the Hilldale area has been an attractor for families as well as Sequoya Commons. Family and school friendly areas and he tells the city to “Keep doing that”. He is hopeful that Hill Farms changes will be good as well.

Fascinating. I wonder how all of this, particularly the high school “small learning community initiatives” fit with the District’s strategic plan and recently passed Talented and Gifted initiative?

A story from the trenches — send me more!; DAVID STEINER ELECTED COMMISSIONER OF EDUC FOR NY; As Charter Schools Unionize; Must unions always block innovation in public schools?; NEA Discovers It Is a Labor Union; So You Want to Be a Teacher for America?

1) If you read anything I send out this year, let this be it. One of my friends responded to the survey I sent around a couple of weeks ago by emailing me this story of his experience as a TFA teacher in the South Bronx a decade ago (though he’s no longer there, he is still (thankfully) very much involved with educating disadvantaged kids). It is one of the most powerful, heart-breaking, enraging things I have ever read — and perfectly captures what this education reform struggle is all about. Stories like this about what REALLY goes on in our failing public schools need to be told and publicized, so please share yours with me:

Thanks so much for putting this survey together. It brought back some memories well beyond the few questions about what it was like to teach in the South Bronx with TFA back in the late nineties. I want to emphasize here that I no longer teach in the Bronx, so I have little idea how things have changed and have seen the current Administration take a number of important steps that may be making a great impact. I’m not close enough to the ground to know, but my guess is that there are still plenty of schools in the Bronx and in every other low-income community in the country that reflect some of the miserable stuff I saw in my school. You should really start collecting a book of stories like these. Among all the people I know who’ve done TFA, these stories are just a few among many sad ones.
As I filled out the survey, I was first reminded of the art teacher in our school. She was truly a caricature of bad teaching. Like something out of the movies. She spent almost every minute of every day screaming at the top of her lungs in the faces of 5-8 year olds who had done horrible things like coloring outside the lines. The ART teacher! Screaming so loud you could hear her 2-3 floors away in a decades old, solid brick building. When she heard I was looking for an apt, she sent me to an apt broker friend of hers. I told the friend I wanted to live in Washington Heights. “Your mother would be very upset with me if I let you go live with THOSE PEOPLE. We fought with bricks and bats and bottles to keep them out of our neighborhoods. Do you see what they have done to this place?” This same attitude could be heard in the art teacher’s screams, the administration’s ambivalence towards the kids we were supposed to be educating and the sometimes overt racism of the people in charge. The assistant principal (who could not, as far as I could tell, do 4th grade math, but offered me stop-in math professional development for a few minutes every few months with gems like “these numbers you see here to the left of the zero are negative numbers. Like when it is very cold outside.”) once told me “I call them God’s stupidest people” referring to a Puerto Rican woman who was blocking our way as we drove to another school. She also once told me I needed to put together a bulletin board in the hallway about Veteran’s Day. I told her we were in the middle of assembling an Encyclopedia on great Dominican, Puerto Rican and Black leaders (all of my students were Dominican, Black or Puerto Rican). “Mr. ____, we had Cin-co de May-o, and Black History Month, and all that other stuff. It is time for the AMERICAN Americans.”
Not everyone in the school was a racist. There were many hard working teachers of all ethnicities who did not reflect this attitude at all. But the fact that the leadership of the school and a number of the most senior teachers was either utterly disdainful of the students they taught, or has completely given up on the educability of the kids, had a terrible effect on overall staff motivation. And many of the well-meaning teachers were extremely poorly prepared to make a dent in the needs of the students even if they had been well led. The Principal told more than one teacher there that “as long as they are quiet and in their seats, I don’t care what else you do.” This was on the day this person was HIRED. This was their first and probably last instruction. He never gave me a single instruction. Ever. And I was a new teacher with nothing but TFA’s Summer Institute under my belt. The Principal proceeded to get a law degree while sitting in his office ignoring the school. When we went to the Assistant Superintendent to report that the school was systematically cheating on the 3rd grade test (i.e., the third grade team met with the principal and APs, planned the cheating carefully, locked their doors and covered their windows and gave answers) she told the principal to watch his back. A few months later, inspectors came from the state. After observing our mostly horrible classes for a full day, they told us how wonderful we were doing and that they had just come down to see what they could replicate in other schools to produce scores like ours. And the list goes on and on.
Like when I asked the principal to bring in one of the district’s special education specialists to assess two of my lowest readers, both of whom had fewer than 25 sight-words (words they could recognize on paper) in the 3rd grade, he did. She proceeded to hand one of the students a list of words that the child couldn’t read and tell her to write them over again. Then she went to gossip with the Principal. After explaining to him in gory detail, IN FRONT OF THE STUDENT, that she had just been “dealing with a case where a father had jumped off a roof nearby and committed double-suicide with his 8 year old daughter in his arms”, she collected the sheet with no words on it, patted the child on the head and left. No IEP was filed nor was I allowed to pursue further action through official channels (I lobbied the mother extensively on my own). I never asked for her to come back to assess the other student.
Our Union Rep was said to have tried to push another teacher down a flight of stairs. The same Union Rep, while I was tutoring a child, cursed out a fellow teacher in the room next door at the top of her lungs so the child I was tutoring could hear every word. When I went to address her about it, the other teacher had to restrain the Rep as she threatened to physically attack me. And when the cheating allegations were finally take up by city investigators, the same Union Rep was sent to a cushy desk job in the district offices. I hear that most of the people I’m referencing here are long gone now, and some of them actually got pushed out of the system, but how rare can this story really be given the pitiful results we see from so many of our nation’s poorest schools and how far the system goes to protect horrible teachers and administrators like the ones I worked with?
At the same time as all of this was happening, by the way, the few good teachers in the building often became beaten down and disillusioned. One of the best in my building was consistenly punished for trying to make her corner of the school a better place for learning. They put her in a basement corner with no ventilation, no windows and nothing but a 6-foot-high cubicle-style partition separating her from the other 5 classrooms in the basement. After fighting the good fight she went to teach in the suburbs. When I got a financial firm to donate 20 computers, the principal said he didn’t have the resources to get them setup for use and refused to allow them into the school. When I had my students stage a writing campaign to get the vacant lot behind the building turned into a playground, the principal wanted me silenced.
The saddest thing about the whole damn mess was that our K-3 kids still REALLY WANTED TO LEARN. Every day they came eager for knowledge. And every day this cabal of cynicism, racism and laziness did everything within their powers to drain it out of them. It was unreal. Don’t get me wrong. There were some good teachers there. And some well meaning, but poor teachers. But in many classrooms, the main lesson learned was that school became something to dread, many adults thought you were capable of very little, and some adults couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger.
I hope if any of the good, hard-working teachers who fought so hard to rid the school of this mess read this, they’ll know I’m not lumping them in with the rest. But the problem was, when I addressed the worst practices in the school at a staff meeting, the bad teachers laughed and the good teachers took it the hardest and thought I was criticizing them.
Thanks again for the survey. Let’s make these stories known.

When Schools Offer Money As a Motivator
More Districts Use Incentives To Reward Top Test Scores; So Far, Results Are Mixed

Jeremy Singer-Vine:

In the latest study of student-incentive programs, researchers examining a 12-year-old program in Texas found that rewarding pupils for achieving high scores on tough tests can work. A handful of earlier studies of programs in Ohio, Israel and Canada have had mixed conclusions; results of a New York City initiative are expected in October. Comparing results is further complicated by the fact that districts across the country have implemented the programs differently.
Still, school administrators and philanthropists have pushed to launch pay-for-performance programs at hundreds of schools in the past two years. Advocates say incentives are an effective way to motivate learning — especially among poor and minority students — and reward teaching skills. Critics argue that the programs don’t fix underlying problems, such as crowded classrooms or subpar schools.
In Texas, high-school students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes who got top scores on math, science and English tests were paid up to $500. (AP classes are considered more difficult than traditional high school curricula, and some colleges award credit for AP coursework.) The research, by C. Kirabo Jackson, an economics professor at Cornell University, found that over time, more students took Advanced Placement courses and tests, and that more graduating seniors attended college. Most of the gains came from minority students in the 40 high schools studied, accounting for about 70,000 students in all. The study, set for release on Thursday, will appear in the fall issue of Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

A 24-hour boarding school can be part of the answer to helping inner city youth help the state by becoming high school and college graduates.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial:

Her learning marked her as different in her neighborhood and her home. And that was the conundrum she presented to the benefactor driving her home for summer break from the last day of school on Thursday.
Her family lives in one of the roughest housing projects in Washington, D.C. But for the past three years, the 15-year-old ninth-grader has been attending the SEED School in that city, which meant she lived at the school five days a week, except in the summer. It is a boarding school of the type that a core group of influential Milwaukeeans wants to establish here — providing remedial and college-prep, wraparound services that cocoon students from tough family and neighborhood circumstances so that they may better acquire the academic and life skills to succeed.
This girl represents one of the reasons Milwaukee and state leaders should get behind this proposal, contributing to a capital campaign that must raise $30 million to $60 million in private money and injecting a commitment in the governor’s upcoming budget for direct state funding in 2011.
“Ms. Poole, I’m concerned,” the girl said, as Lesley Poole, the schools director of student life, tells it on the day it happened. “I think I’m getting smarter and know more than anyone in my house, and that’s unfair to my mom. I know more words than she does. . . . I can out talk her.”

DC Schools Chancellor Wants to Test “Differentiated Learning”

V. Dion Haynes:

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee plans to establish an experimental program that would offer customized lessons for disabled, regular and gifted students in the same classroom, a key component of her strategy to reduce exorbitant special education costs.
Rhee’s proposal would launch a “differentiated learning” laboratory at West Elementary School in Northwest Washington, then replicate it citywide. Under the proposal, which is being met with skepticism from some West teachers and parents, the system would hire a private special-education school to run the program.
The proposal is among several actions Rhee is taking to overhaul special education, which for years has lacked high-quality programs for learning-disabled and physically disabled students. The system spends about $137 million on private school tuition annually for about 2,400 children (out of more than 9,400 disabled students) whom it cannot serve in the public schools.
Since 2006, the D.C. public schools have been under a federal court order to eliminate a backlog of more than 1,000 decisions from hearing officers regarding placement of students in special education programs. The order stemmed from a consent decree that settled a class-action suit filed by parents protesting the system’s long delay in providing services for the students.
Federal law requires schools to practice “inclusion” — putting special education students in regular classrooms whenever possible — a mandate the system has ignored in countless cases, advocates say. Under differentiated learning or differentiated instruction, an approach that has been used in schools in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and across the nation over the past decade, students are grouped in the same classroom according to their ability levels and learning styles. They get the same lesson but are given different assignments and tasks based on their abilities.
For instance, a third-grade class in St. Louis recently was assigned to report on Martin Luther King Jr., with some students writing a timeline, others illustrating pages and others comparing the era of the slain civil rights leader to today.
Rhee is proposing to go a step further than most other districts using the concept. She wants to treat all students in the differentiated instruction classrooms much like special education students, with each getting an education plan outlining how teachers would address the child’s specific strengths, weaknesses and learning style.
Special education “is about individualization of instruction — that is going to be the overarching theme of these schools. Every kid — gifted kids — need really good individualization,” Rhee said in an interview. “All kids will benefit when we’re operating in that manner.”

Ed Hughes and Marj Passman on Madison’s Small Learning Community Climate and Grant Application

I sent an email to Ed and Marj, both of whom have announced their plans to run for Madison School Board next spring, asking the following:

I’m writing to see what your thoughts are on the mmsd’s high school “reform” initiative, particularly in light of two things:

  1. The decision to re-apply for the US Dept of Education Grant next month
  2. The lack of any public (any?) evaluation of the results at West and Memorial in light of their stated SLC goals?

In other words, how do you feel about accountability? 🙂

They replied:
Marj Passman:

I am generally supportive of small learning communities and the decision to reapply for a Federal grant. Our high schools continue to provide a rich education for most students — especially the college bound – but there is a significant and maybe growing number of students who are not being engaged. They need our attention. The best evidence is that well implemented small learning communities show promise as part of the solution to increasing the engagement and achievement of those who are not being well served, do no harm and may help others also. My experience as a teacher backs up the research because I found that the caring relationships between staff and students so crucial to reaching those students falling between the cracks on any level of achievement are more likely to develop in smaller settings. Some form of small learning communities are almost a given as part of any reform of our high schools and if we can get financial help from the Federal government with this part of the work, I’m all for it.
I think it is important not to overestimate either the problems or the promise of the proposed solutions. The first step in things like this is to ask what is good that we want to preserve. Our best graduates are competitive with any students anywhere. The majority of our graduates are well prepared for their next academic or vocational endeavors. We need to keep doing the good things we do well. If done successfully, SLCs offer as much for the top achieving students as for any group – individual attention, focus on working with others of their ability, close connection to staff, and consistent evaluation.
You also asked about “accountability” and the evaluations of the existing SLCs. Both evaluations are generally positive, show some progress in important areas and point to places where improvements still need to be made. Neither contains any alarming information that would suggest the SLCs should be abandoned. The data from these limited studies should be looked at with similar research elsewhere that supports SLC as part of the solution to persistent (and in Madison) growing issues.
Like many I applauded when all the Board members asked for a public process for the High Schools of the Future project and like many I have been woefully disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. Because of this and the coming changes in district leadership I’d like to see the redesign time line extended (the final report is due in April) to allow for more input from both the public and the new superintendent.
Thanks for this opportunity
Marjorie Passman

Ed Hughes:

From what I know, I am not opposed to MMSD re-applying for the U.S. Dept. of Education grant next month. From my review of the grant application, it did not seem to lock the high schools into new and significant changes. Perhaps that is a weakness of the application. But if the federal government is willing to provide funds to our high schools to do what they are likely to do anyway, I’m all for it.
Like you, I am troubled with the apparent lack of evaluation of results at West and Memorial attributable to their small learning communities initiatives. This may seem inconsistent with my view on applying for the grant, but I do not think we should proceed further down an SLC path without having a better sense of whether in fact it is working at the two schools that have tried it. It seems to me that this should be a major focus of the high school redesign study, but who knows what is going on with that. I asked recently and was told that the study kind of went dormant for awhile after the grant application was submitted.
My own thoughts about high school are pointing in what may be the opposite direction – bigger learning communities rather than smaller. I am concerned about our high schools being able to provide a sufficiently rich range of courses to prepare our students for post-high school life and to retain our students whose families have educational options. The challenges the schools face in this regard were underscored last spring when East eliminated German classes, and now offers only Spanish and French as world language options.
It seems to me that one way to approach this issue is to move toward thinking of the four comprehensive high schools as separate campuses of a single, unified, city-wide high school in some respects. We need to do a lot more to install sufficient teleconferencing equipment to allow the four schools to be linked – so that a teacher in a classroom at Memorial, say, can be seen on a screen in classrooms in the other three schools. In fact, views of all four linked classrooms should simultaneously be seen on the screen. With this kind of linkage, we could take advantage of economies of scale and have enough student interest to justify offering classes in a rich selection of languages to students in all four high schools. I’m sure there are other types of classes where linked classrooms would also make sense.
This kind of approach raises issues. For example, LaFollette’s four block system would be incompatible with this approach. There would also be a question of whether there would need to be a teacher or educational assistant in every classroom, even if the students in the classroom are receiving instruction over the teleconferencing system from another teacher in another school. I would hope that these are the kinds of issues the high school re-design group would be wrestling with. Perhaps they are, or will, but at this point there seems to be no way to know.
There are some off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts prompted by your question and by Maya Cole’s post about the high school re-design study. Feel free to do what you want with this response.

Related Links:

Thanks to Ed and Marj for taking the time to share their thoughts on this important matter.

Madison School District Small Learning Community Grant Application

136 Page 2.6MB PDF:

Madison Metropolitan School District: A Tale of Two Cities-Interrupted
Smaller Learning Communities Program CFDA #84.215L [Clusty Search]
Wisconsin. Home of contented cows, cheese curds, and the highest incarceration rate for African American males in the country. The juxtaposition of one against the other, the bucolic against the inexplicable, causes those of us who live here and work with Wisconsin youth to want desperately to change this embarrassment. Madison, Wisconsin. Capital city. Ranked number one place in America to live by Money (1997) magazine. Home to Presidential scholars, twenty times the average number of National Merit finalists, perfect ACT and SAT scores. Home also to glaring rates of racial and socio-economic disproportionality in special education identification, suspension and expulsion rates, graduation rates, and enrollment in rigorous courses. This disparity holds true across all four of Madison’s large, comprehensive high schools and is increasing over time.
Madison’s Chief of Police has grimly characterized the educational experience for many low income students of color as a “pipeline to prison” in Wisconsin. He alludes to Madison’s dramatically changing demographics as a “tale of two cities.” The purpose of the proposed project is to re-title that unfolding story and change it to a “tale of two cities-interrupted” (TC-I). We are optimistic in altering the plot based upon our success educating a large portion of our students and our ability to solve problems through thoughtful innovation and purposeful action. Our intent is to provide the best possible educational experience for all of our students.

Much more on Small Learning Communities here [RSS SIS SLC Feed]. Bruce King’s evaluation of Madison West’s SLC Implementation. Thanks to Elizabeth Contrucci who forwarded this document (via Pam Nash). MMSD website.
This document is a fascinating look into the “soul” of the current MMSD Administration ($339M+ annual budget) along with their perceptions of our community. It’s important to note that the current “high school redesign” committee (Note Celeste Roberts’ comments in this link) is rather insular from a community participation perspective, not to mention those who actually “pay the bills” via property taxes and redistributed sales, income and user fees at the state and federal level.

Mission Creep: How Large School Districts Lose Sight of the Objective — Student Learning

Mike Antonucci: The growth of education bureaucracy constitutes what former Education Secretary William Bennett once called “the education ‘blob.’” A 1998 study by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution defines “the blob” as nearly 40 Washington-based organizations, with more than 3,000 employees and combined budgets of more than $700 million. They have inter-locking directors, share staffs … Continue reading Mission Creep: How Large School Districts Lose Sight of the Objective — Student Learning

Madison School District Virtual Learning

Jason Shephard: One of the better-kept secrets in Madison is that the school district currently offers more than 100 online courses for city high school students. The program is called the Madison Virtual Campus. “It turns out Madison is a leader in this technology,” says Johnny Winston Jr., the school board president. “My first question … Continue reading Madison School District Virtual Learning

The State of the City’s Schools

Superintendent Art Rainwater and Madison School Board President Johnny Winston, Jr. discuss the state of Madison’s public schools with Stuart Levitan.Watch the video | MP3 Audio Topics discussed include: School Safety The November 7, 2006 Referendum School funding “Education is not one size fits all” – Johnny during a discussion of the initiatives underway within … Continue reading The State of the City’s Schools

“The Ed School Disease: Part One”

Jay Matthews: Bill Rhatican spent nine years teaching government and history at West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, Va., before he retired in June. He had been a journalist before that, and learned the power of getting his students’ papers published in some form. Seeing their words in print lent an excitement to their … Continue reading “The Ed School Disease: Part One”

Edwize on the Poor Track Record of Small Learning Communities

Maisie adds notes and links to the recent Business Week interview with Bill and Melinda Gates on their Small Learning Community High School initiative (now underway at Madison’s West High chool – leading to mandatory grouping initiatives like English 10): Business Week has a cover story this week about Bill and Melinda Gates’ small schools … Continue reading Edwize on the Poor Track Record of Small Learning Communities

Transforming High School Teaching & Learning: A District Wide Design

Judy Wurtzel, Senior Fellow, the Aspen Institute: Full report: 250K PDF Significant improvements in student learn ing require real change at the heart of instruction: the interaction of students and teachers around the content to be learned. This paper suggests a set of design specifications for strengthening this interaction of student, teacher and content and … Continue reading Transforming High School Teaching & Learning: A District Wide Design

5/24 Referenda – Special Interest Money

The Madison City Clerk’s office has posted Pre-Special Election Campaign Finance Information for the 5/24/2005 Referenda: Get Real PAC: $2,636.00 Raised < PDF> Madison Cares: 33,483.31 < PDF>; $15,580.31 Raised before the filing deadline + Late Contributions of $500 from Carstensen for School Board, $1,000 from Wisconsin Teachers Solidarity Fund, 1,500 from the Carpenters & … Continue reading 5/24 Referenda – Special Interest Money

Cutting Elementary Strings Will Cost MMSD Millions – Not Save Money

I agree whole heartedly with Mr. Pay’s comments to Johnny Winston Jr., that the MMSD School Board is not taking a long-term financial or educational look at elementary strings that shows increased numbers of middle and high school children taking orchestra and band will save money for the district while providing immeasurable personal and educational … Continue reading Cutting Elementary Strings Will Cost MMSD Millions – Not Save Money

American Association for the Advancement of Science Report on Math and Science Learning

New AAAS Report Explores How Schools Improve Math and Science Learning A System of Solutions: Every School, Every Student Ten U.S. school districts have achieved significant improvement in science and mathematics performance by developing ambitious programs that set high standards and then closely tracking what works and what doesn’t work in helping students learn, according … Continue reading American Association for the Advancement of Science Report on Math and Science Learning

New Posting for the Fine Arts Coordinator Position Mentioned – Removes Professional License Requirements by Dr. Mariel Wozniak, retired MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator

I was concerned and confused as I listened on Monday night to Superintendent Rainwater inform the School Board that the position description posted for the Fine Arts Coordinator was being reposted without a license requirement so that more applicants could be included. The Fine Arts Coordinator oversees the design and implementation of the District’s Fine … Continue reading New Posting for the Fine Arts Coordinator Position Mentioned – Removes Professional License Requirements by Dr. Mariel Wozniak, retired MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator