Commentary on another Madison K-12 Superintendent Search // Priorities

Dave Cieslewicz: I’m not at all surprised.  The executive search group chosen to help find the next Madison schools superintendent reflects the biases of our current school board. The very first statement you see in the About section of the website of Alma Advisory Group out of Chicago is that it is, “is a woman-of-color-led … Continue reading Commentary on another Madison K-12 Superintendent Search // Priorities

9 Citizens at a Madison School District Superintendent Search “roundtable”

David Blaska: Once every blue moon, the Head Groundskeeper does what he says he is going to do. Posing as average citizen “David Blaska,” he sat in with eight other citizens at one of three roundtables coordinated 10-04-23 by the headhunters hired by the Madison public school district to find yet another a new superintendent. … Continue reading 9 Citizens at a Madison School District Superintendent Search “roundtable”

Commentary on yet another Madison k-12 Superintendent Search

Scott Girard: Community members can now weigh in on the type of leader they’d like as the next Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent. The district’s website now includes a “leadership profile” survey that will help the Madison School Board and its consultant on the search, Alma Advisory Group, develop a job description for the position when it’s posted this … Continue reading Commentary on yet another Madison k-12 Superintendent Search

Notes on the Memphis K-12 Superintendent Search

Laura Testino: Eight of the board members voted for the change in the job requirements. The ninth, Vice Chair Sheleah Harris, abstained from the vote and denounced the board’s decision. Then she announced she would quit her elected seat.  Before the amendments approved Tuesday, board policy required candidates to have a certain amount of in-school experience and … Continue reading Notes on the Memphis K-12 Superintendent Search

Notes on the 2023-2024 Madison Superintendent Search

Scott Girard: Madison School board members indicated interest in the longer of two search timelines presented to them Monday by consultant Alma Advisory Group. Alma CEO Monica Santana Rosen spoke to the board at a meeting for the first time since board members chose the firmfrom a field of three finalists to lead the search process, paying $95,000 for … Continue reading Notes on the 2023-2024 Madison Superintendent Search

Easthampton, Massachusetts Superintendent Search Rhetoric

Rick Tobey: After the top pick for Easthampton’s superintendent lost his job offer when he used the term “ladies” in an email, the second choice for the district has withdrawn herself from running the school system amid students reporting her past Facebook posts. The Easthampton School Committee is back to the drawing board following this … Continue reading Easthampton, Massachusetts Superintendent Search Rhetoric

Madison co-chief of schools named finalist in Verona superintendent search

Elizabeth Beyer: Madison School District’s Co-Chief of Schools for elementary education, Dr. Tremayne Clardy, was named a finalist in the Verona Area School District superintendent search Monday. Clardy is one of four candidates that will participate in the next step in the interview process to become the new superintendent, according to a release by the … Continue reading Madison co-chief of schools named finalist in Verona superintendent search

Commentary on the Madison School Board’s Superintendent Search Finalists

Scott Girard: The finalists are: •Matthew Gutierrez, the superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District in Seguin, Texas. He is a former interim and deputy superintendent in the Little Elm Independent School District and received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Texas Tech, according to the district’s announcement. •Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, an assistant professor of … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School Board’s Superintendent Search Finalists

Commentary on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Search

Scott Girard: School Board members adopted a “leadership profile” based on that feedback earlier this month. BWP reported the input indicated the community wants a visionary team-builder with experience with diverse populations and an understanding of the district’s commitment to high levels of academic achievement for all students. An educator’s background, student-centered, dedicated, sincere and honest person … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Search

Commentary on the Madison School District 2020 Superintendent Search

Scott Girard: The full report was not made available to the public Monday night, but was expected to be posted Tuesday afternoon. Board members voted to accept a leadership profile that will be used to help develop interview questions and screen candidates with a 6 to 1 vote, with Nicki Vander Meulen voting against, having … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School District 2020 Superintendent Search

“36 people” on madison’s 2020 superinteNdent search

Logan Wroge: “The challenges of the district are actually not completely known because of a lack of transparency in how the district is doing with respect to several critical and urgent matters,” Chan Stroman, a West Side resident and education advocate said, adding she wants to see honesty and competence in the next leader of … Continue reading “36 people” on madison’s 2020 superinteNdent search

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).

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 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

After a turbulent search process, MMSD’s first Black superintendent takes charge

Benjamin Farrell: On July 10, after another, much shorter search, MMSD settled on UW-Madison alumnus and former associate principal of Madison Memorial High School Dr. Carlton Jenkins to be the district’s first Black superintendent. Since his time at Madison Memorial, Jenkinshas held high-ranking positions in school districts in New Hope, Minnesota; Beloit, Wisconsin; and Atlanta, … Continue reading After a turbulent search process, MMSD’s first Black superintendent takes charge

MTI says Madison School District should reopen search, look locally for new superintendent

Scott Girard: MTI says going through an entire school year with another interim is unacceptable, though they understand that will be required for a period of time “and want clarity around who will fill that position immediately.” “However, there are too many critical issues facing our schools, staff, students, and community for us to have … Continue reading MTI says Madison School District should reopen search, look locally for new superintendent

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.

Update on Search for New Superintendent

Arlene Silveira, School Board President, provided the following update on the Isthmus Forum: All – here is the update on the search for the new Superintendent. On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings the Board will interview 4 search firms/consultants. We had decided that we want to use a consultant to assist wit the search for the … Continue reading Update on Search for New Superintendent

“We also had to support teachers to actually use those because that is a lift” – interim Madison Superintendent

Abby Machtig; How do you plan to address the achievement gaps between students in Madison schools, specifically around literacy? We put brand new, high-quality standards-aligned materials in every single teacher’s classroom. We also had to support teachers to actually use those because that is a lift. … Do we always get it right the first … Continue reading “We also had to support teachers to actually use those because that is a lift” – interim Madison Superintendent

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent’s priorities: Waukesha School District Letter

DRAKE BENTLEY: In her letter, Underly stated, “Whether you realize it or not, you are, under the guise of protection, causing undue harm to students and staff. However, this damage is reversible. It is paramount that you change course now.” Underly requested that the administration reverse the policy to “foster inclusive environments,” saying the controversial … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI Superintendent’s priorities: Waukesha School District Letter

Madison School District Superintendent Jenkins a finalist for Tennessee district superintendent job

Scott Girard: Two months after announcing his retirement, outgoing Madison Superintendent Carlton Jenkins has been named a finalist for the top job in a Tennessee school district. Chalkbeat Tennessee, an education news website, reported Saturday that Jenkins is among three finalists to be the next Memphis-Shelby County Schools superintendent. The School Board there, however, was … Continue reading Madison School District Superintendent Jenkins a finalist for Tennessee district superintendent job

A thin chat with taxpayer supported Wisconsin DPI Superintendent JilL Underly

Scott Girard: It’s been a challenging few years for K-12 education, both locally and nationally. Wisconsin State Superintendent Jill Underly is nonetheless “optimistic” about what’s ahead for the field. “I think people are coming together, realizing that if we want to improve the lives of all Wisconsinites and especially the kids who are going to … Continue reading A thin chat with taxpayer supported Wisconsin DPI Superintendent JilL Underly

“The fact that she was disconnected from that research is evidence of the problem.” Madison….

Dana Goldstein: How Professor Calkins ended up influencing tens of millions of children is, in one sense, the story of education in America. Unlike many developed countries, the United States lacks a national curriculum or teacher-training standards. Local policies change constantly, as governors, school boards, mayors and superintendents flow in and out of jobs. Amid … Continue reading “The fact that she was disconnected from that research is evidence of the problem.” Madison….

Restoring pandemic losses will require major changes in schools and classrooms, superintendents say

Paul Hill & Kate Destler: The solutions will require new modes of spending, performance measurement, and school oversight, as well as much greater flexibility in teacher hiring, training, and work. Superintendents and school-board leaders can’t make these changes all by themselves. They’ll need serious help and new thinking from governors, state legislators, the federal government, … Continue reading Restoring pandemic losses will require major changes in schools and classrooms, superintendents say

Commentary from the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent

Jonah Beleckis: They’re going to have to get away from the notion that we’re using this money to reward schools that were open for in-person instruction. Maybe we can use that $77 million for after-school programming, for tutoring, for learning loss. That’s what we need to do. Notes and links on Jill Underly. The data clearly … Continue reading Commentary from the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Rhetoric, amidst long term, disastrous reading results

Rory Linnane: Though the position is technically nonpartisan, Underly’s campaign was heavily funded by the Democratic Party in a race that saw unprecedented spending. Her campaign spent seven times that of her opponent, former Brown Deer Schools Superintendent Deborah Kerr. The only action Underly announced Thursday was the creation of a literacy task force to … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Rhetoric, amidst long term, disastrous reading results

Commentary on the 2021 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Superintendent election

Scott Girard: [I have received 3 text messages and a door knock from a paid lit drop person, for one of the candidates. Guess?] 13-1 Special interest $pending for Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Jill Underly, running against Deborah Kerr. In that same forum, Kerr outlined a plan to decentralize the Department of Public Instruction by … Continue reading Commentary on the 2021 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Superintendent election

Wisconsin Superintendent candidate Jill Underly accused of ‘hypocrisy’ for sending her children to private school

Daniel Bice: No one has been a bigger promoter of public schools during the race for state school superintendent than Jill Underly.  That was, no doubt, a large part of the reason that Underly, the Pecatonica school superintendent, has won the endorsement of state and local teachers unions. But back when it was her decision to … Continue reading Wisconsin Superintendent candidate Jill Underly accused of ‘hypocrisy’ for sending her children to private school

Candidates for Wisconsin state school superintendent clash on leadership, vouchers

WISN: “I am pro-kid. I do not support taking away a parent’s right to choose where their kid goes to school,” Kerr said. “The state superintendent cannot change these laws. So look at the Legislature. Does anyone really think the current legislature is going to massively roll back these policies? No. But I’m going to … Continue reading Candidates for Wisconsin state school superintendent clash on leadership, vouchers

State superintendent agrees students are being “robbed” of their education; lawmakers can help by providing every student $3,000 in direct assistance

Liv Finne: As reported in The Seattle Times, State Superintendent Reykdal said Washington’s children are receiving a “sh-tty” education right now. This highest education official in Washington state is openly acknowledging that kids are feeling “robbed” of the education we have promised them. The legislature needs to step in and help families with direct educational assistance. … Continue reading State superintendent agrees students are being “robbed” of their education; lawmakers can help by providing every student $3,000 in direct assistance

A summary of community feedback (website) on Madison’s recent Superintendent candidates

Scott Girard: Records released by the Madison Metropolitan School District show feedback from staff and community members included plenty of praise and criticism for the two finalists for the district’s superintendent position this summer. Both Carlton Jenkins and Carol Kelley received positive feedback from many who filled out the forms, which asked respondents to answer … Continue reading A summary of community feedback (website) on Madison’s recent Superintendent candidates

New Madison Superintendent Adds an elementary administrator

Logan Wroge: “I have to address that because if you look at the data on the elementary level, we need to focus on literacy, we need to focus on numeracy, we need to focus on our special ed, our (English-language learners),” Jenkins said in the interview. 2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School … Continue reading New Madison Superintendent Adds an elementary administrator

Hard Questions: An interview with Madison Superintendent Carlton Jenkins

via Simpson Street Free Press 2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results. My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results “An emphasis on adult employment” Wisconsin … Continue reading Hard Questions: An interview with Madison Superintendent Carlton Jenkins

New taxpayer supported Madison K-12 superintendent to prioritize students’ mental, emotional health

Scott Girard: The new Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent stressed the importance of community buy-in during his introductory press conferenceWednesday. Carlton Jenkins, hired in early July, began in the role Aug. 4. He said he will focus on improving reading abilities, improving student mental health and rebuilding trust during his first year on the job, stressing the … Continue reading New taxpayer supported Madison K-12 superintendent to prioritize students’ mental, emotional health

Madison Superintendent hire Carlton Jenkins tells Black leaders he’s ‘ready to go to work’

Logan Wroge: Former School Board member James Howard, who also served as president, said the district’s No. 1 challenge is the low reading outcomes for Black children, where only 9% of scored proficient on a state assessment. “Before our kids can succeed academically … we have to do something about our reading scores,” Howard said. … Continue reading Madison Superintendent hire Carlton Jenkins tells Black leaders he’s ‘ready to go to work’

“We know best”: Madison School Board approves superintendent contract before it becomes public

Logan Wroge: The Madison School Board approved a contract Monday to hire a Minnesota school administrator as the next superintendent before releasing details of the agreement to the public. That’s a change from how the board handled the hiring process for its first choice for superintendent — who later backed out of the job — … Continue reading “We know best”: Madison School Board approves superintendent contract before it becomes public

Carlton Jenkins is named Madison’s next K-12 Superintendent

Scott Girard: Carlton Jenkins said moving to work in the Madison Metropolitan School District would be like “going home.” One of two finalists to become the district’s next superintendent, Jenkins was an associate principal at Memorial High School in 1993 and earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Throughout the day Tuesday, the Robbinsdale … Continue reading Carlton Jenkins is named Madison’s next K-12 Superintendent

Commentary on Two 2020 taxpayer supported Madison School District Superintendent Candidates

Scott Girard: Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes said in the release the district is “very fortunate to have an impressive pool of highly qualified candidates participate in this process.” “With a focus on how candidates aligned with the Leadership Profile, the Board was able to select two phenomenal finalists, both with deep roots in … Continue reading Commentary on Two 2020 taxpayer supported Madison School District Superintendent Candidates

Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates

On January 21, 2020, I sent this email to Hi: I hope that you are well. I write to make an open records request for a list of invitees and participants in last week’s “community leader and stakeholder” meetings with the (Superintendent) candidates. Thank you and best wishes, Jim Hearing nothing, I wrote on … Continue reading Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates

Black community leaders share concerns about Madison School District’s superintendent hire, call process ‘flawed, incomplete’

Scott Girard: A letter signed by 13 black community leaders in Madison expresses concerns about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s hiring of Matthew Gutiérrez to be its next superintendent. The concerns include how much larger and more diverse MMSD is than Gutiérrez’s current Seguin Independent School District in Texas, student performance scores in Seguin and a “flawed, … Continue reading Black community leaders share concerns about Madison School District’s superintendent hire, call process ‘flawed, incomplete’

New Madison Schools superintendent’s $250K+ contract up for vote Monday

Scott Girard: The contract runs from June 1 to May 31 of the following year. The agreement would allow Gutiérrez 25 vacation days each year, 10 holidays off and up to 13 personal illness days. It will provide up to $8,500 for moving expenses as Gutiérrez and his family move from Seguin, Texas, and cover … Continue reading New Madison Schools superintendent’s $250K+ contract up for vote Monday

School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent

Scott Girard: Gutiérrez said in the release he was “honored and humbled to be selected,” touting community engagement and support to teachers, students and families as “top priorities.” “During my visit to Madison, I was extremely impressed with the high level of community involvement and how community members hold education as a top priority,” he … Continue reading School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent

Candidate Quotes from Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Pageant

Scott Girard: Behavior Education Plan Vanden Wyngaard: “Just like in previous districts I have been in, it appears we have a perception issue in the community.” Gutiérrez: “What I’ve seen is a rather comprehensive plan. I think it may be a little overwhelming for folks. How can we simplify that to be user-friendly, easy to … Continue reading Candidate Quotes from Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Pageant

Madison 2020 Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas appearance notes

Logan Wroge: “We have a district that is successful for a group of kids. We have a different district that’s not being successful for a group of kids,” he said of the Madison School District. “That means our organization is uniquely and excellently designed to get the results that we’re presently getting. If we keep … Continue reading Madison 2020 Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas appearance notes

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas stresses success for ‘all students’ in Madison School District is key

Scott Girard: “My background is very much anchored on supporting all students,” Thomas said. “That’s sort of why I wake up every morning. The notion that all students are able to achieve at a high level, I truly not only believe it, but I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. I know it’s possible.” He will … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas stresses success for ‘all students’ in Madison School District is key

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard

Logan Wroge: She also highlighted the importance of having teachers know the cognitive process of how children learn to read to improve literacy outcomes. When asked about school-based police officers, a divisive topic in the Madison School District, Vanden Wyngaard said she doesn’t have a problem with police being in schools but thinks they should … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Gutiérrez hopes to be ‘uniter’ for Madison School District

Scott Girard: Are we able to be laser focused on a number of a initiatives?” Gutiérrez said. “When you really do the research, the most highly successful systems have just three or four initiatives that they’re focused on, and you can do them really well.” He also brings recent experience with one of the likely … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Gutiérrez hopes to be ‘uniter’ for Madison School District

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Vanden Wyngaard wants to focus on social justice, equity in MMSD if selected

Scott Girard: She noted successes while she was in Albany, mentioning the graduation rate, increased attendance rate and lower disproportionality in its special education programming among them, and said maintaining the programs that helped lead to those was part of the resignation decision. “I work from a philosophy of students first, and I always will … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Vanden Wyngaard wants to focus on social justice, equity in MMSD if selected

Madison School District superintendent finalists visit this week

Scott Girard: The three finalists to be the next leader of the Madison Metropolitan School District will visit the city this week. Their “Day in the District” will begin at 8 a.m. with meetings with community and staff groups until 11, followed by lunch with students until noon. The afternoon will include school visits, meetings with the … Continue reading Madison School District superintendent finalists visit this week

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 ( 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.””>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):

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
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.”