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

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

Madison School Board eyes hiring consultant in superintendent search

Logan Wroge: In 2012, the School Board hired consultant Ray and Associates, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for $31,000 to assist in the search process to replace former Superintendent Dan Nerad. But questions around a finalist’s background left some board members at the time saying they were not fully aware of controversial issues. That finalist withdrew … Continue reading Madison School Board eyes hiring consultant in superintendent search

Madison Superintendent Search Commentary; Groundhog Day, in some ways

Negassi Tesfamichael: “I think the most important quality we are looking for in an interim superintendent is stability,” School Board member Cris Carusi said. “I don’t think it really matters as much if it’s an internal or external candidate … we’re going to want someone who can provide stability.” Carusi noted that she hopes the … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Search Commentary; Groundhog Day, in some ways

Secrecy in school superintendent search was bad public policy

Bill Lueders:

The secrecy that attended the Madison School District’s pick of a new superintendent was bad form and bad public policy.
Prior to making its selection, the district announced just two finalists, one of whom was found to have a closet full of skeletons that prompted his withdrawal. The remaining finalist, Jennifer Cheatham, got the job.
State law requires that at least the top five contenders for such a position be named, but does not specify when. The Madison School District decided to do so after it was too late to matter.
And then, to add insult to injury, the district’s lawyer, Dylan Pauly, dissed the disclosure law that the district complied with only belatedly.
“We believe that by releasing these names, pursuant to our legal obligation, we are negatively contributing to the chilling effect that is occurring across the state with respect to school boards’ abilities to recruit and hire highly qualified individuals as superintendents,” she wrote.

A bit of history on Madison Superintendents. I fully agree with Lueders. I continue to be astonished at the ongoing lack of transparency in such public matters, from the local School District’s Superintendent search to the seemingly simple question of American citizen’s constitutional due process rights (is this being taught?)

Madison’s Superintendent Search Service Contenders

Proact Services: [1MB PDF Presentation]

Gary Solomon, Chief Executive Officer
Gary Solomon was elevated to CEO of PROACT Search in 2009. Previously, Mr. Solomon had founded Synesi Associates and worked in Education for the past twenty years, starting as a high school teacher and administrator in the Chicago suburbs. Gary transitioned from the public to the private sector taking on a position as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The Princeton Review, and was responsible for rebuilding the sales organization into a senior consultative team focused on creating custom solutions in the areas of assessment, professional development and academic intervention. During his six years with The Princeton Review, where annual revenue goals were exceeded by and average 150%, Solomon was fortunate to do significant business in many of the top 50 urban districts in the country, and work with some of the best and brightest reformers in the K12 space. 

A graduate of the University of Illinois, Solomon holds a Masters in Education Arts from Northeastern University.

Thomas Vranas
, President
Thomas brings an extensive background in educational management in the private sector, as well as numerous start-ups across various industries. He recently served as Vice President at one of the largest publicly traded test preparation companies where he was directly responsible for their sales teams as well as online learning division. Previously Thomas built an urban tutoring program in Chicago to service over 8,000 students with recognition for a quality program from the local and national government. Thomas has also started-up a Wireless Internet company, a Sales and Marketing company as well as a boutique Venture Capital firm. Thomas has been published by the Northwestern Press for his work in political economics and is and active volunteer at many organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Northwestern University and Steppenwolf Theatre. He’s been a guest lecturer at Northwestern University, where he earned his B.A. in Economics and Slavic Languages.

Phil Hansen
, Chief Operations Officer
Phil Hansen is a seasoned educator with an impeccable record rooted in Accountability. For fifteen years Phil taught history, before moving on to five years as assistant principal for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and then Director of Special Education in the southern suburbs of Chicago. In 1991 Phil took on the role of Principal at Clissold Elementary, a Chicago Public school. In 1995 he became the CPS Director of School Intervention, before moving on in 1997 to take on the position of Chief Accountability Officer, where he served until 2002. At this time Phil was offered a position working as an assistant to the Illinois State Superintendent where he was the liaison between CPS and the Illinois State Board of Education specifically focused on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) implementation throughout the state.
Upon his retirement Phil joined The Princeton Review and managed a turnaround project in Philadelphia, transitioning four middle schools to new small high schools. He also separately did consulting work for the School District of Philadelphia, the St Louis Schools Office of Accountability, and the Recovery School District of New Orleans. In the Recovery School District he served as the Interim Chief Academic Officer during the transition of leadership. Upon joining Synesi Associates, as Vice President of Policy and Development he has worked with the State Board of Louisiana and the East Baton Rouge Parish School District. His primary work has been in completing school and district quality reviews followed up by long term support as an external partner. Through Synesi he also continues to work in New Orleans, assisting with the High School Redesign efforts
As an active member of his community, Phil has also served as President and Secretary of the Beverly Area Planning Association, and has received rewards for service from both the local community as well as the greater city of Chicago. Most recently Phil was honored as an outstanding City of Chicago Employee and Outstanding Educator from the National Conference for Community and Justice.

Stephen Kupfer
, Regional President
Steve Kupfer serves as Northeast Regional President for PROACT Search and is responsible for executing talent management and support strategies in K-12 education institutions and organizations. He was previously a Senior Consultant in the education practice at Public Consulting Group where he worked alongside district leadership to implement web-based special education and response to intervention (RtI) case management modules in some of the largest school districts in the country, including Miami Dade County Public Schools, The School District of Philadelphia, and the Louisiana Recovery School District.
Steve brings practical, district-level experience in organizational development to challenges in K-12 human capital management and support. In his most recent role, he leveraged local leadership to build operational and financial capacity through Medicaid reimbursement programs, mitigating budget shortfalls and sustaining critical student services. Steve has also developed and implemented comprehensive strategies to engage and communicate with key internal and external stakeholders across districts, and has front line experience with the urgency and complexity of the problems school leaders face today.
Steve is a proud product of the K-12 public school system. He went on to receive a B.A. in political economy from Skidmore College, where he played baseball and was a member of various chamber music groups. He continued on to receive an M.B.A. from Clark University.
Kristin Osborn, Director of Operations
Krissi Osborn runs all Operations and Recruitment for PROACT Search. In her role with the company, she has additionally established an award winning internship program exclusively with Northwestern University. Krissi is an active member in her Chicago community, volunteering as an ESL Tutor in Albany Park, as well as on the executive board for a community outreach group. Krissi graduated from Northwestern with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and History from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Ray and Associates: [2.6MB PDF Presentation]

Gary L. Ray, President
Christine Kingery, Vice-President
William Newman, National Executive Director
Ryan Ray, Corporate Director
Heidi Cordes, Corporate Associate
HeidiAnn Long, Executive Search Assistant
Carrie Gray, Executive Search Assistant

Notes, links, audio and video from the 2008 Madison Superintendent Search: Steve Gallon, James McIntyre and Dan Nerad.
Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.
TJ Mertz comments.

Administration Memo on the Madison Superintendent Search

Dylan Pauly, Legal Services:

Dr. Nerad recently announced his retirement effective June 30, 2013. Consequently, over the next few months this Board will be required to begin its search for the next District leader. While some members of the Board were Board members during the search that brought Dr. Nerad to Madison, many were not. A number of members have asked me to provide some background information so that they may familiarize themselves with the process that was used in 2007. Consequently, I have gathered the following documents for your review:
1. Request for Proposals: Consultation Services for Superintendent Search, Proposal 3113, dated March 19, 2007;
2. Minutes from Board meetings on February 26,2007, and March 12,2007, reflecting Board input and feedback regarding draft versions ofthe RFP;
3. Contract with Hazard, Young and Attea;
4. A copy of the Notice of Vacancy that was published in Education Week;
5. Minutes from a Board meeting on August 27, 2007, which contains the general timeline used to complete the search process; and,
6. Superintendent Search- Leadership Profile Development Session Schedule, which reflects how community engagement was handled during the previous search.
It is also my understanding that the Board may wish to create an ad hoc committee to handle various procedural tasks related to the search process. In line with Board Policy 1041, I believe it is appropriate to take official action in open session to create the new ad hoc. I recommend the following motion:

Dave Zweiful shares his thoughts on Dan Nerad’s retirement.
Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.

The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.

Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.

Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.

Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.

Omaha Superintendent Search: Wisconsin educator dealt with unions, protesting teachers

Joe Dejka:

When Wisconsin labor unions swarmed their State Capitol last year in a dispute with the governor, Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad found himself in the thick of it.
The Madison Metropolitan School District offices were about a mile from the Capitol, where unions gathered to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to curb collective bargaining.
A representative of the district’s teachers union called to inform him that they would be joining the protest the next day and that he had better prepare to close the schools.
“It was like hitting him between the eyes with a hammer,” said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.
Nerad’s handling of the situation was praised Tuesday by Matthews and Madison’s school board vice president, Marj Passman, and board president, James Howard.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Omaha job application (450K PDF).
Related:

Seattle’s Superintendent Search

Seattle Public Schools:

The Board of Directors of the Seattle Public Schools, which serves a diverse population of 48,000+ students, is seeking a new superintendent to lead this dynamic urban school district. Seattle, an international city at the center of the high-tech Northwest economy, has shown strong support for innovative public education for many years. Comprised of 8,000 staff members working in 91 schools, Seattle has been recognized as a leading urban district that outperforms the state average in test scores and graduation rates continue to rise.
To read the March 23, 2012 letter from Board President Michael DeBell to the community about the search process, click here.

Who’s holding royal flush in MPS superintendent search?

Alan Borsuk:

The Milwaukee School Board took its stand last week on how it will play Superintendent Draw, the big-time game of poker coming up for Milwaukee schools:
With a lot of money in the pot and the usual players at the table.
But the politics and atmosphere surrounding the search for a school chief could be overshadowed by an even bigger and more colorful game: MPS Hold ‘Em, in which the battle is over who calls the shots when it comes to directing the state’s largest and most challenging school system.
MPS Hold ‘Em has been brewing for months, particularly since the release of a consultant’s report in April that described MPS as a poorly run business. That triggered talk of a mayoral takeover of MPS or other changes in the system.
Now it is shaping up that MPS Hold ‘Em will either come to a head soon or the game will cease for at least the foreseeable future.
Why is MPS Hold ‘Em linked to Superintendent Draw? Two reasons:

Racine Restarts Superintendent Search

Dustin Block:

Final, final update: The J-S reports the telling detail about Pulliam’s decision. The Georgia district is paying her $155,000. Racine Unified started negotiations at $120,000. Could that be why the district is having a hard time attracting candidates?
Final Update: The Greene County Board of Education voted unanimously tonight in Greenesboro, GA, to hire Barbara Pulliam as its superintendent, thus snatching her from the Racine Unified School District, whose board made a similar vote in April. She will be joining a district in turmoil, one that fired its superintendent last Wednesday, one year into a three-year contract, in a dispute over a plan to implement gender-separate classes.
She starts work there Monday.
According to a story on OnlineAthens, she interviewed with the board the same night it decided to fire Shawn McCollough last week.

Waukesha’s Superintendent Search

Amy Hetzner:

The board is in the midst of interviews with six semifinalists for the superintendent’s job, chosen from a pool “just shy of 20” applicants screened by search consulting firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. The interviews are scheduled to wrap up tonight, with the board naming one or several finalists afterward, Warren said.
That puts the district on track to bring in its finalists next week for meetings with administrators, community leaders, labor groups and board members, with the possibility that the board could know whether it has a final candidate by week’s end, he said.
The names of the semifinalists have not been released.

Sacramento Area Superintendent Search

Kim Minugh:

Wanted: A good manager, effective communicator and academic visionary to take over a school district reeling from millions of dollars in budget cuts, declining enrollment and the ongoing pressure of raising student achievement.
Make that two.
Two of the region’s largest school districts are looking for new leaders to navigate them through these tough times. On Wednesday, San Juan Unified Superintendent Steven Enoch confirmed that he will leave at the end of June for a position in the East Bay.
Two months ago, Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Maggie Mejia said she will leave the district when her five-year contract expires, also at the end of June.
Officials in both districts – and outside observers – say finding replacements in the current climate could be a tall order.

Waukesha Superintendent Search Survey

School District of Waukesha:

As you are aware, the Waukesha Board of Education has initiated its search for a new superintendent. To provide counsel to us in this important process, we have retained the services of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. (HYA), a search firm that specializes in assisting boards with the identification and selection of superintendents. Click here to connect to HYA’s website.
A very important early step in this process is to identify the characteristics we will be seeking in our new superintendent. We would appreciate your assistance with this task and invite you to attend a community forum meeting with a representative from Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. on Monday, May 5, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. This meeting will be held in the Media Center at Central Middle School, 400 N. Grand Avenue, Waukesha 53186.

A Look At Alexandria’s Superintendent Search

Daniela Deane:

School Board Chairman Claire M. Eberwein said that 18 people have formally applied for the job Perry left Jan. 18 and that search consultants indicate eight are highly qualified. More possible candidates have been identified from a pool of 141 people who expressed interest. The application deadline is Feb. 19.
Experts aren’t surprised that the job is drawing interest despite Perry’s abrupt exit after more than six years. They credit the attractiveness of Alexandria and the surrounding region as a place to work and live.
In May, the board voted 5 to 4 to seek a new schools chief. The way Perry was suddenly removed caused consternation among some residents. Minutes after she left, a locksmith changed the locks.
“There was widespread dismay at how the process went,” said Kitty Porterfield, a 29-year employee of Northern Virginia school systems and author of a new book, “Getting It Right: Why Good School Communication Matters.” She said, “The community is very wary now.”
Looking ahead, William Campbell, a PTA president and a member of the superintendent advisory search committee, said he wants a superintendent who did not rise through the traditional school ranks, perhaps a chief executive of a business.
Houston said some school systems have recruited such candidates recently with mixed results. “Some of them have been a disaster,” Houston said. “The jury’s still out on that model.”
Finding a superintendent these days isn’t easy, despite the hefty salary the position commands, experts say. For the Alexandria job, the board is advertising an annual salary of about $230,000 and a “comprehensive and competitive” benefits package.
“The superintendency has lost a lot of its luster,” said Jay P. Goldman, editor of the school administrator association’s magazine. “There was a time, not that long ago, when the pinnacle of one’s career would be to rise to superintendent. That day is gone.”
Goldman said many educators now view the top job in a school district as “an impossible, can’t-win position. They’re often brought in as the knight in shining armor. Expectations are unreal. Communities expect overnight success and every ill solved in a year or two.”

Racine school board wants residents’ input on superintendent search

Dani McClain:

The Racine Unified School Board wants to have a new superintendent in place by early May, and will host a series of community forums this month to gauge what district residents want in the new hire.
Five forums are scheduled for the mornings and evenings of Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, and the board is hoping that parents, students, staff and other district residents show up.

One of the 5 candidates for Madison’s Superintendent position is from Racine: Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard.

Yin & Yang: Madison Superintendent Search 1999 vs 2008

Props to the Madison School Board for a process that has resulted in five interesting candidates. We’ll see how it plays out. Susan Troller on the current process:

The pool of five candidates for Madison’s top school district job includes two superintendents and high-level administrators from some of the largest and oldest school districts in America.
The candidates — four men and one woman — all have experience working in urban school districts. All have doctoral degrees, two are minorities, and three come from out of state. The out-of-staters have administrative experience in the Boston Public Schools in Massachusetts, the Miami/Dade school system in Florida and a combined district that includes schools in Columbus, Ohio.
The two candidates from Wisconsin include Green Bay’s current superintendent and the chief academic officer of the Racine Unified School District.
The semifinalists, chosen by the Hazard, Young and Attea national executive search firm, come from an original pool of 25 candidates from 11 states.
The districts where the candidates are currently working range in size from Green Bay and Racine, which have about 20,000 students, to districts like Miami/Dade, which has about 350,000 students.

Chris Murphy, writing in January, 1999:

The way is almost clear for Art Rainwater to be the nextsuperintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Rainwater was the only applicant for the permanent post at the head of theMadison schools as of 11 a.m. today. The application deadline is 4:15 p.m.today.The School Board will meet tonight to discuss the applicants, but membershave said they will make no hiring decisions because one of their number,JoAnn Elder, is out of town. The board planned to interview the superintendentcandidates on Feb. 1 and possibly make a decision that night.
“Of course, one could make the case that we’ve been interviewing Art forthe past five years, but another few questions probably won’t bother him atall,” said School Board member Deborah Lawson. She is one of three boardmembers who have been pushing to hire Rainwater since this summer withoutconducting a nationwide search.
The board reached a compromise last month in which only employees would beeligible to apply for the job. About a dozen district employees have thecertification to be a superintendent.

More Notes on the Madison Superintendent Search

Rebecca Kremble: [Additional Links & Background here] Last week, the consultants hired to organize the superintendent search conducted 31 hour-long individual and focus group sessions to gather information from concerned citizens and stakeholders about the strengths and challenges of the Madison School District, as well as characteristics we would like to see in the next … Continue reading More Notes on the Madison Superintendent Search

Madison’s Superintendent Search: Public Input

The public has an opportunitiy to provide input regarding qualities sought for the new Superintendent: 9/19/2007; 7:00p.m. at Memorial High School (Auditorium) [Map] 9/20/2007; 7:00p.m. La Follette High School (Auditorium) [Map] I passed along a few general thoughts earlier today: Candor An organization’s forthrightness and philosophy is set from the top. I cited examples including: … Continue reading Madison’s Superintendent Search: Public Input

Madison School Board selects a firm for superintendent search

For immediate release: Friday, June 8, 2007 (sent late Friday afternoon) The Madison Board of Education has selected the firm of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Glenview, ILto conduct the search for the hiring of a new superintendent. HYA was selected from among four businesses which applied for the search contract. Board President Arlene … Continue reading Madison School Board selects a firm for superintendent search

Commentary on the proposed search for a new Madison School District Superintendent

Logan wroge: Cheatham said she would prefer to know who will replace her by July 1 so that the person can attend a summer retreat with senior staff members planned for July and be around to prepare in August for the 2019-20 school year. Cheatham, whose last day will be Aug. 30, has accepted a … Continue reading Commentary on the proposed search for a new Madison School District Superintendent

Madison superintendent consultant defends search process

Matthew DeFour:

The consultant the Madison School Board hired to conduct its recent superintendent search defended its work in a statement Thursday, saying that the district hired “a top-notch leader” and that the company provided the board with detailed background information about all candidates.
The statement from Gary Ray, president of Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which the board hired for $31,000, comes more than a month after the district hired Jennifer Cheatham, a Chicago Public Schools administrator who will start April 1.
It says the company provided the board “with all of the Internet information” regarding Springfield, Ill., superintendent Walter Milton Jr. before he was named with Cheatham as a finalist for the job on Feb. 3 and said reports to the contrary are “totally erroneous.”
Ray also issued a statement on Madison School Board letterhead dated Feb. 11 stating, “Ray and Associates did make the board aware of earlier allegations about Dr. Milton as well as Dr. Milton’s assurances that the claims were unfounded.”

Madison School Board releases files on search for new superintendent

Matthew DeFour:

The newspaper sought the names of all candidates interviewed by the School Board and background material provided. The district disclosed those names along with background materials for the two finalists it named publicly, Milton and Cheatham.
The other finalists were:
Joe Gothard, Madison’s assistant superintendent for secondary education.
Barbara Thompson, a former Madison principal and New Glarus superintendent who is currently superintendent in Montgomery, Ala.
Tony Apostle, a retired superintendent from the Puyallup School District near Tacoma, Wash.
Curtis Cain, administrator of the Shawnee Mission School District near Kansas City, Mo.
Sandra Smyser, superintendent of Eagle County Schools in Eagle, Colo.
Cheatham and Milton were the only finalists the board named on Feb. 3. They were scheduled to appear together at a community forum on Feb. 7, but Milton abruptly dropped out two days before the event amid questions about his background.

The search for a new Madison schools superintendent: Can anyone meet our expectations?

Nayantara Mukherji:

Everyone in Madison seems to have an opinion about who the next superintendent of the school district should be.
Suzanne Swift, president of the Franklin Randall Elementary School PTO, wants a superintendent who can motivate a “demoralized staff,” develop relationships and advocate for the district at the state and national levels.
Education policy expert Sarah Archibald says a future superintendent should be willing to make tough decisions about allocating shrinking resources.
Eugenia Highland, program coordinator at Centro Hispano, wants someone who will focus on reducing the achievement gap.
School board member Ed Hughes says the district needs a leader who can “navigate the political shoals of serving in a place like Madison.”
Outgoing Superintendent Dan Nerad, who began his Madison tenure in 2008, insists his replacement must care about students and the community.

Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires.

Madison School Board plans to hire consultant to help in search for superintendent

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School Board is moving quickly to conduct a search for a new superintendent to replace Dan Nerad.
The board plans to vote Monday on hiring a consultant for up to $3,000 to assist with the search process.
A board committee Friday recommended hiring George McShan, a former president of the National School Boards Association from Harlingen, Texas. McShan advised the board in 2007-08 when it hired Nerad.
The committee also recommended hiring a search firm by the end of July to help find the best candidate.
Separately, the board is considering candidates to hire on an interim basis should Nerad leave sooner than expected and the search for a permanent replacement is still ongoing.

A bit of history and perspective on recent Madison Superintendent hires.

School board balks as Mayor Doyle controls search for superintendent

Ethan Shorey:

Mayor James Doyle has declared he’s in the city’s school superintendent search process, a move that is not sitting well with some School Committee members.
Doyle told members of the School Committee in an Oct. 15 letter, “I have decided to organize a search committee that will represent the entire community.
“The purpose of this search committee is to assist and advise the School Committee in the task of securing the best possible candidate to serve as Pawtucket’s next superintendent.”
Acting School Committee Chairman James Chellel told The Valley Breeze he planned to sit down with Doyle during the early part of this week as he tries to avoid a showdown over whether Doyle’s administration or the School Committee has the authority to set up a search committee.
“I want to show that we’re working together on this, but I do have reservations about the mayor taking this over,” said Chellel.
There’s no question that selecting a new superintendent falls under the purview of the School Committee, said Chellel, but the questions of who should set up the parameters of the search to find outgoing Superintendent Hans Dellith’s replacement are a little more fuzzy.
“I’ve asked our legal counsel for an opinion on it,” he said.

Commentary on Rhetoric: Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

David Blaska: The news media loves to imagine itself as the afflicter of the comfortable, David with his slingshot v. Goliath. “J’accuse!” in 96-point bodoni bold type. Edward R. Murrow starring down Tailgunner Joe. Bogart starting the presses in Deadline USA. Woodward and Bernstein. In Madison, too many news media “gatekeepers” just want to be … Continue reading Commentary on Rhetoric: Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Mckenna Kohlenberg: Why transparency is needed in Madison’s superintendent hiring process, and how to do it

Mckenna Kohlenberg: My concern stems from recent Board actions that I find concerning enough to warrant this stern message. As local press has noted (here too), the Board’s recent activities suggest a troublesome pattern of skirting, if not outright violating, open meetings and public records laws. Wisconsin law requires school boards, like other local public … Continue reading Mckenna Kohlenberg: Why transparency is needed in Madison’s superintendent hiring process, and how to do it

Righting the wrong of not writing: High schoolers finally tackle major research papers

Many IB papers have been published in The Concord Review, a quarterly collection of [history] research by high school students. AP papers have appeared in the Young Researcher and the Whitman Journal of Psychology. The Review publishes only 5 percent of submissions, but AP Research pieces will be in the running. Jay Matthews, via Will … Continue reading Righting the wrong of not writing: High schoolers finally tackle major research papers

Madison School District taps Jane Belmore (again) to serve as interim superintendent

Negassi Tesfamichael: A familiar face will serve at the helm of the Madison Metropolitan School District for the upcoming school year. The Madison School Board on Friday named Jane Belmore, a retired MMSD teacher and administrator, to serve as the interim superintendent. Belmore will take over once current Superintendent Jen Cheatham steps down at the … Continue reading Madison School District taps Jane Belmore (again) to serve as interim superintendent

Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

2013: What will be different, this time? Incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Madison Rotary Talk. December, 2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic” 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end … Continue reading Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

Ravenna school board fires superintendent for low student achievement

Justine Lofton: The board’s decision to replace VanLoon came after its performance evaluation of him in December resulted in a score of 2.41 out of 4. A score of 2 means “minimally effective,” while a 3 is “effective.” “Knowing that I’ve had effective or highly effective ratings for the past nine years, yes I was … Continue reading Ravenna school board fires superintendent for low student achievement

Wisconsin K-12 Academic Standards And The Department Of Public Instruction Superintendent Campaign

Molly Beck: He said the revision is necessary because the current state report card system should be more “honest and transparent” about how well schools are educating students. The current system rates schools higher than student test scores indicate, he said. “Fundamentally, the ratings are very likely to go down because that represents how our … Continue reading Wisconsin K-12 Academic Standards And The Department Of Public Instruction Superintendent Campaign

LA Unified board picks Hazard Young to find next superintendent

Mike Szymanski: The LA Unified school board yesterday picked the search firm to find the district’s next superintendent, completing a relatively speedy process that suggests the members want a successor in place when Ramon Cortines steps down in December. The search process began Sunday, when the board narrowed the field to two head-hunter firms from … Continue reading LA Unified board picks Hazard Young to find next superintendent

School Superintendents: Vital or Irrelevant?

Matthew M. Chingos, Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst & Katharine M. Lindquist: Superintendents are highly visible actors in the American education system. As the highest ranking official in a school district, the superintendent receives a lot of credit when things go well, and just as much blame when they don’t. But should they? Research emerging over … Continue reading School Superintendents: Vital or Irrelevant?

A Positive Madison Magazine Article on Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Deanna Wright: Last April, and to a remarkable amount of fanfare, Jennifer Cheatham became the superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District. From the very start, the community has opened its arms to welcome her. When I interviewed her for Madison Magazine TV last month, I was aware that the community, especially parents of color, … Continue reading A Positive Madison Magazine Article on Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

A few “Tweets” on Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Meeting with the Wisconsin State Journal


I’m glad to see the apparent focus on doing a few things well. This is the only way forward given the District’s disastrous reading results. That said, I was disappointed when the new Superintendent largely continued the “same service” budget approach during the 2013-2014 financial discussions.
The District’s 2x per student spending (above the national average) has supported numerous initiatives, likely preventing a focus on those that are truly meaningful for our students. For example, Kerry Motoviloff noted that Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”. Steven Sinofsky’s latest is also worth reading in this context.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham proposes $31 million, five-year technology plan

Molly Beck:

All students in the Madison School District would have their own tablets or notebook computers by the 2018-19 school year under a five-year, $31 million plan proposed by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.
If approved, the plan would increase the district’s current
$1.5 million annual technology budget to $4.2 million in the 2014-15 school year to start upgrading the district’s network infrastructure, upgrade or equip classrooms and libraries with new technology or computers, and provide notebook computers to all district teachers and administrators. Elementary teachers also would get tablet computers under the plan.
Costs to upgrade are projected to increase each of the five years of the plan for a total of $31 million spent in that time. Afterward, the annual budget for technology would be about $7 million per year going forward.
…..
Madison School Board members, who formally received the plan at their meeting Monday, were mostly optimistic about the plan. Board member T.J. Mertz questioned whether the program needed to be as extensive as it’s proposed given what he said were other unmet needs in the district and given research that he called “universally disappointing” surrounding such initiatives.
Mertz said in an interview after Monday’s board meeting that he agrees with the majority of the investments in technology under the plan, “but then there’s a third or a quarter where I think it’s going overboard.”
As an example, Mertz said he questions whether every kindergarten student needs their own tablet computer.

Prior to spending any additional taxpayer funds on new initiatives, I suggest that the District consider (and address) the status of past expensive initiatives, including:
Infinite Campus: is it fully implemented? If not, why? Why continue to spend money on it?
Standards based report cards“.
Connected Math.
Small Learning Communities.
And of course, job number one, the District’s long term disastrous reading scores.
Madison already spends double the national average per student ($15k). Thinning out initiatives and refocusing current spending on reading would seem to be far more pressing than more hardware.

Madison School Climate, Achievement, Rhetoric & The New Superintendent







In light of Alan Borsuk’s positive article, I thought it timely understand the mountain to be climbed by our traditional $15k/student public school district. The charts above are a brief update of the always useful “Where have all the Students Gone” articles.
Further, early tenure cheerleading is not a new subject. Those interested might dive into the Capital Times & Wisconsin State Journal Superintendent (recently easily searched, now rather difficult) archive:
Cheryl Wilhoyte (1,569) SIS
Art Rainwater (2,124) SIS
Dan Nerad (275) SIS
That being said, Superintendent Cheatham’s comments are worth following:

Cheatham’s ideas for change don’t involve redoing structure. “I’d rather stick with an imperfect structure,” she said, and stay focused on the heart of her vision: building up the quality and effectiveness of teaching.
Improving teaching is the approach that will have the biggest impact on the gaps, she said.
“The heart of the endeavor is good teaching for all kids,” Cheatham said in an interview. Madison, she said, has not defined what good teaching is and it needs to focus on that. It’s not just compliance with directives, she said.

Perhaps the State Journal’s new K-12 reporter might dive into what is actually happening in the schools.
Related: Madison’s long term disastrous reading results and “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“.

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

Paul Fanlund

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

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

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

15mb mp3 audio.

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





























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

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham cites previous lack of “long-term vision” in presenting 2013-14 budget for Madison schools

Bennet Goldstein:

Cheatham said Madison schools have already implemented a variety of initiatives to increase student achievement but have not seen “measurable improvements.”
“It isn’t for lack of working very hard and doing a lot of things at once,” she said. “I feel pretty confident the reason that hasn’t occurred is because of the lack of long-term vision.”
Cheatham recommended the board focus on strengthening existing programs and infrastructure, which would not require new expenditures.
“I want to be more strategic and thoughtful about this than how we did it in the past,” she added.

Much more on the Madison School District’s planned spending & property tax increases via the 2013-2014 budget, here.
Related: Analysis: Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap.

New Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham calls for accountability across the board in Madison School District

Pat Schneider:

Fresh off a two-month tour to observe the operations of all 48 schools, various programs, and the Madison School District’s central administrative offices, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham is promising to “ensure accountability at every level.”
Accountability as Cheatham describes it will include student achievement on standardized tests of the type that current school reform movements emphasize, but will go far beyond that to a new understanding of educators’ roles, the support they need to master them, and refined local measures of progress, she said.
“I worry that people perceive accountability as standardized test results, for example, and what I’m talking about is accountability for everybody playing well the function they are best positioned for in the service of children learning well,” Cheatham told me Thursday in an interview. “Educators at every level of the system lack clarity on what that particular function is for them.”http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2013/06/deja_vu_a_focus.php”>Accountability was one of five priority areas Cheatham identified in anEntry Plan Report released Wednesday. The others are: well-rounded, culturally responsive instruction; personal educational pathways for students; attracting, developing and retaining top-level talent; and engaging families and community members as partners.

Related: Deja Vu: A Focus on “Adult Employment” or the Impossibility of Governance Change in the Madison Schools.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Plans Press Conference on Negative Affect of Voucher Expansion on Public Schools



DPI Superintendent, Tony Evers, and legislators who want to maintain Wisconsin’s proud system of public education, are holding a press conference on Monday, June 17 at 10 AM in the Assembly Parlor to address the recent decision by the Joint Committee on Finance to expand voucher funding at the expense of public schools. The Senate and Assembly will be voting to pass this extreme budget within weeks. Please join these folks to inform and educate the public about the negative impact that private school voucher expansion will have on Wisconsin’s public schools. Wear Red for Public Ed. We need a wall of support behind the speakers. Time is running short to stop this train wreck but we cannot allow our opposition to go unnoticed!
TIME / LOCATION: 10 am in the Assembly Parlor with Superintendent Tony Evers.

Governance change is apparently quite difficult within the present school district model.

Madison Superintendent’s “Entry Process Report”



Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF):

Strengths
Overall Themes
Quality of teachers, principals, and central office staff: By and large, we have quality teachers, principals, support staff and central office staff who are committed to working hard on behalf of the children of Madison. With clarity of focus, support, and accountability, these dedicated educators will be able to serve our students incredibly well.
Commitment to action: Across the community and within schools, there is not only support for public education, but there is also an honest recognition of our challenges and an urgency to address them. While alarming gaps in student achievement exist, our community has communicated a willingness to change and a commitment to action.
Positive behavior: District-wide efforts to implement an approach to positive student behavior are clearly paying off. Student behavior is very good across the vast majority of schools and classrooms. Most students are safe and supported, which sets the stage for raising the bar for all students academically.
Promising practices: The district has some promising programs in place to challenge students academically, like our AVID/TOPS program at the middle and high school levels, the one-to-one iPad programs in several of our elementary schools, and our Dual Language Immersion programs. The district also does an incredibly successful job of inclusion and support of students with special needs. Generally, I’ve observed some of the most joyful and challenging learning environments I’ve ever seen.
Well-rounded education: Finally, the district offers a high level of access to the arts, sports, world language and other enriching activities that provide students with a well- rounded learning experience. This is a strength on which we can build.
“AVID is totally paying off. Kids, staff, everyone is excited about what it has brought to the school.” – Staff member
“Positive Behavior Support has made a dramatic improvement in teaching and the behavior expected. We’ve seen big changes in kids knowing what is expected and in us having consistent, schoolwide expectations”
– Staff member
Challenges
Focus: Principals, teachers and students have been experiencing an ever-changing and expanding set of priorities that make it difficult for them to focus on the day-to-day work of knowing every child well and planning instruction accordingly. If we are going to be successful, we need to be focused on a clear set of priorities aimed at measurable goals, and we need to sustain this focus over time.
“One of the strengths of MMSD is that we will try anything. The problem is that we opt out just as easily as we opt in. We don’t wait to see what things can really do.”
– Staff member
Coherence: In order for students to be successful, they need
to experience an education that leads them from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, systematically and seamlessly preparing them for graduation and postsecondary education. We’ve struggled to provide our teachers with the right tools, resources and support to ensure that coherence for every child.
Personalized Learning: We need to work harder than ever to keep students engaged through a relevant and personalized education at the middle and high school levels. We’ve struggled to ensure that all students have an educational experience that gives them a glimpse of the bright futures. Personalized learning also requires increased access to and integrated use of technology.
Priority Areas
To capture as many voices as accurately as possible, my entry plan included a uniquely comprehensive analysis process. Notes from more than 100 meetings, along with other handouts, emails, and resources, were analyzed and coded for themes by Research & Program Evaluation staff. This data has been used to provide weekly updates to district leadership, content for this report and information to fuel the internal planning process that follows these visits.
The listening and learning phase has led us to five major areas to focus our work going forward. Over the next month, we’ll dive deeper into each of these areas to define the work, the action we need to take and how we’ll measure our progress. The following pages outline our priorities, what we learned to guide us to these priorities and where we’ll focus our planning in the coming month.

Matthew DeFour collects a few comments, here.
Much more on Madison’s new Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, here.

Madison Superintendent on Proposed Teacher Union Contract Extension

Pat Schneider:

Madison teachers are eager to nail down another labor contract — through June 2015 at least — while the door to legally do so is open.
But it’s going to be a while before Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham is ready to consider sitting down with them.
Madison Teachers Inc. hopes to negotiate a contract beyond the one-year pact quickly approved by School Board members last fall after a local judge ruled parts of Act 10 unconstitutional, delaying implementation of the state law curbing collective bargaining rights.
“I’m just starting” on the job, Cheatham told a crowd of 150 gathered at West High School last week to talk with the superintendent, who took the helm of the Madison School District on April 1. “I need to finish this entry plan before I would be willing to consider, with (MTI Executive Director John Matthews) and our colleagues at MTI, entering into negotiations.”

Verona superintendent apologizes for confusion during manhunt lockdown

George Hesselberg:

Some Verona grade school boys may remember the “hard lockdown” Thursday at their elementary school as the day they got to pee in a bucket in a janitor’s closet.
Verona Area School District Superintendent Dean Gorrell emailed a frank letter of apology to parents Friday for “not having adequate (or any) communication” about the lockdown while authorities searched for a dangerous suspect nearby.
As for the boys and their temporary bathrooms, that was simply a matter of protocol, safety and expedience, as the elementary school gymnasium where staff and students were under lockdown has no immediate access to bathrooms.
Gorrell said he had received no complaints about that as of Friday afternoon. The children were not allowed to go to bathrooms outside of the gym because it would have required their presence in a hallway, and staff “made provisions for students to relieve themselves in private,” he said.
On the topic of communication to parents and others about the lockdown, Gorrell said a new notification system called SchoolReach Instant Parent Contact has already been purchased and should be online for the next school year.

Commentary on Incoming Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s First Listening Session

Joe Tarr:

Cheatham said that she believed teachers and administrators needed to be evaluated regularly and that it shouldn’t be based only on students’ test scores. She said that when she was a teacher, she once had a principal tell her to fill out her own evaluation. “I didn’t want that. I wanted someone to tell me how I was doing,” she said. “Most teacher evaluations, generally they’re using a vague checklist and they happen so sporadically that they’re not meaningful.”
“The frequency has to increase and they have to be collaborative conversations. The teacher needs to identify things he or she wants to improve on and identify goals.”
One parent said he wanted something to be done to hold parents more accountable for student performance. While Cheatham said that parent involvement is invaluable, “Of all the things within our control, I’m not sure it’s worth our time to work on parental accountability. Some parents are not going to be involved. It’s not because they don’t love their children, it’s because they’re working two jobs.”

Barry Adam:

Julie Salt has a son in kindergarten at Mendota Elementary and is an educational assistant. She told Cheatham she is concerned about some of her son’s classmates who are already noticeably behind.
“The students that are kind of prepared to do the alphabet and numbers and all that kind of stuff, obviously have had exposure (compared to) kids who have not had that experience. That makes a difference in the classroom,” Salt said. “So already there’s that gap.”
Robert Bergeron works with pre-kindergarten students at Goodman Community Center and has a daughter at East High School. He believes more of an effort needs to be made by educators at all levels to get parents involved in their child’s education.
“It can be any kind of involvement but the teachers also have a responsibility to try and get parents involved,” Bergeron said. “Sometimes, it’s communication.”

Commentary on Madison’s New Superintendent

The Wisconsin State Journal:

Cheatham suggested “there’s a ton” of things the district potentially can do to help struggling students. But she’s not jumping to conclusions. She wants to hear about what’s working, along with what’s not. Madison has a lot going for it, despite its significant challenges.
Cheatham highlighted the national push for common and higher standards during her visit to the newspaper. She also listed as key issues teacher and principal evaluations, technology, and helping students whose native language isn’t English.
Responding to a question, Cheatham said “absolutely yes” principals should know how well their individual teachers are performing. And Cheatham suggested the district has to own its gap, even though some factors are out of its control.
Cheatham said some Madison teachers have told her they feel overwhelmed by the demands of their jobs. In addition, she said one of the reasons some school districts don’t innovate is because “people are living in fear,” or because they are very “compliance oriented.”

New Madison superintendent plans community meetings: “Pledging To Be All-Inclusive On Plans For District”

channel3000.com

Jen Cheatham, who started Monday as Madison’s new schools superintendent, said she was planning to visit each of the district’s schools by the end of May.
The visits will include community meetings at each of the district’s high schools, allowing parents and community members to share what’s working and what needs to improve in the district, Cheatham said.
“It’s important to me to learn about what’s working and what isn’t working,” Cheatham said. “Often, new superintendents make changes to things that are actually beneficial to the district — unknowingly.”
Cheatham said she would start working soon with the school board on a list of priorities, which would include bridging the district’s minority achievement gap. The board will have at least two new members after Tuesday’s spring election, with Maya Cole and Beth Moss retiring.
The superintendent warned that state funding cuts, which district administrators have estimated will cost Madison schools about $8 million next year, may force the district to raise property taxes. She called Gov. Scott Walker’s school voucher proposal “a real threat to the quality of education we can provide.”

Related: Up, Down & Transparency: Madison Schools Received $11.8M more in State Tax Dollars last year (2012), Local District Forecasts a Possible Reduction of $8.7M this Year.
One would hope that the new Superintendent’s job 1 is addressing the District’s long term disastrous reading results.

Madison Assistant Superintendent a finalist for the Burnsville Superintendent Position

Blare Kennedy:

Joe Gothard, assistant superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin: According to School Exec Connect, Gothard is the second in command at a ” highly successful district.” He has a master’s degree and a six-year superintendent-principal’s license. Previous to becoming an assistant superintendent, Gothard was a principal at both the high school and middle school level.
“He took on one of the toughest high schools in the city and turned it around, basically,” said Dr. Kenneth Dragseth, of School Exec Connect. “I got an e-mail from a parent who said he turned their kid’s life around.”
Dragseth said that all sources described Gothard as a “rising star,” who is actively involved in his community and “extremely well-liked” by everyone he came across. Dragseth added that Gothard is “very familiar” with the issues that arise in a diverse district like Burnsville’s.

Via a Matthew DeFour Tweet.

Rapprochement in the Wisconsin Superintendent Election?

Amy Barrilleaux:

For state superintendent Tony Evers, reelection was the easy part. He handily beat his opponent, staunch conservative Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Town of Erin), with over 60% of the vote Tuesday.
“Voters spoke loudly and clearly, affirming their commitment to Wisconsin’s strong public schools and calling for a much-needed reinvestment to support the over 870,000 public school kids in our state,” says Evers in a statement.
But despite the big win, Evers faces an even bigger battle in the Legislature, where lawmakers are considering Gov. Scott Walker’s latest budget. It’s unclear whether the Republican majority is united behind Walker’s plan to increase funding for the state’s voucher schools by $73 million — something Evers campaigned against, insisting there is no evidence that voucher programs are working.
“The academic data just does not justify expansion,” he told the Joint Finance Committee (PDF) during a hearing in March.
It also remains to be seen whether lawmakers will give more money to traditional public schools, which were hit with a historic $800 million cut in Walker’s previous budget. Despite pleas from Evers, almost none of that money has been restored by Walker this time around.

State Rep. Don Pridemore says he doesn’t understand why fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker didn’t endorse him in his race for state superintendent.
Pridemore lost to incumbent Tony Evers in Tuesday’s election.
Evers signed the petition to recall Walker, but the governor still refused to endorse anyone in the race.
Pridemore says after his loss that he is disappointed Walker didn’t help him with his campaign. Pridemore says people should question why Walker “didn’t support someone who would be a much friendlier person in this job.”

Pridemore’s statements, the muted campaign against incumbent Evers and a reasonably quiet state supreme court race make this observer wonder what sort of a deal might have been cut….

Rapprochement

“High Quality Madison Teachers” vs. “New Programs Every Few Years”, “Plenty of Resource$”; Madison’s latest Superintendent Arrives

Matthew DeFour:

“I have no doubt that the way we’re going to improve student achievement is by focusing on what happens in the classroom,” Cheatham said.
Clash with unions

Madison Teachers Inc.
executive director John Matthews and others say poverty drives the achievement gap more so than classroom factors.
“We do have a high-quality teaching force in Madison — it’s been that way for years,” Matthews said. He added that one challenge he’d like to see Cheatham address is the administration’s tendency to adopt new programs every few years.
Cheatham’s salary will be $235,000, 17 percent more than predecessor Dan Nerad. Unlike Nerad, a former Green Bay social worker and superintendent, Cheatham has never led an organization. She also hasn’t stayed in the same job for more than two years since she was a teacher in Newark, Calif., from 1997 to 2003.
Mitchell, who beat out Cheatham for the top job at Partners in School Innovation where she worked for a year before moving to Chicago, said Cheatham has the talent to become schools chief in a major city like Chicago or New York in seven to 10 years. That’s a benefit for Madison because Cheatham is on the upswing of her career and must succeed in order to advance, Mitchell said.
“The thing about Madison that’s kind of exciting is there’s plenty of work to do and plenty of resources with which to do it,” Mitchell said. “It’s kind of a sweet spot for Jen. Whether she stays will depend on how committed the district is to continuing the work she does.”

Related: A history of Madison Superintendent experiences.
I asked the three (! – just one in 2013) 2008 Madison school board candidates (Gallon, Nerad or McIntyre), if they supported “hiring the best teachers and getting out of the way”, or a “top down” approach where the District administration’s department of “curriculum done our way” working in unison with Schools of Education, grant makers and other third parties attempt to impose teaching models on staff.
Union intransigence is one of the reasons (in my view) we experience administrative attempts to impose curricula via math or reading “police”. I would prefer to see a “hire the best and let them teach – to high global standards” approach. Simplify and focus on the basics: reading, writing, math and science.

Why vote in state schools superintendent race?

SchoolMattersMKE:

Why vote in this race?
There are almost a million reasons.
If you are writing a column and you want people to take a nap while pretending to read it, try writing about the exciting race for Superintendent of Schools in Wisconsin.
But once you shake your head to rid it of exciting thoughts you may have a little space to consider an office that has wide-ranging impact on how we all live – those with children and not.
This is kind of a classic race. The incumbent is Dr. Tony Evers, a veteran educator with a decades-long file of experience. He’s being challenged by Don Pridemore, a right-wing lawmaker from Hartford who has no meaningful education experience and has made a name for himself by saying single parenthood is the leading cause of child abuse and that abused women should just remember the good times and the reasons they got married in the first place.
See what I mean?
This is not the first time that we’ve had a candidate with experience and credentials being challenged by a weirdo. That’s our system.

Wisconsin schools superintendent candidates clash on major issues

Erin Richards:

In the race to head the state Department of Public Instruction – overseeing 870,000 public school students in Wisconsin – the incumbent superintendent and longtime public schools employee is facing a challenge from a Republican lawmaker who supports leaner government and private school vouchers.
The election Tuesday will pit Tony Evers, the incumbent superintendent of public instruction, against Republican Rep. Don Pridemore from Erin in Washington County.
Officially, the state superintendent is a nonpartisan office. But Evers, 61, has historically won support from Democrats and teachers unions. He was opposed to Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation that rolled back collective bargaining, and he signed the petition to recall Walker.
Pridemore, 66, wants to see more local control and believes teachers unions have monopolized education. He favored Walker’s Act 10 legislation and has called for an audit of the Department of Public Instruction.
So where do the candidates stand on many of the state’s other hot-button education issues?

Wisconsin schools superintendent: Lawmakers should reject Scott Walker’s voucher expansion

Jason Stein:

Addressing the most contentious issue in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill, state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday called on members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to reject a proposed expansion of voucher schools and to give more money to public schools.
Citing figures from the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office, Evers said the $129 million in new state aid Walker included in his two-year budget bill drops to $39.2 million after accounting for how part of that money would go to private and charter schools under the proposal. Walker seeks to increase funding for existing and future voucher schools, expand them to nine new school districts and allow special-needs students from around the state to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.
At the same time, Walker wants to use the state public school aid to hold down local property taxes rather than increase spending on education.
Evers, who is running for re-election on April 2 against Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Erin), said Walker’s budget pitted public schools against private schools by increasing state funding for voucher school initiatives by 32% while keeping overall revenue to schools flat.
“This has to stop. The state cannot continue to play favorites. We can and must meet our constitutional obligation to invest in all of our kids,” Evers said.
In its third straight day of budget hearings, the Joint Finance Committee took testimony Thursday on Walker’s 2013-’15 budget proposals for Wisconsin’s K-12 schools, technical colleges and universities. The hearing made clear that the governor’s education proposals will face resistance from some senators in the Republican-controlled Senate and have strong support from Republicans in charge of the Assembly, leaving its future in doubt.

Commentary on Madison’s Incoming Superintendent Cheatham

Pat Schneider:

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

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

Madison school board candidates Wayne Strong and Dean Loumos discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 3, former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos is running against retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong. The winner will replace retiring school board member Beth Moss.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

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

Madison school board candidate TJ Mertz discusses superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
TJ Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and education blogger, is running unopposed after Sarah Manski dropped out of the race for Seat 5 following the February primary. Her name will appear on the ballot, but she is moving to California. Mertz will replace retiring school board member Maya Cole.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

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

Madison school board candidates Greg Packnett and James Howard discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections here.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham to start April 1 after contract OK’d

Jeff Glaze: Incoming Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham will begin her new role in just a matter of weeks. April 1 is the start date specified in Cheatham’s contract, which the School Board unanimously approved Wednesday evening. The date is significantly earlier than the July 1 start date of her predecessor, Dan Nerad. School … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham to start April 1 after contract OK’d

Barbara Thompson Did Not Make the Madison School Board’s Final Two Superintendent Candidate Beauty Contest

I applaud the Wisconsin State Journal’s efforts to dig deeper into the Madison Superintendent search process. A kind reader pointed out to me how “shocking” it is that Barbara Thompson was NOT one of the two finalists.
The Madison School Board named these two finalists:

Jennifer Cheatham – apparently selected.
Walter Milton, Jr. – withdrew under a cloud of controversy.
from a larger group that included:

  • Joe Gothard, Madison’s assistant superintendent for secondary education.
  • Barbara Thompson, a former Madison principal and New Glarus superintendent who is currently superintendent in Montgomery, Ala.
  • Tony Apostle, a retired superintendent from the Puyallup School District near Tacoma, Wash.
  • Curtis Cain, administrator of the Shawnee Mission School District near Kansas City, Mo.
  • Sandra Smyser, superintendent of Eagle County Schools in Eagle, Colo.

Citizen Dave: If Jennifer Cheatham is right for Madison schools superintendent, just hire her already

Dave Cieslewicz:

Madison has many wonderful traits. This town’s obsession with process is not one of them.
All indications are that the one remaining choice for the Madison public schools’ new superintendent, Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, would be a great pick. I’m told by people close to the decision that the Chief Instruction Officer for the Chicago Public Schools has been the top candidate all along, and that she is a “rock star” in the education world.
There is no job harder or more important in our city than being its schools superintendent. This is a city full of education experts whose child is clearly a genius (just like them) and yet isn’t being challenged enough by their teachers. At the same time, we have a growing number of poor kids who come to school without the basics, even a good breakfast. So, the challenge is to meet the high expectations of highly educated parents, while trying to give underprivileged kids the best chance possible to succeed, all in the context of constricted budgets.
At the same time, the stakes for our whole city are enormous. Failing public schools have been the downfall of dozens of American cities.

Much more on Madison’s most recent Superintendent search, here.

Urban League Strongly Supports the Decision on Madison Superintendent

Madison Urban League, via a kind email:

The Urban League of Greater Madison strongly supports the Madison School Board’s decision to hire Dr. Jennifer Cheatham to serve as the next Superintendent of Schools of the Madison Metropolitan School District. Dr. Cheatham’s strong background in teacher quality, teacher evaluation, instructional leadership and organizing school system functions and operations around the educational and developmental needs of young people will be great assets for Madison’s public schools.
Kaleem Caire, President and CEO of the Urban League shared that, “Dr. Cheatham’s experience as a leader of teachers and her strong focus on improving instruction, implementing a rigorous curriculum for all students, ensuring teachers build strong and motivating relationships with children, and using data to inform teaching represent the core of what our school system needs right now.” Caire further stated that, “The Urban League believes that children in Madison deserve world class leadership, world class teachers and world class schools. Dr. Cheatham’s history and track record show that she shares a common belief in these ideals and what it takes to get there. We look forward to supporting her transition and welcoming her and her family to Madison.”
The Urban League is presently partnering with the Madison Metropolitan School District on the recruitment of high quality teachers and professional staff, preparing high school juniors and seniors for the ACT college entrance exam, and engaging parents of color in the work and decision-making of the school system. The Urban League also launched the Urban League Scholars Academy in January 2013 at Sennett and Toki Middle Schools, a program that extends the instructional day for 6th graders by 80 minutes in reading/language arts and mathematics. The League also operates the Schools of Hope tutoring program at 17 middle and high schools in Madison, Middleton, Oregon and Sun Prairie in partnership with these school districts, the United Way of Dane County and Madison School Community Recreation.

Madison Superintendent Candidate Visit

Matthew DeFour:

In her first visit to a Madison school, superintendent candidate Jennifer Cheatham met two La Follette High School students whom principal Chad Wiese said represent the district’s diversity and also its greatest challenge.
Senior Tanner Trickle, a basketball player and honors student, and junior Khaleah Monger, a varsity cheerleader, president of the black student union and an AVID/TOPS participant, led Cheatham on a tour of the school, highlighting a remodeled study hall, the gym and Lussier Stadium.
When Trickle told Cheatham he had applied to University of Chicago, Cheatham replied, “That was my first choice too. It didn’t work out at all.”
Nonetheless, Cheatham, 41, chief of instruction for Chicago Public Schools, received her bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago and earned graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and Harvard University.

Much more on Madison’s latest Superintendent search, here.

Consultant defends candidate vetting as a call is made for additional Madison superintendent finalists

Pat Schneider:

School Board members and Ray and Associates, the consultant in the superintendent search process, have been under fire since Sunday when the district announced finalists Walter Milton Jr., superintendent of schools in Springfield, Ill., and Jennifer Cheatham, chief of instruction for the Chicago Public Schools.
Milton pulled his name from consideration late Tuesday, following days of online comment by Madison residents on incidents in his past. Those included a 2007 state audit finding of mismanagement at the New York school district he headed and his hiring of a former business partner who was a convicted sex offender while with the Flint, Mich., school district. according to news reports. Milton also had been questioned about inaccurate resumes in applying for previous jobs.
The question bandied about in comments to online stories is: If citizens could unearth these apparent red flags about Milton’s background on Google, why didn’t Ray and Associates?

Much more on Madison’s latest Superintendent search, here.

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

Matthew DeFour:

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

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

Madison School superintendent candidate Walter Milton Jr. withdraws

Matthew DeFour, via a kind reader’s email:

The superintendent of the Springfield, Ill., school district has withdrawn from the search for the same job in Madison.
Walter Milton Jr. pulled his name from consideration for the Madison School District’s superintendent job Tuesday evening, according to a statement the Madison School Board provided to the State Journal.
The decision comes amid questions about parts of Milton’s background and how much the board knew about them before naming him Sunday as one of two finalists for the job.
At previous jobs he hired without conducting a background check a former business partner who had been convicted of child molestation, according to news reports. Milton also faced questions about submitting inaccurate resumes when applying for jobs.
Also, a 2007 New York state comptroller’s audit found Milton had been overpaid while superintendent at a school district there from 2003 to 2005 and used a district credit card for personal expenses that he had not paid back.

Much more on the latest Madison School District Superintendent Search, here.

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

Amy Barrilleaux:

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew DeFour:

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

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

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

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

Wisconsin State superintendent race is incumbent Tony Evers’ to lose

Jack Craver:

Last week, Senate Democrats lashed out at a Republican bill they said was intended to weaken the already enfeebled Office of the Secretary of State, currently held by Democrat Doug La Follette.
“It’s directed to take the one Democrat elected to statewide office and cut him out of the legislative process,” state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, says of the legislation, which would remove the secretary of state’s ability to delay the publication of a bill for up to 10 days after passage, as La Follette did following the controversial passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill two years ago.
Technically, Risser is correct. The secretary of state, which Gov. Tommy Thompson long ago relegated to obscurity, is the only statewide office held by Democrats.
But while the superintendent of public instruction is technically a nonpartisan position, current Superintendent Tony Evers, like his predecessors for the past 30 years, is supported by Democratic-affiliated groups and has been an outspoken opponent of many of Walker’s policies.
And unlike La Follette, Evers has a meaningful platform to influence one of the most important issues facing the state.
It’s noteworthy, then, that Evers does not seem to be a significant target for conservatives, even though his lone challenger in the April 2 election for another four-year term is a GOP member of the Assembly: Don Pridemore.

Madison Names Two Superintendent Finalists, Public Forum on 2.7.2013

The Madison School District:

The Madison Metropolitan School District has chosen the two finalists for the superintendent position, it was announced Sunday in a press release.
The two finalists are Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, chief of instruction at Chicago Public Schools, and Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., superintendent of Springfield (Ill.) Public Schools.
The public is invited to a public forum Thursday, Feb. 7 at 5:45 p.m. at the Monona Terrace to meet and ask questions of the two candidates. If you cannot attend the forum, you can email your comments or questions to board@madison.k12.wi.us.

Much more on Madison Superintendents.
A recent look at Madison Superintendent hires.
UPDATE: Samara Kalk Derby:

According to Cheatham’s biography on the Chicago Public Schools website, her focus is on “systemic improvement in urban school districts” and her expertise “lies in developing instructional alignment and coherence at every level of a school system aimed at achieving breakthrough results in student learning.”
She has worked as a Chief Area Officer for Chicago Public Schools and the executive director of Curriculum and Instruction for San Diego City Schools, the biography said. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from DePaul University, a master’s in education from the University of Michigan, and a master’s and doctorate in education from Harvard University.
According to a personal website promoting his book, “Me in the Making: One Man’s Journey to Becoming a School Superintendent,” Milton is a native of Rochester, N.Y., who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Albany and a master’s from SUNY College at Brockport. He took post-graduate courses at the University of Rochester to receive his administrative certifications, including his superintendent’s license. He holds a doctorate of education in leadership and policy from the University of Buffalo. He has also been a teacher and principal.


Google News on On Chicago & Dr. Jennifer Cheatham
. More, here:Long on Class Time, Short on Answers .
Google News on Springfield Superintendent Walter Milton.

State superintendent candidate calls for volunteer security in schools

Matthew DeFour:

The challenger in the spring election for state superintendent of public instruction is calling on school districts to post volunteer security guards in schools to protect student safety.
Rep. Don Pridemore, R-Erin, issued a statement Thursday saying school boards “should be given the freedom to hire a competent, well-trained school official or employee who is experienced with applying force whenever force is required.” He said retired or on-duty police officers would be preferred.
Many school districts already contract with local police departments to assign police officers to schools. Madison has a police officer assigned to each of its high schools.
Pridemore said the most cost-effective approach would be for districts to ask qualified, retired volunteers from their community to patrol.

2013 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and Madison School Board Candidates

Patrick Marley & Erin Richards:

“I’ve been frustrated with the fact that our educational system continues to go downhill even with all the money the Legislature puts into it,” he said.
Pridemore said he will release more details about his educational agenda in forthcoming policy statements and has several education bills in the drafting phase. Asked if he believed schools should have armed teachers, he said that was a matter that should be left entirely to local school boards to decide.
Evers, who has been school superintendent since 2009, is seeking a second term. He has previously served as a teacher, principal, local school superintendent and deputy state schools superintendent.
Wisconsin’s education landscape has undergone some major changes during his tenure, including significant reductions in school spending and limits on collective bargaining for public workers that weakened teachers unions, which have supported Evers in the past.
Evers wants to redesign the funding formula that determines aid for each of Wisconsin’s 424 school districts and to provide more aid to schools. Also, he wants to reinvigorate technical education and to require all high schools to administer a new suite of tests that would offer a better way to track students’ academic progress and preparation for the ACT college admissions exam.

Don Pridemore links: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming. Incumbent Tony Evers: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming.
Matthew DeFour:

School Board president James Howard, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, faces a challenge from Greg Packnett, a legislative aide active with the local Democratic Party. The seats are officially nonpartisan.
Two candidates, low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and recently retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, are vying for Moss’ seat.
The race for Cole’s seat will include a primary on Feb. 19, the first one for a Madison School Board seat in six years. The candidates are Sarah Manski, a Green Party political activist who runs a website that encourages buying local; Ananda Mirilli, social justice coordinator for the YWCA who has a student at Nuestro Mundo Community School; and T.J. Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and local education blogger whose children attend West High and Randall Elementary schools.

Pridemore launches run for Wisconsin state superintendent

Scott Bauer:

Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore launched his campaign to become Wisconsin’s top education leader on Monday, saying he would bring a conservative approach to the job while refusing to talk specifically about what policies he would push.
Pridemore is taking on incumbent Tony Evers, who has held the nonpartisan job of secretary of the Department of Public Instruction since 2009. The election is April 2, and there will be a Feb. 19 primary if three or more people run.
Evers said he looked forward to contrasting his record with Pridemore’s.
“All I know is I’ve been out front on education for 36 years,” said Evers, a former teacher, principal, district superintendent and deputy state superintendent. “I’m believing that he has not.”

Before firing, West Virginia superintendent acted on audit

Lawrence Messina:

Jorea Marple was carrying out numerous recommendations from the much-discussed audit of West Virginia’s public schools system when she was fired as superintendent, by Board of Education members eager to signal to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the Legislature that they supported the extensive review of education spending, policy and organization.
Those board members have cited the need for change when explaining Marple’s ouster, in light of struggling student performance. At least one member, Gayle Manchin, has commented further.
“My viewpoint was, we should all embrace this audit and garner from its findings and recommendation that would help us make the changes that needed to be made,” Manchin told The Associated Press last week. “My personal opinion is that wasn’t necessarily the way it was received at the Department of Education.”

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers (running for re-election in 2013) Proposes New State Tax $ Redistribution Scheme

Jennifer Zahn and Erin Richards:

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Monday reintroduced a proposal from two years ago to increase state funding for public education and change the way the state finances its public schools as part of his 2013-’15 budget request.
The proposal calls for a 2.4% increase in state aid in the first year of the budget and a 5.5% increase in 2014-’15, which Evers said would put the state back on track to return to two-thirds’ state support for public school costs by 2017.
The Department of Public Instruction’s 2013-’15 budget proposal guarantees state funding of $3,000 per pupil and would result in every school district either getting more state money or the same money as before, but Republican legislators on Monday did not express confidence in the total package.
Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee and a Republican from Ripon, said Evers’ “Fair Funding for our Future” plan just shifts money around between districts and doesn’t really award more money to schools.
Olsen did say he would like to increase districts’ revenue limit authority per student – or the combined amount they can raise in state general aid and local property taxes – by at least $200 per pupil starting in the first year of the next biennial budget.
Evers announced his 2013-’15 state public education budget request Monday at Irving Elementary School in West Allis.

WisPolitics:

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the proposal will be reviewed in the context of the overall budget, but said education is one of Walker’s top budget priorities.
“The governor will work to build off of the work done with Superintendent Evers on school district accountability and Read to Lead as he creates the first version of the state budget, which will be introduced early next year,” Werwie said.
Evers also said he’ll run for re-election next year, adding that despite the funding cuts, he’s excited to continue pushing reform and accountability.
“In order for us to create a new middle class and to move our state forward in a positive way, our public schools need to be strong, and the reforms we’re implementing now are going a long way toward accomplishing that,” Evers said. “We’re in a great place as a state and we’ll keep plugging away.”
Various conservative education sources said no candidate has come forward to challenge Evers yet, but talks were ongoing with potential challengers. Nomination papers can be circulated Dec. 1 and are due back to the GAB Jan. 2.

Matthew DeFour has more.

American School Board Journal: Q&A with Will Fitzhugh, research paper advocate

September 2012 Q&A School Board News; www.asbj.com
Will Fitzhugh is a great believer in the educational power of the high school research paper. In fact, he’s such a fan that he founded The Concord Review in 1987 to publish student research papers and highlight the academic quality of their work.
But his mission is a bit tougher these days. In 2002, he conducted a study of high school history teachers and discovered that, although nearly all of them said a term paper was a good idea, 62 percent never assigned a 12-page paper–and 27 percent never assigned an eight-page paper.
Page numbers aren’t the only measure of a writing project, but the consensus is that the rigor of high school research papers hasn’t improved over the years. And that means that–outside of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses–very few students are tested by this kind of rigorous writing project.
That’s not a good trend, and Fitzhugh champions the idea that school policymakers should bring back the practice of assigning serious research papers to high school students. He encourages schools to adopt his Paper Per Year Plan©, which calls on schools to assign research papers that require students to write one more page, with one more source, for every grade of schooling. Even a first-grader should be writing one-page papers with one source listed.
Recently, Fitzhugh shared his thoughts on the poor showing of high school writing projects with ASBJ Senior Editor Del Stover.
Why should it matter if students are writing lengthy term papers?
“Two great things about serious research papers: They ask for a lot of reading, and as a result, the student learns a lot about something. This encourages students to believe that, through their own efforts for the most part, they can learn about other things in the future. In addition, a serious research paper can help them keep out of remedial reading and writing classes at college.”
To engage students, some educators are allowing students to communicate through a variety of media. Is this innovative–or a mistake?
“This is a mistake by teachers desperate to pander to student interests instead of requiring them to do the hard work essential to their education. When the Business Roundtable companies spend $3 billion-plus each year on remedial writing courses for their employees–hourly and salaried, current and new–they do not have them write blogs, read comic books, or enjoy PowerPoint presentations. That would waste their money and the time of students, and it wouldn’t accomplish the remedial writing tasks.”
Is the term paper really dead? You’re still publishing term papers in your quarterly, so you must still be seeing teachers–and students–who are rising to the highest standards?
“The papers I have been getting continue to impress me. I could tell you stories of students who spend months on their submissions to The Concord Review and then send me an Emerson Prize-winning 15,000-word paper. Many of these students are going well beyond the expectations and standards of their schools because they seek to be published. But, as I say, for most students, they are never asked even to try a serious history research paper.
In general, it is safe to say that all U.S. public high schools are unlikely to assign rigorous term papers, and the kids suffer accordingly.”

What advice can you offer to school board members and administrators as they struggle to raise student skills in reading and writing?

“The California State College System reports that 47 percent of their freshmen are in remedial reading courses, and in a survey of college professors by The Chronicle of Higher Education, 90 percent of them said their students are not very well prepared in reading or writing, or in doing research.
So school board members should be aware of how poorly we are preparing our kids in nonfiction reading and academic expository writing–and they should ask their superintendents what can be done about that.
I’ve argued that, if reading and writing is a serious skill that kids need, then we have to decide if we are willing to invest [in this effort]. Kids are spending three or four hours of time on homework a week and 54 hours on entertainment. It’s not going to kill them to spend four more hours a week on a paper.”
——————————-
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®
www.tcr.org/blog

Interview with MMSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Jane Belmore

A. David Dahmer:

Literacy is also important to Belmore who has a background and training as a reading specialist. “I’m a person who has quite a bit of expertise in curriculum and literacy so I’m really interested in the literacy goals that go throughout,” she says.
One of the things that Belmore is going to be pulling together is a Literacy Summit that she will facilitate. “The Summit is bringing together all of the pieces of the literacy initiative — middle schools, high schools,” Belmore says. “We’re going to work with the people who have been guiding that work just to communicate better so that high school teachers have a better understanding of what elementary school teachers are doing. I think it helps people understand that they are not alone and that it really takes all of us to do this.”
Belmore has been reaching out to the community — going to functions and talking to parents and meeting with agencies and non-profits. “There is a fair amount of that that goes along with this role and I actually enjoy that part of it,” she says. “I like to get out with people and talk about the work we’re doing and seeing what kind of questions they have. I’ve met with a lot of major community partners already — many whom I already had relationships with at Edgewood.”

Notes and links on interim Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore, here.

Former Des Moines Superintendent Sebring: School slow in turning over emails she requested

Mary Stegmeir:

Nancy Sebring is at odds with her former employer, the Des Moines school district, which she claims has been slow to respond to her requests for public records.
The former schools superintendent believes the information in the emails and other documents that she has requested will “give a full picture” of what transpired following her May 10 resignation.
Sebring left her post after district staff members learned she had used her school email account to send and receive sexually explicit emails.
“I’m trying to put all the information of the last couple of months together and see what was going on and what was being said,” Sebring told The Des Moines Register Friday. “I’ve been approached by someone who is interested in my story. I am just trying to keep track of everything while it is still available.”

Madison schools’ interim superintendent talks with WISC-TV

Channel3000.com:

WISC-TV: Are you good at “minding the ship” or are you going to want to make some changes?
Belmore: I will be making a few changes and I already have a few things in the works. But those changes will be made in a very mindful way; I’m kind of looking at this as short-term changes for long-term good. So, I will not do anything that will drastically impede anyone else coming in. At the same time, I think there are a few changes that need to be made so we can have a year of growth and constantly moving ahead.
WISC-TV: What are some of those changes?
Belmore: One of them is that I’m kind of reorganizing a little bit so that some people are reporting directly to me who were not reporting directly to the superintendent in the current organizational scheme. Basically, that is just for the fact that (my tenure here) will be a year. I won’t have time to move through the steps of the organization; I’m going to need that communication directly with myself.

Much more on Madison’s interim Superintendent Jane Belmore, here.

Madison should land top talent for school superintendent

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Those remarks seemed unduly negative and failed to give full recognition to the myriad qualities this market offers any newcomer. Like many, we favor the “who wouldn’t want to work in Madison?” view.
Not to worry, said School Board member Ed Hughes, who asked the question that prompted Ray’s comments at last week’s meeting.
“It was reassuring to me,” Hughes said. “It showed they had done their homework about this market. I thought it was realistic and useful.”
Next, Ray and Co. will talk to board members about their desires for a superintendent, then add some community outreach to the fact-finding process. If all goes well, this nationwide search will yield a strong, successful leader for one of the most important jobs in town.

Madison certainly has the community, financial and nearby (University of Wisconsin, Madison College, Edgewood College) assets to offer a world class K-12 education. Getting there will require substantial change and… change is very hard.

More Outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad Reflections

Matthew DeFour

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

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

Outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad Reflects on His Tenure

channel3000.com:

Dan Nerad, the departing Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent, talked with WISC-TV on Thursday about his four years leading the district, plus the greatest challenges going forward.
He cited the four-year-old kindergarten program, which he implemented, and tackling difficult budgets as his achievements. Nerad said on some issues, such as over the heightened debate over the district’s minority achievement gap, there were shortcomings.
Nerad is scheduled to leave July 27 for the top job at the school district in Birmingham, Mich., a smaller and more affluent suburb of Detroit.
THEO KEITH, WISC-TV: Is there an issue or issues where you had your greatest success or shortcoming?

Departing Madison schools Superintendent Dan Nerad looks back and forward

Nayantara Mukherji

The last day for Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad will be July 27. Nerad, who led the Madison Metropolitan School District for four years, will be replaced by newly appointed interim superintendent Jane Belmore. In March, Nerad submitted his resignation to the school board and was subsequently offered the job of schools superintendent in Birmingham, Michigan. He will start there in August.
Isthmus recently sat down with Nerad to discuss his tenure in Madison and his new post.
Isthmus: What were some of the factors that went into your decision to ask the school board to terminate your contract by August 1?
Nerad: We had been in a discussion for several months about my leaving the district, so that is not a brand new thing. But, I have an opportunity to continue this work in another school district in Michigan, and that’s really what drove the more immediate consideration about leaving at this point in time.

Delaware school board member offers praise for soon-to-be Jersey City superintendent

Terrence McDonald:

“I’m not going to tell you that she’s going to come up there and everybody’s going to like her,” he said “But I’ve never seen her make a spiteful decision about a teacher or an educator.”
A group of local officials, teachers and parents have objected to Lyles’ appointment, arguing that they see acting state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf’s influence in the selection. Both Cerf and Lyles are graduates of the controversial Broad Superintendents Academy.
Young said he is “no friend of corporate educational reform,” calling the academy’s founder, billionaire Eli Broad, “meddlesome.” But he added that Lyles only cares for reforms that improve education for children in her district.
“If she didn’t like something Christopher Cerf tried to do, I think she would tell him and I think she would resist him,” he said.

An Alumnus, Madison’s Interim Superintendent: Jane Belmore

A few links on Madison’s interim Superintendent, Jane Belmore. Belmore was Madison’s Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools before moving to the School of Education at nearby Edgewood College.

Madison School District links.
Blekko
Clusty
Bing
Google

And, of course, there are quite a few schoolinfosystem.org links, including this post on the District’s reading problems.
Reading, which is clearly the District’s job number one, continues to be a challenge, according to this 2009 Reading Recovery study: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Finally, a bit of history on Madison Superintendent hires over the years.
Dan Simmons article mentioned the School District’s spokeswoman: Rachel Strauch-Nelson. Interestingly, Ms. Strauch-Nelson formerly worked for Madison’s previous Mayor, Dave Cieslewicz and prior to that for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Chief Information Officer Andrew Statz also worked for the previous Mayor.

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

Paul Fanlund:

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

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

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

Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus school recently talked with me [Transcript | mp3 audio] about his fascinating personal and professional education experience. St. Marcus is one of, if not the most successful voucher school in Milwaukee.
Henry discussed student, parent and teacher expectations, including an interesting program to educate and involve parents known as “Thankful Thursdays”. He further described their growth plans, specifically, the methods they are following to replicate the organization. In addition, I learned that St. Marcus tracks their students for 8 years after 8th grade graduation.
Finally, Henry discussed special education and their financial model, roughly $7,800/student annually of which $6,400 arrives from State of Wisconsin taxpayers in the form of a voucher. The remainder via local fundraising and church support.
He is quite bullish on the future of education in Milwaukee. I agree that in 15 to 20 years, Milwaukee’s education environment will be much, much improved. High expectations are of course critical to these improvements.
I appreciate the time Henry took to visit.
Related:

Dinner for Outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad, Birmingham 7.1.2012 start official

Rafael Gomez, viaa kind email: If you are interested to have a dinner for Dr. Nared contact Rafael Gomez at filosistema@yahoo.com
Laura Houser:

It’s official: the Birmingham Board of Education passed a resolution Tuesday night officially hiring Daniel Nerad at the district’s next superintendent.
School Board President Susan Hill said Nerad — the current superintendent of the Madison (WI) Metropolitan School District — signed a contract with the district earlier Tuesday, with an official start date of July 1.
The school board selected Nerad, 60, as the next superintendent on June 11 after a two-month search process. Nerad was one of two finalists after five semifinalists interviewed in late May and early June.

Much more on departing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad, here.

On the Madison School District’s “Achievement Gap” Plan and Looming Superintendent Departure

Matthew DeFour:

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s impending departure raises questions about the future of this year’s biggest budget initiative: the School District’s $49 million achievement gap plan.
“It’s a big question mark” whether a new superintendent will want to adopt the plan or make changes, said Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County.
“I don’t think (the School Board) should adopt the whole plan and hand it over to the new superintendent,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t take a job if a board of directors said, ‘Here’s the plan we came up with and want you to execute.'”
Nerad said Friday he plans to accept a superintendent job offer in Birmingham, Mich., and leave Madison by September.

On Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad & the Birmingham (MI) Job

Observer & Eccentric:

If you judge the process by the questions, it would appear Dr. Daniel Nerad has the edge in being offered the job as the next superintendent for Birmingham Schools.
Nerad is the Madison School District superintendent in Wisconsin and one of two finalists for the Birmingham job. The other person is Robert Shaner, executive director of instruction and technology at the Warren Consolidated district.
Nerad has been superintendent for Madison Schools since 2008. Before that, he spent seven years as the superintendent for the Green Bay Area Public Schools. Shaner has less than a year of administrative experience.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Birmingham Candidate Response

Laura Hoser:

How does a school district know when it has an effective program?
This can be a struggle for school districts, Nerad said, but programs need to be evaluated over time, districts need effective ways to collect data, and there needs to be systems in place that allow teachers to collaborate around data and solve problems.
What is the role of principals, the school board and superintendent in terms of innovation and curriculum development?
According to Nerad, the school board ensures there are enough resources for curriculum development and innovation, the superintendent is responsible for outlining what that curriculum will look like, while schools have the responsibility to implement curriculum in the way that’s best for each building.
What is your budgeting process and how would you go about cutting money from Birmingham’s budget?
Budgeting has to be a year-round process, Nerad said, and should he be hired, he would go to district stakeholders — whether they be parents, teachers or community members — and ask: what are your priorities?
How would you engage the rest of the Birmingham community, including the local business community?
Nerad said he would work with the district public relations office to focus heavily on engagement and outreach. “I do believe in putting a face on the superintendency,” he said.
How did you build consensus on an important issue?
When trying to reach consensus on tough issues, Nerad said he uses voting procedures and works to ensure people are heard. “My whole life has been dedicated to those kinds of practices.”
How do you judge whether a school board is doing a good job?
According to Nerad, the school board should be a model for the entire district.
“I believe if the superintendent evaluates the board, the board should evaluate itself,” Nerad said. “If we want our staff to grow, we have to model that kind of commitment. It’s about the whole organization getting better, from the superintendent to the board to teachers to support staff.”

Much more on outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad, here.
A quick comparison of Birmingham and Madison schools.