Madison’s Sherman Middle School focuses on new energy after blog post leads to principal’s departure

Jenny Peek: Just three months ago, the school community was roiling over a blog post penned by teacher Karen Vieth about Sherman and its former principal, Kristin Foreman. “I am leaving this district, because I cannot serve the children I love in the current climate,” Vieth wrote. “I have never seen a building as deeply … Continue reading Madison’s Sherman Middle School focuses on new energy after blog post leads to principal’s departure

Commentary on Madison’s Sherman Middle School’s Principal

Chris Rickert: Foreman, who did not respond to requests for comment, says in a letter to Sherman staff earlier this week that she will be making “some key changes in my leadership approach” in the coming school year, which she coins the “year of renewal.” Among them are meeting with teachers union officials to discuss … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Sherman Middle School’s Principal

Madison’s Sherman Middle School to drop French 1 class

Pat Schneider:

The way Principal Michael Hernandez tells it, something had to go.
Hernandez decided that at Sherman Middle School, it will be French class.
With a renewed emphasis on curriculum basics in the Madison School District, the need at Sherman to double-down on math skills, and a scheduled expansion there of the AVID program that prepares low-income minority kids for college, Hernandez figures the north-side middle school will need to drop its second “world language” offering next year.
French 2 will continue for seventh-graders who took French 1 this year. The school’s Spanish-language program — including three sections of dual-language instruction — also will continue.
“Unfortunately, there are tough decisions we have to make,” Hernandez told me. “With budget cuts, I can’t have a class with only approximately seven students, when I could use that (staff) allocation for a math intervention class.”
Principals will be developing these kinds of adjustments around the margins to prepare for the 2013-2014 school year as district officials begin work on the budget and schools get projections on how many staff members they will have.
School Board members on Monday will receive a “budget briefing” instead of fleshed-out budget proposal. Penciled in is $392,807,993 in district-wide spending next school year, down a fraction from this year.
The scaled-down budget proposal is due to the uncertain prospects of a controversial proposal in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget to shift aid and expand vouchers to Madison and eight other school districts — at a projected cost of more than $800,000 to the Madison public schools. In addition, new Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham just came on the job three weeks ago and is not prepared yet to present a detailed budget.

Related: Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.

Madison police respond to gun call at Sherman Middle School

Jesse Russell:

All is well after an incident earlier today when police responded to a “gun” call at Sherman Middle School. According to the Madison Police Department “an 11-year-old student discharged a cap gun inside the boy’s locker room.” While the gun was lime green students passing by only heard the sound of the cap gun discharging. Full report below:

My 7th Grader’s Lost Year at Sherman Middle School?

On Monday, August 29, Kate McWhirter, Kari Douglas, Helen Fitzgerald and I met at Sherman Middle School with Ann Yehle, Principal at Sherman, Barb Brodhagen, Learning Coordinator at Sherman, Maria Brown, Spanish Teacher at Sherman, and Pam Nash, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools. Foreign Language Issues At this meeting, where we were pressed for time, … Continue reading My 7th Grader’s Lost Year at Sherman Middle School?

Please Help Sherman Middle School Children: Email the School Board and Say to Them – We Want our School Board Approved Academic Curricular Subjects Taught During the Middle School Day (7:45 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.)

Please e-mail the school board. Simply say, “I do not agree with the plan to move Sherman’s curricular performance music classes to an afterschool, 8th hour format. Our children deserve to have their school academic curricular classes during the day not after school.” And sign your name. It’s as easy as that. School Board members … Continue reading Please Help Sherman Middle School Children: Email the School Board and Say to Them – We Want our School Board Approved Academic Curricular Subjects Taught During the Middle School Day (7:45 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.)

Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool

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

Letter from Art Rainwater to Sherman Parents About Changes at Sherman and Plans for all Madison Middle Schools

In response to inquiries from Sherman Middle School parents, Art Rainwater wrote a letter to parents/guardians dated June 27, 2005. In that letter he mentioned District plans to revisit the core courses taught middle school students – “…we will revisit this document [Common Expectations for All Middle Schools] again, beginning this summer, and address each … Continue reading Letter from Art Rainwater to Sherman Parents About Changes at Sherman and Plans for all Madison Middle Schools

Madison School Board President’s Rhetoric on growing gun violence

Gloria Reyes: We must prepare and implement a plan of action to prevent violence and to stop this horrific rise in violence.” David Blaska: Our word of the day is ‘Chutzpah’ (Yiddish for “what nerve!”) This is the school board president who kicked cops out of Madison’s troubled high schools NEWS ALERT: Detectives from the … Continue reading Madison School Board President’s Rhetoric on growing gun violence

Black Student Unions expanding to more Madison middle schools

Scott Girard: More black students in Madison middle schools will soon have the opportunity to be part of a group with their peers. Black Student Unions are already present at each of the four comprehensive high schools and some middle schools. The School Board approved a $45,665 contract Monday with Brandi Grayson’s Urban Triage organization … Continue reading Black Student Unions expanding to more Madison middle schools

Why are Madison middle school principals leaving?

David Blaska: Wanted: More Milton McPikes, fewer guilt mongers  Obsessed with identity politics, Madison school board member Ali Muldrow posts on social media an article headlined:  “The discomfort of white adults should never take priority over the success of our black and brown students.” “I didn’t come here to teach those kinds of kids.” As harmful … Continue reading Why are Madison middle school principals leaving?

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: middle school governance edition

Chris Rickert: In at least two cases, principals left under a cloud. In 2017, district officials decided not to pursue legal action against former Black Hawk Middle School Principal Kenya Walker, who abandoned her position and oversaw more than $10,000 in spending on the school’s credit card that could not be accounted for. In 2018, … Continue reading Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: middle school governance edition

East High Principal Mike Hernandez to become chief of MAdison high schools

NEGASSI TESFAMICHAEL: East High School Principal Mike Hernandez will be the Madison Metropolitan School District’s new chief of high schools, according to a letter sent out to families Wednesday morning. Hernandez, who first started at East four years ago after previously working as a principal at Sherman Middle School, will take on the role after … Continue reading East High Principal Mike Hernandez to become chief of MAdison high schools

Madison school board’s chickens are roosting

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

Madison’s current public school system is broken

Amos Roe, 2019 Madison School Board Candidate: I have been teaching children ages 7-18 for about 35 years. Based on this experience, I think that the MMSD has lost its mind. MMSD currently promotes an aggressive victimization mentality toward children of color. I think this serves as cover for its institutional hostility to opening up … Continue reading Madison’s current public school system is broken

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

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

Madison School District internal Transfer Report Fall 2016

Madison School District Administration (PDF): At the elementary school level, the percentage of students living in each attendance area who transfer out of their attendance area ranges from a low of less than 1%, at Shorewood, to a high of 25.8%, at Mendota. Elementary schools with the most negative net transfers (net loss of students … Continue reading Madison School District internal Transfer Report Fall 2016

There are no free lunches: not even ‘free’ school lunches

Chris Rickert: Madisonians usually aren’t too keen on doling out public subsidies to people who don’t need them. There’s that old saw about “tax breaks for millionaires,” of course, but also past outrage over a proposed taxpayer loan for Edgewater hotel renovators and brewing discontent over a potential taxpayer loan for the Judge Doyle Square … Continue reading There are no free lunches: not even ‘free’ school lunches

Madison schools starting to embrace ‘restorative justice’ for problem behavior

Pat Schneider:

The Madison School District is betting that restorative justice practices — giving people in conflict the opportunity to hear each other’s side of the story in an attempt to heal a rift — are a powerful tool in making schools safer, more productive places.
Following a two-year pilot project at La Follette High School and Black Hawk and Sennett middle schools, the district has entered into an agreement with the YWCA Madison to extend the program to East High School as well as Sherman, O’Keeffe, and Whitehorse middle schools.
The school district has allocated $164,420 for payment to YWCA, which trains staff and helps run restorative practice circles, and made restorative practices part of its plan to close the achievement gap between students of color and white students.
To hear the students at Sennett Middle School tell it, restorative practices hold a lot of potential for helping students do better in school and for building more positive relationships.

Chazen plays key role in African art project in Madison schools

Susan Day:

For Susan Curtis, a retired school nurse, art appreciation is not just academic.
She knows that art also has the power to break down cultural barriers and stereotypes, inspire creativity, and foster community. With Africa Connects!, a K-12 art history and service-learning project in Madison, Curtis puts that idea into practice.
Children from Sherman Middle School take notes while viewing African art and beaded works on exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art. The group is participating in a grant-funded project — called “Africa Connects!” — led by volunteer coordinator Susan Curtis (background at right) and offered through the Madison Metropolitan School District.
With help from the Chazen Museum of Art and others in the community, Curtis worked to forge a partnership between local schools that opened the door for high school and middle school students to learn more about African art.

Madison Schools: Alternative School Redesign (Hoyt, Whitehorse & Cherokee “Mental Health Hubs”) to Address Mental Health Concerns: Phase 1

80K PDF, via a kind reader’s email:

I. Introduction A. Title/topic -Alternative Redesign to Address Mental Health Concerns B. Presenter/contact person- Sue Abplanalp, John Harper, Pam Nash and Nancy Yoder
Background information -The Purpose of this Proposal: Research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.1 Scientists are discovering that changes in the body leading to mental illness may start much earlier, before any symptoms appear.
Helping young children and their parents manage difficulties early in life may prevent the development of disorders. Once mental illness develops, it becomes a regular part of a child’s behavior and more difficult to treat. Even though doctors know how to treat (though not yet cure) many disorders, a majority of children with mental illnesses are not getting treatment (National Institute of Mental Health).
II. Summary of Current Information: Success is defined as the achievement ofsomething desired and planned. As a steering committee, our desire and plan is to promote a strategic hub in three sites (Hoyt, Whitehorse and Cherokee) that connect, support and sustain students with mental health issues in a more inclusive environment with appropriate professionals, in order to maximize students’ success in middle school and help them achieve their aspirations in a setting that is appropriate for their needs. The new site will also offer mini clinics from a community provider
Current Status: Currently, there is one program housed at Hoyt that serves 28-30 students in self contained settings. There is currently a ratio of 1:4 with 4 staff and 4 special educational assistants assigned to the program. In addition, there is a Cluster Program housed at Sherman with 2 adults and 6-7 students in the program.
Proposal: This proposal leaves approximately half of the students and staff at the current Hoyt site (those students who pose more of a danger to self or others) and removes all of the students and staff from Sherman (no program at Sherman) to the new sites. Students will attend either Whitehorse or Cherokee Middle Schools with a program that provides ongoing professional help and is more inclusive as students will be assigned to homerooms and classes, with alternative settings in the school to support them when they need a more restrictive environment with support from a smaller student ratio and a psychologist or social worker that is assigned to the team.

This initiative was discussed during Monday evening’s Madison School Board meeting. Watch the discussion here (beginning at 180 minutes).

Q & A: Charter School Proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men

570K PDF:

APPENDIX MMM-7-21 January 31, 2011
Urban League of Greater Madison
On December 6, 2010, the Urban League of Greater Madison presented an initial proposal for the establishment of Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (a non-instrumentality all-boys secondary charter school) to the Planning and Development Committee of the MMSD Board of Education. During the discussion that followed, Board members agreed to submit follow-up questions to the Urban Leagne, to which the Urban Leagne would respond before the next meeting of the Planning and Development Committee. Questions were submitted by Ed Hughes and Lucy Mathiak. Furthermore, Arlene Silveira submitted questions presented to her by several connnunity members. Below each numbered Board member question, you will find the ULGM response.
1. Ed Hughes: Do you have a response to the suggestion that your proposal may violate Wis. Stat. sec. 118.40(4)(c) other than that you also intend sometime in the future to develop and operate a school for girls? If so, what is the response?
ULGM: Please refer to our letter to MMSD Board of Education members that responded to the ACLU’s opposition to Madison Prep. The answer to your question is contained in that letter. We have attached the letter to this document for your review.
2. Ed Hughes: To the extent the information is available to you, please list the 37 or so non instrumentality charter schools currently operating in Wisconsin.
ULGM: The following list of non-instrumentality charter schools currently operating in Wisconsin was compiled from the 20 I 0-20 II Charter Schools Yearbook published by the Department of Public Instruction. You can find the complete Yearbook online at:
1. Barron, North Star Academy
2. Cambridge, JEDI Virtual High School
3. City of Milwaukee, Central City Cyberschool
4. City of Milwaukee, Darrell Lynn Hines (DLH) Academy
5. City of Milwaukee, Downtown Montessori Academy
6. City of Milwaukee, King’s Academy
7. City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Academy of Science
8. Grantsburg, Insight School of Wisconsin
9. Hayward, Hayward Center for Individualized Learning
10. Hayward, Waadookodaading Charter School
11. McFarland, Wisconsin Virtual Academy
12. Milwaukee, Carmen High School of Science and Technology
13. Milwaukee, Highland Community School
14. Milwaukee, Hmong American Peace Academy (HAPA)
15. Milwaukee, International Peace Academy
16. Milwaukee, La Causa Charter School
17. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Community Cyber (MC2) High School
18. Milwaukee, Next Door Charter School
19. Milwaukee, Wings Academy
20. Milwaukee, Wisconsin Career Academy
21. Nekoosa, Niikuusra Community School
22. New Lisbon, Juneau County Charter School
23. New Richmond, NR4Kids Charter School
24. Sheboygan, Lake Country Academy
25. UW-Milwaukee, Bruce Guadalupe Community School
26. UW-Milwaukee, Business & Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM)
27. UW-Milwaukee, Capitol West Academy
28. UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee College Preparatory School
29. UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Renaissance Academy
30. UW-Milwaukee, School for Early Development & Achievement (SEDA)
31. UW-Milwaukee, Seeds of Health Elementary School
32. UW-Milwaukee, Tenor High School
33. UW-Milwaukee, Urban Day Charter School, Inc
34. UW-Milwaukee, Veritas High School
35. UW-Milwaukee, Woodlands School
36. UW -Milwaukee, YMCA Young Leaders Academy
37. UW-Parkside, 21st Century Preparatory School
38. Weyauwega-Fremont, Waupaca County Charter School
3. Ed Hughes: Do you have copies of any of the contracts Wisconsin non-instrumentality charter schools have entered into with their school districts? If so, please list the contracts and provide a copy of at least one of them.
ULGM: See attached contracts for Lake Country Academy in Sheboygan and the Wisconsin Virtual Academy in McFarland, which are both non-instrumentality charter schools.
4. Ed Hughes: To the extent the information is available to you, please list the amount ofper.student payment each non-instrumentality charter school in Wisconsin is contractually entitled to receive from its sponsoring school district.
ULGM: We have requested information from the DPI on the current per-student payments to each non-instrumentality charter school in Wisconsin, but we understand that DPI does not now have the information consolidated in one database. We expect that the per-student payment information will be available from DPI by January 17, and we will submit that information to the board and administration as soon as it becomes available from the DPI. The per-pupil payment to each district.authorized charter school in Wisconsin, including instrumentality and non-instrumentality charter schools, is determined through negotiations and mutual agreement between the school district, as the charter school authorizer, and the charter school developer/operator.
5. Ed Hughes: Please identify the minimum per-student payment from the school district that would be required for Madison Prep to be financially feasible from your perspective. If you don’t have a specific figure, provide your best estimate of the range in which that figure is likely to fall.
ULGM: The MMSD Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent-Business in agreement with us that more time is needed to present a projected minimum payment from the school district. DPI’s School Finance Data Warehouse indicates that MMSD reported $14,432 in revenue per student and spent $13,881 per student iu 2008-09. We are certain that we will not request more per student than what MMSD spends annually.
6. Lucy Mathiak: Do you know what Madison Prep will cost the district? And do you know where the money will come from?
ULGM: We have an idea ofwhat our school will cost but as stated in the answer to question number 5, we are working through several costs and line items with MMSD’s Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent-Business. In Wisconsin, public charter schools are funded primarily by school districts or the state legislature (non-school district authorized schools). Generally, private funding is limited to 5% of costs during the budgeting process. However we will raise significantly more in private funding during the pre-implementation and implementation years of the school than we will in out years.
7. Lucy Mathiak: How the financial commitment asked of the district compares to the financial commitment to its existing schools?
ULGM: Assuming you mean existing traditional public schools, we will require more information from MMSD’s administration to make this comparison. Given that Madison Prep will be a new school and a non-instrumentality, there will be costs that Madison Prep has that the school system does not, and vice versa. However, we are firmly committed to ensuring our school is operated within the annual per pupil cost MMSD now spends to educate students in middle and high schools.
8. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: First of all, has the funding that is indicated as part of the proposal actually been acquired or promised? The proposal indicates $100,000/ year from the Madison Community Foundation, but I can’t find any information from MCF itself about funding Madison Prep. All I can see is that they donated to the Urban League’s capital and Workforce campaigns. Will you check into this? Also, the proposal indicates $250,000/ year for 3 years from Partners for Developing Futures. Last year, despite having received 25 applications for funding from “education entrepreneurs,” this organization did not fund any of them due to the quality of the applications. How is the Madison Prep planning team able to claim this as a source of funding? Have promises been made?
ULGM: The Madison Community Foundation and Partners for Developing Futures were listed as potential revenue sources; these dollars were not committed. Our business plan followed the same approach as most business plans for start-up initiatives: listing prospective revenue sources. However, we do intend to pursue funding through these and other sources. Our private fundraising goals and needs in our five-year budget plan are reasonable.
9. Lucy Mathiak: What additional resources are needed to make the Madison Prep model work?
ULGM: Our school is designed as a demonstration school to be replicable, in whole or in part, by MMSD and other school systems. Therefore, we will not request more than the district’s own annual costs per pupil at the middle and high school levels.
10. Lucy Mathiak: What resources are in hand and what resources will you need to raise?
ULGM: We presently have $50,000 to support the planning of the school, with the offer of additional support. However, we will secure additional private and public funding once the Board of Education formally approves the DPI planning grant application/detailed proposal for Madison Prep.
11. Lucy Mathiak: Ifthere is a proposed endowment, what is the amount of the endowment in hand, the estimated annual rate of return, and the estimated income available for use?
ULGM: New charter schools generally do not budget for endowment in their first few years of operation. We intend to build an endowment at some point and have line items for this in Madison Prep’s budget, but these issues will be decided by the Board ofDirectors ofthe school, for which we will not begin recruiting until the Board of Education approves our DPI plauning grant application/detailed proposal.
12. Ed Hughes: Which parts of your proposal do you require non-instrumentality status to implement?
ULGM: Non-instrumentality status will be vital to Madison Prep’s ability to offer an extended school day, extended school year, as well as the expectations we have of teachers to serve as mentors and coaches to students. The collective bargaining contract between the Board of Education and Madison Teachers, Inc. would not allow for this added instructional time. Yet this added instructional time will be necessary in order for students to meet Madison Prep’s ambitious achievement goals. In addition, our professional development program will also require more hours of training. We also intend to implement other special activities for students and faculty that would not be allowed under MMSD and MTI’s collective bargaining agreement.
13. Ed Hughes: What will be the school’s admission policy? Please describe any preferences that the admission policy will include. To what extent will students who live outside ofthe Madison school district be considered for admission?
ULGM: Madison Prep will comply with all federal and state regulations relating to charter school admissions. In its inaugural school year (20 12-20 13), Madison Prep will be open to any 61h and 7’h grade male student residing within the boundaries of MMSD.
All interested families will complete an Enrollment Form at the Urban League’s offices, online, during community meetings and outreach activities, through local partners, or during a visit to the school (after it opens). If Madison Prep receives less than 45 enrollment forms for either grade (6 and 7) in the tirst year, all students’ who applied will be admitted. If the school receives more than 45 enrollment forms for either grade level in the first year, or enrollment forms exceed the seats available in subsequent years, Madison Prep will hold a public random lottery at a location that provides enough space for applicant students and families. The lottery will be held in accordance with DPI guidelines for random lotteries. If Madison Prep does not fill all available seats, it will continue its grassroots recruitment efforts until it reaches its enrollment goal.
14. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: We know that Madison Prep won’t accept girls. Will it except boys with Autism or Aspergers? If a boy has a learning disability, will he be allowed to attend? What ifthis learning disability makes it not possible for him to perform above grade level on a standardized test? Will he be allowed in? And can they kick him out if his test scores aren’t advanced/proficient?
ULGM: Please see our answer to question #13. To be clear, Madison Prep will accept students with special learning needs, including students who speak English as a second language. As always, IEP teams will determine on a case-by-case basis if Madison Prep is an appropriate placement for special education students. No Madison Prep student will ever be expelled for academic performance.
15. Ed Hughes: An attraction ofthe proposed school is that it could provide the kind ofiutense academic and other sorts of support that could change the trajectories of its students from failure to success. How will you ensure that your school serves primarily students who require the sort of approach the school will offer in order to be successful?
ULGM: Please see our answer to question #13 and question #16 below. We will go to great lengths to inform parents about Madison Prep as an option for their child, and to recruit students and families to our school. We will over-market our efforts in low-income communities and through media, sports clubs, community centers, churches, employers, and other vehicles that reach these students and their parents. We are also exploring the legality of our ability to set an income goal or threshold for student admissions. Nonetheless, we believe that any young man, regardless of their family background, would be well served by Madison Prep.
16. Ed Hughes: To the extent yon know them, describe what the school’s stndent recruitment and marketing strategies will be.
ULGM: Madison Prep’s marketing plan will support three priorities and goals:
1. Enrollment: Recruiting, retaining, and expanding student enrollment annually -share Madison Prep with as many parents and students as possible and establish a wait-list of at least 20 students at each grade level by June I each year (with the exception of year one).
2. Staffing: Recruiting and retaining a talented, effective, and committed faculty and staff -field qualified applicants for each position in a timeframe that enables us to hire by June 30 each year.
3. Public Image and Support: Building, maintaining, and solidifying a base of support among local leaders, financial contributors, key partners, the media, and the general public.
To ensure the public is well acquainted with the school, Madison Prep, with the support of the Urban League of Greater Madison, will make use of a variety of marketing strategies to accomplish its enrollment, staffing, fundraising, and publicity goals. Each strategy will be phased in, from pre.launch of the school through the first three years of operation. These marketing strategies are less expensive and more sustainable with the budget of a new charter school than television, radio, and popular print advertisements. They also deliver a great return on investment if executed effectively. Each strategy will enable Madison Prep, with its limited staff, to promote itself to the general public and hard-to-reach communities, build relationships, sustain communications and achieve its goals.
A. Image Management: Madison Prep’s logo and images of young men projecting the Madison Prep brand will be featured on the school’.s website, in informational and print materials, and on inexpensive paraphernalia (lapel pins, emblems, ink pens, etc). Students will be required to wear uniforms that include a red or black blazer featuring the Madison Prep emblem, a sweater, a red or black tie, white shirt, black or khaki pants, and black or brown dress shoes. They will also have a gym uniform and athletic team wear that features the Madison Prep emblem. Additionally, Madison Prep will ensure that its school grounds, educational facility, and learning spaces are clean, orderly and well-maintained at all times, and that these physical spaces reflect positive images of Madison Prep students, positive adult males, community leaders, families, and supporters. Madison Prep’s Core Values will be visible through the school as well, and its students, faculty, staff, and Board of Directors will reflect an image in school and in public that is consistent with the school’s Core Values and Leadership Dimensions.
B. Grassroots Engagement: Madison Prep’s founders, Board members, volunteers, and its key staff (once hired) will go door-to-door in target neighborhoods, and other areas within MMSD boundaries where prospective candidates can be found, to build relationships with young men, families, and local community resource persons and advocates to recruit young men to attend Madison Prep. Recruiters will be dressed in the Madison Prep uniform (either a polo shirt, sweater or suit jacket/tie, each showing the Madison emblem, and dress slacks or skirt) and will visit homes in two person teams.
Madison Prep will also partner with City Council members, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, and local libraries to host community meetings year-round to promote the school in target neighborhoods and military bases. It will also promote the school to citizens in high traffic residential areas of the city, including metro stops, restaurants, community centers, community health agencies, and at public events. Madison Prep will engage the religious community as well, promoting the school to church leaders and requesting to speak before their congregations or have the church publicize the school during their announcements on Sundays and ministry activities during the week. Area businesses, hospitals, government agencies, foster care agencies, and mentorship programs will be asked to make information available to their patrons, clients, and families. Madison Prep will also seek to form partnerships with the Police Department and Court System to ensure judges, attorneys, neighborhood police officers, and family advocates know about the school and can make referrals of young men they believe will benefit from joining Madison Prep’s school community.
C. Online Presence & Partnerships: Madison Prep will launch a website and update its current Facebook and Twitter pages prior ·to the school opening to expand its public presence. The Facebook page for Madison Prep presently has more than 100 members, has been operational for less than 2 months, and has not yet been widely marketed. The page is used to raise awareness, expand support, communicate progress, announce activities and events, and promote small-donor fundraising campaigns. The website will be used to recruit students, staff, and eventually serve as an entry-point to a member only section on the Internet for faculty, students, and parents. Madison Prep will also seek to establish strategic alliance partnerships with service associations (100 Black Men, Sororities and Fraternities, Civic Clubs or Organizations, etc.), enlisting their participation in the school’s annual events. In addition, Madison Prep will establish partnerships with other public and private schools in the Madison area to recruit students, particularly elementary schools.
D. Viral Marketing: Madison Prep will use email announcements and social networking sites to share its mission, activities, employment opportunities, and successes with its base of supporters and will inspire and encourage them to share the information with their friends, colleagues, parents and young men they know who might be interested in the school. Madison Prep will add to its base of supporters through its other marketing strategies, collecting names and contact information when and where appropriate.
E. Buzz Marketing: Madison Prep will use subtle forms of marketing to recruit students and faculty, increase its donor and support base, and develop a positive public image. The school will maintain an influential board of directors and advisors, will engage notable people and organizations in the school, and will publicize these assets to the general public. The school will also prepare key messages and strategically involve its students, staff, and parents in key events and activities to market its brand -high achieving, thoughtful, forward thinking, confident and empowered young men who are being groomed for leadership and success by equally talented, passionate and committed adults. The messages, images, and quality of interactions that the broader community has with members of the greater Madison community will create a positive buzz about the school, its impact, and the success of its students.
F. School Visits & Activity Participation: Each year, from the week after Thanksgiving through the end of the school year, Madison Prep will invite prospective students and parents, funders, and members of the community to visit the school. A visit program and weekly schedule will be established to ensure that the school day and learning is not interrupted by visitors. Madison Prep will also establish an open visit policy for parents, and will create opportunities for them to leverage their ongoing involvement with the school and their young men. Through nurturing positive relationships with parents, and establishing an enviromnent where they are wanted and respected, Madison Prep will create spokespersons in the community who help grow its student body and community support. Finally, Madison Prep will host an annual community event that engages its school community with the greater Madison community in a day of fun, competitive events for families, and will serve as a resource to parents whose children do not attend Madison Prep by inviting them to participate in its Destination Planning workshops.
G. Popular Media: Madison Prep will allocate resources to market itself on Urban and News Radio during the peak student recruitment season in two phases. Phase I will take place in November 2011 and Phase 2 advertising will take place between Jannary and May 2012. To defray costs, Madison Prep will enlist the support of local and national celebrities for feature interviews, spotlights, and PSAs with Madison Prep’s Leadership to promote the school.
17. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: It looks like the Charter school is aiming for 50% of its population to be low-income. The middle school my children will go to, Sherman, is 71% low income. Blackhawk is at 62%. Wright is 83%. Sennett is 65%. Cherokee is at 63%. Toki is at 51%. Can we, in good conscious, start a new school-designed to help low income students -that has a lower percentage oflow-income students than six of our existing middle schools?
ULGM: The Urban League has set the 50% low-income target as a floor, not as a ceiling. In fact, we expect that more than 50% of Madison Prep students will qualifY for free or reduced lunch.
Furthermore, we have chosen to use the 50% figure to allow us to be conservative in our budgeting process. No matter what the level of low income students at Madison Prep -50% or higher-the student achievement goals and overall program quality will remain unchanged.
18. Ed Hughes: Have you considered limiting admission to students who have scored minimal or basic on their WKCE tests?
ULGM: No. Madison Prep will be open to any male student who wishes to attend, regardless of past academic performance.
19. Ed Hughes: Some have suggested that Madison Prep could skim offthe most academically.motivated African-American students from the District’s middle and high schools, leaving fewer role models and academic peers for the African-American boys who remain in our existing schools. What is your response to that concern?
ULGM: The notion that charter schools skim off the most motivated students is a common misconception. First, this argument is not logical. Parents/caregivers ofchildren who are academically motivated and doing well in traditional public schools have little incentive to change their students’ educational environment. Those kids will likely stay put. When a parent, teacher, social worker, or school counselor recognizes that a child isn’t doing well in the traditional school and seeks an alternative, the charter school that is sought as an alternative does not in this process gain some advantage. In fact, research suggests the opposite. A 2009 study by researchers at Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, and Mathematic Policy Research examined charter schools from across the country to test the “skimming” theory. The researchers found no evidence of skimming. In fact, they found students who go to charter schools typically have LOWER test scores than their counterparts in traditional public schools. (Read the full paper at
20. Ed Hughes: Have you extended preliminary or informal offers of employment at Madison Prep to anyone? If so, identify to whom the preliminary or informal offers were made and for which positions.
21. Ed Hughes: What will he your strategy for recruiting teachers? What qualifications will you establish for teachers? Please describe the general range of salary and benefits you expect to offer to teachers.
ULGM: Teacher Recruitment -The overarching goal of teacher recruitment will be to hire a highly qualified, passionate, hard-working, diverse staff. The recruitment effort will include casting a wide net that allows Madison Prep to draw from the pool oflocal teachers as well as teachers statewide and nationwide who will embrace the opportunity to help build a school from the ground up. We will recruit though typical both typical means (postings on our website, WECAN, charter school association job pages) as well as through recruitment fairs outside of the state. Our hiring process will take place in early and mid spring rather than late spring and summer so that we may have a competitive edge in recruiting the teachers that are the best fit for Madison Prep. While the Head of School will be responsible for the hiring of teachers, he/she will engage a committee of teachers, community members, parents, and students in the process ofselecting teachers and other staff. In addition to a thorough interview, teacher candidates will be required to teach a sample lesson to a group of students, as well as other interview committee members. Teacher Qualifications-All teachers at Madison Prep will be licensed by the Department of Public Instruction.
General Salary Range and Benefits*-For the 2012-2013 school year, the salary for Master Teachers (of which there will be two) is currently projected to be $61,406 with a signing bonus of $2,000 and a maximum performance bonus of $2,750. The salary for general education teachers is currently projected to be $50,055 for the 2012-2013 school year, with a signing bonus of$2,000 and a maximum performance bonus of$1,750. Madison Prep intends to provide a full range of benefits to its teachers. *Salary and bonus figures are subject to change
22. Ed Hughes: MMSD already has a charter middle school with a very diverse student population -James C. Wright Middle School. If the school district chose to continue James C. Wright as an instrumentality charter school but modeled on your Madison Prep proposal, which components of your proposal do yon think could be implemented at the school and which components of your proposal could not?
ULGM: The Urban League is not in a position to determine how the fundamental elements ofthe Madison Prep proposal could or could not be implemented at James C. Wright Middle School. That determination would have to be made by the district administration and c01mnunity at Wright.
23. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: Here is the annual report from one of the Urban League charter schools that the proposal cites as a model for Madison Prep: This is a report from the school’s lO'” year in existence. Please note the test achievement goals and scores on page 4 and compare them with the extremely overconfident goals of the Madison Prep proposal. IfMadison Prep is serious about attaining the goal of 75% oftheir students scoring 22 or higher on the ACT or 1100 or higher on the SAT, how do they plan to achieve this and what will happen with those students who fail to meet this standard? What will happen to the teachers who don’t meet their quota ofstudent test scores above this level? Please investigate these questions in detail and within the framework of Madison Prep processes from admissions through expulsion.
ULGM: The reference to the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts in the Madison Prep initial proposal was meant to show the precedent for the establishment of charter schools by Urban League affiliates; the New Leadership Charter School is NOT a model for Madison Prep, nor was this ever stated in the initial proposal. That said, Madison Prep IS serious about our student achievement goals related to the ACT and SAT. We plan to meet these goals through-as the proposal states-an all-male student body, the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, college preparatory educational program, Harkness Teaching, an extended school day and year,mentoring and coll1111unity support, and a prep year. Students will be carefully assessed for years leading up to these tests to ensure their preparedness. When formative assessments indicate re-teaching is needed in order to meet the goal, students will receive further individualized instruction. Madison Prep teachers will not have student test score “quotas.”
24. Lucy Mathiak: What would a timeline for the counterpart girls’ school look like?
ULGM: We would like to initiate the process for the girls’ school in the fall of 2012, with an opening aimed at 2014-2015.

I continue to believe that the fate of this initiative will be a defining moment for the Madison School District. If approved and implemented, it will, over time, affect other traditional schools within the District. If it is rejected, a neighboring District will likely step in.
Finally, I found the Urban League’s response to Ed Hughes’ question #5 interesting:

DPI’s School Finance Data Warehouse indicates that MMSD reported $14,432 in revenue per student and spent $13,881 per student iu 2008-09. We are certain that we will not request more per student than what MMSD spends annually.

Madison High School REal Grant Report to the School Board

Madison School District [4.6MB PDF]:

District administration, along with school leadership and school staff; have examined the research that shows thatfundamental 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 heen to improve and enhance instructional practice through collaboration in order to increase student 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 aligmnent, 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.
Since March of 2010, MMSD district and school staff has completed the following work to move the goals of the REaL Grant forward. Specific accomplishments aligning to REaL grant goals are listed below.
REaL Grant Goal 1: Improve Student Achievement for all students

  • Accomplishment I: Completed year 2 of professional development for Department Chairpersons to become instructional leaders. The work will continue this summer with the first ever Department Chairperson and Assistant Principal Summer Institute to focus on leading and fostering teacher collaboration in order to improve student achievement.
  • Accomplishment 2: Continued with planning for implementing the ACT Career and College Readiness Standards and the EP AS system. Visited with area districts to see the
    impact of effective implementation the EP AS system in order to ensure successful implementation within MMSD.

  • Accomplishment 3: Piloted the implementation of the EXPLORE test at Memorial, Sherman and with 9th grade AVID students at all four comprehensive high schools.
  • Accomplishment 4: This summer, in partnership with Monona Grove High School and Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA), MMSD will host the Aligned by Design: Aligning High School and Middle School English, Science, Math and Social Studies Courses to College/Career Readiness Skills. To be attended by teams of MMSD high school and middle school staff in July of 2010.
  • Accomplishment 5: Continued focused planning and development of a master communication system for the possible implementation of early release Professional Collaboration Time at MMSD High Schools. Schools have developed plans for effective teaming structures and accountability measures.
  • Accomplishment 6: District English leadership team developed recommendations for essential understandings in the areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening for 9th and 10th grades. Following this successful model, similar work will occur in Math, Science and Social studies.

Related: Small Learning Community and English 10.
Bruce King, who evaluated the West High’s English 9 (one English class for all students) approach offers observations on the REal program beginning on page 20 of the PDF file.

Monona Grove School District (WI) uses ACT-related tests to boost academic performance

Susan Troller:

Test early, test often, and make sure the results you get are meaningful to students, teachers and parents.
Although that may sound simple, in the last three years it’s become a mantra in the Monona Grove School District that’s helping all middle and high school students increase their skills, whether they’re heading to college or a career. The program, based on using ACT-related tests, is helping to establish the suburban Dane County district as a leader in educational innovation in Wisconsin.
In fact, Monona Grove recently hosted a half-day session for administrators and board members from Milwaukee and Madison who were interested in learning more about Monona Grove’s experiences and how the school community is responding to the program. In a pilot program this spring in Madison, students in eighth grade at Sherman Middle School will take ACT’s Explore test for younger students. At Memorial, freshmen will take the Explore test.
Known primarily as a college entrance examination, ACT Inc. also provides a battery of other tests for younger students. Monona Grove is using these tests — the Explore tests for grades 8 and 9, and the Plan tests for grades 10 and 11 — to paint an annual picture of each student’s academic skills and what he or she needs to focus on to be ready to take on the challenges of post-secondary education or the work force. The tests are given midway through the first semester, and results are ready a month later.
“We’re very, very interested in what Monona Grove is doing,” says Pam Nash, assistant superintendent for secondary education for the Madison district. “We’ve heard our state is looking at ACT as a possible replacement for the WKCE (Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam), and the intrinsic reliability of the ACT is well known. The WKCE is so unrelated to the students. The scores come in so late, it’s not useful.

The Madison School District’s “Value Added Assessment” program uses data from the oft-criticized WKCE.

James Howard Announces Run for Madison School Board

via a kind reader’s email:

Hello, my name is James Howard.
I am running for School Board because I care about the success of our children. I want our schools to be even better. I strongly believe that in order for our community to be successful we need to support “ALL THE KIDS ALL THE TIME.”
At the same, I understand the importance of maintaining fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. As an economist with over 35 years of experience I know it is critical to analyze and evaluate the economic impact of decisions.

My Priorities

  • High expectations for all students
  • Raise educational standards
  • Narrow the achievement gap
  • Base school curriculum, wellness and safety decisions on research
  • Ensure fiscal responsibility to taxpayers
  • Improve communication between teachers, parents, district administrators and the community

Press Release:

Today James Howard officially announced his candidacy for the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education. Mr. Howard is a candidate for Seat 4 which is currently held by retiring Board member Johnny Winston, Jr.
“I’m announcing my candidacy with great excitement,” said Mr. Howard. “I care deeply about the success of our children. I strongly believe that in order for our community to have continued success we absolutely must support ‘ALL THE KIDS, ALL THE TIME.’ I want to work to ensure that happens.”
Mr. Howard, an economist and scientist at the Forest Products Laboratory, has been active in education and community matters for many years. He served on the MMSD Strategic Planning Committee, the East Attendance Area Demographics and Long Range Facility Needs Task Force, and was co-chair of Community and Schools Together (CAST), the school referendum support group. He has also served on the South Madison Economic Development Committee and the Town of Madison Economic Development Committee.
In making this announcement, Mr. Howard thanked Mr. Winston for his many years of dedicated public service to Madison’s children and community. “Mr. Johnny Winston, Jr. has been a leader on the board and in our Madison community. It will be a challenge for any newly elected board member to maintain the high standards that he exemplified,” said Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard has identified as his Board priorities: ensuring high expectations for all students, raising educational standards; narrowing the achievement gap; basing school curriculum, wellness and safety decisions on research; ensuring fiscal responsibility to taxpayers; improving communication between teachers, parents, district administrators and the community; and improving state funding of public schools.
He and his wife, Kathryn, have three children. His adult daughter is a UW Madison senior studying abroad in Kenya, his son attends Sherman Middle School, and his youngest daughter attends Emerson elementary.
More information on Mr. Howard can be found at his campaign website:
For questions or comments, please contact:
James Howard
email address:
telephone number: 244-5278

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?

Virginia Superintendent Thinks Small in Plan to Revamp Middle Grades

Theresa Vargas:

Alexandria Superintendent Morton Sherman was less than a week into the job, greeting parents outside an elementary school, when he was first asked how he planned to fix the middle schools.
Last night came his answer: through a massive overhaul.
Sherman, seven months into his tenure, presented a plan for restructuring the city’s two middle schools, which have never met federal benchmarks and which, he said, contribute to Alexandria’s dropout rate being among the highest in the area.
Locally and across the nation, middle schools have generally been regarded as the problem child for school systems, marking the turbulent teenage years in which test scores and enthusiasm drop. In response, school systems have begun getting creative and investing more resources into those grade levels. The District school system, for example, has a program that pays students for their performance, and Montgomery County schools have committed to a three-year, $10 million plan to accelerate curriculum, train teachers and improve the leadership structure.
Sherman’s plan, which he presented to the Alexandria School Board last night, calls for splitting the two middle schools into five smaller ones, each with its own principal and staff. The change would not cost the school system more, he said, adding that staff would be reallocated. If the board approves the plan, the new structure will be in place in time for the next school year.

Sherman, wisely, has a blog, including comments!

Madison School District Enrollment Data Analysis

The Madison Metropolitan School District [724K PDF]:

The following document explores enrollment trends based on four different factors: intemal transfers, private school enrollments, inter-district Open Enrollment, and home based enrollments. The most current data is provided in each case. Not all data are from the current school year. Certain data are based on DPI reports and there are lags in the dates upon which reports are published.
Most internal transfers within the MMSD are a function of two factors: programs not offered at each home school (e.g., ESL centers) and students moving between attendance areas and wishing to remain in the school they had been attending prior to the move. Notable schools in regard to transfers include Shorewood Elementary which has both a very high transfer in rate and a very low transfer out rate, Marquette which has a high transfer in rate, and Emerson which has a high transfer out rate.
Based on data reported to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), private school enrollments within the MMSD attendance area have held fairly steady for the past several years, with a slight increase in the most recent two years. The District’s percentage of private school enrollment is roughly average among two separate benchmark cohort groups: the largest Wisconsin school districts and the Dane County school districts. Using data supplied annually to the MMSD by ten area private schools it appears that for the past three year period private school elementary enrollment is declining slightly, middle school enrollment is constant, and high school enrollment has been variable. Stephens, Midvale, Leopold, and Crestwood Elementary Schools, and Cherokee and Whitehorse Middle Schools have experienced declines in private school enrollment during this period. Hawthorne and Emerson Elementary Schools, Toki and (to a lesser extent) Sherman Middle Schools, and West and Memorial High Schools have experienced increases in private school enrollments. The East attendance area has very limited private school enrollment.
Home based education has remained very steady over the past six years based on data reported to the DPI. There is no discernible trend either upward or downward. Roughly 420 to 450 students residing within the MMSD area are reported as participating in home based instruction during this period. Like private school enrollment, the MMSD’s percentage of home based enrollment is roughly average among two separate benchmark cohort groups: the largest Wisconsin school districts and the Dane County school districts.
Open Enrollment, which allows for parents to apply to enroll their Children in districts other than their home district, is by far the largest contributor to enrollment shifts relative to this list of factors. In 2008-09, there are now over 450 students leaving the MMSD to attend other districts compared with just under 170 students entering the MMSD. Transition grades appear to be critical decision points for parents. Certain schools are particularly affected by Open Enrollment decisions and these tend to be schools near locations within close proximity to surrounding school districts. Virtual school options do not appear to be increasing in popularity relative to physical school altematives.

156 Wisconsin Schools Fail to Meet No Child Left Behind Standards


The number of Wisconsin schools that didn’t meet standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act and could face sanctions increased from 95 to 156 this year, including the entire Madison Metropolitan School District.
Of the 156 schools on the list released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Instruction, 82 were in the Milwaukee Public School district. Seven of the schools on the list were charter schools.
Besides individual schools on the list, four entire districts made the list for not meeting the standards. That lists includes the school districts of Beloit, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine.

Bill Novak (Interestingly, this Capital Times article originally had many comments, which are now gone):

Superintendent Art Rainwater told The Capital Times the list is “ludicrous,” the district doesn’t pay attention to it, and the district will do what’s best for the students and not gear curriculum to meet the criteria set by the federal government.
“As we’ve said from the day this law was passed, it is only a matter of time before every school in America is on the list,” Rainwater said. “It’s a law that impossible to meet, because eventually if every single student in a school isn’t successful, you are on the list.”

No Child Left Behind allows states to set their own standards. The Fordham Institute has given Wisconsin’s academic standards a “D” in recent years. Neal McCluskey has more on states setting their own standards:

NCLB’s biggest problem is that it’s designed to help Washington politicians appear all things to all people. To look tough on bad schools, it requires states to establish standards and tests in reading, math and science, and it requires all schools to make annual progress toward 100% reading and math proficiency by 2014. To preserve local control, however, it allows states to set their own standards, “adequate yearly progress” goals, and definitions of proficiency. As a result, states have set low standards, enabling politicians to declare victory amid rising test scores without taking any truly substantive action.
NCLB’s perverse effects are illustrated by Michigan, which dropped its relatively demanding standards when it had over 1,500 schools on NCLB’s first “needs improvement” list. The July 2002 transformation of then-state superintendent Tom Watkins captures NCLB’s power. Early that month, when discussing the effects of state budget cuts on Michigan schools, Mr. Watkins declared that cuts or no cuts, “We don’t lower standards in this state!” A few weeks later, thanks to NCLB, Michigan cut drastically the percentage of students who needed to hit proficiency on state tests for a school to make adequate yearly progress. “Michigan stretches to do what’s right with our children,” Mr. Watkins said, “but we’re not going to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

Andy Hall:

Madison’s Leopold and Lincoln elementary schools were among the list of schools failing to attain the standards, marking the first time that a Madison elementary school made the list.
Three Madison middle schools — Sherman, Cherokee and Toki — also joined the list, which continued to include the district’s four major high schools: East, West, La Follette and Memorial. Madison’s Black Hawk Middle School, which was on the list last year, made enough academic progress to be removed from it.

Madison School Board Votes for More Security Funds

Listen to the discussion [47MB MP3 Audio].

Andy Hall & Brittany Schoep:

“This is one of the most important things we’ve brought before you,” Rainwater told the board. “It is critically needed to ensure our schools continue to be safe.”
“We’re walking a really fine line right now,” School Board President Arlene Silveira said. “I think these positions will really help keep us on the positive side of that line.”
The high school positions are designed to help students with behavior, academic, social, transitional and other problems who can hurt themselves and the learning environment, Memorial High School Principal Bruce Dahmen said.

Susan Troller has more:

In an interview before Monday night’s meeting, Pam Nash, assistant superintendent for high schools and middle schools said, “The number of incidents I deal with in the high schools and middle schools is going up every year. We want to get a proactive handle on it. It’s as simple as that.”
“This is not only important but critical to the future of our schools,” Superintendent Art Rainwater said as he recommended an initial proposal to spend $720,500 for security measures. The money is available through the recently signed state budget, a windfall Madison schools did not know they would get when the Board inked the final budget in October.
The board approved hiring four case managers at East, West, Memorial and La Follette and five positive behavior coaches will be brought on board at O’Keeffe, Sherman, Jefferson, Black Hawk and Whitehorse middle schools.


2007 / 2008 Budget Approved: School Board keeps Lindbergh open

Susan Troller: Board members tussled over dozens of suggestions to try to find money to return various programs and services to the district that had been cut by the administration in an effort to balance the $339.6 million budget. The administration had originally proposed about $8 million in cuts, including $2 million from special education … Continue reading 2007 / 2008 Budget Approved: School Board keeps Lindbergh open

Vang Pao Elementary School and The American Experience

Some years ago, while reading a book on Sherman’s March to the sea, a distant relative (who lives in the south) pointed out that the book was “one perspective”. Madison has a middle school named “Sherman“. Which sort of proves the point. A reader pointed out that Sherman middle school was named for “Roger Sherman”, … Continue reading Vang Pao Elementary School and The American Experience

Concerns Expressed on The Proposed Sherman School Closing

Channel3000: Parents on Madison’s east side attended a meeting Tuesday to sound off on a plan that would close Sherman Middle School next year. Parents and school staff packed a cafeteria Tuesday night to hear from the district and school board members about a plan that would consolidate Sherman with Blackhawk and O’Keefe middle schools. … Continue reading Concerns Expressed on The Proposed Sherman School Closing

“Bitter Medicine for Madison Schools”:
07/08 budget grows 3.6% from 333M (06/07) to $345M with Reductions in the Increase

Doug Erickson on the 2007/2008 $345M budget (up from $333M in 2006/2007) for 24,342 students): As feared by some parents, the recommendations also included a plan to consolidate schools on the city’s East Side. Marquette Elementary students would move to Lapham Elementary and Sherman Middle School students would be split between O’Keeffe and Black Hawk … Continue reading “Bitter Medicine for Madison Schools”:
07/08 budget grows 3.6% from 333M (06/07) to $345M with Reductions in the Increase

East siders angered by school plan

From a story by Susan Troller in The Capital Times: Recommended Madison school district changes that involve closing a middle school and joining a pair of elementary schools on the near east side are causing heated reaction in the Lapham-Marquette neighborhood. “Do we know what we’re doing here and does this actually reflect best practices?” … Continue reading East siders angered by school plan

Some schools, including Sherman, will get fresh fruit & vegetables

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elizabeth Burmaster issued the following press release: Students will crunch on carrots or cauliflower, or whip up a fruit smoothie while learning the importance of eating fresh produce in 25 schools throughout the state, thanks to a federal grant that brings Wisconsin into the successful U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh … Continue reading Some schools, including Sherman, will get fresh fruit & vegetables

Making One Size Fit All: Rainwater seeks board input as schools cut ability-based classes

Jason Shephard, writing in this week’s Isthmus: Kerry Berns, a resource teacher for talented and gifted students in Madison schools, is worried about the push to group students of all abilities in the same classrooms. “I hope we can slow down, make a comprehensive plan, [and] start training all teachers in a systematic way” in … Continue reading Making One Size Fit All: Rainwater seeks board input as schools cut ability-based classes

Thursday’s Middle School Curriculum Parent Forum

I believe a relevant and challenging curriculum is the #1 priority for any educational organization. There have been a number of questions raised over the years regarding the Madison School District’s curriculum, including Math, English and Fine Arts and the recent controversial changes at Sherman Middle School (more details in Kathy Esposito’s recent Isthmus article). … Continue reading Thursday’s Middle School Curriculum Parent Forum

Ed Lite: Middle schools stress social adjustment at the expense of academic achievement

Katherine Esposito: Helen Fitzgerald, Sherman parent and president of the school’s parent-teacher group, wants high expectations set for Sherman. “My kids want to compete!” she says, clearly frustrated. “They want to go to Brown. They want to go to Yale, to UC-Berkeley. My daughter wanted to go to Harvard when she was in the fourth … Continue reading Ed Lite: Middle schools stress social adjustment at the expense of academic achievement

DPI Letter – Optional Class Hours are NOT Part of the Regular School Day

In his letter to a Sherman parent, Michael George, Director of Content and Learning Team wrote: “The requirements for regular instruction in 121.02(1)(L) are to be scheduled within the regular school day which is defined as “the period from the start to the close of each pupil’s daily instructional schedule.” Times of the day or … Continue reading DPI Letter – Optional Class Hours are NOT Part of the Regular School Day

Sherman’s Curriculum Riles Parents

Sandy Cullen’s article in the June 28, 2005 WI State Journal Sherman’s curriculum riles parents notes: On Friday, the state Department of Public Instruction ruled that under Wisconsin law, instrumental music instruction must be available to all students in grades seven through 12 during the regular school day. “It is unusual to pull students from … Continue reading Sherman’s Curriculum Riles Parents

Middle School Curriculum

Much afoot at Sherman Middle school. MMSD will look at developing a district-wide middle school curriculum. While that might improve the mess at Sherman, it might also mean watering down the curriculum, eg. math, throughout the district. “School Board President Carol Carstensen, who made it one of her priorities to examine how the district’s … Continue reading Middle School Curriculum

Band and Orchestra To Remain In the School Day at Sherman

This is a letter from Sherman Principal, Ann Yehle via Superintendent Rainwater to school board members regarding NOT moving Band & Orchestra to “8th Hour” for the upcoming year. I do have a copy of her original rationale to why she wished to do it. I will send it to anyone who wishes to read … Continue reading Band and Orchestra To Remain In the School Day at Sherman

Middle School Band and Orchestra

Picked up the following flyer in our PTO box this morning…… “ATTENTION ALL PARENTS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL BAND & ORCHESTRA: Sherman Middle School Administration has taken upon themselves to move the Orchestra and Band Programs to an “exploratory” optional class that will be offered after the school day effective next school year. MMSD is looking … Continue reading Middle School Band and Orchestra

Steve Stephenson: Broken school budget led to Kobza win

Dear Editor: As a parent of children at both Madison East High School and Sherman Middle School, I am thankful for the hard work and significant positive contributions that Lawrie Kobza and her husband, Peter, have made to both of these schools. Perhaps those apprehensive at the election of Lawrie Kobza to the Madison School … Continue reading Steve Stephenson: Broken school budget led to Kobza win

News and Update on Initiative to Form a PTO at East High School

Please share this information with others who may be interested in helping to create a revitalized PTO at East. March 30, 2005 UPDATE ON EFFORTS TO BUILD AN EAST HIGH SCHOOL PTO ______________________________________________________ Upcoming meetings: Thursday, April 14 Thursday, May 12 All meetings are held at East High School and begin at 7 p.m., with … Continue reading News and Update on Initiative to Form a PTO at East High School

Kobza announces for school board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 6, 2005 FOR MORE INFORMATION Lawrie Kobza 608 283-1788 KOBZA ANNOUNCES FOR MADISON SCHOOL BOARD Seeks Improved District Decision-Making MADISON�Lawrie Kobza, a school activist for over a decade, announced her candidacy for the Madison Metropolitan School District Board District 6 seat today. Submitting the maximum 200 nomination signatures, Kobza launched her … Continue reading Kobza announces for school board

An Update on Madison’s Use of the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) Assessment

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore

Unlike other assessments, MAP measures both student performance and growth through administering the test in both fall and spring. No matter where a student starts, MAP allows us to measure how effective that student’s school environment was in moving that student forward academically.
This fall’s administration serves as a baseline for that fall to spring growth measure. It also serves as an indicator for teachers. As we continue professional development around MAP, we will work to equip schools to use this data at the classroom and individual student level. In other words, at its fullest use, a teacher could look at MAP data and make adjustments for the classroom or individual students based on where that year’s class is in the fall, according to these results.
Meeting growth targets on the fall administration indicates that a student met or exceeded typical growth from Fall 2011 to Fall 2012. Typical growth is based on a student’s grade and prior score; students whose scores are lower relative to their grade level are expected to grow more than students whose scores are higher relative to their grade level.
In Reading, more than 50% of students in every grade met their growth targets from Fall 2011 to Fall 2012. In Mathematics, between 41% and 63% of students at each grade level met their growth targets. The highest growth in Mathematics occurred from fourth to fifth grade (63%) and the lowest growth occurred from fifth to sixth grade (41%).
It is important to note that across student groups, the percent of students making expected growth is relatively consistent. Each student’s growth target is based on his or her performance on previous administrations of MAP. The fact that percent of students making expected growth is consistent across student subgroups indicates that if that trend continues, gaps would close over time. In some cases, a higher percentage of minority students reached their growth targets relative to white students. For example, at the middle school level, 49% of white students met growth targets, but 50% of African American students and 53% of Hispanic students met their growth targets. In addition, English Language Learners, special education students, and students receiving free and reduced lunch grew at similar rates to their peers.
MAP also provides status benchmarks that reflect the new, more rigorous NAEP standards. Meeting status benchmarks indicates that a student would be expected to score “Proficient” or “Advanced” on the next administration of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE).
That means that even though overall scores haven’t changed dramatically from last year, the percent of students identified as proficient or advanced will look different with these benchmarks. That is not unique for MMSD – schools around the state and nation are seeing this as they also work toward the common core.
While these scores are different than what we have been used to, it is important to remember that higher standards are a good thing for our students, our districts and our community. It means holding ourselves to the standards of an increasingly challenging, fast-paced world and economy. States all around the country, including Wisconsin, are adopting these standards and aligning their work to them.
As we align our work to the common core standards, student achievement will be measured using new, national standards. These are very high standards that will truly prepare our students to be competitive in a fast-paced global economy.
At each grade level, between 32% and 37% of students met status benchmarks in Reading and between 36% and 44% met status benchmarks in Mathematics. Scores were highest for white students, followed by Asian students, students identified as two or more races, Hispanic students, and African-American students. These patterns are consistent across grades and subjects.
Attachment #1 shows the percentage of students meeting status benchmarks and growth targets by grade, subgroup, and grade and subgroup. School- and student-level reports are produced by NWEA and used for internal planning purposes.

Related: 2011-2012 Madison School District MAP Reports (PDF Documents):

I requested MAP results from suburban Madison Districts and have received Waunakee’s Student Assessment Results (4MB PDF) thus far.

Students map the wild treasures of Warner Park

Susan Troller

Madison’s Warner Park may be best known as home of the Madison Mallards baseball team, but it’s also home to real mallards and at least 99 other species of wild birds.
Thanks to a group of outdoor-loving Sherman Middle School students working with University of Wisconsin-Madison student mentors, the list of wild birds that make the almost 200 acre urban park their home, or their temporary home as they migrate north and south, now stands at 100.
The first week in April the Sherman birding club, which includes sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students partnered with UW students, discovered the landmark 100th species in the park. It’s a yellow-bellied sapsucker, a type of woodpecker, sighted with the help of nationally renowned ornithologist and author John C. Robinson.
Robinson was visiting Madison to give a talk at the UW on conservation and outdoor recreation.

Madison Business Employees Help Tutor Students; Local Reading Scores


Years after graduation, he’s hearing the ring of the school bell at Sherman Middle School on Madison’s north side.
“I’ve had an effect on a number of the kids’ math scores,” said Schmidt, 44, whose background is in computer software design. “I know they’re doing better because they tell me they’re doing better.”
He said that he isn’t happy to take the credit, which is something that almost has to be pulled out of him. But the five students who he tutors weekly in math as part of the “Schools of Hope” tutoring program sing his praises when he’s out of the room.
“Monty’s awesome,” said seventh-grader Henrietta Allison.
“They know that when he comes in on Monday, he’s going to be asking, ‘Did you do your homework? What are you missing?'” said teacher Chrissy Mitlyng. “They expect that, and I think that’s a really good relationship to have.”
Teachers report that students who work with the tutors are more confident after their sessions, and are more likely to speak up in class and participate in group work. While classroom confidence might be the most notable impact, it trickles down to fill the racial achievement gap the program was designed to help close, WISC-TV reported.
In 1995, 28.5 percent of black students in the Madison Metropolitan School District tested below the minimal standard on the third grade reading test, along with 9.7 percent of Latino students, 24.2 percent of Asian students and 4.1 percent of white students.

Related: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.
According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.
What the superintendent is saying is that MMSD has closed the achievement gap associated with race now that roughly the same percentage of students in each subgroup score at the minimal level (limited achievement in reading, major misconceptions or gaps in knowledge and skills of reading). That’s far from the original goal of the board. We committed to helping all students complete the 3rd grade able to read at or beyond grade level as demonstrated by all students in all subgroups scoring at proficient or advanced reading levels on the WRCT.

More here and here.

A Public Hearing on Madison’s November, 2008 Referendum


Taxpayers got a chance to ask the questions Tuesday night about the upcoming multimillion dollar Madison school referendum.
More than a dozen people turned out to Sherman Middle School for the first of four public hearings across the city.
Superintendent Dan Nerad gave a brief presentation before opening the forum up for questions.
Voters questioned everything from Fund 80 to the Capital Expansion Fund and student achievement.
Active Citizens for Education said they would like to have seen the referendum scheduled for the spring in order to give the district time to re-evaluate programs that they say are not working – programs that could be cut or changed.
“Where they’re talking about maintaining current programs and services it’s not getting good results,” said ACE’s Don Severson. “You look at the achievement gap, look at increased truancy, look an an increased drop-out rate, decreased attendance rates, more money isn’t going to get different results.”
Referendum supporters, Communities And Schools Together, know the $13 million referendum will be a tough sell, but worth it.
“I think it is going to be a hard sell,” said CAST member and first-grade teacher Troy Dassler. “We really need to get people out there who are interested still in investing in infrastructure. I can think of no greater an investment — even in the most difficult tough times that we’re facing that we wouldn’t invest in the future of Madison.”

Tamira Madsen:

School Board President Arlene Silveira was pleased with the dialogue and questions asked at the forum and said she hasn’t been overwhelmed with questions from constituents about the referendum.
“It’s been fairly quiet, and I think it’s been overshadowed by the presidential election and (downturn with) the economy,” Silveira said. “People are very interested, but it does take an explanation.
“People ask a lot of questions just because it’s different (with the tax components). Their initial reaction is: Tell me what this is again and what this means? They realize a lot of thought and work has gone into this and certainly this is something they will support or consider supporting after they go back and look at their own personal needs.”
Superintendent Dan Nerad has already formulated a plan for program and service cuts in the 2009-2010 budget if voters do not pass the referendum. Those include increasing class sizes at elementary and high schools, trimming services for at-risk students, reducing high school support staff, decreasing special education staffing, and eliminating some maintenance projects.
Nerad said outlining potential budget cuts by general categories as opposed to specific programs was the best route for the district at this juncture.

Rainwater (Nerad) Adds 2 to Madison Staff

The Capital Times:

Superintendent Art Rainwater will add a longtime Madison-area educator and a staff member new to the district to his Madison Metropolitan School District staff, pending approval at next week’s School Board meeting.
Ann Yehle will assume the post of executive director of educational services and Erik Kass will take over as assistant superintendent for business services. If these major positions are approved by the Board, Yehle and Kass are expected to be named to the jobs May 5 and will begin their jobs July 1.
Yehle, who currently works as an administrator in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Division of Reading and Student Achievement, was the principal at Sherman Middle School for six years.

Clusty Search: Ann Yehle / Erik Kass

Pam Cross-Leone Seat 3 Madison Board of Education

Since 1992, Pam Cross-Leone has quietly, effectively and tirelessly worked as a parent volunteer in the Madison schools. Pam welcomed the homeless children at Emerson Elementary, working to make them part of the school in every way. When Sherman Middle School and East High School experienced the problems that come with rapid changes in students … Continue reading Pam Cross-Leone Seat 3 Madison Board of Education

Community Invited to Suggest Budget Reductions

Residents of the Madison Metropolitan School District will be given the opportunity in 11 January sessions to make suggestions and set priorities for budget reductions necessary for the 2006-07 school year. The budget reduction exercise uses a $100 budget that reflects the proportionate share for 47 major program areas of the actual MMSD budget. MMSD … Continue reading Community Invited to Suggest Budget Reductions

A Few Notes on the Superintendent’s Evaluation & Curriculum

Several writers have mentioned the positive news that the Madison Board of Education has reviewed Superintendent Art Rainwater for the first time since 2002. I agree that it is a step in the right direction. In my view, the first responsibility of the Board and Administration, including the Superintendent is curriculum: Is the Madison School … Continue reading A Few Notes on the Superintendent’s Evaluation & Curriculum

Animosity Toward Band, Orchestra and Vocal Music Curriculum Unnecessary – Alienates Parents, Community

I think what I found most disturbing about the elimination of band, orchestra and vocal music from the school day in Sherman Middle School was the exclusion (almost isolation) of music staff by other Sherman staff from the front of the room at the parent meeting in early June to present the exploratory changes being … Continue reading Animosity Toward Band, Orchestra and Vocal Music Curriculum Unnecessary – Alienates Parents, Community

Music Education – Learn About the Benefits Before Cutting Curriculum

If there is no money, cut arts education is the decisions administrators make – often, though, without first looking at the impact on student’s achievement (using readily available data) or without consideration of the impact on who will stay/leave a school. Couldn’t decisions made in the absence of examining data and listening to parents cost … Continue reading Music Education – Learn About the Benefits Before Cutting Curriculum

Music Education in MMSD Needs Help from the Madison Community

Music education in Madison’s public schools has been on the chopping block for the past four years, beginning with the Superintendent’s proposed cut to Grade 4 strings. All the proposed cuts were made without any planning for changes, and the harshest cuts came this year, again without any planning for change among the key stakeholders … Continue reading Music Education in MMSD Needs Help from the Madison Community

There is Something Seriously Wrong with Music Education in MMSD

Suzy Grindrod writes that Madison school bureaucrats’ decisions are short-sighted and are Stringing the kids along So they make the arts unworkable in early elementary school, they gut the incredibly successful elementary strings program, they remove band and orchestra from core curriculum in middle school … and then they are going to complain that there … Continue reading There is Something Seriously Wrong with Music Education in MMSD

East High United – June 2 meeting outcomes

Madison East High School parents, staff, and community members have been working since the beginning of 2005 to create an advocacy and support organization for this key East side school. The group was named at the June 2 meeting: EAST HIGH UNITED A parent-teacher-staff-student-community organization The organization meets as a whole in the East High … Continue reading East High United – June 2 meeting outcomes

Erosion of music instruction is the wrong direction, especially for non-traditional learners

The following letter was written by a parent of an East High Student to Carol Carstensen, President of the Madison School Board. The writer expresses concerns over the Sherman Middle School proposal to place curriculum band and orchestra classes in afterschool and the layoff Thursday of 8.55 FTE music teachers. Based upon my review of … Continue reading Erosion of music instruction is the wrong direction, especially for non-traditional learners

Governance: Priorities and OUtcomes in Madison

Logan Wroge: Zirbel-Donisch said the plan is to have the condoms paid for by outside-partner organizations. While most four-year University of Wisconsin System colleges offer free condoms, doing so in Wisconsin high schools remains relatively rare. The state Department of Public Instruction estimated in 2016 that 6.9% of high schools in the state provided free … Continue reading Governance: Priorities and OUtcomes in Madison

Nominations Finalized for MTI Officers & Bargaining Committe

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): At the March 18 meeting of the MTI Faculty Representative Council, nominations were finalized for MTI Officers, as well as for the MTI Bargaining Committee relative to vacancies caused by terms ending in May, 2014. Nominated for President-Elect was current President Peg Coyne … Continue reading Nominations Finalized for MTI Officers & Bargaining Committe

Joint MTI/MMSD District Committees; MTI Survey

Madison Teachers, Inc (PDF), via a kind Jeanie (Bettner) Kamholtz email:

Several joint committees were created in the recent negotiations over MTI’s 2014-15 Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreement. The joint committees will study and potentially recommend modification of Contract terms. Each committee will report its recommendations, if any, to Superintendent Cheatham and to the MTI Board of Directors.
The Committee on Teacher Assignments will discuss potential modification of Contract Section IV-F, Teacher Assignments, Surplus, Vacancies and Transfers. MTI’s appointees are: Andy Mayhall (Thoreau), Nancy Roth (West), Karlton Porter (Cherokee) and Doug Keillor.
The Committee on Teacher Evaluation will study and make recommendations pertaining to the District’s implementation of the State-mandated teacher evaluation system, “Educator Effectiveness”. Any revisions will be incorporated into Section IV-H of the Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreement and will become effective July 1, 2014. MTI’s appointees are: MTI President Peggy Coyne (Black Hawk), Andrew McCuaig (La Follette), Kerry Motoviloff (Doyle) and Sara Bringman.
The Committee on Professional Collaboration Time will discuss implementation of the MTI/MMSD Memorandum of Understanding on High School & Middle School Professional Collaboration Time. MTI’s appointees are: Art Camosy (Memorial), Karen Vieth (Sennett), Aisha Robertson (West), and Nichole Von Haden (Sherman).
The Committee on Elementary Planning Time will discuss potential modification of Section V-I-1-d, Early Monday Release and Section V-P, Planning Time. MTI’s appointees are: Nancy Curtin (Crestwood), Greg Vallee (Thoreau), Holly Hansen (Falk) and Doug Keillor.

Participation slump may force end of dual-language program at Madison’s Chavez Elementary

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School District may discontinue its dual-language immersion program at Chavez Elementary because of a lack of Spanish-speaking families interested in the program.
Superintendent Jane Belmore said Thursday the district is reviewing several options and no decisions have been made. Other district schools that offer dual-language classes, which provide instruction to native and non-native English speakers in a mix of Spanish and English, are not affected, she said.
“It’s a problem that we haven’t had in other attendance areas because we’ve always had enough Spanish speakers,” Belmore said. “To really have a thriving program, you need half and half.”
School Board president James Howard said the board already plans to review the program in coming months because of a shortage of Spanish-speaking teachers.
“We just need to step back and have a conversation about where the program is and where it’s headed,” Howard said. “Do we need to slow down a bit?”
The district’s program started at the Nuestro Mundo charter school in 2004. It has since expanded to Chavez, Glendale, Leopold, Midvale and Sandburg elementaries and Sennett Middle School, with plans to expand it to Lincoln Elementary and Cherokee, Sherman and Toki middle schools.

What Wisconsin reveals about public workers and political power.

The Wall Street Journal:

The raucous Wisconsin debate over collective bargaining may be ugly at times, but it has been worth it for the splendid public education. For the first time in decades, Americans have been asked to look under the government hood at the causes of runaway spending. What they are discovering is the monopoly power of government unions that have long been on a collision course with taxpayers. Though it arrived in Madison first, this crack-up was inevitable.
We first started running the nearby chart on the trends in public and private union membership many years ago. It documents the great transformation in the American labor movement over the latter decades of the 20th century. A movement once led by workers in private trades and manufacturing evolved into one dominated by public workers at all levels of government but especially in the states and cities.
The trend is even starker if you go back a decade earlier. In 1960, 31.9% of the private work force belonged to a union, compared to only 10.8% of government workers. By 2010, the numbers had more than reversed, with 36.2% of public workers in unions but only 6.9% in the private economy.

Robert Barro:

How ironic that Wisconsin has become ground zero for the battle between taxpayers and public- employee labor unions. Wisconsin was the first state to allow collective bargaining for government workers (in 1959), following a tradition where it was the first to introduce a personal income tax (in 1911, before the introduction of the current form of individual income tax in 1913 by the federal government).
Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion. For a teachers union, collective bargaining means that suppliers of teacher services to all public school systems in a state–or even across states–can collude with regard to acceptable wages, benefits and working conditions. An analogy for business would be for all providers of airline transportation to assemble to fix ticket prices, capacity and so on. From this perspective, collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.
In fact, labor unions were subject to U.S. antitrust laws in the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which was first applied in 1894 to the American Railway Union. However, organized labor managed to obtain exemption from federal antitrust laws in subsequent legislation, notably the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

Lady Pitts likely to close Pregnant, parenting teens to be mainstreamed

Erin Richards:

A school that has served pregnant and parenting students for decades in Milwaukee Public Schools is likely to be closed at the end of the year so the district can instead focus on serving child parents mainstreamed in schools across the district.
Lady Pitts School, located in the lower level of Custer High School at 5075 N. Sherman Blvd., offers middle school and high school programming and has been a reprieve for teens during their transition to motherhood since 1966.
But today, the majority of teen parents in MPS choose to stay in their home high schools, according to a recent district survey. And while some alternative schools for pregnant girls still exist around the country, the model has fallen out of favor in many other areas.
School officials say that’s partly because teenage pregnancy is less stigmatized than it used to be. More important, some school systems have recognized that young parents’ academic needs are not always best served at a site sequestered from their traditional school.

Examining District Data on the Effects of PBIS

As noted in an earlier post, the school district presented data at Monday night’s meeting on the effects of implementing a strategy of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). As the report notes, “Documenting behavior referrals is inconsistent across middle schools both in terms of what is recorded and where it is recorded.” While this … Continue reading Examining District Data on the Effects of PBIS

Drumroll Starts for a Yes Vote

Susan Troller: With Election Day just a month off, the discussion over Madison’s $23.5 million dollar school referendum has been remarkably quiet. But that changes today and referendum supporters say they are optimistic that this time voters will give a thumbs-up to district building projects. A grassroots citizen group will start today to assemble and … Continue reading Drumroll Starts for a Yes Vote

Sanderfoot on Ed Lite

Parent Alan Sanderfoot wrote a letter to the Isthmus Editor on Katherine Esposito’s recent article: Ed Lite: Madison Middle Schools Serve Up an Uninspiring Academic Menu: Dear editor, Thank you for publishing Katherine Esposito’s article about Madison’s middle schools (“Ed Lite,” Nov. 11, page 12). Please allow me, however, to correct some mischaracterizations in her … Continue reading Sanderfoot on Ed Lite

Report on Rainwater meeting about East principal selection

An author, asking to remain anonymous, prepared a summary of the meeting on January 18, when Superintendent Rainwater met with community members and discussed the process for selecting a new principal at East High School. The author concluded: “If you believe that our superintendent cares about East and wants to get it right this time … Continue reading Report on Rainwater meeting about East principal selection