Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance

David Bernstein and Noah Isackson: few months before last February’s citywide elections, Hal Baskin’s phone started ringing. And ringing. Most of the callers were candidates for Chicago City Council, seeking the kind of help Baskin was uniquely qualified to provide. Baskin isn’t a slick campaign strategist. He’s a former gang leader and, for several decades, … Continue reading Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance

Madison Police Department expands gang unit: 40 Gangs in Madison

Sandy Cullen:

Police estimate there are now more than 1,100 confirmed gang members in Madison and about 40 gangs, about 12 of which are the main Latino gangs.
The Dane County Enhanced Youth Gang Prevention Task Force recommended in August 2007 that a countywide gang coordinator’s position be considered. That group’s co-chairman, former Madison police Capt. Luis Yudice, who’s also security coordinator for the Madison School District, first called for a “comprehensive strategy so we can all work in unison” to address gang violence in September 2005.
Since then, Yudice said, staff in Madison schools are recognizing more issues involving gangs among students, which he attributes in part to greater awareness and training.
“We have gang-involved kids in probably most of our high schools and middle schools and some of our elementary schools,” he said. Staff do a good job of keeping gang activity out of the schools, he said, and work closely with students, families, police and social workers in an effort to keep students out of gangs.
Locally, the gang issue is not unique to Madison schools. “We’re seeing more gang activity in the suburban school districts,” Yudice said, as well as the emergence of hate groups targeting blacks and Latinos in Madison, Deerfield, Cottage Grove and DeForest.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio, video & links.

The war at home: the spread of violent gangs

Thomas Ricks:

Here is a report from my CNAS colleague Jennifer Bernal-Garcia, who is working with Bob Killebrew on the merger of drug gangs and terrorism, about a meeting they held recently with law enforcement experts on gang violence:

By Jennifer Bernal
Best Defense Drugs & Crime Correspondent
Cops are the first line of defense against gangs, and they have a pretty good understanding of the issue. Talking with them yields a pretty grim assessment: There is a huge gang problem in the United States. Our cops in attendance estimated that the U.S. might have up to 1 million gang members, although the problem is often underreported both because it is difficult to detect and because of local politicians’ incentives to downplay crime figures in their areas. The gang problem is inherently tied in to broader regional criminal trends. The extensiveness of drug trafficking south of the border and the degree to which cartels violently contest state authority is well acknowledged. There is nonetheless a common misperception that drug networks disintegrate when you cross the border into the U.S. They don’t. Gangs — mostly youth gangs — step in to domestically distribute the drugs that cartels traffic in.

Gangs & 4th Generation War

William S. Lind:

The November 15 Washington Post had a story about gangs in Salinas, California, that deserves close attention from 4GW theorists. Salinas is reportedly overrun with Hispanic gangs. The Post wrote that its homicide rate is three times that of Los Angeles. It quoted a Salinas police officer, Sgt. Mark Lazzarini, on one of the classic results of state breakdown, chaos:

“Only half of our gangs are structured; the Norteños,” he said. “The southerners are completely unstructured. Half of our violence is kids who get into a car and go out and hunt. These kids don’t know their victims. How do you stop that? It’s very chaotic.”

Salinas’s new slogan might be, “Salinas: where even the lettuce has tattoos.”
But what is interesting in the Post’s article is not the gangs themselves. It is a new response to the gangs. Salinas has brought in the U.S. military to apply counter-insurgency doctrine to a situation on American soil. The Post reports that:

Madison police chief: Time to gang up on gangs

Steven Verburg:

Madison police chief Noble Wray wants to send more officers after gang members, and he plans to talk to the mayor next week about an initiative to make that possible.
A recent assessment by the police department’s two-officer Gang Unit indicated more than 900 confirmed Madison gang members and another 500 people considered associates of gang members.
“It is clear the number of young people connected to gangs is on the rise, and we need to respond to that growth,” Wray said in a press release issued Friday.
Many gang members and their associates commit burglaries, robberies, assaults, shootings, and they deal drugs, he said. Wray wants to form a new “Gang/Crime Prevention Unit.”
The unit would work closely with neighborhood officers, community policing teams, detectives and others by tapping the expertise of staffers who analyze crime data.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

Gangs in Dane County? Yes, they’re everywhere, detective says

Karyn Saemann:

Gangs are everywhere in Dane County, from the largest Madison high schools to the smallest rural hamlets.
In the latest of a series of informational meetings led by a Dane County detective who monitors local gang activity, Sun Prairie parents were told their help is needed.
Detective Joel Wagner estimated that 3 to 4 percent of Dane County youths are involved in a gang. Recruiting begins in the fourth grade, he said; gang members can be of any race and socioeconomic status, but are primarily kids who have fallen away from school and family and are looking for a group to belong to.
“The best thing is prevention,” Wagner said. “We need to get back to eyes and ears.”
“Know your children’s friends. Know them well,” he said. “Know your children’s friends’ parents. Know them better.”
Wednesday night’s meeting at Sun Prairie High School stretched more than two hours and included disturbing video of gang fights and other violence from Dane County and across the nation as well as online photos of gang members who identify themselves as being from Sun Prairie and other Dane County communities.
Particularly disturbing was video — not from Dane County — of a gang initiation in which a teen’s head was smashed into a cement curb and into a florescent light tube. In another video, a teen was beaten in a bathroom as part of an initiation.

Related:

Moms team up to battle influence of gangs: ‘We didn’t raise our kids this way’

Annie Sweeney:

It’s what everyone wants to know after a gang member terrorizes a neighborhood: Where are the parents?
For the last several months, at least some of them have been meeting in a South Side church basement to pray and cry and face a deep shame: They are mothers of the gang-bangers on the corners. Or they fear their child is about to join a gang.
Many are also single parents, struggling to pay bills. They work 16 hours a day, and every time they hear a gunshot, they worry their child has been shot or has shot someone else’s child. Some chase after their kids at 2 a.m.; others have stood in defiance when they won’t leave a corner.
And yes, they wonder what they did wrong.

Educating the Community on Gangs in Madison

Rose Johnson-Brown:

Many times people hide their heads in the sand when there is an accusation of behavior in Madison that might put the community at risk. “Not in my neighborhood” seems to be the response from many citizens in denial when the community is tainted with the reality of the growth of gang activity in Madison.
On this note, a group of University of Wisconsin-Madison social work students wanted to raise awareness in Madison of the prevalent increase in gang activity in Dane County communities. As a group project, they have researched the existence of gangs, their history, their trends and movement that could put children at risk.
On April 23 at Leopold Elementary School, Erin Wearing, Corrina Flannery, Amanda Galaviz, Teresa Rhiel, and Yer Lee, students of Professor Sandy Magana’s Advanced Macro Practice Social Work class, coordinated a community outreach event and informational session. It was presented for parents and educators in the Madison and surrounding communities by the Dane County Youth Gang Prevention Task Force.
Madison Police Detective George Chavez and Officer Lester Moore, along with Frank Rodriquez of the DARK Progam shed some light on the growing activity surrounding gang involvement in this area.

Gangs & School Violence Forum audio and video.

Smaller gangs proving deadly

Laura Maggi: Cities across the country are facing a new kind of gang problem, involving loosely affiliated, but heavily armed, neighborhood organizations that deal drugs and ferociously defend their small turf, acting Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford said Monday. Federal and local law enforcement officials have long identified such gangs as major factors in New … Continue reading Smaller gangs proving deadly

“A Loss of Innocence: Young brothers’ lives are example of the lure of gangs”

Donovan Slack: Seven-year-old Brajon Brown is clearly a child. He hasn’t committed a crime, though he talks about it. His 12-year-old brother, Malcolm also is not in a gang – at least not one police recognize. He runs with a “crew” of friends formed when Malcolm was 9. Boston police call them “wannabes” and say … Continue reading “A Loss of Innocence: Young brothers’ lives are example of the lure of gangs”

Soglin on Allied Drive, Gangs

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: he future for Allied Drive and the City of Madison appears bleak. WMTV-15 reported two nights ago: Allied Drive Crowds a Growing Concern for Police Madison police say they have needed to call for backup three times within the last week due to troublesome crowds of people in the Allied … Continue reading Soglin on Allied Drive, Gangs

Videoconference on youth gangs on January 11th, 2006

Please join the City of Madison, Madison Police Department, UW Police Department, Dane County Human Services, Dane County Youth Prevention Task Force, Project Hugs, NIP, Dane County Sheriffs Office and others for a nation-wide videoconference addressing strategies and community programs concerning gangs and gang violence. Following the videoconference there will be an interactive discussion about … Continue reading Videoconference on youth gangs on January 11th, 2006

Gangs and School Violence Forum Notes

This evening’s Gangs and School Violence Forum was quite interesting. Rafael organized an excellent panel. We’ll post a link to video and audio files when they are complete. Following are links to local articles and commentary on this event: Cristina Daglas: Yudice said there has been a “huge development in the area of Latino gangs” … Continue reading Gangs and School Violence Forum Notes

Presentation on Gangs & School Violence

Gangs and School Violence Presentation Wednesday, September 21, 2005 7:00p.m. to 8:00p.m. Organized by volunteers from www.schoolinfosystem.org McDaniels Auditorium Doyle Administration Building 545 W. Dayton St. Madison, WI 53703 Directions Discussion Topics: 1) Has the gang issue changed over the past 10 years? 2) What have we learned from our initiatives? 3) What partnerships are … Continue reading Presentation on Gangs & School Violence

Madison School District behavior plan updates would push for more alternatives to suspension

Scott Girard: After a larger overhaul a year ago, proposed updates to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Behavior Education Plan for this fall would focus on “tweaks” to language and creating more alternatives to suspensions. The updates, presented to the School Board Monday night at its Instruction Work Group meeting, would add new language related … Continue reading Madison School District behavior plan updates would push for more alternatives to suspension

Complaint: Gun found at Madison West High School last week followed armed robbery on Saturday

Scott Girard: Williams then provided the backpack to Creech, and told one of the other officers there was a gun inside. The complaint states Creech found a semi-automatic firearm in the laptop compartment of the backpack. The magazine was loaded but no rounds were housed within the chamber when the gun was found. Williams faces … Continue reading Complaint: Gun found at Madison West High School last week followed armed robbery on Saturday

Madison Memorial student arrested after trying to bring knife into school

Scott Girard: A Memorial High School student was arrested Thursday morning while allegedly trying to bring a “long fix-bladed kitchen knife” into the school, according to the Madison Police Department. An incident report states a plow driver called 911 after seeing the student walking near the school with the knife around 9:21 a.m. “The witness … Continue reading Madison Memorial student arrested after trying to bring knife into school

Madison West High School student found with loaded handgun in school, police say

Logan Wroge: West High School student was arrested Tuesday after he brought a loaded handgun to the Near West Side school, Madison police said. Tyrese T. Williams, 18, was arrested on a tentative felony charge of possession of a firearm in a school zone, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said. West High’s school resource officer … Continue reading Madison West High School student found with loaded handgun in school, police say

What College Admissions Offices Really Want

Paul Tough: In the fall of 2014, Angel Pérez was hired to oversee enrollment at Trinity College, a small liberal-arts school that occupies a picturesque 100-acre hillside campus overlooking Hartford. Trinity is in many ways a typical private northeastern college. It was founded by a group of Episcopalians in the early 19th century, and its … Continue reading What College Admissions Offices Really Want

KamAla Harris, law enforcement and the schools

Nicole Allen: Stymied when it came to prosecuting crime, Harris turned her attention to trying to prevent it. One of her first targets was an unlikely demographic: elementary school kids and their parents. “We went to the school district,” says Silard, Harris’s then–policy chief, “and they looked back at the records and found that all … Continue reading KamAla Harris, law enforcement and the schools

In interview, former Madison Whitehorse staffer speaks publicly for the first time since altercation with student

Negassi Tesfamichael: Whether Mueller-Owens will be able to find a place in the community remains to be seen, as he has kept a low profile since media reports surfaced last month about the Feb. 13 incident and sparked a flurry of outrage in the community. Mikiea Price, the girl’s mother, has said she believed Mueller-Owens … Continue reading In interview, former Madison Whitehorse staffer speaks publicly for the first time since altercation with student

Madison School Board moves to closed room after middle school incident sparks outrage

Logan Wroge: Throughout the public comment period, board members faced accusations of racism and white supremacy for not doing enough to improve the school environment for students of color. Brandi Grayson, co-founder of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, said black children act out in school because they are “dehumanized every day, all day.” “Because … Continue reading Madison School Board moves to closed room after middle school incident sparks outrage

Madison Police Chief: Scale of ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ has been ‘vastly exaggerated’

Logan Wroge: Over the past three years at Madison high schools, while arrests have dropped and the number of citations has fluctuated, African-Americans continue to predominantly be those most cited or arrested, according to Madison Police Department data. As the fate of a contract that stations police officers in high schools remains uncertain, Police Chief … Continue reading Madison Police Chief: Scale of ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ has been ‘vastly exaggerated’

‘Living on borrowed time’ before someone killed by teenage burglaries, car thefts

David Blaska: Congrats to Ald. Paul Skidmore for hosting Monday night’s public safety meeting at Blackhawk Church off Mineral Point Road. Guessing a very engaged crowd of 400 to 500, with a significant representation from black and white. What a line-up! Juvenile court judges Juan Colas and Everett Mitchell, Sheriff Dave Mahoney, D.A. Ismael Ozanne, … Continue reading ‘Living on borrowed time’ before someone killed by teenage burglaries, car thefts

Unsatisfied with progress, Madison schools look to revamp behavior plan

Chris Rickert: For years now there’s been a split between city of Madison residents generally and the children who attend its public schools. Madison’s population is 78.7 percent white, according to Census Bureau figures, and only 18.6 percent of residents live in poverty. By contrast, only 42.7 percent of Madison School District students identified as … Continue reading Unsatisfied with progress, Madison schools look to revamp behavior plan

Three arrested in shooting near La Follette; alleged shooter not a student, Madison police say

Shelly Mesch and Bill Novak: The school district screened students entering the school Thursday and Friday with metal detector wands as a precaution following the shooting. Joe Balles, safety and security coordinator for the school district, said screening will not need to continue next week but there will be screening for students entering Saturday’s Homecoming … Continue reading Three arrested in shooting near La Follette; alleged shooter not a student, Madison police say

Madison schools committee scraps concept of police liaison program

Logan Wroge: A Madison School Board committee on Wednesday scrapped the concept of replacing school-based police officers with a liaison program, while it continued to draft recommendations on the future of the school district’s relationship with the Madison Police Department. A draft report from the committee studying armed and uniformed officers stationed in the Madison … Continue reading Madison schools committee scraps concept of police liaison program

Madison’s K-12 Governance Non Diversity: Police in Schools Meeting

Logan Wroge: Throughout the public comment period, several people said the presence of police officers inside school can negatively affect students of color and feeds into the “school-to-prison pipeline.” “Ain’t no amount of training, ain’t no amount of special certificates is going to matter when it comes to black and brown kids, because (police officers) … Continue reading Madison’s K-12 Governance Non Diversity: Police in Schools Meeting

China’s ‘red education’ history tours and the rise of communist cosplay

Josephine Ma: If anyone can best tell the scale and intensity of China’s “red education” drive to promote loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, it’s businessman Yu Meng. The 36-year-old runs the largest Red Army uniform rental business in Jinggangshan, a city dubbed the “cradle of the communist revolution” deep in the mountains of Jiangxi. … Continue reading China’s ‘red education’ history tours and the rise of communist cosplay

One citizen speaks for keeping cops in schools, gets race-baited by school board member; Part #1

David Blaska: Bad Language + Bad Manners = Bad Policyat the Madison school board’s ad hoc committee on educational resource officers Monday afternoon Who, exactly, is demanding cops out of schools? I noted that the crowd seated in Room 103 were pretty much the same mob who shouted down the Dane County Board of Supervisors … Continue reading One citizen speaks for keeping cops in schools, gets race-baited by school board member; Part #1

Written Off

Amber Walker: Reese’s experience raises broader questions about what information is shared between MMSD and the Dane County Juvenile Court when it comes to youth in their care. While the district insists it was an isolated incident, juvenile court staff, like Smedema and her supervisor, Suzanne Stute, said collecting statements from school staff is a … Continue reading Written Off

Madison’s K-12 Governance & Discipline Climate: Teacher Union View

Andrew Waity, Karen Vieth, Andrew Mayhall, Cari Falk, Kira Fobbs, Jessica Hotz, Michael Jones, Kerry Motoviloff, and Peter Opps: Superintendent Cheatham, We saw the article in the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday, March 26th and found the tone of your quotes in the article disturbing and provocative. We have heard similar concerns from MTI membership. … Continue reading Madison’s K-12 Governance & Discipline Climate: Teacher Union View

Fear of being seen as ‘racist’ may work against good behavior in Madison schools

Karen Rivedal: A tendency by staff to let the small stuff slide — perhaps due to fears of appearing racist — is only contributing to bigger disciplinary problems down the line in Madison public high schools, Superintendent Jen Cheatham said. As the Madison School District grapples with a rise in suspensions, fights and classroom disruption … Continue reading Fear of being seen as ‘racist’ may work against good behavior in Madison schools

Thousands of Madison-area students walk out for gun control, school safety

Karen Rivedal: While staff chose to hold some sort of commemoration, the walkout was planned by a small committee of students over the past two days, eighth grade social studies teacher Tracy Hamm Warnecke said. “Middle schools are very aware of what’s going on in the world around them, especially eighth graders,” Hamm Warnecke said. … Continue reading Thousands of Madison-area students walk out for gun control, school safety

A 1980s study on juvenile crime in Japan sheds light on American gun culture

Annalisa Merelli: In 1982, John Beck—a strategy advisor and former business professor at Harvard and UCLA—was a 22-year-old Harvard student working on his thesis on juvenile crime in Japan. In the 1980s, Japan had seen an uncharacteristic increase in juvenile crime, which was associated with bōsōzoku (暴走族), or biker gangs. These groups, Beck says, comprised … Continue reading A 1980s study on juvenile crime in Japan sheds light on American gun culture

MS-13 is ‘taking over the school,’ one teen warned before she was killed

Michael Miller: The old minivan appeared near the school on a Tuesday morning, its Illinois plates the only thing out of place in the blue-collar suburbs of central Long Island. But as backpack-toting teenagers passed by on their way to Brentwood High, the van’s doors suddenly swung open. Out sprang members of the violent street … Continue reading MS-13 is ‘taking over the school,’ one teen warned before she was killed

Data show suspensions up in Madison schools for first semester

Amber Walker: Out-of-school suspensions are up in the Madison Metropolitan School District at this point in the school year compared to last year. On Monday, the Madison School Board received its midyear update on the Behavior Education Plan. District data shows 1,122 suspensions across the district so far this school year, compared to 892 at … Continue reading Data show suspensions up in Madison schools for first semester

Security upgrades, behavior fixes pledged by Madison School District

Karen Rivedal: Police also were sent to West on Feb. 19, when a small group of students “engaged in a loud verbal altercation” in front of the school library, Boran said, even as the “vast majority” of students acted appropriately. Disturbances like that happen dozens of times a year across the four high schools, according … Continue reading Security upgrades, behavior fixes pledged by Madison School District

Madison La Follette parents urge Madison School Board to act on school safety

Amber Walker: Several dozen parents, students and community members from La Follette High School showed up to Monday evening’s Madison School Board meeting to address mounting concerns about safety at the school. The outcry follows the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, earlier this month. In the last two weeks, Madison … Continue reading Madison La Follette parents urge Madison School Board to act on school safety

Wisconsin Association of School Boards: Conversation about arming teachers should start at local level

Lisa Speckhard Pasque: In an often passionate debate that can become a battle between extremes, Robert Butler, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, doesn’t think there’s a top-down, one-size-fits-all solution. On an episode of the Sunday political talk show “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Butler suggested asking local police, liability carriers and … Continue reading Wisconsin Association of School Boards: Conversation about arming teachers should start at local level

Parent hands cardboard with ‘gun’ written on it to teacher at Madison school, police say

Logan Wroge: A Madison man has been arrested and banned from Shorewood Hills Elementary School after he handed a piece of cardboard with “gun” written on it to a teacher Thursday morning. Police said there was no danger to the school and didn’t speculate on what the parent’s motive was. Shorewood Hills Police Chief Aaron … Continue reading Parent hands cardboard with ‘gun’ written on it to teacher at Madison school, police say

School board knew of Parkland shooter’s obsession with guns and violence, documents show

Bob Norman: The education plan shows that, even as Cruz was making progress at the Cross Creek School for emotionally and behaviorally disabled students in late 2015, but that he was known by administrators to have an obsession with guns and violence. Here are some passages from the plan: “Nikolas at times, will be distracted … Continue reading School board knew of Parkland shooter’s obsession with guns and violence, documents show

Three Madison high schools erupt in chaos Monday noon

David Blaska: From what we can determine, the misbehaving students were not peacefully protesting for gun control, social justice, or better cafeteria food. They were just fighting. Let’s start with Chief Koval’s bare bones police blotter: MIDTOWN: Disturbance – 12:12 p.m. MPD Educational Resource Officer (ERO) requested back-up to assist with a large disturbance in … Continue reading Three Madison high schools erupt in chaos Monday noon

La Follette High School student found with handgun at school, principal says

Logan Wroge: A La Follette High School student brought a handgun to school on Wednesday, Principal Sean Storch said in an email to parents. Storch said officials received a report that a student was possibly in possession of a weapon. La Follette’s educational resource officer, a Madison police officer assigned to the school, made contact … Continue reading La Follette High School student found with handgun at school, principal says

Madison School Board member Kate Toews wants interior locks on every MMSD classroom doorway

Amber Walker: Madison School Board member Kate Toews had a suggestion for the district at Monday night’s board meeting: an interior lock on every classroom door. Toews’ idea came towards the end of a board discussion about the 2018-2019 school district budget. Toews said the Madison Metropolitan School District should install locks on all classrooms … Continue reading Madison School Board member Kate Toews wants interior locks on every MMSD classroom doorway

La Follette High parents discuss school security, fights with Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham

Karen Rivedal: More than 150 people — most of them parents, many of them worried and frustrated — filled the cafeteria at La Follette High School Tuesday night to share their concerns about school safety, security, students fighting and the student behavior code with Madison School District Superintendent Jen Cheatham and Principal Sean Storch. “It’s … Continue reading La Follette High parents discuss school security, fights with Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham

Review of Madison Police Department includes recommendations on school-based officers

Abigail Becker: On Tuesday, the Madison School Board and the City Council both voted to sign a contract approving the continued use of educational resource officers in the city’s four high schools. The authorization approves a three-year contract for EROs, with a provision to opt-out after two years. Tuesday’s decision follows last week’s stalemate between … Continue reading Review of Madison Police Department includes recommendations on school-based officers

Local groups speak out against Teacher Protection Act

Amber Walker: Several groups assembled at the state Capitol on Thursday to speak out against a bill that would require police departments to inform school administrators if a student is taken into custody for a felony or violent misdemeanor. The bill would also give teachers the right to appeal directly to the school board if … Continue reading Local groups speak out against Teacher Protection Act

Educators, disability-rights advocates say Teacher Protection Act will widen school-to-prison pipeline

Annysa Johnson: The bill’s author, Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), defended the measure, saying he was open to amendments but that something has to be done about the rise in assaults and threats against teachers. He blamed what he described as the “social justice agenda” in some schools, saying it does not hold students … Continue reading Educators, disability-rights advocates say Teacher Protection Act will widen school-to-prison pipeline

The Black Family Is Struggling, and It’s Not Because of Slavery

Walter Williams: That the problems of today’s black Americans are a result of a legacy of slavery, racial discrimination, and poverty has achieved an axiomatic status, thought to be self-evident and beyond question. This is what academics and the civil rights establishment have taught. But as with so much of what’s claimed by leftists, there … Continue reading The Black Family Is Struggling, and It’s Not Because of Slavery

Why are some D.C. schools underreporting student suspensions?

Washington Post Editorial (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Post): AFTER POST reporters raised questions about the accuracy of suspension rates in some D.C. public schools, a warning went out to principals. “Inappropriate, unprofessional and fraudulent” was how the system’s instructional superintendent described failure to accurately record students barred from classes. It’s good that such … Continue reading Why are some D.C. schools underreporting student suspensions?

Threats prompt extra safety precautions at West High School, officials say

Sandy Cullen: Madison police and school district officials are taking extra safety precautions following what the principal of West High School described as messages “threatening violence against our school.” In an email sent to families Tuesday evening, West Principal Beth Thompson said, “We plan to continue our safety precautions tomorrow, including a full search of … Continue reading Threats prompt extra safety precautions at West High School, officials say

Two Madison West High students arrested, one with BB gun outside school, police say

Brianna Reilly: Two West High School students were arrested Thursday afternoon after an officer stationed at the school took a BB gun from one of them, Madison police said. The students, both 14-year-old boys, were outside the school on Regent Street at 1:25 p.m. when the officer took the gun away from them, Madison police … Continue reading Two Madison West High students arrested, one with BB gun outside school, police say

Federal/State Tax Dollars & Madison Youth Employment Programs

Abigail Becker Mary O’Donnell, the city’s youth services coordinator, said in her 21 years with the city, she has seen funding for youth employment increase along with a greater prioritization from the City Council and mayor on providing jobs to youth. “I would say the uptick really started in the last 10 years with the … Continue reading Federal/State Tax Dollars & Madison Youth Employment Programs

How The Chicago Public Schools Failed Laquan McDonald

Sarah Karp: The videotaped shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer was a criminal act, according to prosecutors who have charged the cop with the teen’s murder. But the death represented something else: The culmination of a series of failings by other taxpayer-funded systems that are supposed to help at-risk youths. That’s … Continue reading How The Chicago Public Schools Failed Laquan McDonald

Madison high school student arrested for having a loaded gun at Lapham Elementary

Jason Joyce: “Students in the alternative program have their classes on the third floor, separate from the elementary students,” said Rachel Strauch Nelson in an email. “I would note that we have already been considering other possible locations for these programs as our district works to strengthen our alternative program options.” Strauch Nelson added that … Continue reading Madison high school student arrested for having a loaded gun at Lapham Elementary

Deja Vu on School Police Calls: School crime stats would be included in state report cards under GOP bill

Molly Beck: The number and type of crimes committed at high schools, at their events and on school buses would be printed on the state’s school report cards under a bill being circulated this week. Any public high school, public charter high school or private voucher high school would be required to track reports of … Continue reading Deja Vu on School Police Calls: School crime stats would be included in state report cards under GOP bill

Beating Newark’s odds, KIPP charter network is poised to expand

Julie O’Connor: It is an unlikely place to see so many children celebrating college acceptance letters. Here in the heart of Newark, a poor and violent city, sits a passage to another world. Just blocks from Barringer High School — where at least a dozen gangs recruit, cops break up fights with pepper spray, a … Continue reading Beating Newark’s odds, KIPP charter network is poised to expand

College Applicants Sanitizing Social Media Profiles

Natasha Singer: Admissions officers at Morehouse College in Atlanta were shocked several years ago when a number of high school seniors submitted applications using email addresses containing provocative language. Some of the addresses made sexual innuendos while others invoked gangster rap songs or drug use, said Darryl D. Isom, Morehouse’s director of admissions and recruitment. … Continue reading College Applicants Sanitizing Social Media Profiles

1 in 3 Black Students Chronically Absent from Madison Schools

Molly Beck, via a kind reader: One in three black students was chronically absent from school during the 2013-14 school year, according to a Madison School District report. Thirty-six percent of the district’s black students have an attendance rate lower than 90 percent. That corresponds to missing, on average, one half day of school every … Continue reading 1 in 3 Black Students Chronically Absent from Madison Schools

2013 in Education

Peter Wood:

A week ago I published my list of top ten stories–highs and lows–in higher education in 2013. I was generously rewarded when Powerline picked it as #2 in its list of top ten top lists. But there are still some minutes left in the season of top ten lists, which ought to extend to January 6, the traditional date of Epiphany. Then we have the (lower case) epiphany that it is time to get on with things.
My new list is mainly about people who did something original, creative, noteworthy, or surprising in 2013 whose accomplishments deserve a little more attention. I set out to list only positive accomplishments, but unfortunately a few infamies sneaked in. What follows are the top ten best surprises: the gifts you didn’t know you wanted until you unwrapped the package. First up:
1. Thug Notes. This YouTube site debuted in June, with Sparky Sweets, Ph.D. explicating Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Since then, Dr. Sweets has offered his taut plot summaries and explications de texte for Hamlet, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Sun Also Rises, The Inferno, Heart of Darkness, Moby Dick, and many more canonical works of literature. The intro to each piece is a pastiche of Masterpiece Theater, the camera scanning across a shelf of beautifully bound volumes accompanied by Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 3, then cutting to a book-lined study in which Dr. Sweets sits in a comfortable chair, in gold-chained muscle shirt and do-rag, announcing this week’s selection. “What’s happening, yo? This week on Thug Notes we get regal with Hamlet by William Shakespeare.”
This could have been a one-off parody, hitting the two birds of pretentious British TV and mass-marketed cheat sheets with one gangsta, but Dr. Sweets has developed the idea further. His wordplay (Hamlet serves up “Elizabethan hater-ade”) is smart and his rapid-fire analyses delivered in character as a street-smart thug really are smart.
The series has conferred minor celebrity on Dr. Sweets. He takes what he does seriously, telling one interviewer that he created Thug Notes because “literature is enshrouded by a veil of unnecessarily pedantic terminology and intellectual one-upmanship,” and that his calling is to bring it to “people on the opposite side of the social stratum.” Dr. Sweets holds that “the gift of literature is universal.”
2. Leaked! Harvard’s Grading Rubric. A+++ to Nathaniel Stein, who published this satire of Harvard’s grade inflation in The New York Times. Presented as a memorandum from the Dean of Harvard College, Leaked! purports to explain the criteria that qualify a term paper for an A+, including the stipulation that the “The paper contains few, if any, death threats.” Grades of A++ or A+++ are designated “A+ with garlands.”
3. Farewell. College presidents come and go and typically there is there is no reason to celebrate one’s leaving. The next is likely to be as bad or worse. But occasionally one comes and stays. And stays. And stays. In June Gordon Gee announced his retirement as president of Ohio State University. Gee became president of West Virginia University in 1981 at age 37, and then served in succession as president of the University of Colorado, Ohio State University, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, and then back to Ohio State again. He distinguished himself mainly by his soaring remuneration, becoming by 2003 the highest paid university president in the U.S. (and no doubt the world) with compensation of over $1.3 million.
It would difficult to understate Gee’s other accomplishments, though he did manage an uncommonly graceless departure by sneering at Roman Catholics and the University of Notre Dame (“those Damn Catholics”) and mocking other colleges. The remarks didn’t sit well with the Ohio State board of trustees. But let’s let Dr. Gee settle into his well-upholstered retirement. Few men have profited more from higher education than he.

Apocalypse, New Jersey: A Dispatch From America’s Most Desperate Town

Matt Taibbi:

The first thing you notice about Camden, New Jersey, is that pretty much everyone you talk to has just gotten his or her ass kicked.
Detroit’s Debt Crisis: Everything Must Go
Instead of shaking hands, people here are always lifting hats, sleeves, pant legs and shirttails to show you wounds or scars, then pointing in the direction of where the bad thing just happened.
“I been shot six times,” says Raymond, a self-described gangster I meet standing on a downtown corner. He pulls up his pant leg. “The last time I got shot was three years ago, twice in the femur.” He gives an intellectual nod. “The femur, you know, that’s the largest bone in the leg.”
“First they hit me in the head,” says Dwayne “The Wiz” Charbonneau, a junkie who had been robbed the night before. He lifts his wool cap to expose a still-oozing red strawberry and pulls his sweatpants down at the waist, drawing a few passing glances. “After that, they ripped my pockets out. You can see right here. . . .”
Even the cops have their stories: “You can see right here, that’s where he bit me,” says one police officer, lifting his pant leg. “And I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to have to shoot this dog.'”
“I’ve seen people shot and gotten blood on me,” says Thomas Bayard Townsend III, a friendly convicted murderer with a tear tattoo under his eye. “If you turn around here, and your curiosity gets the best of you, it can cost you your life.”

Madison schools look to make discipline about growth, not punishment

Pat Schneider:

But statistics showing African-American students in the district were eight times more likely to get an out-of-school suspension than white students last year raises questions about whether the discipline code works against efforts to close the achievement gap.
Among big school districts reconsidering such measures is Broward County in Florida, where a zero-tolerance policy led to arrests for such infractions as possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti, the New York Times reports. That district, which had more than 1,000 arrests in the 2011 school year, entered into an agreement last month with community organizations to overhaul its policies to de-emphasize punishment. School districts in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver are undertaking similar reviews of get-tough policies.
“Everybody knows that suspensions don’t always achieve a change in behavior,” says Tim Ritchie, dean of students at Madison Memorial High School. “When we send some kids out of school (on suspension) they don’t have anywhere appropriate to go — their homes can be very chaotic environments.”

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang

Alexandre Afonso:

In 2000, economist Steven Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh published an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics about the internal wage structure of a Chicago drug gang. This piece would later serve as a basis for a chapter in Levitt’s (and Dubner’s) best seller Freakonomics. [1] The title of the chapter, “Why drug dealers still live with their moms”, was based on the finding that the income distribution within gangs was extremely skewed in favor of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities, let’s say at McDonald’s. They calculated 3.30 dollars as the hourly rate, that is, well below a living wage (that’s why they still live with their moms). [2]
If you take into account the risk of being shot by rival gangs, ending up in jail or being beaten up by your own hierarchy, you might wonder why anybody would work for such a low wage and at such dreadful working conditions instead of seeking employment at Mc Donalds. Yet, gangs have no real difficulty in recruiting new members. The reason for this is that the prospect of future wealth, rather than current income and working conditions, is the main driver for people to stay in the business: low-level drug sellers forgo current income for (uncertain) future wealth. Rank-and file members are ready to face this risk to try to make it to the top, where life is good and money is flowing. It is very unlikely that they will make it (their mortality rate is insanely high, by the way) but they’re ready to “get rich or die trying”.

Madison Schools’ Behavior Report: 2012-2013



Madison School District PDF:

1. Both out-of-school and in-school suspensions were less common in 2012-13 than in 2011-12. In particular, the reduction in out-of-school suspensions led to nearly 600 fewer days of instruction lost to suspensions.
2. Large disproportionalities exist between suspensions and demographics in MMSD. For example, African- American students make up 19% of MMSD’s population but received 60% of out-of-school suspensions. Low- income students make up 48% of MMSD but received 85% of suspensions.
3. There are large disparities in discipline practices between schools. For example, among elementary schools, out-of-school suspensions ranged between 0 and 98, and behavior referrals ranged between 25 and 2,319.

Related: Madison School Board discipline presentation (PDF) and a Wisconsin DPI FAQ (PDF).
Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum (2005) audio & video and Police calls to and near Madison schools: 1996-2006.

Poverty and Food: Why do so many people in poor countries eat so badly–and what can be done about it?

The Economist:

IN ELDORADO, one of São Paulo’s poorest and most misleadingly named favelas, some eight-year-old boys are playing football on a patch of ground once better known for drug gangs and hunger. Although they look the picture of health, they are not. After the match they gather around a sack of bananas beside the pitch.
“At school, the kids get a full meal every day,” explains Jonathan Hannay, the secretary-general of Children at Risk Foundation, a local charity. “But in the holidays they come to us without breakfast or lunch so we give them bananas. They are filling, cheap, and they stimulate the brain.” Malnutrition used to be pervasive and invisible in Eldorado. Now there is less of it and, equally important, it is no longer hidden. “It has become more visible–so people are doing something about it.”

Autonomy for schools is producing some remarkable successes. Can others learn from them?

The Economist::

DANIEL RILEY, a young trainee teacher from west London, attended a school so bad that it was shut down while he was there. It was, he recalls with commendable understatement, an “unstructured” place. Fewer than 20% of pupils achieved five good GCSE passes, including mathematics and English (the main benchmark for secondary students, involving exams commonly taken at 16). There were fights. Some, involving knives, ended with arrests. There were drugs–the school drew its pupils from tough housing estates, and gangs prowled at the gates. The teaching was “not inspired,” Mr Riley says, sticking with the understatement. He recalls lessons spent copying texts from books.
As happened to a few dozen failing institutions under the previous Labour government, Mr Riley’s school was turned into an academy–a state school removed from local council control and given new freedoms over staffing and teaching methods. Six years on, Paddington Academy draws its pupils from the same estates. But the school is unrecognisable.

Why You Should Postpone College

Brett Nelson:

Very soon, millions of high-schoolers will run a nerve-rattling gauntlet, perhaps for weeks: They will yank open their mailboxes and flip through the envelopes like one of those rapid-fire, dollar-bill sorting machines in all the gangster movies. Girth–that’s what they’re after. Because the plumper the package, the better the odds it contains that which matters most: a college acceptance letter!
Before triumph and tragedy ensue, I have a modest proposal for the future class of 2016. No matter what happens in the coming weeks, grab some solitude and contemplate one very important question: Am I really ready for college?

Driven off the Road by M.B.A.s

Rana Foroohar:

Bob Lutz, the former Vice Chairman of General Motors, is the most famous also-ran in the auto business. In the course of his 47-year rampage through the industry, he’s been within swiping range of the brass ring at Ford, BMW, Chrysler and, most recently, GM, but he’s never landed the top gig. It’s because he “made the cars too well,” he says. It might also have something to do with the fact that Maximum Bob, who could double as a character on Mad Men, is less an éminence grise than a pithy self-promoter who has a tendency to go off corporate message. That said, his new book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business, has a message worth hearing. To get the U.S. economy growing again, Lutz says, we need to fire the M.B.A.s and let engineers run the show.
Lutz’s main argument is that companies, shareholders and consumers are best served by product-driven executives. In his book, Lutz wisecracks his way through the 1960s design- and technology-led glory days at GM to the late-1970s takeover by gangs of M.B.A.s. Executives, once largely developed from engineering, began emerging from finance. The results ranged from the sobering (managers signing off on inferior products because customers “had no choice”) to the hilarious (Cadillac ashtrays that wouldn’t open because of corporate mandates that they be designed to function at -40°F). It’s pretty easy to imagine Car Guy Lutz removing his mirrored shades and shouting to the cowering line manager, “Well, customers in North Dakota will be happy. Too bad nobody else will!”

Gangless in Glasgow: The City Famed for Youth Violence Is Keeping the Kids Clean

Jay Newton-Small:

When he was 12, William Palmer joined a gang without even realizing it. To him, he was just hanging out with his big brother and their friends in their Easterhouse neighborhood in Glasgow. At first, he stood and watched as his friends defended their 200-sq-m territory from rivals. Lining up military-style, both sides would lunge and retreat until someone, usually drunk, engaged, and the fight would begin. Soon enough, Palmer was fighting alongside his brethren. By the time he was 20, he was selling drugs — mostly ecstasy — to younger kids in his neighborhood, taking care to avoid other gangs’ territories lest he get jumped.
Now 29, Palmer regards himself as lucky to have survived his youth. One of his brothers, a heroin addict, is in prison. Palmer himself did a two-year term after attacking a rival gang member with a hatchet. That led to an epiphany, and he joined Alcoholics Anonymous to dry out. Today he mentors kids at risk of joining gangs, even though the charity for which he works still has to carefully smuggle him through enemy lines — five years after he left his gang. He is also wanted by the Glasgow police, but in a good way. They regularly ask Palmer to talk with new officers about how to get through to gang members. The role reversal amuses him. “We used to phone them up just to toy with them so we could get a chase off them,” he says of the police. “Now they’re phoning me up for advice.”

Arrests, citations reach lowest level in 10 years at Madison high schools

Matthew DeFour:

The number of arrests and citations for incidents at Madison’s four main high schools dropped last year to the lowest level in more than a decade, according to police data.
But arrests and citations at West and Memorial were twice the number at East and La Follette — a reversal of the situation 10 years earlier when there were more than twice as many at the city’s East Side high schools.
West was the only school with an increase from the previous year.
The Wisconsin State Journal obtained the data from the Madison Police Department amid a debate over whether the Madison School District should use drug-sniffing police dogs in random sweeps of high schools. The School Board was to consider the issue Monday but delayed a vote until late September — in part to review the arrest and citation data.
District officials say an increase in drug-related disciplinary referrals in recent years, and the use of drug dogs in area school districts, support the use of police dogs. Community surveys also have showed strong support.
Luis Yudice, the School District’s security coordinator, who introduced the drug-sniffing dog proposal with the support of Madison police, is concerned drugs in schools can lead to more gang activity, fights and weapons in schools as students arm themselves in self-defense. He views the police dog policy as a possible deterrent that could prevent a crisis.

Related: Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006.
Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio/Video.

Teacher Collaboration Gives Schools Better Results

Melinda Burns:

Five years ago, Sparks Middle School hit bottom. Its test scores were some of the worst in the district. A chain-link fence was locked after hours to prevent gangs from tagging the open-air hallways. Between classes, members of rival tagging crews would fight.
Word came down to the La Puente, Calif., school from the Los Angeles County Office of Education: We may shut you down if you don’t come up with a plan.
Sparks embarked on a makeover. Sherri Franson, the school’s new principal, took down the chain-link fence because she thought it made the school look like a jail. She lengthened the school day by 20 minutes, increased the number of periods from six to seven and hired two literacy coaches. Low-scoring students were required to take double periods of math or English. Every student received a “glory binder” and was taught how to take notes.

The Kapors’ SMASH Academy is filling an education gap

Mike Cassidy:

Give a kid a chance and you’ll be amazed at what happens next.
That thought kept rolling through my mind as I surveyed the controlled chaos that was lunch for 80 teenagers who’d moved onto Stanford’s campus to take five summer weeks of intensive math and science courses.
I know. What’s so different about a passel of brilliant kids studying hard stuff at Stanford?
Well, for one thing, a pessimist might look at these particular kids working their way through hamburgers, chicken and mashed potatoes, and conclude that they are not college material. In fact, the vast majority of them would be the first in their families to go to college. Nearly all of them attend high schools where most students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. Some live in tough neighborhoods. Some dodge gangs on the way to and from school — and maybe even at school.
But that’s not what defines them. Not at all. The kids at Stanford, members of the inaugural class of the Silicon Valley version of the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), are energetic, optimistic, determined, resourceful and approaching brilliant.

Study Questions School Discipline Effectiveness

Alan Schwarz:: Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.When also considering less serious … Continue reading Study Questions School Discipline Effectiveness

Carol Moseley Braun Answers: As Mayor of Chicago, How Will You Fix Education?

Fox Chicago News:

1. What criteria will you use in selecting the next CEO of the Chicago Public Schools?
I support hiring a superintendent for the Chicago Public Schools with a strong and proven track-record in education. Strong managerial skills and the ability to work with community leaders, parents, and teachers will also be extremely important qualities I will consider as mayor.
2. What will you do to keep the students who are in Chicago Public Schools safe?
I believe schools must be places where the community comes together. Parents, local businesses, community organizations, and local law enforcement must all play a role in providing a safe and secure space of learning for Chicago’s youth. As Senator, I was sponsor of the Midnight Basketball program, which brought local youth together with local police officers. I will provide an educational curriculum with more art, drama, and music classes to keep more students in school and engaged in activities to keep the gangs at bay. In addition, vocational training will provide students with the skills to be more competitive in the workforce and less likely to join gangs.

A fatal failure long ago gives a new principal a mission

Alan Borsuk

Jim Wilkinson took it personally when Juan Perez murdered two men.
Certainly he had sympathy for the victims, Joseph Rivera and Michael Ralston. But he didn’t know them.
The issue was Perez. Wilkinson felt he barely knew him – and that was the problem. Perez had been one of Wilkinson’s students the previous year when Perez was 15 and a freshman at Marquette University High School.
Almost everybody at Marquette High barely knew Perez. He never asked for help. He stayed to himself. He got mediocre grades, but he wasn’t failing. And he left the school after that freshman year. Instead, he got involved deeply with a gang.
A tense, angry confrontation between members of two gangs in a restaurant on Feb. 13, 1993. A slap. Insults. A couple guns. And, in short order, the teenager was receiving a 60-year sentence.
Almost 18 years later, both Perez and Wilkinson feel they have changed for the better.

Madison schools working with Metro to curb bad bus behavior

Matthew DeFour:

Responding to safety concerns about bullying, fights and unruly behavior on student bus routes, Metro Transit is working with the Madison School District to impose sanctions against disruptive students.
Starting as early as mid-January, Metro officials may limit bus access for students who misbehave in ways that don’t currently result in penalties — such as vandalism, throwing objects, horseplay, and loud or vulgar language.
Unruly students with unlimited bus passes could receive a limited pass that would only cover travel to and from school. Currently, those passes allow students to ride buses throughout the city at any time.
Though Metro now has cameras on all of its buses, students, particularly those in middle school, are still misbehaving, school district security coordinator Luis Yudice said. Some students are bullied to the point that they arm themselves with knives or join gangs for protection, he said.

Crimes Rattle Madison Schools

Susan Troller, via a kind reader’s email:

It’s been a rough week in Madison schools, with the first degree sexual assault of a student in a stairwell at East High School and an alleged mugging at Jefferson Middle School.
The sexual assault occurred on Thursday afternoon, according to police reports. The 15-year-old victim knew the alleged assailant, also 15, and he was arrested and charged at school.
On Wednesday, two 13-year-old students at Jefferson allegedly mugged another student at his locker, grabbing him from behind and using force to try to steal his wallet. The police report noted that all three students fell to the floor. According to a letter sent to Jefferson parents on Friday, “the student yelled loudly, resisted the attempt and went immediately to report the incident. The students involved in the attempted theft were immediately identified and detained in the office.”
The mugging was not reported to police until Thursday morning and Jefferson parents did not learn about the incident until two days after the incident. When police arrived at school on Thursday, they arrested two students in the attempted theft.
Parents at East were notified Thursday of the sexual assault.
Luis Yudice, Madison public schools safety chief, said it was unusual for police not to be notified as soon as the alleged strong arm robbery was reported to school officials.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio & Video and police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006.

Teen Accused Of Sexual Assault At Madison’s East High School

A Madison East High School student has been arrested and charged on suspicion of sexually assaulting another student on school grounds this week.
Madison police said the 15-year-old boy was arrested on a charge of first-degree sexual assault on Thursday after a 15-year-old girl reported the incident.
Dan Nerad, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District, said while these cases are rare, they happen and it forces district officials to take a step back and look how this could have been prevented. Officials sent a letter home to parents to explain the incident and the district’s next steps.
“We’re going to work real hard to deal with it, we’re going to work real hard to learn from it. We’re going to work real hard to make any necessary changes after we have a change to review what all of these facts and circumstances are,” Nerad said.
Nerad said that while there are things the district can do to prevent such incidents, he believes much more help is needed from the community. He said the fact that this type of activity has entered the school door should be a wake up call to society.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio & Video and police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006.

On education, reform must be Item 1

Ed Allen

Proponents of State Question 744 are working hard and spending a good deal of money to get a square peg into a round hole. Advocates of SQ 744 don’t seem to realize that the educational landscape has changed; they continue to see public education in one shape, with everyone else seeing another. Proponents of SQ 744 see dollars first; opponents see reform first.
Teachers know better than anyone the challenges brought on by poverty, absentee parents, English language learners, gangs, addiction, etc. In Oklahoma City we know it first hand — our teachers are dedicated professionals because they do what most cannot or will not do, which is to work in an urban environment. Because of our firsthand knowledge, we know reform is an absolute must. While we cannot control some factors, there are many we can. The Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, long a proponent of reform, is leading the way to quality schools and improved student achievement.

Wisconsin State Journal Removes This Story

The Madison School District’s Ken Syke via email:

Jim,
I’ve been made aware of the entry on the School Info Systems site about La Follette student taking gun to school. That story has been retracted by madison.com and thus the story excerpt on the the SIS site is not supported any longer. It’s our understanding that this madison.com story will remain retracted.
Thus we request that the story excerpt be pulled from the School Info Systems site.
Thank you.

I phoned (608) 252-6120 the Wisconsin State Journal (part of Capital Newspapers, which owns madison.com) and spoke with Jason (I did not ask his last name) today at about 2:20p.m. I asked about the status of this story [Dane County Case Number: 2010CF001460, Police call data via Crime Reports COMMUNITY POLICING 03 Sep 2010 1 BLOCK ASH ST Distance: 0 miles Identifier: 201000252977 Suspicious Vehicle Agency: City of Madison]. He spoke with another person, returned to the phone and said that a police officer phoned the reporter, Sandy Cullen and said the report she mentioned was incorrect. They then took the article down. I asked him to email me this summary, which I will post upon receipt.
Links from the original post:
Related:

Madison West High gang incident raises specter of retaliation

Sandy Cullen:

An armed altercation Friday outside West High School involving known and suspected members of two street gangs involved in an April homicide heightened concerns of possible retaliation, police and school officials said Tuesday.
Sgt. Amy Schwartz, who leads the Madison Police Department’s Crime Prevention Gang Unit, said it is not known if members of the South Side Carnales gang went to the high school looking for members of the rival Clanton 14, or C-14 gang.
But staff at West and the city’s three other main high schools and two middle schools were told Tuesday to determine if safety plans are needed for any students who might be at risk, said Luis Yudice, security coordinator for the Madison School District.
Police have not notified the School District of a specific threat against any student, Yudice said.
But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student. Five people, who police say are associated with the South Side Carnales and MS-13 gangs, are charged in Perez’s slaying. Two of them remain at large.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio / video.
A kind reader noted this quote from the article:

“But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student.”

Much more here.
Sgt. Amy Schwartz, who leads the Madison Police Department’s Crime Prevention Gang Unit, said it is not known if members of the South Side Carnales gang went to the high school looking for members of the rival Clanton 14, or C-14 gang.
But staff at West and the city’s three other main high schools and two middle schools were told Tuesday to determine if safety plans are needed for any students who might be at risk, said Luis Yudice, security coordinator for the Madison School District.
Police have not notified the School District of a specific threat against any student, Yudice said.
But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student. Five people, who police say are associated with the South Side Carnales and MS-13 gangs, are charged in Perez’s slaying. Two of them remain at large.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio / video.
A kind reader noted this quote from the article:

“But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student.”

Gang activity in Madison often flies under public radar

Wisconsin State Journal:

A few years ago, a Madison gang targeted a prominent detective for murder. That plot failed. But police say gangs have been responsible for at least three murders in the last three years.
Although there are now more than 1,100 gang members in the Madison area, they’re not always visible. Nor is the connection between gangs and crime. Regardless, police and social workers say the gang problem here is real and they’re actively trying to combat it.

Gangs & School violence forum audio / video.

As the Madison school year starts, a pair of predicaments

Paul Fanlund, via a kind reader:

In fact, the changing face of Madison’s school population comes up consistently in other interviews with public officials.
Police Chief Noble Wray commented recently that gang influences touch even some elementary schools, and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz expressed serious concern last week that the young families essential to the health and vitality of Madison are too often choosing to live outside the city based on perceptions of the city’s schools.
Nerad says he saw the mayor’s remarks, and agrees the challenge is real. While numbers for this fall will not be available for weeks, the number of students who live in Madison but leave the district for some alternative through “open enrollment” will likely continue to grow.
“For every one child that comes in there are two or three going out,” Nerad says, a pattern he says he sees in other urban districts. “That is the challenge of quality urban districts touched geographically by quality suburban districts.”
The number of “leavers” grew from 90 students as recently as 2000-01 to 613 last year, though the increase might be at least partly attributed to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that greatly curtailed the ability of school districts to use race when deciding where students will go to school. In February 2008, the Madison School Board ended its long-standing practice of denying open enrollment requests if they would create a racial imbalance.
Two key reasons parents cited in a survey last year for moving children were the desire for better opportunities for gifted students and concerns about bullying and school safety. School Board member Lucy Mathiak told me last week that board members continue to hear those two concerns most often.
Nerad hears them too, and he says that while some Madison schools serve gifted students effectively, there needs to be more consistency across the district. On safety, he points to a recent district policy on bullying as evidence of focus on the problem, including emphasis on what he calls the “bystander” issue, in which witnesses need to report bullying in a way that has not happened often enough.
For all the vexing issues, though, Nerad says much is good about city schools and that perceptions are important. “Let’s be careful not to stereotype the urban school district,” he says. “There is a lot at stake here.”

Related: the growth in outbound open enrollment from the Madison School District and ongoing budget issues, including a 10% hike in property taxes this year and questions over 2005 maintenance referendum spending.
The significant property tax hike and ongoing budget issues may be fodder for the upcoming April, 2011 school board election, where seats currently occupied by Ed Hughes and Marj Passman will be on the ballot.
Superintendent Nerad’s statement on “ensuring that we have a stable middle class” is an important factor when considering K-12 tax and spending initiatives, particularly in the current “Great Recession” where housing values are flat or declining and the property tax appetite is increasing (The Tax Foundation, via TaxProf:

The Case-Shiller index, a popular measure of residential home values, shows a drop of almost 16% in home values across the country between 2007 and 2008. As property values fell, one might expect property tax collections to have fallen commensurately, but in most cases they did not.
Data on state and local taxes from the U.S. Census Bureau show that most states’ property owners paid more in FY 2008 (July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008) than they had the year before (see Table 1). Nationwide, property tax collections increased by more than 4%. In only four states were FY 2008’s collections lower than in FY 2007: Michigan, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont. And in three states–Florida, Indiana and New Mexico–property tax collections rose more than 10%.

It will be interesting to see what the Madison school District’s final 2010-2011 budget looks like. Spending and receipts generally increase throughout the year. This year, in particular, with additional borrowed federal tax dollars on the way, the District will have funds to grow spending, address the property tax increase or perhaps as is now increasingly common, spend more on adult to adult professional development.
Madison’s K-12 environment is ripe for change. Perhaps the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy charter school will ignite the community.

Who’s teaching L.A.’s kids? A Times “Value Added” analysis, using data largely ignored by LAUSD, looks at which educators help students learn, and which hold them back.

Jason Felch, Jason Song and Doug Smith

The fifth-graders at Broadous Elementary School come from the same world — the poorest corner of the San Fernando Valley, a Pacoima neighborhood framed by two freeways where some have lost friends to the stray bullets of rival gangs.
Many are the sons and daughters of Latino immigrants who never finished high school, hard-working parents who keep a respectful distance and trust educators to do what’s best.
The students study the same lessons. They are often on the same chapter of the same book.
Yet year after year, one fifth-grade class learns far more than the other down the hall. The difference has almost nothing to do with the size of the class, the students or their parents.
It’s their teachers.
With Miguel Aguilar, students consistently have made striking gains on state standardized tests, many of them vaulting from the bottom third of students in Los Angeles schools to well above average, according to a Times analysis. John Smith’s pupils next door have started out slightly ahead of Aguilar’s but by the end of the year have been far behind.

Much more on “Value Added Assessment” and teacher evaluations here. Locally, Madison’s Value Added Assessment evaluations are based on the oft criticized WKCE.

School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause

Sam Dillon:

As recently as 2008, Locke High School here was one of the nation’s worst failing schools, and drew national attention for its hallway beatings, bathroom rapes and rooftop parties held by gangs. For every student who graduated, four others dropped out.
Now, two years after a charter school group took over, gang violence is sharply down, fewer students are dropping out, and test scores have inched upward. Newly planted olive trees in Locke’s central plaza have helped transform the school’s concrete quadrangle into a place where students congregate and do homework.
“It’s changed a lot,” said Leslie Maya, a senior. “Before, kids were ditching school, you’d see constant fights, the lunches were nasty, the garden looked disgusting. Now there’s security, the garden looks prettier, the teachers help us more.”

Verona Schools Message on School Safety

Following is a message from the Superintendent and VAHS Administration. Please address any inquiries to VAHS Administration or Dr. Gorrell.
Through our contacts with the Dane County Gang Task Force we have recieved information that indicates in the coming days the VAHS campus or Verona Hometown Days are possible locations for an altercation between two rival gangs. These gangs are the Clanton 14 gang and the Carnales gang. These are the two gangs alleged to have connections with the murder of Antonio Perez last month.
Given this information the following security measures will be put in place immediately:
Tomorrow and Friday we will have an additional VPD Officer stationed on campus working with Officer Truscott. Also, regular VPD patrol officers will be in the area patrolling both the VAHS campus and the neighboring residential area in their squad cars.
Members of the administrative team will also be out patrolling the interior and exterior of the buildings throughout the day. Special attention will be paid to monitoring the two designated K-Wing and two designated main building entrances. All other entrances are to be kept closed and locked. This too will be monitored by the VPD and HS administration.
Given current information the Administrative team, in consultation with our partners in law enforcement, believes that these are prudent preventative steps. If additional information becomes available we will alter this plan accordingly. We ask all staff members to do their usual stellar job of remaining vigilant and reporting anything of concern to the Administrative Team at once.
Keeping staff informed is a priority and more information will be provided if and when it becomes available.
Thank You,
Dr. Gorrell
Ms. Hammen
Ms. Williams
Mr. Murphy
Mr. Boehm

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio / Video.

‘Everything for the children’

Tatiana Pina:

The moment of truth for Ivan and Olga Rojas came in 2008, when their son Esteban finished his sophomore year at the Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket and told his parents he wanted to transfer to Central Falls High School. The thought alarmed them. The high school had been under-performing for years, and Esteban’s mother feared there were gangs and drugs at the school.
For Blanca Giraldo the reckoning came in February 2009, when Central Falls High School Principal Elizabeth Legault sent a letter asking her to come to the school. Legault told Giraldo that her daughter Valerie Florez was failing: she was frequently late, skipping class and not doing her work.
For Jackie Wilson, a random act of violence forced her to uproot her daughter Sakira during her junior year at Central Falls High.

Blaska’s Blog says let education compete for business

David Blaska:

Government-run, union-controlled education is as antiquated in 21st Century America as a mimeograph machine and as outdated as the New Deal.
The entire history of this great country is choice — except in the all-important field of education, wherein one size shall fit all.
Imagine an America restricted to one mobile cell phone provider, one television station, never mind cable or satellite, one car insurance company — that is the government-monopoly education system.
Confreres, here is change you can believe in. In the previous blog, I engaged in a colloquy with the delusional Matt Logan, who encourages us law and order types to volunteer for school breakfast. I’m game, but think we’d be welcome?
Imagine the Blaska Man grabbing the empty belt loop of a gangsta wannabe and saying, “Time-out, young fella.”
The kid would laugh at my time out as they laugh at the teachers’ time outs and the squire of Stately Blaska Manor would be brought up on charges of belt-loop grabbing with intent to instill values.