Jacob Carpenter: Texas Education Agency officials have recommended that a state-appointed governing team replace Houston ISD’s locally elected school board after a six-month investigation found several instances of alleged misconduct by some trustees, including violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act, inappropriate influencing of vendor contracts and making false statements to investigators. The recommendation and … Continue reading Texas Education AGency (DPI) investigative report cites (open Meetings) misconduct, recommends replacement of HISD board
Wisconsin Supreme Court: ¶27 Applying these principles, we conclude that CAMRC was a committee created by rule under Wis. Stat. § 19.82(1). First, it qualifies as a “committee” for purposes of the open meetings law because it had a defined membership of 17 individuals upon whom was conferred the authority, as a body, to review … Continue reading Open Meetings And School Board Governance: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling
In her posting, “Westside Land Purchase – was public if you were interested“, Marisue Horton suggests that I, as chair of the Madison School Board’s Legislative Committee “start making recommendations for change. Start changing the process instead of sitting around and bitching about it.” I am not suggesting that we need new processes. Like Lawrie … Continue reading Should MMSD Board Follow Open Meetings Laws or Change Them?
Chris Rickert: Individually or in pairs, Madison School Board members spend hours each year in private “board briefings” with Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, discussing matters soon to come before the full board for votes that must be held in public. Cheatham instituted the briefings after she was hired in 2013, and district administrators and some board … Continue reading Madison schools test limits of open government with private board member meetings
Amanda St. Hilaire: A Wauwatosa School Board member says the board president punished him after he revealed a secret conversation about a FOX6 public records request. Board member Mike Meier’s attorney sent the school board a letter this week, warning the matter could go to litigation. FOX6 shared documents related to the case with additional … Continue reading “Secret” open records discussions at the Wauwatosa School Board
Dan O’Donnell: Recently released emails reveal that last May, Racine Mayor Cory Mason emailed his fellow Democrat mayors in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and Kenosha to set up a virtual meeting during which “the Elections Planning Grant will be discussed.” That grant—from CTCL—was ultimately awarded to the five cities, which were dubbed “The Wisconsin Five.” … Continue reading Civics: Elections, Open Records and Special Interest Spending Commentary
Mark Seidenberg: Reading researcher and author Dr. Mark Seidenbergtalks with people working to improve literacy outcomes in the US and other countries. Teachers, school system administrators, activists, parents—and readers!—confront the hard questions about how to address low literacy outcomes, especially among children with other risk factors, such as poverty and development conditions such as dyslexia. Dr. Molly … Continue reading Reading Meetings
Norene Malone: It was mid-August. The playgrounds of Brookline, Massachusetts, had finally reopened, and so the news spread fast. Sharon Abramowitz had resigned from the school committee. If a lab wanted to manufacture a school committee member to help the 7,800-student Brookline School District through the COVID crisis, it probably would’ve ended up with Abramowitz. … Continue reading How the School Reopening Debate Is Tearing One of America’s Most Elite Suburbs Apart
Mike Antonucci: The Massachusetts Teachers Association has been active since the COVID-19 shutdown — surveying members, holding meetings and issuing guidelines and policies. The state union hasn’t been shy about providing bargaining instructions to local affiliates, some of which go beyond the standard problems associated with reopening. Last week the MTA board of directors approved a policy statement, … Continue reading Quincy Local Refuses to Endorse Massachusetts Teachers Association Reopening Statement
: In a memo to council members on Wednesday, which mentions a local political party but doesn’t name Progressive Dane, May wrote, “I was deeply disturbed to hear reports this week that seven or eight alders met privately to discuss matters on the City Council agenda. Such meetings almost certainly involve negative quorums on some … Continue reading Madison City Council members warned about illegal meetings
On January 21, 2020, I sent this email to email@example.com Hi: I hope that you are well. I write to make an open records request for a list of invitees and participants in last week’s “community leader and stakeholder” meetings with the (Superintendent) candidates. Thank you and best wishes, Jim Hearing nothing, I wrote on … Continue reading Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates
Chris Rickert: Groups of Dane County Board members have since 2014 been meeting privately and without any public notice to discuss government business — a practice that echoes private caucus meetings the liberal-dominated board has conducted in years past. Meetings between the board’s leadership and leaders of some of its key committees, first reported by … Continue reading Taxpayer supported Dane County Board joins the Madison School Board in ignoring open meeting laws
Brenda Konkel: OK, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HAVE HAPPEN KONKEL? At. least. try. The school board is so messed up when it comes to transparency I don’t know where to begin. I’d really like to see them receive some training in open meetings laws and openly discuss the challenges and solutions to have a … Continue reading Illegal Madison School Board Meetings
Chris Rickert: Nicki Vander Meulen, who was elected to the board in 2017 and serves as the board’s clerk, said that in response to the union’s push, district administrators in a private “board briefing” Monday with her and another board member said acceding to the union’s demand would set a “bad precedent.” “That’s virtually telling … Continue reading Open Records vs the taxpayer funded Madison school board
Kelly Meyerhofer: A Dane County circuit judge recently ruled that UW-Madison broke the state’s public records and open meetings laws — violations that may cost the university more than $40,000. UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health failed to turn over records relating to how a committee awarded millions of dollars from an endowment for … Continue reading The University of Wisconsin Madison Loses an Open Records Lawsuit
Negassi Tesfamichael: In an open letter to the community released Thursday morning, Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham acknowledged that the district “cannot be silent” on issues of racial justice. The letter comes eight days after media reports surfaced regarding an alleged assault at Whitehorse Middle School. In that incident, which is still being investigated … Continue reading Madison schools superintendent pens open letter following Whitehorse incident, calls for action
Anna Welch and Mckenna Kohlenberg: In the five years since the group’s inception, MOST has not given the public notice of its meetings times, dates, locations, and agendas, allowing little to no oversight. According to an internal document from a 2014 meeting, MOST formalized an “Action Team” that began meeting twice a month starting July … Continue reading City of Madison Initiative Demonstrates Lack of Transparency: MOST fails to provide public with information and access to meetings and records
Molly Beck Even so, “I don’t think they followed the law,” Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council president Bill Lueders said after reviewing minutes from the meetings. “I think they interpreted the (open meetings law) exemption overbroadly. The idea of an open meetings law is that exemptions are supposed to be for extraordinary circumstances and narrowly … Continue reading Local Newspaper Adds Sunshine to Madison Schools Budget Process via an Open Records Request…
Back in 1990, when Milwaukee launched the nation’s first publicly funded voucher program, participating schools could enroll no more than 49 percent voucher students. These schools were considered private, because the majority of their students paid private tuition.
Fast-forward to 2013.
Now, more than half of Milwaukee’s 110 voucher schools have at least 95 percent of students on publicly funded vouchers. In one-fifth of these schools, every student receives a voucher.
Yet because voucher schools are still classified as “private,” they can — and do — ignore Wisconsin’s open records and meetings laws. It’s a double standard that undermines transparency and shields information from parents and the public.
A meeting Wednesday to discuss the minority achievement gap in the Madison district will be closed to the media, even if that means kicking School Board members out, the organizer said Monday.
The Urban League of Greater Madison invited Madison School Board members to its meeting facilitated by an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, but if four board members attend, it would be considered a quorum of the school board and need to abide by the open meetings law.
Four of the seven school board members confirmed with the State Journal Monday that they plan to attend the meeting.
“We’ll have to kick one of them out,” said Urban League President Kaleem Caire, laughing. “I’m serious.”
WRC recommends reading the following open letter from Madison neuropsychologist Dan Gustafson to the Governor’s Read to Lead task force. It reflects many of our concerns about the state of reading instruction in Wisconsin and the lack of an effective response from the Department of Public Instruction.
An Open Letter to the Read-To-Lead Task Force
From Dan Gustafson, PhD
State Superintendent Evers, you appointed me to the Common Core Leadership Group. You charged that the Leadership Group would guide Wisconsin’s implementation of new reading instruction standards developed by the National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
It is my understanding that I was asked to join the group with the express purpose of bringing different voices to the table. If anything, my experience with the group illustrates how very far we need to go in achieving a transparent and reasoned discussion about the reading crisis in Wisconsin.
DPI Secretly Endorses Plan Created by Poor Performing CESA-7
I have grave concerns about DPI’s recent announcement that Wisconsin will follow CESA-7’s approach to implementing the Common Core reading standards. DPI is proposing this will be the state’s new model reading curriculum.
I can attest that there was absolutely no consensus reached in the Common Core group in support of CESA-7’s approach. In point of fact, at the 27th of June Common Core meeting, CESA-7 representative Claire Wick refused to respond to even general questions about her program.
I pointed out that our group, the Common Core Leadership Group, had a right to know about how CESA-7 intended to implement the Common Core Standards. She denied this was the case, citing a “non-disclosure agreement.”
The moderator of the discussion, DPI’s Emilie Amundson, concurred that Claire didn’t need to discuss the program further on the grounds that it was only a CESA-7 program. Our Common Core meeting occurred on the 27th of June. Only two weeks later, on July 14th, DPI released the following statement:
State Superintendent Evers formally adopted the Common Core State Standards in June 2010, making Wisconsin the first state in the country to adopt these rigorous, internationally benchmarked set of expectations for what students should know and are expected to do in English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards guide both curriculum and assessment development at the state level. Significant work is now underway to determine how training will be advanced for these new standards, and DPI is currently working with CESA 7 to develop a model curriculum aligned to the new standards.
In glaring contrast to the deliberative process that went into creating the Common Core goals, Wisconsin is rushing to implement the goals without being willing to even show their program to their own panel of experts.
What Do We Know About Wisconsin/CESA-7’s Model Curriculum?
As an outsider to DPI, I was only able to locate one piece of data regarding CESA-7’s elementary school reading performance:
4TH GRADE READING SCORES, 2007-08 WKCE-CRT,
CESA-7 IS AMONG THE WORST PERFORMING DISTRICTS.
CESA-7 RANKED 10TH OF THE 12 WISCONSIN CESA’S.
What Claire did say about her philosophy and the CESA-7 program, before she decided to refuse further comment, was that she did not think significant changes were needed in reading instruction in Wisconsin, as “only three-percent” of children were struggling to read in the state. This is a strikingly low number, one that reflects an arbitrary cutoff for special education. Her view does not reflect the painful experience of the 67% of Wisconsin 4th graders who scored below proficient on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
As people in attendance at the meeting can attest, Claire also said that her approach was “not curriculum neutral” and she was taking a “strong stand” on how to teach reading. Again, when I pressed her on what these statements meant, she would only reference oblique whole language jargon, such as a belief in the principal of release from instruction. When I later asked her about finding a balance that included more phonics instruction, she said “too much emphasis” had been given to balanced literacy. After making her brief statements to the Common Core group, she said she had already disclosed too much, and refused to provide more details about the CESA-7 program.
Disregarding Research and Enormous Gains Made by other States, Wisconsin Continues to Stridently Support Whole Language
During the remainder of the day-long meeting on the 27th, I pressed the group to decide about a mechanism to achieve an expert consensus grounded in research. I suggested ways we could move beyond the clear differences that existed among us regarding how to assess and teach reading.
The end product of the meeting, however, was just a list of aspirational goals. We were told this would likely be the last meeting of the group. There was no substantive discussion about implementation of the goals–even though this had been Superintendent Evers’ primary mandate for the group.
I can better understand now why Emilie kept steering the discussion back to aspirational goals. The backroom deal had already been made with Claire and other leaders of the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA). It would have been inconvenient to tell me the truth.
WSRA continues to unapologetically champion a remarkably strident version of whole-language reading instruction. Please take a look at the advocacy section of their website. Their model of reading instruction has been abandoned through most the United States due to lack of research support. It is still alive and well in CESA-7, however.
Our State Motto is “Forward”
After years of failing to identify and recommend model curriculum by passing it off as an issue of local control, the DPI now purports to lead. Unfortunately, Superintendent Evers, you are now leading us backward.
Making CESA-7 your model curriculum is going to cause real harm. DPI is not only rashly and secretly endorsing what appears to be a radical version of whole language, but now school districts who have adopted research validated procedures, such as the Monroe School District, will feel themselves under pressure to fall in line with your recommended curriculum.
By all appearances, CESA-7’s program is absolutely out of keeping with new Federal laws addressing Response to Intervention and Wisconsin’s own Specific Learning Disability Rule. CESA-7’s program will not earn us Race to the Top funding. Most significantly, CESA-7’s approach is going to harm children.
In medicine we would call this malpractice. There is clear and compelling data supporting one set of interventions (Monroe), and another set of intervention that are counter-indicated (CESA-7). This is not a matter of opinion, or people taking sides. This is an empirical question. If you don’t have them already, I hope you will find trusted advisors who will rise above the WSRA obfuscation and just look at the data. It is my impression that you are moving fast and receiving poor advice.
I am mystified as to why, after years of making little headway on topics related to reading, DPI is now making major decisions at a breakneck pace. Is this an effort to circumvent the Read-To-Lead Task Force by instituting new policies before the group has finished its scheduled meetings? Superintendent Evers, why haven’t you shared anything about the CESA-7 curriculum with them? Have you already made your decision, or are you prepared to show the Read-To-Lead that there is a deliberative process underway to find a true model curriculum?
There are senior leaders at DPI who recognize that the reading-related input DPI has received has been substantially unbalanced. For example, there were about five senior WSRA members present at the Common Core meetings, meaning that I was substantially outnumbered. While ultimately unsuccessful due to logistics, an 11th hour effort was made to add researchers and leadership members from the Wisconsin Reading Coalition to the Common Core group.
The Leadership Group could achieve what you asked of it, which is to thoughtfully guide implementation of the Common Core. I am still willing to work with you on this goal.
State Superintendent Evers, I assume that you asked me to be a member of the Leadership Group in good faith, and will be disappointed to learn of what actually transpired with the group. You may have the false impression that CESA-7’s approach was vetted at your Common Core Leadership Group. Lastly, and most importantly, I trust you have every desire to see beyond destructive politics and find a way to protect the welfare of the children of Wisconsin.
Dan Gustafson, PhD, EdM
Neuropsychologist, Dean Clinic
View a 133K PDF or Google Docs version.
How does Wisconsin Compare: 2 Big Goals.
Wisconsin Academic Standards
Wisconsin Teacher Content Knowledge Requirement Comparison
Schools will be open in Maury County on Monday, but the system’s future is uncertain as the school board and county commission continue to disagree on a budget.
School Board Chairman Shay Daniels and Director of Schools Eddie Hickman met with the county mayor and chairman of the Maury County Commission for about two hours Friday afternoon to discuss options for the district, Daniels said.
“We knew the commission was meeting on Monday so it makes sense for schools to be in session that day,” Daniels said. “We hope the outcome of the commission meeting will allow us to use reserve fund money to balance our budget and move forward.”
The Monday meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m., will mark the fifth time the Maury County Commission has seen the schools budget. The school board has submitted three different budgets at past meetings. The current budget proposal has been shot down twice.
It’s been a tough year for the Detroit Board of Education.
So tough, it appears nobody wants the job.
The Detroit News reported this weekend that not a single candidate has filed to run for two open seats on the 11-member board. As a result, the race will not appear on the city’s Aug. 3 primary ballot.
But really, can you blame potential candidates for seeking other opportunities?
The popularity of the board hit perhaps an all-time low last month when then-president Otis Mathis resigned amid allegations he fondled himself during meetings with Superintendent Theresa Gueyser. He’s since been charged criminally.
The Steamboat Springs School Board formally accepted a lawsuit settlement offer from the Pilot & Today on Monday.
The settlement was tentatively approved by board members last month on the heels of a March ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals that the previous School Board violated the state’s Open Meetings Law by not properly announcing the intention of its executive session at a Jan. 8, 2007, meeting. As a result of the ruling and settlement offer, the district will pay $50,000 of the newspaper’s attorney fees and release the transcripts from the illegal meeting.
The motion to accept the settlement offer was approved 4-1 on Monday, with a couple of board members expressing satisfaction that the lawsuit is now behind them. Board member John DeVincentis was the only dissenting vote, but he wasn’t the only one displeased with the outcome.
Nineteen years ago, Jennifer Courter set out on a career path that has since provided her with a steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs. Now, her occupation — mathematician — has landed at the top spot on a new study ranking the best and worst jobs in the U.S.
“It’s a lot more than just some boring subject that everybody has to take in school,” says Ms. Courter, a research mathematician at mental images Inc., a maker of 3D-visualization software in San Francisco. “It’s the science of problem-solving.”
The study, to be released Tuesday from CareerCast.com, a new job site, evaluates 200 professions to determine the best and worst according to five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress. (CareerCast.com is published by Adicio Inc., in which Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. holds a minority stake.)
The findings were compiled by Les Krantz, author of “Jobs Rated Almanac,” and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and Mr. Krantz’s own expertise.
According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions — indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise — unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren’t expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching — attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.
The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job’s median income and growth potential. Mathematicians’ annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount.
- The Madison School District is holding public meetings tonight (LaFollette High School) and tomorrow (Memorial High School) on the recent Math Task Force Report.
- Math Forum audio/video
- West High School Math Teachers Letter to Isthmus
- Madison and Wisconsin Math Data, 8th Grade by Richard Askey
- UW-Madison Math Faculty letter to the Madison School District
- Math report commentary by TJ Mertz, more here
Parents and citizens have another opportunity to provide input on this matter when Brian Sniff, Madison’s Math Coordinator and Lisa Wachtel, Director of Madison’s Teaching & Learning discuss the Math Report at a Cherokee Middle School PTO meeting on January 14, 2009 at 7:00p.m.
Dear BOE, Hi, everyone. We are writing to share a few thoughts about Monday night’s Special Meeting on the High School Redesign and SLC grant. We are writing to you and copying the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent — rather than writing to them and copying you — in order to underscore our belief that you, … Continue reading Open Letter to BOE Re. High School Redesign
Several articles on open records issues in schools: Meg Jones: School District loses 2 suits over lack of transparency Barry Hoerz was kicked out of a meeting of the Weyauwega-Fremont School Board in July. What’s unusual is that Hoerz was a member of the School Board, and he was told to leave because he was … Continue reading Sunshine Week: Open Records in Schools
It’s understandable that friends and admirers of former state school superintendent Jorea Marple are upset with her firing.
Marple spent a lifetime in public education in West Virginia, and she built strong relationships.
The board did not help its case by potentially running afoul of the state’s open meetings law when it dismissed Marple two weeks ago.
On Thursday, the board held a special meeting, allowed Marple supporters to vent, and then cured any legal question with a do-over of Marple’s firing.
Her dismissal is apparently a result of a clash of ideas between Marple, school board president Wade Linger, and others on the board over how to respond to the independent audit of the school system released nearly a year ago.
Highland Park school board member Robert Davis is asking the state attorney general to remove the emergency financial managers running the Highland Park and Detroit public school districts.
Davis, who has successfully sued public bodies for violating legal procedures of the Open Meetings Act, claims that Gov. Rick Snyder skipped several steps when he appointed the managers Wednesday.
Davis expects Attorney General Bill Schuette to deny his argument. Schuette’s office provides legal representation for emergency financial managers.
Three New Mexico teachers unions are complaining the state Public Education Department has failed to consult parents and teachers as it crafts a new teacher evaluation system.
The state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and the Albuquerque Education Assistants Association sent a letter Friday to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The letter claims the state didn’t include any teachers nominated by the American Teachers Federation on its evaluation task force.
The letter also says parents and school board members weren’t included and that the task force violated the Open Meetings Act by meeting without public notice.
Gesturing like a conductor, the Van Hise Elementary teacher exhorted her third-graders for answers while deftly involving a special-needs youngster.
I was in class as part of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools’ “principal for a day” program, and I recall thinking: This would be a really tough job to do well day after day.
Teachers have always impressed me, apparently a lot more than they do Scott Walker.
The Republican governor continues to wage his cynical campaign against labor unions representing teachers and other public employees. The conflict rumbles on, with a judge ruling last week that the legislative vote to extinguish collective bargaining rights violated the state’s open meetings law.
The collateral damage to the morale and reputations of Wisconsin’s 60,000 or so classroom teachers seems of no concern to Walker and his allies inside and outside the state.
In fact, based on recent Walker press releases, teachers and teachers unions remain a prime target. In terms of there being a bulls-eye on teachers’ backs, just consider last week.
Under the proposed plan, all new educators will have two-year contracts with raises and bonuses based on student achievement. Teachers with seniority will not be protected from workforce reduction layoffs, and collective bargaining will be limited to salary and wage-related benefits.
“We think that gives the local elected school board more control over the staff and the people that work in their schools,” Luna said.
The plan further requires that once agreements between local teachers unions and school boards are reached, they must be published online immediately by school districts. In addition, collective bargaining negotiations for those contracts must take place during open meetings, with parents, teachers and the public able to observe.
The state will publish a fiscal report card for every district showing per-pupil spending, how much of a district’s budget is going into the classroom, how much is spent on administration and how each district compares to other districts in the state.
Funding for the reform package aligns with the governor’s proposed K-12 public schools budget of $1.2 billion, and includes a multi-year spending strategy using revenue from some cost-saving measures to pay for other programs.
It’s a simple question, isn’t it? The Board Directors, if asked, all claim (rather indignantly) that they DO enforce policy. The state auditor says they don’t. I can’t find any evidence that indicates that the Board enforces policy. More than that, I can’t even think of HOW the Board enforces policy.
No Board member alone can speak for the Board. So no Board member, on their own, can direct the superintendent to do anything. So if an individual Board member, such as Director Martin-Morris, were to discover that a policy, such as Policy B61.00 which requires the superintendent to provide annual reports on District programs, wasn’t being followed because there is no report on the Spectrum program, what could he do about it? I suppose he could ask the superintendent, pretty please, to provide the report, but what if she didn’t? He could not, on his own, compel her compliance with the policy.
If the Board, as a group, wanted to enforce a policy, such as Policy C54.00 which requires the superintendent to get input from the community before assigning a principal to an alternative school, they would have to meet to do it. Any meeting of a quorum of Board members would be subject to the Open Meetings Act, and would require the posting of an agenda in advance and minutes afterward. There are no minutes from any meeting that describe the Board as taking action to enforce policies.
The first finding of the Audit Report is “The Seattle School District did not comply with state law on recording meeting minutes and making them available to the public”. Id., p. 6. The auditor found: “We determined the Board did not record minutes at retreats and workshops in the 2008 – 2009 school year. Id. These retreats and workshops were held to discuss the budget, student assignment boundaries, school closures and strategic planning”. [Emphasis Supplied] Id., p. 6. The school board’s decisions regarding student assignment boundaries and school closures are the subject of the Commissioner’s ruling denying review in the Briggs and Ovalles discretionary review proceedings and in this original action.
The Auditor described the effect of these violations to be: “When minutes of special meetings are not promptly recorded, information on Board discussions is not made available to the public”. Id., p. 6. The Auditor recommended “the District establish procedures to ensure that meeting minutes are promptly recorded and made available to the public.” Id., p. 6. The District’s response was: “The District concurs with the finding and the requirement under OPMA that any meeting of the quorum of the board members to discuss district business is to be treated as a special or regular meeting of the OPMA.” Id. p. 6. Thus, the school board admits the Transcripts of Evidence in the Ovalles and Briggs appeals contains no minutes of the discussions relating to student assignments and school closures, even though the law required otherwise. Additionally, there is no indication of what evidence the school board actually considered with regard to the school closures and the new student assignment plan at retreats and workshops devoted to these specific decisions.
The fifth finding of the Auditor’s Report was: “5. The School Board and District Management have not implemented sufficient policies and controls to ensure the District complies with state laws, its own policies, or addresses concerns raised in prior audits”. Id., p. 25. In a section entitled “description of the condition” the report states: “In all the
areas we examined we found lax or non-existent controls in District operations. …” Id., p. 25. With regard to the Open Meetings Act the Auditor noted continuing violations of state law and that “the District did not develop policies and procedures to adequately address prior audit recommendations.” Id, at p. 27.
Madison School Board members used a secret straw poll, conducted via e-mail, to guide their deliberations over how to close a nearly $30 million budget hole for next year.
The move has raised questions about whether the board violated the state open meetings law by coming to agreement on decisions before taking a public vote.
“In my opinion it violates the spirit of the open-meeting procedures, if not the exact letter,” said Peter Fox, executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
But board president Arlene Silveira defended the process, saying the board sought to make its handling of the 2010-11 budget as transparent as possible. With more than 200 potential budget cuts proposed by district administrators, the board needed a way to streamline the process of reviewing the cuts, she said.
Clara Jeffery: But let’s review the array of irritants. Remote learning: Against every other issue I’m about to name, some of which were on a slow boil before the pandemic, you need to understand that SF schools stayed closed until the fall of 2021, longer than most districts in America. Now: SF takes the pandemic damn … Continue reading “it was a for vote to put performance over performativeness”
Emma Talley: But opponents argue the move is hurting Asian American students and taking away a springboard to achievement for low-income families. Opponents also charge that it was done without proper public input and that the school was already diverse. Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, a critic of the new admissions policy, noted that before the change … Continue reading Lowell got rid of competitive admissions. New data shows how that’s impacted the school’s diversity
Alice Herman: For individuals and organizations seeking state records, Wisconsin law is clear: the state guarantees public access to government business, barring “exceptional cases,” and identifies a lack of transparency as “generally contrary to the public interest.” Despite the fact that the public right to state information is baked into Wisconsin legal code, freedom of … Continue reading Information wants to be free
Mckenna Kohlenberg: My concern stems from recent Board actions that I find concerning enough to warrant this stern message. As local press has noted (here too), the Board’s recent activities suggest a troublesome pattern of skirting, if not outright violating, open meetings and public records laws. Wisconsin law requires school boards, like other local public … Continue reading Mckenna Kohlenberg: Why transparency is needed in Madison’s superintendent hiring process, and how to do it
Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick: Thus, I actively participated when MMSD crafted the Behavior Education Plan (BEP). Indeed, I was the person who suggested that it should carry that name instead of simply MMSD’s Discipline policy, because moving away from zero tolerance also requires MMSD to actively engage in teaching children with challenging behaviors how to behave properly. … Continue reading Madison’s school board vacancy
David Blaska: Tony Gallli, dean of the Madison’s broadcast journalists at WKOW-TV27, asked our favorite candidate for Madison School Board Seat #4: Any concerns over using a live feed into the MMSD auditorium Monday evening to satisfy the Open Meetings requirement, as the school board met in a room closed to the public? Blaska answered: … Continue reading Madison school board’s chickens are roosting
Anna Welch and Mckenna Kohlenberg: Local watchdogs and litigators say a City of Madison initiative and its multiple committees should provide the public with greater transparency. In a unanimous 2017 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that committees created by local governmental bodies in Wisconsin are themselves governmental bodies subject to the state’s open meetings … Continue reading City of Madison Initiative Demonstrates Lack of Transparency
Chad Calder: Two advocacy groups have taken legal action in Orleans Parish Civil District Court against the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts over the expulsions of two students seen on campus surveillance video smoking what appeared to be — but what they say was not — marijuana. The Louisiana Justice Institute has asked for … Continue reading After New Orleans students expelled in ‘fake weed’ case, advocacy groups take legal action
Arlene Silveira, School Board President, provided the following update on the Isthmus Forum: All – here is the update on the search for the new Superintendent. On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings the Board will interview 4 search firms/consultants. We had decided that we want to use a consultant to assist wit the search for the … Continue reading Update on Search for New Superintendent
Tonight the Board of Education will vote on approving the purchase of land in the proposed plat of Linden Park located along Redan Road on the west side of Madison. The Board will vote on approving the purchase of 8.234 acres for the price of $535,258.83. One provision of the agreement requires the District to … Continue reading Public Information and Tonight’s Land Purchase Vote
On October 31, the Human Resources Committee of the Madison Board of Education reviewed a memo from Juan Jose Lopez, the chair of the committee. According to the memo, the Board developed goals for the 2005-06 evaluation of the superintendent during its recent closed sessions to evaluate his performance between 2002 and now. If so, … Continue reading Board of Education’s 2005-06 evaluation of superintendent: next steps
Jason Shepherd wrote about the nature of the Madison School District’s joint committee with MTI (Madison Teachers Inc.)regarding health care costs. Initially, according to Shepherd, Madison School Board President Carol Carstensen said that “the open meeting law does not apply to the committee”. KJ Jakobsen, a parent studying the District’s health insurance costs, wants to … Continue reading Health Talks Won’t Be Secret
The current music education upheaval at Sherman Middle School is about what Madison values for our children’s education, such as academic music education during the school day and who makes those decisions. It is not about money, because teacher allocations will be needed to teach the 8th hour same as during the school day. Making … Continue reading Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool
Toby Green: Translation: taxpayers invest in developing products through government agencies, and private companies and their shareholders reap the profits. How does this work in practice? Gates does not give what we might call full disclosure. He offers the example of the antiviral Molnupiravir which “Merck and its partners developed”. It was authorised to great … Continue reading Civics: The multi-billionaire says one thing, and funds another
Abigail Cartus and Justin Feldman: Of the numerous political battles sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, some of the most bitterly contested have taken place over K-12 education. Schools have been a site of decisive struggles over the norms, values, and policies of the U.S. response to the public health crisis. While teachers collectively fought for … Continue reading Motivated Reasoning: Emily Oster’s COVID Narratives and the Attack on Public Education
Glenn Reynolds: People used to talk about “resistance” to President Donald Trump. That’s old hat. Now it’s resistance to the woke. And we’re seeing more and more of that resistance. University of Michigan economics professor Mark J. Perry is working with numerous folks across the nation to file equal-opportunity complaints with the federal Department of Education when colleges and universities … Continue reading Notes on discrimination in Higher educationa
Chester Finn Monday’s Washington Post featured a long, front-page article by the estimable Laura Meckler titled “Public schools facing a crisis of epic proportions.” In it, she skillfully summarized a laundry list of current woes facing traditional public education: The scores are down and violence is up. Parents are screaming at school boards, and children are crying … Continue reading Mission vs organization: taxpayer supported k-12 edition
Chuck Ross: Two dozen Republican senators are calling on Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to explain his role in soliciting a letter from the National School Boards Association that compared school parents to domestic terrorists. An email released this week showed that an association official told a colleague that Cardona asked the group to write the Sept. 29 letter … Continue reading Senators Demand (US Education Secretary) Cardona Explain Role in Letter That Called Parents Domestic Terrorists
Laura Meckler: Email correspondence from the time suggested that the NSBA might have been acting at request of the White House, according to documents released through open records requests filed by a conservative group called Parents Defending Education. Slaven and the White House said that isn’t true. In one email, an NSBA board member wrote that … Continue reading Lobbying, Influence, Self Destruction and the National School Board Assocation
Scott Girard: Wednesday’s meeting, which begins at 5 p.m., includes a public comment portion, a chance to summarize written public comments and an “update on safe return to school buildings for in-person learning.” The last item will be a discussion, but will not include a vote of any kind. Those interested in speaking during the meeting … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s taxpayer supported closed K-12 schools
Ken Bensinger & Jessica Garrison: In early March, federal prosecutors took the unusual step of securing an indictment against their own informant, accusing him of illegally buying a high-powered sniper rifle from a man he met at church and then reselling it for a profit. Robeson acquired the gun on Sept. 26, just 11 days … Continue reading Civics: The FBI Said It Busted A Plot To Kidnap Michigan’s Governor. Then Things Got Complicated.
Dan Lennington and Dr. Will Flanders: At the top of the list of legitimate parental grievances was the decision to keep many schools closed during the 2020-21 school year, despite strong scientific evidence that it was safe to reopen. Research by our own organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), found that it was … Continue reading Restoring our public schools and empowering parents
Christopher Rufo: The school board was able to do this because the Round Rock Independent School District has its own police force, with a three-layer chain of command, patrol units, school resource officers, a detective, and a K-9 unit. The department serves under the authority of the board and, through coordination with other agencies, apparently has … Continue reading Enemies of the School Board: Parents in some school districts find their input suppressed—and their dissent criminalized.
Ben Smith: On Friday afternoons this fall, top American news executives have dialed into a series of off-the-record Zoom meetings led by Harvard academics whose goal is to “help newsroom leaders fight misinformation and media manipulation.” Those are hot topics in the news industry right now, and so the program at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center … Continue reading Inside the ‘Misinformation’ Wars
Christopher Rufo: The school board was able to do this because the Round Rock Independent School District has its own police force, with a three-layer chain of command, patrol units, school resource officers, a detective, and a K-9 unit. The department serves under the authority of the board and, through coordination with other agencies, apparently has … Continue reading Parents in some school districts find their input suppressed—and their dissent criminalized.
Logan Rude, Brad Hamilton More than 600 students did not show up for classes on Tuesday, the district said, more than one-third of the total 1,717 students enrolled at East. As of noon, 277 were excused and 325 had not shown up and were not excused, though secretaries were still updating records at that time. … Continue reading One-third of students stay home following Monday fights at Madison East High School
Chuck Ross: House Republicans are requesting information from U.S. attorneys’ offices regarding their involvement with the Biden administration’s effort to monitor school board meetings for potential acts of domestic terrorism. Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent letters to all 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices Monday asking for information about discussions authorized by Attorney General Merrick … Continue reading Lawfare, K-12 Governance and Parents; using FOIA
Preston Cooper: The reconciliation bill currently under debate in Congress includes a scheme to provide two years of free community college, the centerpiece of a $111 billion boost to higher education funding. The bill’s Democratic backers say that “every American should have the opportunity to get the quality and affordable education they need to find a rewarding career.” But … Continue reading Community College Is Already Affordable
Bradley Thompson: Garland’s letter is a moral, political, and constitutional abomination. To say there are serious problems with the Attorney General’s Orwellian letter would be an understatement. The letter asserts, for instance, that “there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” It … Continue reading Civics: Lawfare, Citizen Activism and taxpayer funded schools
Sundance: Lisa Monaco was Barack Obama’s former homeland security advisor and former legal counsel in the White House. Monaco was the tip of the spear in using political activism under the guise of ‘homeland security’ to target political opposition. That type of political targeting is her specialty. Lisa Monaco is now the Deputy Attorney General … Continue reading Lawfare and K-12 Governance (outcomes?)
Edmund DeMarche: Heated school board meetings on topics that include critical race theory have prompted some school board members to look for the exit due to the clashes that some say lead to threats and harassment, according to a report. Critical race theory has been the center of debate in D.C. and local school districts. It is … Continue reading Notes on School Board Governance
Rick Hess: In schooling, proponents of even suspect pedagogies and practices tend to insist that their preferred approach is “evidence-based.” This seems to be the case, yet again, in the debates swirling around “anti-racist” education. I’ve encountered many claims I find unconvincing, especially when they’re advanced by impassioned advocates who don’t seem to have thought … Continue reading No, the Evidence Does Not Support Racial ‘Affinity Spaces’ in Schools
Alexandra Olins: On March 11, 2020, a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) was the first large school district in the country to close. First, we were told there would be no school during the closure because the district couldn’t distribute laptops to everyone — despite … Continue reading A parent’s account of how the relatively well-staffed education team at the Seattle Times failed to hold the school district accountable.
Chris Rickert: Conservative law firm calls on Sun Prairie to reject race-based ‘community conversation’ groups A conservative, Milwaukee-based law firm on Wednesday called on the city of Sun Prairie and its school district to cancel plans to host race-based “affinity” groups as part of their effort to address issues of race, diversity and inclusion. The … Continue reading Law firm calls on Sun Prairie to reject race-based ‘community conversation’ groups
Heather Mac Donald: Turn on CNN or open the New York Times, and you may encounter someone explaining how exhausting it is to be a black person. The idea that systemic racism is leaving blacks scarred and spent has been embraced across mainstream America, articulated by corporate CEOs and university presidents. The latest performative assertion … Continue reading The Revolution Comes to Juilliard
Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox: The problem is not density per se but rather the severe overcrowding associated with poverty in high density areas. Overcrowded physical proximity often includes insufficiently ventilated spaces such as crowded public transit, elevators, and employment locations, especially high-rise buildings, which often have windows that cannot be opened. Overcrowded bars, restaurants, and other … Continue reading The Geography of COVID-19
WILL: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a letter, Monday, to Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent, Dr. Carlton Jenkins, urging the school district to address the racial segregation employed at Madison West High School for Zoom conversations on current events. This is the second occasion in the last year where WILL has warned … Continue reading Potential lawsuit over Madison West High Racial Segregation Policies
Glenn Greenwald: While I share the ostensible motive behind the bill — to stem the serious crisis of bankruptcies and closings of local news outlets — I do not believe that this bill will end up doing that, particularly because it empowers the largest media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC to dominate the process and … Continue reading Civics: The Leading Activists for Online Censorship Are Corporate Journalists
David Brooks: Private and some public schools are already operating safely all around the country, with little evidence that attendance is spreading the virus. The third fact is that teachers unions don’t seem to have adjusted to the facts. In Washington, Chicago and elsewhere, unions have managed to shut down in-class instruction. The Chicago public … Continue reading Teacher resistance is a disaster for the most vulnerable.
Scott Girard: “The problem was we could not get the teachers to commit to the coaching.” Since their small success, not much has changed in the district’s overall results for teaching young students how to read. Ladson-Billings called the ongoing struggles “frustrating,” citing an inability to distinguish between what’s important and what’s a priority in … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: “Madison’s status quo tends to be very entrenched.”
Glenn Greenwald: The New York Post is one of the country’s oldest and largest newspapers. Founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, only three U.S. newspapers are more widely circulated. Ever since it was purchased in 1976 by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, it has been known — like most Murdoch-owned papers — for right-wing tabloid sensationalism, … Continue reading Civics: Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor
Elizabeth Beyer: She said the curriculum offered to students was not intended to be delivered digitally and her children now have online meetings with their teachers for five hours each week compared to 30 hours of live teaching prior to the pandemic. “We need to give parents options so those who feel safe sending their … Continue reading Frustrated Middleton-Cross Plains parent group calls (school board) recall effort a ‘last resort’
Michael Lewis: Pontes is now the county executive officer of Shasta County in Northern California and goes to work in thin socks, but another crisis has found him. “You cannot get closer to total disobedience of any kind of law,” he said, referring to the local response to Covid-19 strictures. “What’s happening up here is … Continue reading Inside a California Covid Revolt
Taxpayers have long supported the Madison School District’s far above average spending, while tolerating our long term, disastrous reading results. The district has placed substantial tax and spending increase referendums on the November, 2020 Presidential ballot. A presenter [org chart] further mentioned that Madison spends about $1 per square foot in annual budget maintenance while … Continue reading Fall 2020 Madison School District Referenda Notes & Links
Conversable Economist: About a century ago, there was a tussle in higher education policy about the freedom of professors to express opinions. Academic tenure was not yet well-established, and so the prospect of professors being fired because they openly disagreed with someone in academic or political power were quite real. In 1915, the “General Report … Continue reading Free Expression of Professors and Its Prudential Limits
Chronicle: Amid all the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic for higher education, two things are becoming clear. Most students yearn to come back to campus in the fall, in spite of the risks. And if, instead, students wind up receiving online instruction come September, they don’t want to pay full tuition. These two factors are … Continue reading Colleges Face A No-Win Dilemma: To Cut Or Not to Cut Tuition?
Rod Dreher: A reader who is an academic and a scientist writes: I wrote this message and debated whether to send it to you. Until I got the third message of the day from a university administrator calling for a general strike action. I’m revolted at the murder of George Floyd and at police corruption. … Continue reading Wokeness & The Endarkenment
Scott Girard: An open records lawsuit filed anonymously against the Madison Metropolitan School District last fall was settled in May after the district released the records sought. A “John Doe” filed the lawsuit against the district last November represented by attorney Tom Kamenick, the president and founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project. “My client and I are … Continue reading “The (taxpayer supported Madison School) district paid for $11,607.45 in legal fees as part of the settlement, but did not admit any wrongdoing.
Danny Westneat: So Los Angeles announced an “unprecedented commitment” of $100 million in emergency funding to get all students who need them both devices and internet access for continuing their educations online this year. Compare to what school leaders have been saying here. Seattle Public Schools “won’t transition to online learning,” Superintendent Denise Juneau tweeted last week. “2 things … Continue reading LA Schools Go Online, but Seattle and others Say No
Wisconsin State Journal: With a pandemic closing schools, protesters disrupting board meetings and a new superintendent starting June 1, the Madison School District needs stability and experience. That’s what Christina Gomez Schmidt, seeking Seat 6, and Wayne Strong, running for Seat 7, will provide on the Madison School Board. The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board … Continue reading Christina Gomez Schmidt and Wayne Strong for Madison School Board
Steven Elbow: The problem, some say, is that disparities impact a population that has little political or economic clout. And white people, who control the levers of commerce and government, address only pieces of an interconnected web of issues that include child development, education, economics and criminal justice. Brandi Grayson co-founded Young, Gifted and Black … Continue reading “The achievement rate has gotten worse. The failure rate of kids has gotten worse. We would keep thinking that we were solving the problem, the United Way and all of these organizations jump on it, but it doesn’t change a thing.”
Sixth Tone: A Shanghai-based women’s rights group is planning to propose a new parental leave policy for the city that would extend time off for new parents and include mandatory leave for fathers, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Wednesday. The Shanghai Women’s Federation — the municipal branch of China’s quasi-official women’s rights group — said Wednesday that … Continue reading School Helps Top Testers Bring Home the Bacon for Lunar New Year
Scott Girard: The three finalists to be the next leader of the Madison Metropolitan School District will visit the city this week. Their “Day in the District” will begin at 8 a.m. with meetings with community and staff groups until 11, followed by lunch with students until noon. The afternoon will include school visits, meetings with the … Continue reading Madison School District superintendent finalists visit this week
Robin Hanson: 3) The simple theory of random stupidity strongly predicts a random pattern of overspending on some things, and underspending on others. In terms of statistical inference, such a theory is relatively easily beat by any other theories that can explain patterns in over and underspending in any other terms. Yes, you might try … Continue reading Stubborn Stupidity Vs Hidden Motives
DJ Buck: Among high school students, I’ve seen puzzled looks in response to the mention of Adolf Hitler, segregation, Thomas Jefferson, the Cold War, Aristotle and the Bill of Rights—among other things. This shocking lack of knowledge has a noxious effect on student thought. Take a question I gave during a video assignment: to which … Continue reading Critical Thinking is Nothing Without Knowledge
Scott Girard: For the past seven months, Strong has been a program associate with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Strong said in an interview Thursday he considers school safety and racial disparities in discipline and achievement to be the top issues facing MMSD. “We have to make sure that our schools are safe … Continue reading Commentary on 2020 Madison School Board Election Candidates
Scott Girard: The finalists are: •Matthew Gutierrez, the superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District in Seguin, Texas. He is a former interim and deputy superintendent in the Little Elm Independent School District and received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Texas Tech, according to the district’s announcement. •Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, an assistant professor of … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School Board’s Superintendent Search Finalists
This meeting was held at Lakeview public library. Asking attendees to leave would have been a violation of the Madison Public Library’s rules of use, which require that “meetings be free and open to the general public at all times.” pic.twitter.com/BRgxOnbSmk — Chan Stroman (@eduphilia) December 13, 2019 It was nonetheless made quite apparent that … Continue reading Mission vs. Organization: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results
Julie Bosman: School board and city council meetings are going uncovered. Overstretched reporters receive promising tips about stories, but have no time to follow up. Newspapers publish fewer pages or less frequently or, in hundreds of cases across the country, have shuttered completely. All of this has added up to a crisis in local news … Continue reading How the Collapse of Local News Is Causing a ‘National Crisis’
Logan Wroge: The plan suggests that within the next two years, the district begin to identify potential buyers for the building and search for a new location that “meets our operational and instructional support needs, has sufficient parking, is near public transportation, and is somewhat centrally located.” The building — renamed in 1990 for longtime … Continue reading Madison School District facilities plan recommends selling Downtown administrative building
Jeffrey Solochek: “In the last two years, we have had very little conversation at our meetings about student achievement,” said Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning, who assumes the leadership post in July. “We need to bring it back into balance.” Browning noted the state has taken an increasing tough line with schools that do not … Continue reading Superintendents’ group should spend more time on academics, next leader says
2013: What will be different, this time? Incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Madison Rotary Talk. December, 2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic” 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end … Continue reading Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk
Rita Koganzon: This predictable farce gets to the heart of the weirdness of Gray’s memoir. Describing a life studying in, and serving, an impressive series of universities (including Northwestern, where she served as dean from 1972-74; Yale, where she served as provost from 1974-78; and the University of Chicago, where she served as president from … Continue reading The Party of the University
Rita Koganzon: But all this takes place in the context of inward-looking institutions, which engage with the outside world for the sake of scholarship, but are not open to its input about how they should be run. The comparison to the Venetian Republic is not so far off, for it is a kind of late-medieval … Continue reading The Party of the University
Scoot Milfred and Phil Hands: Usual mumbo-jumbo, we do on this podcast. Why don’t we invite in today some experts to talk about our topic which is around school. Which Madison is finally going to give a try this fall to experts. I know very well we have all hands on deck here. We have … Continue reading “Yes, to Year Around School” Podcast Transcript (Not in the Madison School District)