Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

mp3 audio – Machine Transcript follows [Better transcript, via a kind reader PDF]: I’m Carousel Baird and we have a fabulous and exciting show lined up today. Such a fabulous guy sitting right across from me right here in the studio. Is Madison metropolitan school district current superintendent? She still here in charge of all … Continue reading Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

Additional Property Tax Increase Discussion on Madison’s $494,652,025 2017-2018 K-12 Taxpayer Budget

Amber Walker: Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said the stories about shortages were “hard to hear” after the district continued investment in staffing. “We made some (strategic choices) that we were going to invest more in teachers and shift the balance from SEAs,” she said. “I wonder if that is the pain we may be experiencing and … Continue reading Additional Property Tax Increase Discussion on Madison’s $494,652,025 2017-2018 K-12 Taxpayer Budget

On School Segregation And Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse School

Kate Taylor: A look at the history of District 3, which stretches along the West Side of Manhattan from 59th to 122nd Street, shows how administrators’ decisions, combined with the choices of parents and the forces of gentrification, have shaped the current state of its schools, which, in one of the most politically liberal parts … Continue reading On School Segregation And Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse School

Fort Wayne school buses: An American icon runs into political trouble; Madison Spends 59% more per student

The Economist: Complicating the politics, school buses have their roots in a very different philosophy. More than just machines for moving children around, they have often been tools for social engineering. Busing took off in the 1930s, as progressive education officials sought to close one-room rural schoolhouses and move kids to “modern” township schools. Visitors … Continue reading Fort Wayne school buses: An American icon runs into political trouble; Madison Spends 59% more per student

Madison School Board: Mary Burke Seeks Re-Election, Arlene Silveira Will Not

Molly Beck Mary Burke, the incumbent Madison School Board member who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Scott Walker last month, confirmed Friday she will seek re-election in April. But Arlene Silveira, the longest serving board member and in her second stint as president, will not seek another term. And Anna Moffit, who has served on the district’s … Continue reading Madison School Board: Mary Burke Seeks Re-Election, Arlene Silveira Will Not

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

Minneapolis Property Taxes are over 50% less than Madison’s on a Similar Home; Mayoral Election Education Commentary

Beth Hawkins:

A cynic would be forgiven for wondering whether the press conference Minneapolis mayoral candidate Mark Andrew held Monday afternoon, flanked by five members of the school board, was at least partly an exercise in damage control.
At the session, held in the library at Windom Dual Immersion School in southwest Minneapolis, Andrew announced a three-pronged education agenda. At its center: a promise to convene a collaborative headed by education advocates with divergent philosophies, Mike Ciresi and Louise Sundin.
“The conversation about improving educational outcomes for kids of color has gotten extremely polarized and increasingly heated in the past several years,” Andrew explained in the plan. “The reformers vs. unions dichotomy is unproductive, and doesn’t serve the best interests of our children or find Minneapolis solutions to the problems in Minneapolis’ schools.”

Minneapolis plans to spend $524,944,868 (PDF budget book) during the 2013-2014 school year for 34,148 students or 15,364 per student, about the same as Madison.
Yet, property taxes are substantially lower in Minneapolis where a home currently on the market for $279,900 has a 2013 property tax bill of $3,433. A $230,000 Madison home pays $5,408.38 while a comparable Middleton home pays $4,648.18 in property taxes. Madison plans to increase property taxes 4.5% this year, after a 9% increase two years ago, despite a substantial increase in redistributed state tax dollar receipts. Yet, such history is often ignored during local tax & spending discussions. Madison Superintendent Cheatham offers a single data point response to local tax & spending policy, failing to mention the substantial increase in state tax receipts the year before:

When we started our budget process, we received the largest possible cut in state aid, over $8 million,” Cheatham said. “I’m pleased that this funding will make up a portion of that cut and help us accomplish what has been one of our goals all along: to reduce the impact of a large cut in state aid on our taxpayers.”

A bit more background.

Madison School District students should expect visible changes this year

Andrea Anderson:

When Madison public school students go back to class Tuesday, they’ll find some lessons will be tougher, according to Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.
The gradual implementation of the Common Core standards, a series of benchmarks for what students should know and be able to do, will begin this year by helping educators, students and staff understand what the standards are and how instruction will change .
Teachers will implement Close Reading, a practice used to study literacy standards , to become more familiar with the increase in rigor and standards while monitoring how the students and the teachers themselves are faring .
“The study will allow teachers to better understand the standards and learn about what it will take to plan instruction using the standards and learn more about instructional practices necessary to teach the standards and learn about” ways to assess what students are learning, Cheatham said.
An example of a Close Reading lesson would be reading a primary source document in a history class and later answering short-answer questions. Teachers would review how students performed, what challenges there were and what the teacher could do to improve.

Madison Schools Graduation Rate Update for Class of 2012

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF):

his report presents high school graduation rates for the Madison Metropolitan School District. For additional information on graduation rates, see the Appendix.
For this report, we focus on a cohort of students expected to graduate at the end of the 2011-12 school year. For additional context and to track changes over time, we provide a three-year history for some measures. This report uses publicly available data from Wisconsin’s Information Network for Successful Schools (WINSS). Additional data is available
through http://winss.dpi.wi.gov/. Key findings include the following:
1. Overall graduation rates improved almost one percent from 2011 to 2012, from 73.7% to 74.6%.
2. African American and Hispanic students have improved their graduation rates by five percent and almost seven percent over the last three years.
3. Graduation rates for students with Limited English Proficiency have improved about four percent over the last three years.
4. MMSD high schools have similar graduation rates, ranging between 74.7% and 82.8%.

Deja Vu? Education Experts to Review the Madison School District

The Madison School District:

Superintendent’s Teaching and Learning Transition Team to Begin Work This Week
A group of national and local education experts will support Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s entry plan work, the district announced today. The Superintendent’s Teaching and Learning Transition Team will begin work this week.
“Instruction and leadership are critical components of systemic improvement,” Superintendent Cheatham said. “This team of local and national practitioners will join district and school staff in assessing and analyzing strengths, areas of opportunities and priorities for improving teaching and learning in Madison schools.”
The eight member team brings together education experts from Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as educational practitioners from other urban school districts.
“We are fortunate to have access to national experts with a wide range of expertise from standards based instruction and leadership development, to bilingual and special education, to family and community involvement,” Cheatham said. “This team will help to deepen and strengthen my ongoing understanding of the strengths and challenges of our district. Their national perspective, coupled with the local perspective shared by principals, staff, parents and community members, will support us in narrowing our focus to only the most high leverage strategies for ensuring every student is college and career ready.”
The team, which was selected by the superintendent and will be funded through community and private foundations, will be chaired by Dr. Robert Peterkin, Professor Emeritus of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and includes: Maree Sneed, partner at Hogan and Lovells US LLC; John Diamond, sociologist of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Sheila Brown, Co-Director at the Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program; Allan Odden, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; John Peterburs, Executive Director of Quarles & Brady; Wilma Valero, Coordinator for English Language Learner Programs in Elgin, Il; and Gloria Ladson-Billings, Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As Superintendent Cheatham continues the listening and learning phase of her entry plan, the Teaching and Learning Transition Team will also meet with central office leaders, conduct focus groups with teachers, principals, and parents as needed, and review a variety of relevant data.
At the end of their work, the team will present the superintendent with a report of what they have learned and recommendations for moving forward systemically with best practices. That report will be used, along with data collected by the superintendent in school visits and other entry plan activities, to refine the district’s goals and strategic priorities.

Related:

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2001 (additional background here)
    Updated Strategic Plan Results in Priority Action Teams
    Five Strategic Priority Action Teams, centered around the most critical challenges facing the Madison Metropolitan School District, are among the outcomes of the recently-completed strategic plan.
    “The immediate and emerging challenges facing the district are addressed in our revitalized strategic plan,” said Superintendent Art Rainwater, “and the Action Teams are focused on five important priorities for us.”
    The five strategic priorities are:
    Instructional Excellence – improving student achievement; offering challenging, diverse and contemporary curriculum and instruction
    Student Support – assuring a safe, respectful and welcoming learning environment
    Staff Effectiveness – recruiting, developing and retaining a highly competent workforce that reflects the diversity of our students
    Home and Community Partnerships – strengthening community and family partnerships and communication
    Fiscal Responsibility – using resources efficiently and strategically
    The five Strategic Priority Action Teams, one for each of the five priorities, are taking on the responsibility for continuous improvement toward “their” priority.
    The Action Teams, which will have both staff members and non-staff members, will be responsible for existing initiatives. In addition they will identify and recommend benchmarks to use in assessing school district performance.
    “We have a huge number of initiatives,” said Rainwater. “This strategic plan gives us a systemic approach to change, so that every initiative, everything we do, leads us to these established goals. I believe it is critical to our district’s success that we follow this strategic plan and use it as a decision filter against which we measure our activities.”
    Two other outcomes from the updated strategic plan are:
    a set of beliefs about children, families, enhanced learning, and the quality of life and learning, all of which are integrated with an identified District vision and mission.
    improved cost efficiency and effectiveness of many central office functions, which are being addressed on an ongoing basis.
    Madison Schools’ initial strategic plan came about in 1991, and provided direction until this update.
    “As a result of this project,” said Rainwater, “all of us who are stakeholders — parents, students, teachers and staff, administrators and community members — will share a renewed sense of clarity, while seeing an ever-more efficient deployment of resources.”
    You can see the complete strategic plan on the district’s Web site: http://www.mmsd.org.

  • Teachers Dispute District Standards: Superintendent Cheryl Wilhoyte’s Biggest Goals have become caught up in the contract battle with Madison Teachers.:

    Amid the picket signs Madison teachers carried at a rally last month protesting slow-moving contract talks, some teachers also carried a bright purple flier.
    On one side was written the heading “standards and benchmarks.” On the other, “Dimensions of Learning.” Beneath each, and filling the entire page, was one uninterrupted string of text: “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. . . .”
    While hardly erudite — some would call it juvenile — the flier expressed the sentiment many teachers have toward two of Superintendent Cheryl Wilhoyte’s biggest initiatives: the effort to create districtwide academic standards, and the teacher-training program that goes along with it.
    Neither issue is a subject of bargaining. But the programs have become a sort of catch-all target for teachers who blame Wilhoyte for everything from the poor state of labor-management relations to the current contract impasse.
    Wilhoyte, who was hired in part to implement the district’s 1991 strategic plan, including establishing rigorous standards, says carrying out that plan is central to the compact she has with the …

  • The 2009 update to Madison’s “Strategic Planning Process“.
  • Madison’s 2012-2013 $392,000,000 budget (just under $15k per student)
  • Madison’s long term disastrous reading results
  • The Madison school district’s recent “achievement gap and accountability plan“.
  • The Capital Times (9.21.1992):

    Wilhoyte, on the other hand, has demonstrated that she is a tough, hands-on administrator in her role as assistant superintendent for instruction and school administration in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. And even those who have tangled with her praise her philosophy, which is to put kids first.
    She has been a leader in Maryland in shaking up the educational status quo, of moving it forward to meeat the needs of the children, even while juggling new programs with budget cuts. The big question remaining about her: She has never been a superintendent. How would she handle the top job?

  • Retiring Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary club.
  • Madison Teachers, Inc. on the Madison Schools 2000 “Participatory Management”
  • Notes and links on recent Madison Superintendent hires”

Matthew DeFour summarizes and collects some feedback on the District’s press release here. It would be useful to dig into the archives and review the various strategic plans and initiatives over the years and compare the words and spending with results.
Deja vu.

Madison’s public schools go to lockdown mode; no new ideas wanted

David Blaska:

Graphical user interface? I think not, Mr. Jobs. Mainframe is where it’s at. Big and honking, run by guys in white lab coats. Smart phones? iPads? You’re dreaming. Take your new ideas somewhere else.
That is the Madison School Board. It has decided to batten the hatches against change. It is securing the perimeter against new thinking. It is the North Korea of education: insular, blighted, and paranoid.
Just try to start a charter school in Madison. I dare you. The Madison School Board on Monday took three measures to strangle new ideas in their crib:
1) Preserving the status quo: Any proposed charter school would have to have “a history of successful practice.” That leaves out several existing Madison public schools – never mind new approaches.
2) Starvation: Cap per-pupil reimbursement at around $6,500 – less than half what Madison public schools consume.
3) Encrustation: Unionized teachers only need apply.
I spoke to Carrie Bonk, executive director of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association.

Related:
Madison’s disastrous reading results.

The rejected Studio charter school.

Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.

“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.

Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13.

Madison’s disastrous long term reading results..

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

Madison’s School Board to Finalize “Charter School Policy”……

Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel Steve Hartley, Chief of Staff (PDF):

It is the policy of the School Board to consider the establishment of charter schools that support the DISTRICT Mission and Belief Statements and as provided by law. The BOARD believes that the creation of charter schools can enhance the educational opportunities for Madison Metropolitan School District students by providing innovative and distinctive educational programs and by giving parents/students more educational options within the DISTRICT. Only charter schools that are an instrumentality of the DISTRICT will be considered by the BOARD.
The BOARD further believes that certain values and principles must be integrated into all work involving the conceptualization, development and implementation of a new charter school. These guiding principles are as follows:
1. All charter schools must meet high standards of student achievement while providing increased educational opportunities, including broadening existing opportunities for struggling populations of students;
2. All charter schools must have an underlying, research-based theory and history of successful practice that is likely to achieve academic success;
3. All charter schools will provide information to parents and students as to the quality of education provided by the charter school and the ongoing academic progress of the individual student;
4. All charter schools will ensure equitable access to all students regardless of gender, race and/or disability;
5. All charter schools must be financially accountable to the DISTRICT and rely on +’ sustainable funding models;
6. All charter schools must ensure the health and safety of all staff and students;
7. All externally-developed charter schools must be governed by a governance board that is registered as a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charitable organization;
8. All charter schools must have a plan to hire, retain and recruit a highly-qualified, diverse staff;
9. All charter schools must have a clear code of student conduct that includes procedures for positive interventions and social emotional supports

Related:
Matthew DeFour’s article.
The rejected Studio charter school.
Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.
“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.
Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13.
Madison’s disastrous long term reading results..
Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Elementary School.

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

Matthew DeFour:

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

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

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

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

Isthmus:

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

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

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 School Board Against Open Records; “Government Entities Must Mail Records if Requested”

Matthew DeFour, via a kind reader’s email:

Wisconsin law requires boards to release the identities of at least five candidates to the public upon request when there are at least five applicants, according to a 2004 opinion by then-Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.
The opinion doesn’t specify when the names must be disclosed.
School district officials said Friday they were still reviewing the newspaper’s request. On Tuesday district lawyer Dylan Pauly told the newspaper the district would respond to the request within 10 business days.
Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, said the School Board “is clearly violating the spirit of the law” by not making the names public before the board made a decision. The law calls for records to be provided as soon as possible.
“For the district to pick a superintendent candidate without first meeting its statutory obligation to identify (at least) five candidates considered most qualified delegitimizes the selection that is made,” Lueders said.

Related: Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, via a kind reader’s email:

It’s also illegal. Government entities cannot require a requester to come into the office to get a copy of a record except in the rare circumstance where it is not possible to copy the record. Wisconsin law provides plainly that “any requester has a right to inspect a record and to make or receive a copyof a record that permits photocopying.” Wis. Stat. 19.35(1)(b) (emphasis added). Decades ago, the law actually permitted the government to choose whether to provide a copy or require the requester to come in and copy it. In 1991, however, the legislature amended the law to remove that choice when a request is not made in person. State ex rel. Borzych v. Paluszcyk, 201 Wis. 2d 523, 527, 549 N.W.2d 25 (Ct. App. 1996) (describing the legislative history and noting that “[b]y statute, [the custodian] was required to photocopy and send the material requested”).
Be aware, though, that the government entity can charge you the actual postage cost to mail the copies. Wis. Stat. 19.35(3)(d).
When the Education Action Group ran into this kind of excuse from a school district* in northern Wisconsin last week, they called us. We wrote a letter to the school district’s superintendent, and the very next day EAG got an email saying the records were in the mail.
Know your rights when it comes to open records! If you ever want some advice about how to file a record request, what to ask for, or whether the fees being charged are lawful, give us a call.

Urban League Strongly Supports the Decision on Madison Superintendent

Madison Urban League, via a kind email:

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

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

Amy Barrilleaux:

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew DeFour:

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

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

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

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

Madison Names Two Superintendent Finalists, Public Forum on 2.7.2013

The Madison School District:

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

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

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


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

Update on the Building the Madison School District’s Future: Measuring Progress on Priorities report

Jane Belmore (PDF):

Superintendent Jane Belmore (4MB PDF):

The Building Our Future plan provides direction for improving student achievement and district accountability. The plan identifies specific strategies and corresponding measures to meet the four overarching priorities of the district. The measures provide data to monitor progress towards improvement.
The key reason to include district and program measures in this report is to make sure that the Building Our Future plan is contributing to closing achievement gaps. Each program and initiative in Building Our Future is based on extensive research and planning. However, it is important to connect these initiatives to tangible outcomes. Tracking these measures helps increase accountability, allocate resources effectively and efficiently, and continuously improve our efforts to educate all students.
District Priorities: MMSD Management Team identified overarching district priorities in the areas of Attendance, Behavior, Growth and Achievement. The rationale for these priorities is based on the following theory of action:
When our teachers apply strong, explicit teaching skills within an aligned multi-tiered system of instruction and support, and students attend school regularly with behavior that positively impacts their learning and the learning environment, then students will show academic achievement, and social and emotional growth and gaps in learning and achievement will close.
This report outlines 2011-12 progress indicators for each of these priorities and includes historical data when appropriate.
Strategies: Each initiative in Building Our Future is outlined in the report, including a narrative description, the alignment to district priorities, the primary contact(s), action steps, and objectives with annual progress measures. When available, data from 2011- 12 on key progress indicators is included, along with relevant history for comparison. The approved 2012-13 budget for each strategy will also be integrated into the report to help contextualize how MMSD will allocate resources for this initiative moving forward.
Goal setting: This update includes a discussion on the methods used to set goals associated with each strategy. These are described in Attachment 3 and use literacy goals for Chapter 1, Strategy #1 as an example.

2013 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and Madison School Board Candidates

Patrick Marley & Erin Richards:

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

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

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

Madison School Board President James Howard says parent engagement is key to black students’ success

Pat Schneider:

T: The assumption in the discussion of parent engagement and academic achievement is that it is African-American parents who are not engaged.
JH: I think that’s the reality of it. The question is: why aren’t they engaged? The latest survey we had showed that roughly 40 percent of African-American high school students were not engaged. Why? What happens to the kids? We seem to lose them over time, and we lose the parents.
CT: That’s a pernicious thing for black youth, isn’t it? Why do you think it’s happening?
JH: I think one of the things is that we need to create a culture in our schools that these kids can feel they are more a part of. For example, we don’t present “American” history — there’s a lot of African-American history that never makes it to the books. So, if we as a country, as a community, would depict the true picture and make them part of it, I think kids would remain engaged longer.

Related: An interview the Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus school.

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.

An Alumnus, Madison’s Interim Superintendent: Jane Belmore

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

Madison School District links.
Blekko
Clusty
Bing
Google

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

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.

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.

The Day After: What’s Next for Madison’s Public Schools?

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

Dear Friends & Colleagues.
With one of the most competitive and expensive school board races in the history of the Madison Metropolitan School District now behind us, it is time for us to get to work on strengthening public education in our capital city and ensuring that every single one of our children have the schools and tools they need to succeed in education and in life.
We congratulate Mary Burke and Arlene Silveira for their success in securing three-year terms on the Madison Board of Education. They will bring significant experience and business acumen to the School Board. We also give great respect to their challengers, Nichelle Nichols and Michael Flores, for stepping up, taking a stand for children and ensuring that the voices of parents and children of color were front and center during the campaign. They ensured that the discussion remained focused on the alarming racial achievement gap that exists in our schools, and we deeply appreciate them for it.
As the Board of Education moves forward, we expect they will remain focused on our community’s five greatest priorities: (1) eliminating the racial achievement gap; (2) establishing world class schools that attract enrollment and prepare all children to thrive and succeed in college and work after high school; (3) empowering parents and engaging them in their children’s education; (4) developing a highly talented and skilled workforce that is more reflective of the students our school district now educates; and (5) aligning the District’s employee handbook to the priorities, needs and goals of students, staff and schools.
The Board of Education can start by focusing their efforts on hiring an outstanding new Superintendent who possesses significant leadership skill/experience and business acumen, a proven track-record of successfully leading urban schools with significantly diverse student populations; and a strong, clear and compelling vision and plan for public education and our children’s future.
Rather than deciding too quickly on approving an achievement gap plan that was rushed in its development, we hope the Board of Education will avoid getting too far ahead of the next Superintendent in implementing plans, and instead focus their attention on existing efforts where the District can make a difference in the next six months, such as:

  • Implementing the Common Core Standards and related common curriculum in literacy, English/language arts and mathematics in all elementary schools in grades K-5 (to start), with additional learning support for students who are significantly behind or ahead academically;
  • Re-establishing and aligning the District’s Professional Development Program for all educators and support staff to the curriculum, standards and needs/interests of students;
  • Implementing Wisconsin’s new Educator Effectiveness evaluation and assessment program;
  • Providing a full-time principal and adequate staffing for Badger Rock and Wright Middle Schools;
  • Requiring greater collaboration and alignment between the District’s safety-net, student-support programs such as Schools of Hope, AVID/TOPS, Juventud/ASPIRA, PEOPLE/ITA Program and ACT Prep Academies to ensure more effective and seamless identification, support and progress monitoring of students who need or are enrolled in these programs;
  • Partnering with local businesses, educational institutions and community organizations to recruit, hire, acclimate and retain a diverse workforce, and appropriately assign all staff to schools according to their skills and interests and the needs of students;
  • Engaging parents more effectively in the education of their children through community partnerships; and
  • Partnering with the United Way, Urban League, Boys & Girls Club, Centro Hispano, Hmong Education Council and other agencies to effectively build awareness and educate the community about local and national best practices for eliminating the achievement gap and preparing all youth for college and work.

We look forward to working with YOU, the Board of Education, our community partners and the leadership of our public schools to implement immediate opportunities and solutions that will benefit our children TODAY.
Onward!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Assistant: 608-729-1249
Fax: 608-729-1205
www.ulgm.org

Related:

An expected outcome.
Thanks to the four citizens who ran.
The Silveira/Nichols race was interesting in that it was the first competitive school board election involving an incumbent in some time. Lawrie Kobza and Lucy Mathiak defeated incumbent candidates during the mid-2000’s. Perhaps the “success recipe” requires that the insurgent candidate have a strong local network, substantive issues and the ability to get the word out, effectively.
Arlene is a different incumbent than those defeated by Kobza & Mathiak.
That said, she has been on the board for six years, a time during which little, if any progress was made on the MMSD’s core mission: reading, writing, math and science, while spending more per student than most Districts. Perhaps the Superintendent’s looming departure offers an opportunity to address the core curricular issues.
I wish the new board well and congratulate Mary and Arlene on their victories.
Paraphrasing a friend, it is never too early to run for the School Board. Three seats are up in 2013, those currently occupied by Maya Cole, James Howard and Beth Moss.
A reader emailed a link to this M.P. King photo:

Madison School Board rates Superintendent Nerad barely ‘proficient’;

Matthew DeFour:

If Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s job performance were judged like a student taking the state achievement test, he would score barely proficient, according to the Madison School Board’s most recent evaluation.
The evaluation, completed last month and released to the State Journal under the state’s Open Records Law, reveals the School Board’s divided view of Nerad’s performance.
School Board President James Howard said he expects the board to vote later this month on whether to extend Nerad’s contract beyond June 2013. The decision has been delayed as Nerad’s achievement gap plan is reviewed by the public, Howard said.
Soon after that plan was proposed last month, Howard said he would support extending Nerad’s contract. Now, Howard says he is uncertain how he’ll vote.
“It’s probably a toss-up,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues on the table in Madison. It’s time to resolve them. All this kicking-the-can-down-the-road stuff has to stop.”
Nerad said he has always welcomed feedback on how he can improve as a leader.

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.

Evaluating the Madison Metropolitan School District’s 2012 Plan to Eliminate the Racial Achievement Gap

Kaleem Caire, via email:

February 6, 2011
Greetings Community Member.
This evening, at 6pm at the Fitchburg Library, Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Daniel Nerad will present his plan for eliminating the racial achievement gap in our public schools to the Board of Education. We anticipate there will be many citizens in the audience listening in.
While we are pleased that our advocacy over the last 19 months has resulted in the District developing a plan to address the gap, we are also mindful of history. Our organization has pushed hard for our public school system to embrace change, address the gap and expand educational opportunity many times before.
In the 1960s, Madison learned that a wide gap existed between black and white students in reading, math and high school completion in Madison’s public schools. In the 1970s, the Urban League of Greater Madison reported that just 60% of black students were graduating from the city’s public high schools. In the 1980s, ULGM released a widely reported study that found the average GPA for a black high school student attending the city’s public high schools was 1.58 on a 4.00 scale, with 61% scoring below a 2.0 GPA. It also found that a disproportionate number of black students were enrolled in remedial math and science classes, and that black students were significantly over-represented in special education and school suspensions. Then, in the 1990s, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute issued a report that stated there were two school districts in MMSD, one that poorly served black children and one that served everyone else.
Today, just 48% of black and 56% of Latino students are graduating from high school. Just 1% of black and 7% of Latino high school seniors are academically ready for college. Nearly 40% of all black boys in middle school are enrolled in special education, and more than 60% of black and 50% of Latino high school students earn below a 2.0 GPA.
Over the years, several district-wide efforts have been tried. Unfortunately, many of these efforts have either been discontinued, unevenly implemented, ineffective, lacked the support of parents/community/teachers, or failed to go far enough to address the myriad needs of students, families, teachers and schools. Madison also has a well-documented history of not heeding the advice of leaders and educators of color or educational experts, and not investing in efforts to codify and replicate successful strategies employed by its most effective educators. MMSD also has not acted fast enough to address its challenges and rarely looks beyond its borders for strategies that have proven effective elsewhere in the country.
The stakes are higher now; too high to continue on our present course of incrementalism rooted in our fear of the unknown, fear of significant change, and fear of admitting that our view of Madison being the utopic experience of the Midwest and #1 city in the U.S. doesn’t apply to everyone who lives here. We no longer have the luxury of time to figure out how to address the gap. We cannot afford to lose nearly 300 black, 200 Latino and an untold number of Southeast Asian and underprivileged white students each year from our public schools. And we cannot afford to see hundreds of students leave our school system each year for public and private schools outside of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
We must embrace strategies that work. We must also behave differently than we have in the past, and can no longer afford to be afraid of addressing intersection or race and poverty, and how they are playing out in our schools, social relationships and community, and impacting the educational success of our kids.
Furthermore, we need all hands on deck. Everyone in our community must play a role in shaping the self-image, expectations and outcomes of our children – in school, in the community and at home. Some children have parents who spend more quality time with their career and coworkers than with their family. Some children have a parent or relative who struggles to raise them alone. Some have parents who are out of work, under stress and struggling to find a job to provide for their family. And unfortunately, some children have parents who make bad decisions and/or don’t care about their well-being. Regardless of the situation, we cannot allow the lack of quality parenting to be the excuse why we don’t reach, teach, or hold children accountable and prepare them for the future.
As we prepare to review the Superintendent’s plan, we have developed a rubric that will allow for an objective review of his proposal(s). The attached rubric, which you can access by clicking here, was developed and informed by members of the staff and Board of Director of ULGM, business and community leaders, and teachers and leading experts in the field of K-12 and higher education. The tool will be used by an independent Community Review Panel, organized by the Urban League. pver the next several weeks to vet the plan. The intent of this review is to ensure MMSD has an optimal plan for ensuring that all of the children it serves succeed academically and graduate from high school prepared for college and work.
Specifically, our reasons for establishing this rubric and a Community Review Panel are four-fold:

  • Develop an objective and comprehensive understanding of the plan and its many elements;
  • Objectively review the efficacy of the plan, its goals and objectives, and desired outcomes;
  • Formally communicate thoughts, concerns and ideas for supporting and/or improving the plan; and
  • Effectively engage the Madison community in supporting and strengthening its public schools.

We have high expectations of the Superintendent’s plan. We hope for a bold, transformational, aggressive and concise plan, and stand ready to assist the Superintendent and his team in any way we can. We hope you will be standing their with us, with your arms outstretched and ready to uplift or babies – the next generation.
All Hands on Deck!
Onward.
Team Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Fax: 608-729-1205
www.ulgm.org
www.madison-prep.org
Urban League of Greater Madison 2012 Agenda

Madison School District, Urban League Need To Come Together On Madison Prep

Derrell Connor:

The Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education vote on the proposed charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, is just around the corner.
We have heard from school board members, business leaders, teachers and other members of the community. It’s safe to say that this is one of the most important issues in this city’s history. While I am happy that Madison is finally having the long overdue conversation about how we educate our students who are falling through the cracks, I am not happy that the Urban League of Greater Madison and the school district couldn’t come together to agree on a solution. In fact, it bothers me greatly.
It is a huge mistake to have this yearlong discussion come down to a contentious school board vote on Dec. 19. Both sides needed to come together to figure out a way to make Madison Prep a reality before that meeting.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad and various members of the school board say approving Madison Prep would violate the current contract with Madison Teachers, Inc. So, if 2012 isn’t feasible, committing to a date to open Madison Prep’s doors in 2013, and using the next three to six months to figure out the terms of that agreement should have been an option. But, unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Instead we have a school district and a civil rights organization arguing over ways to address the achievement gap and graduation rates. Not a good look. And the future relationship between the MMSD and the African American community could hang in the balance.

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

2011-2012 $369,394,753 Madison Schools Budget update

2011-2012 Revised Budget 1.3MB PDF (Budget amendments document). District spending remains largely flat at $369,394,753, yet “Fund Equity“, or the District’s reserves, has increased to $48,324,862 from $22,769,831 in 2007 (page 24). The District’s property tax “underlevy” (increases allowed under Wisconsin school revenue limits which are based on student population changes, successful referendums along with carve-outs such as Fund 80, among others) will be $13,084,310. It also appears that property taxes will be flat (page 19) after a significant 9% increase last year. Interestingly, MSCR spending is up 7.97% (page 28).
2011-2012 enrollment is 24,861. $369,394,753 planned expenditures results in per student spending of $14,858.40.
I welcome clarifications and updates to these numbers, which are interesting. We’ve seen a doubling of District reserves over the past few years while spending has remained relatively flat as has enrollment.
Finally, this is worth reading in light of the District’s 2011-2012 numbers: Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad Advocates Additional Federal Tax Dollar Spending & Borrowing via President Obama’s Proposed Jobs Bill.

ACT Scores Decline Somewhat in Madison, Wisconsin Slightly Up, 32% of Badger Students “Ready” for College Level Courses in 4 Areas

Matthew DeFour:

The average ACT score among the Madison School District’s 2011 graduates dipped to its lowest level in 15 years, while the gap between white and minority student scores shrank for the first time in five years.
Though Madison’s average score dipped from 24.2 to 23.9, district students still outperformed the state average of 22.2 and national average of 21.1. A perfect score on the college entrance exam is 36.
Madison’s average scores in recent years have ranged from 23.5 in 1995 to 24.6 in 2007. The average score was also 23.9 in 2003.

Amy Hetzner:

With the highest percent of students taking the ACT in state history, Wisconsin’s Class of 2011 posted an average score slightly above that from the previous year’s graduates and maintained the state’s third-place ranking among states in which the test is widespread.
Seventy-one percent of the 2011 graduates from Wisconsin private and public schools took the college admissions test, averaging a 22.2 composite score on the 36-point test, according to information to be publicly released Wednesday. The nationwide average was 21.1 on the ACT Assessment, which includes tests in English, reading, mathematics and science.
State schools superintendent Tony Evers credited the results to more high school students pursuing more demanding coursework.
“The message of using high school as preparation for college and careers is taking hold with our students,” Evers said in a news release. “Nearly three-quarters of our kids said they took the rigorous classes recommended for college entry, up from just over half five years ago.”
Even so, ACT reported that only 32% of Wisconsin’s recently graduated seniors had test results that showed they were ready for college-level courses in all four areas. Results for individual subjects ranged from 39% readiness in science to 75% in English.

A few somewhat related links:

Ruth Robarts:

When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before.
On November 7 (2005), Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.
According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

“Penelope Trunk”: (Adrienne Roston, Adrienne Greenheart(

10. Homeschool. Your kids will be screwed if you don't.
The world will not look kindly on people who put their kids into public school. We all know that learning is best when it's customized to the child and we all know that public schools are not able to do that effectively. And the truly game-changing private schools cost $40,000 a year.

Notes and links on the recent, successful Madison Talented & Gifted parent complaint.

Comments on the Madison School District’s Literacy Initiative and Budget Proposal

First of all, our thanks and compliments to you and the administration for undertaking the assessment of literacy in the District. Thanks also to staff and outside advisors for their contributions to making the Report and Recommendations the most meaningful and significant direction for systemic change toward achieving measurable results in student achievement and staff performance in the District’s recent history.
We urge the Board of Education support of the Literacy Report AND adoption of the recommendations for implementation of the initiatives and for the budget proposed in the Superintendent’s Preliminary Budget for 2011-12. It is vital for the Board to support the direction of the initiatives for balanced literacy with integrity at all grades levels of the District. It is deplorable that heretofore there has been no systematic plan to address the reading and writing shortcomings of the District that are the most fundamental causative factor contributing to the “achievement gap”. Finally, we have pro-active leadership from Dr. Sue Abplanalp, who has a full grasp of the organizational development and change processes critical and significant to the implementation and sustainability of difference- making strategies. The proposed design of systemic changes to the curriculum, instructional strategies, engagement of teachers, support staff, students and parents/other adults and the realignment of financial and other resources will result in measurable student growth. Board adoption of the $650,000.00 2011-12 budget considerations is an absolute necessity of the very highest priority. We urge you to get on with it. Thank you.
For further information contact: Don Severson, donleader@aol.com 577-0851
Print version: 222K PDF

Austin superintendent rallies task force to get back to long-term plan

Melissa B. Taboada:

Austin schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen met with facilities task force members Saturday to encourage them to broaden their scope and not to focus as much on the district’s looming budget crisis.
In recent weeks, the task force seemed to stray a bit from its mission of creating a 10-year plan on future schools, renovations and attendance zones. After it earlier this month named nine schools that could be closed for efficiency’s sake, outraged community members rallied to save their schools.
Although the long-term plan probably will have recommendations on closures, task force members said they felt pressured to produce short-term fixes to help the district get past one of the worst anticipated budget shortfalls in its history.
On Saturday, Carstarphen, in effect, told task force volunteers that was her burden, not theirs.
“There’s only so much in efficiencies you can do,” she said. “You can’t do it all. You don’t need to do it all.”

Austin School Board.
The Austin School District’s 2010-2011 budget is $973,997,900 for 86,000 students ($11,325.55 per student). Madison’s 2010-2011 budget is $379,058,945 (according to the January, 2011 “State of the District” presentation for 24,471 students. That is $15,490 per student.

MacIver’s Analysis of Superintendent Evers’ School Funding Reform Plan

Christian D’Andrea

This would ensure that areas with greater concentrations of low-income families receive more funding in their classrooms.
However, history shows that this isn’t a winning formula. While students from poorer family backgrounds present challenges in the classroom, greater financial support hasn’t led to better results in Wisconsin. Milwaukee has the highest concentration of free and reduced-price lunch students in the state, as well as one of the highest per-pupil expenditure figures, spending an average of $16,730 per child according to DPI data. Madison, a city with similar low-income population issues, spent $16,393 on each student in 2009.
Conversely, other areas dealing with diverse student populations have shown better returns on their educational investments with less expenditure. Wauwatosa and Green Bay have produced more positive results in the classroom despite spending less. The districts spent just $12,098 and $13,041, respectively, per student in 2009.

Much more on the proposed changes to State of Wisconsin tax dollars for K-12 Districts, here.

Madison High School Reform: Dual Pathways to Post-Secondary Success High School Career and College Readiness

Daniel A. Nerad, Superintendent, Pam Nash, Assistant Superintendent, and Susan Abplanalp, Deputy Superintendent

Enclosed is an update report regarding the High School Career and College Readiness Plan. This plan is written as a complement to the first document entitled “Dual Pathways to Post-Secondary Success”. The original document was intended to outline both a possible structure for organizing accelerated and preparatory courses for high school students. The original document was also intended to serve as an internal document outlining a planning process. Since, the dissemination of the “Dual Pathways to Post-Secondary Success” many questions and concerns have been expressed by a variety of stakeholders. Through feedback and questions brought forth by teachers, students, community members and the Board of Education it is understood that our original plan did not effectively communicate the rationale, scope, scale, and end outcomes as intended. The conversations that occurred as a result of the dissemination of the “Dual Pathways to Post-Secondary Success” have been at times difficult but they have also been the right conversations for us to have in order to move forward as a district. These conversations have highlighted the interconnectedness ofall grade levels, calling on us to proceed with a k-12 district wide curricular alignmentprocessinwhichhighschoolisembedded. hlordertomoreaccuratelycapturetheintentofouroriginal work we have renamed the plan High School Career and College Readiness to accurately reflect the intended goal; for all MMSD graduates will become self-determined learners able to access a wide array ofpost-secondary options. For these reasons, we have not included the original “Dual Pathways to Post-Secondary Success” plan in this report. Rather we have created this document to serve as bridge that more clearly articulates the history, rationale, data, work to date and next steps that are outlined in the original plan. Our Theory of Action, process
and end goals have not changed, but how we articulate this work has become more explicit, transparent and responsive. Weare in process ofcreating a more comprehensive plan to be shared with a broad range ofaudiences. We will share that plan with the Board of Education when finalized. We will also share periodic updates with the Board of Education. ill the meantime, the enclosed report serves to answer questions, concerns received to date and provide more detailed and accurate iuformation. Attached is the original document, unchanged.

A Few Comments on Monday’s State of the Madison School District Presentation

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad will present the “State of the Madison School District 2010” tomorrow night @ 5:30p.m. CST.
The timing and content are interesting, from my perspective because:

  • The nearby Verona School District just approved a Mandarin immersion charter school on a 4-3 vote. (Watch the discussion here). Madison lags in such expanded “adult to student” learning opportunities. Madison seems to be expanding “adult to adult” spending on “coaches” and “professional development”. I’d rather see an emphasis on hiring great teachers and eliminating the administrative overhead associated with growing “adult to adult” expenditures.
  • I read with interest Alec Russell’s recent lunch with FW de Klerk. de Klerk opened the door to South Africa’s governance revolution by freeing Nelson Mandela in 1990:

    History is moving rather fast in South Africa. In June the country hosts football’s World Cup, as if in ultimate endorsement of its post-apartheid progress. Yet on February 2 1990, when the recently inaugurated state President de Klerk stood up to deliver the annual opening address to the white-dominated parliament, such a prospect was unthinkable. The townships were in ferment; many apartheid laws were still on the books; and expectations of the balding, supposedly cautious Afrikaner were low.
    How wrong conventional wisdom was. De Klerk’s address drew a line under 350 years of white rule in Africa, a narrative that began in the 17th century with the arrival of the first settlers in the Cape. Yet only a handful of senior party members knew of his intentions.

    I sense that the Madison School Board and the Community are ready for new, substantive adult to student initiatives, while eliminating those that simply consume cash in the District’s $418,415,780 2009-2010 budget ($17,222 per student).

  • The “State of the District” document [566K PDF] includes only the “instructional” portion of the District’s budget. There are no references to the $418,415,780 total budget number provided in the October 26, 2009 “Budget Amendment and Tax Levy Adoption document [1.1MB PDF]. Given the organization’s mission and the fact that it is a taxpayer supported and governed entity, the document should include a simple “citizen’s budget” financial summary. The budget numbers remind me of current Madison School Board member Ed Hughes’ very useful 2005 quote:

    This points up one of the frustrating aspects of trying to follow school issues in Madison: the recurring feeling that a quoted speaker – and it can be someone from the administration, or MTI, or the occasional school board member – believes that the audience for an assertion is composed entirely of idiots.

    In my view, while some things within our local public schools have become a bit more transparent (open enrollment, fine arts, math, TAG), others, unfortunately, like the budget, have become much less. This is not good.

  • A new financial reality. I don’t see significant new funds for K-12 given the exploding federal deficit, state spending and debt issues and Madison’s property tax climate. Ideally, the District will operate like many organizations, families and individuals and try to most effectively use the resources it has. The recent Reading Recovery report is informative.

I think Dan Nerad sits on a wonderful opportunity. The community is incredibly supportive of our schools, spending far more per student than most school Districts (quite a bit more than his former Green Bay home) and providing a large base of volunteers. Madison enjoys access to an academic powerhouse: the University of Wisconsin and proximity to MATC and Edgewood College. Yet, District has long been quite insular (see Janet Mertz’s never ending efforts to address this issue), taking a “we know best approach” to many topics via close ties to the UW-Madison School of Education and its own curriculum creation business, the Department of Teaching and Learning.
In summary, I’m hoping for a “de Klerk” moment Monday evening. What are the odds?

Notes and Links: President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visit Madison’s Wright Middle School (one of two Charter Schools in Madison).


Background

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Madison’s Wright Middle School Wednesday, November 4, 2009, purportedly to give an education speech. The visit may also be related to the 2010 Wisconsin Governor’s race. The Democrat party currently (as of 11/1/2009) has no major announced candidate. Wednesday’s event may include a formal candidacy announcement by Milwaukee Mayor, and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. UPDATE: Alexander Russo writes that the visit is indeed about Barrett and possible legislation to give the Milwaukee Mayor control of the schools.

Possible Participants:

Wright Principal Nancy Evans will surely attend. Former Principal Ed Holmes may attend as well. Holmes, currently Principal at West High has presided over a number of controversial iniatives, including the “Small Learning Community” implementation and several curriculum reduction initiatives (more here).
I’m certain that a number of local politicians will not miss the opportunity to be seen with the President. Retiring Democrat Governor Jim Doyle, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (Falk has run for Governor and Attorney General in the past) and Madison School Superintendent Dan Nerad are likely to be part of the event. Senator Russ Feingold’s seat is on the fall, 2010 ballot so I would not be surprised to see him at Wright Middle School as well.

Madison’s Charter Intransigence

Madison, still, has only two charter schools for its 24,295 students: Wright and Nuestro Mundo.
Wright resulted from the “Madison Middle School 2000” initiative. The District website has some background on Wright’s beginnings, but, as if on queue with respect to Charter schools, most of the links are broken (for comparison, here is a link to Houston’s Charter School Page). Local biotech behemoth Promega offered free land for Madison Middle School 2000 [PDF version of the District’s Promega Partnership webpage]. Unfortunately, this was turned down by the District, which built the current South Side Madison facility several years ago (some School Board members argued that the District needed to fulfill a community promise to build a school in the present location). Promega’s kind offer was taken up by Eagle School. [2001 Draft Wright Charter 60K PDF]

Wright & Neustro Mundo Background

Wright Middle School Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Madison Middle School 2000 Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Nuestro Mundo, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was established in response to the commitment of its founders to provide educational, cultural and social opportunities for Madison’s ever-expanding Latino community.” The dual immersion school lives because the community and several School Board members overcame District Administration opposition. Former Madison School Board member Ruth Robarts commented in 2005:

The Madison Board of Education rarely rejects the recommendations of Superintendent Rainwater. I recall only two times that we have explicitly rejected his views. One was the vote to authorize Nuestro Mundo Community School as a charter school. The other was when we gave the go-ahead for a new Wexford Ridge Community Center on the campus of Memorial High School.

Here’s how things happen when the superintendent opposes the Board’s proposed action.

Nuestro Mundo:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

The local school District Administration (and Teacher’s Union) intransigence on charter schools is illustrated by the death of two recent community charter initiatives: The Studio School and a proposed Nuestro Mundo Middle School.

About the Madison Public Schools

Those interested in a quick look at the state of Madison’s public schools should review Superintendent Dan Nerad’s proposed District performance measures. This document presents a wide variety of metrics on the District’s current performance, from advanced course “participation” to the percentage of students earning a “C” in all courses and suspension rates, among others.

Education Hot Topics

Finally, I hope President Obama mentions a number of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent hot topics, including:

This wonderful opportunity for Wright’s students will, perhaps be most interesting for the ramifications it may have on the adults in attendance. Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman recent Rotary speech alluded to school district’s conflicting emphasis on “adult employment” vs education.

Wisconsin State Test Score Comparisons: Madison Middle Schools:

WKCE Madison Middle School Comparison: Wright / Cherokee / Hamilton / Jefferson / O’Keefe / Sennett / Sherman / Spring Harbor / Whitehorse

About Madison:

UPDATE: How Do Students at Wright Compare to Their Peers at Other MMSD Middle Schools?

Madison School District: School Enrollment & Capacity Planning

Superintendent Dan Nerad [1.75MB PDF]:

Attached to this memo are several items related to enrollments, both actual and projections, as well as school capacities. We also include data on the enrollment data for students on the basis of their residence. Additional enrollment data will be provided in summary for the Board of Education at the December meeting.
The first attachment is a one-page overview summary of the past five years of enrollment history, the current year enrollment, and five years of projected enrollment by grade level. Overall, enrollment is generally flat for the district as a whole. However, the projections begin to show a slight increase starting in 2012-13 into 2014-15 at which time we will have increased enrollment to its highest level over the past ten years. By level, elementary and middle schools will continue to see increases in enrollment during the next five years whereas high schools will decline in enrollment.
The second attachment shows the detailed K-12 enrollment history and projections for each school. Historical data go back to the 1989-90 school year. Projections are through 2014-15. Projection years are boldfaced. The precision of projections at a school level and for specific grade levels within a school are less accurate when compared to the district as a whole. Furthermore, projections are much less reliable for later years in the projection timeline. Also, the worksheet reflects various program and boundary changes that were implemented and this accounts for some large shifts within schools and programs from one year to the next.
The third attachment contains two sheets – one for elementary and one for middle and high combined – and details the maximum capacities for each school, the current enrollment and capacity percentage, and the projected 2014-15 enrollment and capacity percentage. The sheets are organized by attendance area. Summaries are provided for levels. From the data, it appears elementary schools that have long term capacity constraints include Gompers,.Lake View, Sandburg, Allis/Nuestro Mundo, Kennedy, Orchard Ridge, and Van Hise. However, the schools that share a building with a middle school have access to other space. Among middle schools, Jefferson Middle School is the only school that may experience capacity concerns. None of the high schools are expected to have capacity issues for the foreseeable future.

An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Math Teacher Hiring Criteria

Thanks much for taking the time from your busy schedule to respond to our letter below. I am delighted to note your serious interest in the topic of how to obtain middle school teachers who are highly qualified to teach mathematics to the MMSD’s students so that all might succeed. We are all in agreement with the District’s laudable goal of having all students complete algebra I/geometry or integrated algebra I/geometry by the end of 10th grade. One essential component necessary for achieving this goal is having teachers who are highly competent to teach 6th- through 8th-grade mathematics to our students so they will be well prepared for high school-level mathematics when they arrive in high school.
The primary point on which we seem to disagree is how best to obtain such highly qualified middle school math teachers. It is my strong belief that the MMSD will never succeed in fully staffing all of our middle schools with excellent math teachers, especially in a timely manner, if the primary mechanism for doing so is to provide additional, voluntary math ed opportunities to the District’s K-8 generalists who are currently teaching mathematics in our middle schools. The District currently has a small number of math-certified middle school teachers. It undoubtedly has some additional K-8 generalists who already are or could readily become terrific middle school math teachers with a couple of hundred hours of additional math ed training. However, I sincerely doubt we could ever train dozens of additional K-8 generalists to the level of content knowledge necessary to be outstanding middle school math teachers so that ALL of our middle school students could be taught mathematics by such teachers.
Part of our disagreement centers around differing views regarding the math content knowledge one needs to be a highly-qualified middle school math teacher. As a scientist married to a mathematician, I don’t believe that taking a couple of math ed courses on how to teach the content of middle school mathematics provides sufficient knowledge of mathematics to be a truly effective teacher of the subject. Our middle school foreign language teachers didn’t simply take a couple of ed courses in how to teach their subject at the middle school level; rather, most of them also MAJORED or, at least, minored in the subject in college. Why aren’t we requiring the same breathe and depth of content knowledge for our middle school mathematics teachers? Do you really believe mastery of the middle school mathematics curriculum and how to teach it is sufficient content knowledge for teachers teaching math? What happens when students ask questions that aren’t answered in the teachers’ manual? What happens when students desire to know how the material they are studying relates to higher-level mathematics and other subjects such as science and engineering?
The MMSD has been waiting a long time already to have math-qualified teachers teaching mathematics in our middle schools. Many countries around the world whose students outperform US students in mathematics only hire teachers who majored in the subject to teach it. Other school districts in the US are taking advantage of the current recession with high unemployment to hire and train people who know and love mathematics, but don’t yet know how to teach it to others. For example, see
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE54L2W120090522
If Madison continues to wait, we will miss out on this opportunity and yet another generation of middle schoolers will be struggling to success in high school.
The MMSD has a long history of taking many, many year to resolve most issues. For example, the issue of students receiving high school credit for non-MMSD courses has been waiting 8 years and counting! It has taken multiple years for the District’s math task force to be formed, meet, write its report, and have its recommendations discussed. For the sake of the District’s students, we need many more math-qualified middle school teachers NOW. Please act ASAP, giving serious consideration to our proposal below. Thanks.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent: It looks like an interesting race

Despite being outspent $96,129 to $10,500 (WisPolitics) by Tony Evers, Rose Fernandez obtained 31% of yesterday’s vote. Tony Evers received 35%. Here’s a roundup of the election and candidates:

  • WisPolitics
  • Amy Hetzner:

    On Tuesday, he finished just ahead of Rose Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and parent advocate, in a five-person field.
    Although she finished the night in second place, Fernandez, 51, characterized her performance as “a victory for real people over the special interests.”
    In addition to being first to declare his candidacy, Evers also captured endorsements – and contributions – from the Wisconsin Education Association Council as well as other labor and education-based groups. WEAC PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest teachers union, contributed $8,625 to Evers’ campaign, in addition to spending nearly $180,000 on media buys for the candidate, according to campaign filings earlier this month.
    By contrast, the Fernandez campaign spent $20,000. She said that her message of calling for merit pay for teachers and choices for parents had resonated with voters.
    “Tonight, we have all the momentum,” she said. “This is going to be a real choice. It’s going to be a choice between special interests and the status quo, the bureaucracy that is entrenched at the Department of Public Instruction, vs. a focus on the results we are looking for in our investment in education, a push for higher standards instead of higher taxes.”
    Evers, 57, has distanced himself somewhat from the current schools superintendent, Elizabeth Burmaster, saying it’s time to be more aggressive about reforming Milwaukee Public Schools and calling for an increase in the state’s graduation rate.
    On Tuesday, he denied Fernandez’s charge of favoring special interests

  • Google News
  • John Nichols on the history of the DPI Superintendent.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Interviews

WisPolitics:

uddenly, there’s another major state race brewing for early 2009.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has been preparing for a challenge from conservatives in her bid for re-election, sparking speculation of a repeat of the past two partisan-ized races that saw conservatives take over the court majority. Emerging as a likely candidate is Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick.
And now conservatives and liberals are expected to battle over the state school superintendent’s job following Department of Public Instruction chief Libby Burmaster’s surprise announcement she’ll pass on a re-election bid. Though the post is officially non-partisan, Burmaster has been seen as a big ally of Dem Gov. Jim Doyle. Doyle has strong ties to Madison West High School, where Burmaster worked as principal.
Already, the potential list of competitors is up to three.
Tony Evers, Burmaster’s deputy of the past seven-plus years, immediately e-mailed supporters announcing his intention to run for the post. Van Mobley, a history professor at Concordia University in Mequon and a member of the Thiensville Village Board, is mulling a run and will make his decision in November.
And Rose Fernandez, president of president of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, has been considering a run for DPI superintendent, according to a state campaign veteran with ties to her.
Evers, who ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2001, and Mobley gave interviews to WisPolitics this week about their visions for the job. Attempts to reach Fernandez were unsuccessful.

An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Credit for non MMSD Courses

Dear Superintendent Nerad:
I was rather surprised to learn today from the Wisconsin State Journal that:
“The district and the union also have quarreled over the role of MTI members in online learning for seven years. Under the new agreement, ANY (my emphasis) instruction of district students will be supervised by Madison teachers. The deal doesn’t change existing practice but confirms that that practice will continue.”
You are quite new to the MMSD. I am EXTREMELY disappointed that you would “cave in” to MTI regarding a long-standing quarrel it has had with the MMSD without first taking the time to get input from ALL affected parties, i.e., students and their parents as well as teachers who might not agree with Matthews on this issue. Does this agreement deal only with online learning or ALL non-MMSD courses (e.g., correspondence ones done by mail; UW and MATC courses not taken via the YOP)? Given we have been waiting 7 years to resolve this issue, there was clearly no urgent need for you to do so this rapidly and so soon after coming on board. The reality is that it is an outright LIE that the deal you just struck with MTI is not a change from the practice that existed 7 years ago when MTI first demanded a change in unofficial policy. I have copies of student transcripts that can unequivocally PROVE that some MMSD students used to be able to receive high school credit for courses they took elsewhere even when the MMSD offered a comparable course. These courses include high school biology and history courses taken via UW-Extension, high school chemistry taken via Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, and mathematics, computer science, and history courses taken at UW-Madison outside of the YOP. One of these transcripts shows credit for a course taken as recently as fall, 2005; without this particular 1/2 course credit, this student would have been lacking a course in modern US history, a requirement for a high school diploma from the State of Wisconsin.
The MMSD BOE was well aware that they had never written and approved a clear policy regarding this matter, leaving each school in the district deciding for themselves whether or not to approve for credit non-MMSD courses. They were well aware that Madison West HAD been giving many students credit in the past for non-MMSD courses. The fact is that the BOE voted in January, 2007 to “freeze” policy at whatever each school had been doing until such time as they approved an official policy. Rainwater then chose to ignore this official vote of the BOE, telling the guidance departments to stop giving students credit for such courses regardless of whether they had in the past. The fact is that the BOE was in the process of working to create a uniform policy regarding non-MMSD courses last spring. As an employee of the BOE, you should not have signed an agreement with MTI until AFTER the BOE had determined official MMSD policy on this topic. By doing so, you pre-empted the process.
There exist dozens of students per year in the MMSD whose academic needs are not adequately met to the courses currently offered by MTI teachers, including through the District’s online offerings. These include students with a wide variety of disabilities, medical problems, and other types of special needs as well as academically gifted ones. By taking appropriate online and correspondence courses and non-MMSD courses they can physically access within Madison, these students can work at their own pace or in their own way or at an accessible location that enables them to succeed. “Success for all” must include these students as well. Your deal with MTI will result in dozens of students per year dropping out of school, failing to graduate, or transferring to other schools or school districts that are more willing to better meet their “special” individual needs.
Your rush to resolve this issue sends a VERY bad message to many families in the MMSD. We were hoping you might be different from Rainwater. Unfortunately, it says to them that you don’t really care what they think. It says to them that the demands of Matthews take primarily over the needs of their children. Does the MMSD exist for Matthews or for the children of this District? As you yourself said, the MMSD is at a “tipping point”, with there currently being almost 50% “free and reduced lunch” students. Families were waiting and hoping that you might be different. As they learn that you are not based upon your actions, the exodus of middle class families from the MMSD’s public schools will only accelerate. It will be on your watch as superintendent that the MMSD irreversibly turns into yet another troubled inner city school district. I urge you to take the time to learn more about the MMSD, including getting input from all interested parties, before you act in the future.
VERY disappointingly yours,
Janet Mertz
parent of 2 Madison West graduates
Tamira Madsen has more:

“Tuesday’s agreement also will implement a measure that requires a licensed teacher from the bargaining unit supervise virtual/online classes within the district. The district and union have bickered on-and-off for nearly seven years over the virtual/online education issue. Matthews said the district was violating the collective bargaining contract with development of its virtual school learning program that offered online courses taught by teachers who are not members of MTI.
In the agreement announced Tuesday, there were no program changes made to the current virtual/online curriculum, but requirements outlined in the agreement assure that classes are supervised by district teachers.
During the 2007-08 school year, there were 10 district students and 40 students from across the state who took MMSD online courses.
Though Nerad has been on the job for less than three months, Matthews said he is pleased with his initial dealings and working relationship with the new superintendent.
“This is that foundation we need,” Matthews said. “There was a lot of trust level that was built up here and a lot of learning of each other’s personalities, style and philosophy. All those things are important.
“It’s going to be good for the entire school district if we’re able to do this kind of thing, and we’re already talking about what’s next.”

On Madison’s Lack of a 4K Program

Andy Hall:

In Madison, where schools Superintendent Art Rainwater in a 2004 memo described 4K as potentially “the next best tool” for raising students’ performance and narrowing the racial achievement gap, years of study and talks with leaders of early childhood education centers have failed to produce results.
“It’s one of the things that I regret the most, that I think would have made a big impact, that I was not able to do,” said Rainwater, who is retiring next month after leading the district for a decade.
“We’ve never been able to get around the money,” said Rainwater, whose tenure was marked by annual multimillion-dollar budget cuts to conform to the state’s limits on how much money districts can raise from local property taxpayers.
A complicating factor was the opposition of Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers union, to the idea that the 4K program would include preschool teachers not employed by the School District. However, Rainwater said he’s “always believed that those things could have been resolved” if money had been available.
Starting a 4K program for an estimated 1,700 students would cost Madison $5 million the first year and $2.5 million the second year before it would get full state funding in the third year under the state’s school-funding system.
In comparison, the entire state grant available to defray Wisconsin districts’ startup costs next year is $3 million — and that amount is being shared by 32 eligible districts.
One of those districts, Green Bay, is headed by Daniel Nerad, who has been hired to succeed Rainwater in Madison.
“I am excited about it,” said Madison School Board President Arlene Silveira, who is envious of the 4K sign-up information that appears on the Green Bay district’s Web site. “He’s gone out and he’s made it work in Green Bay. That will certainly help us here as we start taking the message forward again.
Madison’s inability to start 4K has gained the attention of national advocates of 4K programs, who hail Wisconsin’s approach as a model during the current national economic downturn. Milwaukee, the state’s largest district, long has offered 4K.
“It’s been disappointing that Madison has been very slow to step up to provide for its children,” said Libby Doggett, executive director of Pre-K Now, a national nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., that campaigns for kindergarten programs for children ages 3 and 4.
“The way 4K is being done in your state is the right way.”

Related:

  • Marc Eisen: Missed Opportunity for 4K and High School Redesign
  • MMSD Budget History: Madison’s spending has grown about 50% from 1998 ($245,131,022) to 2008 ($367,806,712) while enrollment has declined slightly from 25,132 to 24,268 ($13,997/student).

Monona Grove Hires a New Superintendent

Karyn Saeman:

Craig Gerlach will be the next superintendent of the Monona Grove School District.
Gerlach’s selection was announced Wednesday night at a School Board meeting in Cottage Grove.
Speaking briefly after sitting through more than an hour of contentious debate over the proposed sharing of a principal at two elementary schools, Gerlach joked, “this has been a learning experience. If I want to make an exit, I should do it right now.”
The father of two said he was attracted to Monona Grove because of its reputation.
“You have a lot of great things going for your school district,” Gerlach said. “You’ve got a rich history of educational success.”
“I know you have issues,” he continued, but “they’re not issues that are uncommon to other school districts in the state.”
“I don’t have all the answers,” Gerlach admitted, but said he looked forward to moving the district ahead. “It’s exciting to be here,” he said.

Madison School Superintendent Finalists Named Later Today

Susan Troller:

And then there will be three.
Members of the Madison School Board will narrow the field of candidates for the next superintendent of the school district from five to three late today. School Board President Arlene Silveira said she expected that the three final candidates would be named sometime late this afternoon or early evening, following three candidate interviews today and two on Friday.
The five candidates are: Bart Anderson, county superintendent of the Franklin County Educational Service Center in Columbus, Ohio; Steve Gallon, district administrative director of the Miami/Dade Public Schools; James McIntyre, chief operating officer of the Boston Public Schools; Daniel Nerad, superintendent of schools, Green Bay Public Schools and Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, chief academic officer, Racine Public School District.
The Capital Times asked candidates why they would like to come to Madison and what accomplishments have given them pride in their careers. Anderson, McIntyre and Vanden Wyngaard were interviewed by phone, and Nerad responded by e-mail. Steve Gallon did not respond to several calls asking for his answers to the two questions.

Related:

Where to Educate Your Child? Madison Area is #2

Via a reader’s email: David Savageau (Contributing Editor of Expansion Management Management):

Three out of 10 of us either work in an educational institution or learn in one. Education eats up 8% of the Gross National Product. Keeping it all going is the biggest line item on city budgets. Whether the results are worth it sometimes makes teachers and parents–and administrators and politicians–raise their voices and point fingers.
In the 1930s, the United States was fragmented into 130,000 school districts. After decades of consolidation, there are now fewer than 15,000. They range in size from hundreds that don’t actually operate schools–but bus children to other districts–to giants like the Los Angeles Unified District, with three-quarters of a million students.
Greater Chicago has 332 public school districts and 589 private schools within its eight counties. Metropolitan Los Angeles takes in 35 public library systems. Greater Denver counts 15 public and private colleges and universities. Moving into any of America’s metro areas means stepping into a thicket of school districts, library systems, private school options and public and private college and universities.

Here are some of their top locations:

  1. Washington, DC – Arlington, VA
  2. Madison, WI
  3. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham
  4. Baltimore -Towson
  5. Akron, OH
  6. Columbus, OH
  7. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
  8. Syracuse, NY
  9. St. Louis, MO
  10. Ann Arbor, MI

The Madison area has incredible resources for our children. The key of course, is leveraging that and being open to working effectively with many organizations, something Marc Eisen mentioned in his recent article. Madison’s new Superintendent has a tremendous opportunity to leverage the community from curricular, arts, sports, health/wellness, financial and volunteer perspectives.
Related:

The Capital Times:

The Madison area, which includes all of Dane County as well as immediately adjoining areas, was awarded A+ for class size and spending per pupil in public schools, and for the popularity of the city’s public library.
The greater Madison area scored an A for being close to a college town and for offering college options.
Private school options in the greater Madison area were graded at B+.
There has been some confusion in the response to the rankings because they lump together numerous school districts — urban, suburban and rural.

Channel3000:

The engineering-based program is just one example of the district’s willingness to bring college-level learning to his high school students. That effort appears to be paying off nationally, WISC-TV reported.
“It reinforces that what we’re trying to do as a district and as an area is working,” said Granberg. “And it’s getting recognized on a national level, not just a local or state level.”
“This is not a community that accepts anything but the best and so that bar is always high,” said Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Art Rainwater.
Rainwater also credits the ranking to teacher development programs.
“We spend an awful amount of time and an awful amount of effort working with our teachers in terms of how they deliver instruction to individual children,” said Rainwater.
He said the school district will continue to improve techniques, focusing on the needs of every student.

Madison School District Administration Presentation on High School Redesign

The Madison School viewed a presentation from the Administration Monday evening on their proposed High School redesign. Listen via this mp3 audio file (or watch the MMSDTV Video Archive).
Susan Troller:

“Sometimes institutional history can be a weight around your neck,” Rainwater noted. “This can be an opportunity to bring in new ideas, and new blood,” he added.
Rainwater has said change is necessary because high schools today look and feel much like they have for generations but that students will live and work in a world that has changed dramatically, and which demands new skills and abilities.
He acknowledged that the path was likely to be bumpy, and noted that the plan — which has been developed thus far without public input — recognizes that there are major concerns in the community regarding changes to Madison’s school system.
Some of those concerns include worries about trying to balance resources among students of widely varying abilities, about “dumbing down” the curriculum with inclusive classrooms, the potential for the high schools to lose their unique personalities and concerns that addressing the broad ranges of culture in the district will not serve students well.

Background:

Madison Mayor’s Perspective on the Schools

Mary Yeater Rathbun: Bill Clingan will become part of a bridge between the mayor’s office and the Madison School District if the City Council confirms Clingan’s appointment as the director of its new Economic and Community Development Department. As Mayor Dave Cieslewicz told the Capital Times editorial Board this week, the city has no real … Continue reading Madison Mayor’s Perspective on the Schools

An open letter to the Superintendent of Madison Metropolitan Schools

Dear Mr. Rainwater: I just found out from the principal at my school that you cut the allocations for SAGE teachers and Strings teachers, but the budget hasn’t even been approved. Will you please stop playing politics with our children education? It?s time to think about your legacy. As you step up to the chopping … Continue reading An open letter to the Superintendent of Madison Metropolitan Schools

2007/2008 Madison School District Budget Outlook: Half Empty or Half Full?

Susan Troller’s piece today on the larger than usual reduction in “revenue cap limited” increases (say that quickly) in the Madison School District’s $332M+ 2007/2008 budget is interesting, from my perspective, due to what is left unsaid: The District has been running a “structural deficit for years, revealed only recently after school board Vice President … Continue reading 2007/2008 Madison School District Budget Outlook: Half Empty or Half Full?

They’re off and running: Three new faces seek seats on Madison’s school board

This week is the official start of the spring campaign season, and three local parents are launching bids for Madison’s board of education. Arlene Silveira, 47, the president of Cherokee middle school’s parent-teacher organization, and Maya Cole, 42, an active member of the parent-teacher group at Franklin-Randall, are seeking the open seat being vacated by … Continue reading They’re off and running: Three new faces seek seats on Madison’s school board

Superintendent Art Rainwater Proposes to Decimate Fine Arts: Turns Back on Curriculum and Academic Achievement Benefits of Fine Arts Education – Fails to Work with the Community, Year After Year

Superintendent Art Rainwater proposes (2005-2006 Budget Discussion Items)to cut another $1 million in elementary music and art education once again this year without any prior curriculum review and assessment of impact on children’s learning and achievement – that would have involved teachers and the community. MADISON SCHOOL BOARD CONTINUES TO IGNORE CHILDREN’S, PARENTS’, TEACHERS’ AND … Continue reading Superintendent Art Rainwater Proposes to Decimate Fine Arts: Turns Back on Curriculum and Academic Achievement Benefits of Fine Arts Education – Fails to Work with the Community, Year After Year

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate: Todd Stelzel

I had an opportunity to visit recently with Black Earth resident, Wisconsin Heights teacher and Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Todd Stelzel. I’ve posted a 13 minute video clip and mp3 audio file where Stelzel discuss his background, candidacy and asks for our vote. Following are a number of fat links to information about Stelzel, who … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate: Todd Stelzel

Kamala (Harris) Is Dead Wrong on Busing And the Milwaukee busing plan was a dramatic example of this.

George Mitchell: White opposition to forced busing scared Milwaukee’s leaders, who created a very different plan in response to a federal court order to desegregate the schools. The plan launched in 1976 allowed white students to chose integration at magnet schools with specialized programs, while putting the burden of forced busing on black students, as … Continue reading Kamala (Harris) Is Dead Wrong on Busing And the Milwaukee busing plan was a dramatic example of this.

Many More Students, Especially the Affluent, Get Extra Time to Take the SAT

Douglas Belkin, Jennifer Levitz and Melissa Korn: At Scarsdale High School north of New York City, one in five students is eligible for extra time or another accommodation such as a separate room for taking the SAT or ACT college entrance exam. At Weston High School in Connecticut, it is one in four. At Newton … Continue reading Many More Students, Especially the Affluent, Get Extra Time to Take the SAT

College Board Erases the Founding Fathers. Protect the Spirit of ’76.

Patrick Jakeway The classic novel Brave New World describes a future in which people have lost all of their liberty and in which they have become drugged robots obedient to a central authority. It also details how this control was first established. First, the rulers had to erase all history and all the people’s memory … Continue reading College Board Erases the Founding Fathers. Protect the Spirit of ’76.

Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes

Call me crazy, but I think a record of involvement in our schools is a prerequisite for a School Board member. Sitting at the Board table isn’t the place to be learning the names of our schools or our principals.
Wayne Strong, TJ Mertz and James Howard rise far above their opponents for those of us who value School Board members with a history of engagement in local educational issues and a demonstrated record of commitment to our Madison schools and the students we serve.

Notes and links on Ed Hughes and the 2013 Madison School Board election.
I’ve become a broken record vis a vis Madison’s disastrous reading results. The District has been largely operating on auto-pilot for decades. It is as if a 1940’s/1950’s model is sufficient. Spending increases annually (at lower rates in recent years – roughly $15k/student), yet Madison’s disastrous reading results continue, apace.
Four links for your consideration.
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

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
3rd Grade Madison School District Reading Proficiency Data (“Achievement Gap Plan”)

The other useful stat buried in the materials is on the second page 3 (= 6th page), showing that the 3rd grade proficiency rate for black students on WKCE, converted to NAEP-scale proficiency, is 6.8%, with the accountability plan targeting this percentage to increase to 23% over one school year. Not sure how this happens when the proficiency rate (by any measure) has been decreasing year over year for quite some time. Because the new DPI school report cards don’t present data on an aggregated basis district-wide nor disaggregated by income and ethnicity by grade level, the stats in the MMSD report are very useful, if one reads the fine print.

Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
How many School Board elections, meetings, votes have taken place since 2005 (a number of candidates were elected unopposed)? How many Superintendents have been hired, retired or moved? Yet, the core structure remains. This, in my view is why we have seen the move to a more diffused governance model in many communities with charters, vouchers and online options.
Change is surely coming. Ideally, Madison should drive this rather than State or Federal requirements. I suspect it will be the latter, in the end, that opens up our monolithic, we know best approach to public education.

Change is the Only Path to Better Schools

Chris Rickert:

Shortly after Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad resigned last year, School Board member Ed Hughes told me that when it comes to the Madison School District, “People want improvement, but they don’t want change.”
I thought about Hughes’ words last weekend after the school district announced it had hired Chicago Public Schools chief of instruction Jennifer Cheatham as Nerad’s replacement.
Cheatham is seen as the best bet for improvement — specifically to the long history of low-income and minority student under-achievement.
The question now is: Will people tolerate her changes?
Hughes told me Sunday he was “optimistic” they would. “I think she will earn teachers’ trust and inspire them to do their best work,” he said. “If she succeeds at that, everything else will fall into place.”
I hope he’s right, but I don’t yet share his optimism.
Back in 2011, it was the district’s long-standing inability to do anything bold about the achievement gap that left it vulnerable to the Urban League of Greater Madison’s bid to open its own charter school for minority and low-income students.
Madison Preparatory Academy brought the issue of the achievement gap to the fore. But the school’s rejection — largely due to opposition from the teachers union — left notoriously progressive Madison doing some uncomfortable soul-searching.

Related: And so it continues…..

Stakes high for Nerad on achievement gap proposal, including his contract which currently expires June, 2013

Matthew DeFour:

lot is riding on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s upcoming plan for improving low-income, minority student achievement.
The plan is billed as a blueprint for addressing an intractable, divisive issue in Madison, and it could also factor into the upcoming School Board discussion of Nerad’s future in Madison.
The United Way of Dane County has made closing the achievement gap one of its primary issues for more than 15 years through the Schools of Hope tutoring program. But president Leslie Howard said the recent debate over the proposed Madison Prepatory Academy charter school has drawn more public attention to the issue than ever before.
“I don’t want to say something so grandiose that everything’s at stake, but in some ways it feels like that,” Howard said.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Related links:
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
“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!
Acting White
Event (2.16.2012) The Quest for Educational Opportunity: The History of Madison’s Response to the Academic Achievement Gap (1960-2011)

Average Milwaukee Public Schools Teacher Salary Plus Benefits Tops $100,000; Ramifications

MacIver Institute:

For the first time in history, the average annual compensation for a teacher in the Milwaukee Public School system will exceed $100,000.
That staggering figure was revealed last night at a meeting of the MPS School Board.
The average salary for an MPS teacher is $56,500. When fringe benefits are factored in, the annual compensation will be $100,005 in 2011.
MacIver’s Bill Osmulski has more in this video report.

Related Links:

Finally, the economic and political issue in a nutshell: Wisconsin’s taxbase is not keeping up with other states:

Annual Enrollment Report- School Enrollments and Capacities 2010

Superintendent Dan Nerad

The first attachment is a one-page overview summary of the past five years of enrollment history, the current year enrollment, and five years of projected enrollment by grade level. Overall, enrollment is generally flat for the district as a whole. However, enrollment has increased slightly for the past two (2) years. We project that this increase will continue for the next two years through 2012-13. After 2012-13 District overall enrollment K-12 will begin to decline slightly. Overall District enrollment has been remarkably stable since 1992 (minimum= 23,556 in 1992, maximum= 24,962 in 1998, average of 24,426 over the past 20 years.
By level, we project that only middle schools will continue to see increases in enrollment during the next five years whereas high and elementary schools will decline in enrollment. Elementary enrollments five years out are based largely on births 5 years prior. Births were at historical highs from 2004 to 2007 (over 3100 births in the City of Madison in each of those years, the highest since the mid 1960’s). Births declined in 2008 (-8%) and 2009 (-13%) respectively from the 2007 high.
The second attachment shows the detailed K-12 enrollment history and projections for each school. Actual enrollment is displayed for 2006 to 2011. Projections are through 2015-16. Projection years are boldfaced. The precision of projections at a school level and for specific grade levels within a school are less accurate when compared to the district as a whole. Furthermore, projections are much less reliable for later years in the projection timeline. Also, the worksheet reflects various program and boundary changes that were implemented and this accounts for some large shifts within schools and programs from one year to the next.

Related: 11/2005: Where Have all The Students Gone, and Dane County Population Trends: 1990 –.

Covington calls for closing up to 31 schools

Joe Robertson:

Kansas City Superintendent John Covington this afternoon unveiled his sweeping plan to close half of the district’s schools, redistribute grade levels and sell the downtown central office.
Covington presented his proposal to the school board in advance of a series of forums next week where the community will get to weigh in on what would be the largest swath of closures in district history, as well as a major reorganization.
“Folks, it’s going to hurt,” Covington told an overflow audience. “It’s going to be painful, but if we work together, we’re going to get through it.”
Covington wants to be able to complete the public debate and present a final plan for a vote by the board at its Feb. 24 meeting.
The board and the community have a lot to digest over the next 10 days.
The proposal calls for:
•29 to 31 of the district’s 60 schools would close, including Westport High and Central Middle.

Related: Money And School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment:

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.
The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can’t be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.

Former Madison School District Superintendent Art Rainwater served in Kansas City prior to his time in Madison.
This is rather astonishing, given the amount of money spent in Kansas City.

The Politics of President Obama’s “Back to School Speech” Beamed to Classrooms

Foon Rhee:

Here’s the latest exhibit on how polarized the country is and how much distrust exists of President Obama.
He plans what seems like a simple speech to students around the country on Tuesday to encourage them to do well in school.
But some Republicans are objecting to the back-to-school message, asserting that Obama wants to indoctrinate students.
Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer said in a statement that he is “absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology” and “liberal propaganda.”
Wednesday, after the White House announced the speech, the Department of Education followed up with a letter to school principals and a lesson plan.
Critics pointed to the part of the lesson plan that originally recommended having students “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.”

Eric Kleefeld:

The Department of Education has now changed their supplementary materials on President Obama’s upcoming address to schoolchildren on the importance of education — eliminating a phrase that some conservatives, such as the Florida GOP, happened to have been bashing as evidence of socialist indoctrination in our schools.
In a set of bullet points listed under a heading, “Extension of the Speech,” one of the points used to say: “Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.”
However, that bullet point now reads as follows: “Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.”

Alyson Klein:

om Horne, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, put out his own statement, with an education-oriented critique of the speech and its lesson plans.
Here’s a snippet from his statement:

The White House materials call for a worshipful, rather than critical approach to this speech. For example, the White House communication calls for the students to have ‘notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on the board),’ and for the students to discuss ‘how will he inspire us,’ among other things. …In general, in keeping with good education practice, students should be taught to read and think critically about statements coming from politicians and historical figures.

Eduwonk:

Just as it quickly became impossible to have a rationale discussion about health care as August wore on, we could be heading that way on education. If you haven’t heard (don’t get cable news?), President Obama plans to give a speech to the nation’s schoolchildren next week. To accompany it the Department of Education prepared a – gasp – study guide with some ideas for how teachers can use the speech as a, dare I say it, teachable moment.
Conservatives are screaming that this is unprecedented and amounts to indoctrination and a violation of the federal prohibition on involvement in local curricular decisions. Even the usually level-headed Rick Hess has run to the ramparts. We’re getting lectured on indoctrination by the same people who paid national commentators to covertly promote their agenda.
Please. Enough. The only thing this episode shows is how thoroughly broken our politics are. Let’s take the two “issues” in turn.

Michael Alison Chandler & Michael Shear:

The speech, which will be broadcast live from Wakefield High School in Arlington County, was planned as an inspirational message “entirely about encouraging kids to work hard and stay in school,” said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to principals nationwide encouraging them to show it.
But the announcement of the speech prompted a frenzied response from some conservatives, who called it an attempt to indoctrinate students, not motivate them.

I think Max Blumenthal provides the right perspective on this political matter:

Although Eisenhower is commonly remembered for a farewell address that raised concerns about the “military-industrial complex,” his letter offers an equally important — and relevant — warning: to beware the danger posed by those seeking freedom from the “mental stress and burden” of democracy.
The story began in 1958, when Eisenhower received a letter from Robert Biggs, a terminally ill World War II veteran. Biggs told the president that he “felt from your recent speeches the feeling of hedging and a little uncertainty.” He added, “We wait for someone to speak for us and back him completely if the statement is made in truth.”
Eisenhower could have discarded Biggs’s note or sent a canned response. But he didn’t. He composed a thoughtful reply. After enduring Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, who had smeared his old colleague Gen. George C. Marshall as a Communist sympathizer, and having guarded the Republican Party against the newly emergent radical right John Birch Society, which labeled him and much of his cabinet Soviet agents, the president perhaps welcomed the opportunity to expound on his vision of the open society.
“I doubt that citizens like yourself could ever, under our democratic system, be provided with the universal degree of certainty, the confidence in their understanding of our problems, and the clear guidance from higher authority that you believe needed,” Eisenhower wrote on Feb. 10, 1959. “Such unity is not only logical but indeed indispensable in a successful military organization, but in a democracy debate is the breath of life.”

Critical thinking is good for kids and good for society.
I attended a recent Russ Feingold lunch [mp3 audio]. He spoke on a wide range of issues and commendably, took many open forum questions (unlike many elected officials), including mine “How will history view our exploding federalism?”. A fellow luncheon guest asked about Obama’s use of “Czar’s” (operating outside of Senate review and confirmation). Feingold rightly criticized this strategy, which undermines the Constitution.
I would generally not pay much attention to this, but for a friends recent comment that his daughter’s elementary school (Madison School District) teacher assigned six Obama coloring projects last spring.
Wall Street Journal Editorial:

President Obama’s plan to speak to America’s schoolchildren next Tuesday has some Republicans in an uproar. “As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology,” thunders Jim Greer, chairman of Florida’s Republican Party, in a press release. “President Obama has turned to American’s children to spread his liberal lies, indoctrinating American’s [sic] youngest children before they have a chance to decide for themselves.” Columnists who spy a conspiracy behind every Democrat are also spreading alarm.
This is overwrought, to say the least. According to the Education Department’s Web site, Mr. Obama “will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning”–hardly the stuff of the Communist Manifesto or even the Democratic Party platform. America’s children are not so vulnerable that we need to slap an NC-17 rating on Presidential speeches. Given how many minority children struggle in school, a pep talk from the first African-American President could even do some good.
On the other hand, the Department of Education goes a little too far in its lesson plans for teachers to use in conjunction with the speech–especially the one for grades 7 through 12. Before the speech, teachers are urged to use “notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama’s speeches about education” and to “brainstorm” with students about the question “How will he inspire us?” Suggested topics for postspeech discussion include “What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech?” and “What is President Obama inspiring you to do?”

The Overhaul of Wisconsin’s Assessment System (WKCE) Begins

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction [52K PDF]:

Wisconsin will transform its statewide testing program to a new system that combines state, district, and classroom assessments and is more responsive to students, teachers, and parents needs while also offering public accountability for education.
“We will be phasing out the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations (WKCE),” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “We must begin now to make needed changes to our state’s assessment system.” He also explained that the WKCE will still be an important part of the educational landscape for two to three years during test development. “At minimum, students will be taking the WKCEs this fall and again during the 2010-11 school year. Results from these tests will be used for federal accountability purposes,” he said.
“A common sense approach to assessment combines a variety of assessments to give a fuller picture of educational progress for our students and schools,” Evers explained. “Using a balanced approach to assessment, recommended by the Next Generation Assessment Task Force, will be the guiding principle for our work.”
The Next Generation Assessment Task Force, convened in fall 2008, was made up of 42 individuals representing a wide range of backgrounds in education and business. Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, and Joan Wade, administrator for Cooperative Educational Service Agency 6 in Oshkosh, were co-chairs. The task force reviewed the history of assessment in Wisconsin; explored the value, limitations, and costs of a range of assessment approaches; and heard presentations on assessment systems from a number of other states.
It recommended that Wisconsin move to a balanced assessment system that would go beyond annual, large-scale testing like the WKCE.

Jason Stein:


The state’s top schools official said Thursday that he will blow up the system used to test state students, rousing cheers from local education leaders.
The statewide test used to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law will be replaced with a broader, more timely approach to judging how well Wisconsin students are performing.
“I’m extremely pleased with this announcement,” said Madison schools Superintendent Dan Nerad. “This is signaling Wisconsin is going to have a healthier assessment tool.”

Amy Hetzner:

Task force member Deb Lindsey, director of research and assessment for Milwaukee Public Schools, said she was especially impressed by Oregon’s computerized testing system. The program gives students several opportunities to take state assessments, with their highest scores used for statewide accountability purposes and other scores used for teachers and schools to measure their performance during the school year, she said.
“I like that students in schools have multiple opportunities to take the test, that there is emphasis on progress rather than a single test score,” she said. “I like that the tests are administered online.”
Computerized tests give schools and states an opportunity to develop more meaningful tests because they can assess a wider range of skills by modifying questions based on student answers, Lindsey said. Such tests are more likely to pick up on differences between students who are far above or below grade level than pencil-and-paper tests, which generate good information only for students who are around grade level, she said.
For testing at the high school level, task force member and Oconomowoc High School Principal Joseph Moylan also has a preference.
“I’m hoping it’s the ACT and I’m hoping it’s (given in) the 11th grade,” he said. “That’s what I believe would be the best thing for Wisconsin.”
By administering the ACT college admissions test to all students, as is done in Michigan, Moylan said the state would have a good gauge of students’ college readiness as well as a test that’s important to students. High school officials have lamented that the low-stakes nature of the 10th-grade WKCE distorts results.

The Death of WKCE? Task Force to Develop “Comprehensive Assessment System for Wisconsin”

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction [150K PDF], via a kind reader’s email:

Wisconsin needs a comprehensive assessment system that provides educators and parents with timely and relevant information that helps them make instructional decisions to improve student achievement,” said State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster in announcing members of a statewide Next Generation Assessment Task Force.
Representatives from business, commerce, and education will make recommendations to the state superintendent on the components of an assessment system that are essential to increase student achievement. Task force members will review the history of assessment in Wisconsin and learn about the value, limitations, and costs of a range of assessment approaches. They will hear presentations on a number of other states’ assessment systems. Those systems may include ACT as part of a comprehensive assessment system, diagnostic or benchmark assessments given throughout the year, or other assessment instruments and test administration methods. The group’s first meeting will be held October 8 in Madison.

A few notes:

.

School Board to Focus on Money

Andy Hall:


In the first major test for newly hired Superintendent Daniel Nerad, Madison school officials this week will begin public discussions of whether to ask voters for additional money to head off a potentially “catastrophic” $8.2 million budget gap for the 2009-10 school year.
The Madison School Board’s meetings in August will be dominated by talk of the possible referendum, which could appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The public will be invited to speak out at forums on Aug. 12 and 14.

Related:

Props to the District for finding a reduced spending increase of $1,000,000 and looking for more (The same service budget growth, given teacher contract and other increases vs budget growth limits results in the “gap” referred to in Hall’s article above). Happily, Monday evening’s referendum discussion included a brief mention of revisiting the now many years old “same service” budget approach (28mb mp3, about 30 minutes). A question was also raised about attracting students (MMSD enrollment has been flat for years). Student growth means additional tax and spending authority for the school district.
The Madison school board has been far more actively involved in financial issues recently. Matters such as the MMSD’s declining equity (and related structural deficit) have been publicly discussed. A very useful “citizen’s budget” document was created for the 2006-2007 ($333M) and 2007-2008 ($339M) (though the final 2007-2008 number was apparently $365M) budgets. Keeping track of changes year to year is not a small challenge.

A Discussion on School Models (Traditional, Charter and Magnet)



Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater and Rafael Gomez held an interesting discussion on school models recently [Announcement].

Read the transcript
Watch the Video
or listen to the event (41mb mp3 audio)



Related:

Involving the Community (in High School Reform)

I will periodically provide updates for the community so that you can read what the Board of Education (BOE) is working on during the year. I also do so when I have particular interest in, or concerns regarding, decisions made on behalf of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).
One area that I believe is of utmost importance and may be on the mind of the public is high school reform.
I am particularly interested in answering two questions as they relate to this issue.
First, what are the problem(s) we are trying to address as a district in our high schools?
Second, how does the current high school framework align with the skills and knowledge required by colleges and employers and in the overall reform movement of standards and accountability?
To address this issue as a board member, I look for specific timelines, benchmarks and periodic updates.
I think it would well serve the community and the entire board to know exactly where we are in the process. Originally, high school reform in MMSD was presented to the community in a BOE Special Meeting and referred to as a “blank slate.”
Recently, the district submitted an application for a Small Learning Communities (SLC) federal grant. It was not awarded. It was at this time that I had requested that the BOE review the process of high school reform in MMSD at a BOE Special Meeting. I have also raised concerns that the administration has decided to apply for the grant again. The board has been told that we have a good chance that we will get the grant on the second round. I have again requested that the board meet as soon as possible.
However, as a board member of seven – there must be four BOE members willing to submit such a request to put this topic on the agenda. So far, I am the only member requesting this motion.
I raise this issue because of my firmly held belief that my role as a BOE member is to represent the community and provide, to the best of my ability, an accessible, open process when major decisions are made on behalf of the community.
It appears that as of today, the grant will be resubmitted before the only scheduled BOE meeting on high school reform on the 19th of November.
A little history. The high school reform process should be transparent and accessible to the entire community. I am trying to get a handle on this process myself. Here is a look at what has transpired so far:

The HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) Coalition

The HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) Coalition is a grassroots group of concerned parents, educators, and community members who believe creating and sustaining new educational options would strengthen MMSD. New options in public schools would benefit students, families, teachers, and our community. Options are needed because “one size does not fit all”! The diversity … Continue reading The HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) Coalition

2007 / 2008 $339M+ MMSD Budget: “School Shuffle is Losing”

Andy Hall: A controversial plan to close and consolidate schools on Madison’s North and East sides appears dead a week before the Madison School Board’s self- imposed deadline for determining $7.9 million in spending reductions. Four of the board’s seven members plan to vote against Superintendent Art Rainwater’s proposal to save $1 million by closing … Continue reading 2007 / 2008 $339M+ MMSD Budget: “School Shuffle is Losing”

Hard MMSD Budget Still Has Wiggle Room

Scott Milfred: It’s a contentious fact that has run through so many Madison School Board races and referendums in recent years: Madison schools spend a lot — $12,111 per student during the 2005-06 school year. If the district is spending that much, how can it be in crisis? The answer is complex and a bit … Continue reading Hard MMSD Budget Still Has Wiggle Room

School District Annual Reductions in Budget Increases

Doug Erickson: Madison School District administrators are scheduled to announce today their recommendations for millions of dollars in program and staff cuts, a grim step in a budget process that typically consumes the School Board’s attention each spring. Larger class sizes at the elementary level and bigger caseloads for special education teachers likely will be … Continue reading School District Annual Reductions in Budget Increases

More Than English 10: Let’s REALLY Talk About Our High Schools

First, I want to say BRAVO, RUTH, for putting it all together and bringing it on home to us. Thanks, too, to the BOE members who overrode BOE President Johnny Winston Jr’s decision to table this important discussion. Finally, deepest thanks to all of the East parents, students and teachers who are speaking out … … Continue reading More Than English 10: Let’s REALLY Talk About Our High Schools

Fordham Foundation: Wisconsin DPI Academic Standards = D-

Alan Borsuk: It’s the fourth time in three months that a national study has accused state officials of shirking their responsibilities, particularly to minority students and those from low-income homes. Two national education reformers said Monday that Department of Public Instruction officials have misled citizens about their work to improve the quality of education in … Continue reading Fordham Foundation: Wisconsin DPI Academic Standards = D-

Very disappointing start for MTI-MMSD health insurance task force

On Wednesday, January 11, representatives of Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) and the Madison school district met at the union’s headquarters for three hours. MTI Executive Director John Matthews chaired the meeting. It was the first of two meetings at which MTI and MMSD will supposedly explore the potential for savings on health insurance costs for … Continue reading Very disappointing start for MTI-MMSD health insurance task force

Stossel: How the Lack of School Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of A Good Education

John Stossel: And while many people say, “We need to spend more money on our schools,” there actually isn’t a link between spending and student achievement. Jay Greene, author of “Education Myths,” points out that “If money were the solution, the problem would already be solved … We’ve doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, … Continue reading Stossel: How the Lack of School Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of A Good Education

Public Not Welcome at MMSD Talks about Future Health Insurance Costs

Last August, MMSD parent KJ Jakobson asked “whether the new joint district-union task force for investigating health insurance costs be a truly collaborative effort to solve a very costly problem? Or will it instead end up being a collusion to maintain the status quo?” Collaboration or collusion: What should the public expect from MMSD-MTI Task … Continue reading Public Not Welcome at MMSD Talks about Future Health Insurance Costs

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: A Look at the Educational Histories of the 29 West HS National Merit Semi-Finalists

Earlier this semester, 60 MMSD students — including 29 from West HS — were named 2006 National Merit Semifinalists. In a 10/12/05 press release, MMSD Superintendent Art Rainwater said, “I am proud of the many staff members who taught and guided these students all the way from elementary school, and of this district’s overall guidance … Continue reading Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: A Look at the Educational Histories of the 29 West HS National Merit Semi-Finalists

PAGING RANDY ALEXANDER?

Or, What Is This Old Building Worth? Photo of Washington Public Grade and Orthopedic School, 545 W. Dayton St., Madison Trust for Historic Preservation. To see where it is located, click here. Complex problems require creative solutions. But what happens when innovative ideas don’t get serious consideration? This fall, the Madison School Board assembled two … Continue reading PAGING RANDY ALEXANDER?

West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

Here is a synopsis of the English 10 situation at West HS. Currently — having failed to receive any reply from BOE Performance and Achievement Committee Chair Shwaw Vang to our request that he investigate this matter and provide an opportunity for public discussion — we are trying to get BOE President Carol Carstensen to … Continue reading West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

West High School Presentation on 10th Grade English: Same Curriculum for All Students

Click to view the Video MP3 audio only Barb Schrank, Videographer Principal Ed Holmes, English department chair Keesia Hyzer, and teacher Mark Nepper presented information on the planned single English curriculum for all 10th graders at West this past Monday evening. Watch the video or listen to the audio by clicking on the links just … Continue reading West High School Presentation on 10th Grade English: Same Curriculum for All Students

Report from West High PTSO Meeting

Some 70 parents were in attendance at Monday evening’s PTSO meeting to hear about West High School’s plans for 10th grade English. This was the largest turnout for a PTSO meeting in recent history. Approximately one-third of those there were parents of elementary and middle school students who will be attending West at some point … Continue reading Report from West High PTSO Meeting

One English Program for West’s Sophomores

Matt Pommer: Under the new program targeted for fall 2006, all sophomores will take the same English program in the first semester focusing on the American Dream. In the second semester, students will be able to select from the themes of justice or identity, according to Keesia Hyzer, chair of the school’s English department. In … Continue reading One English Program for West’s Sophomores

Eyewitness Report: School Board Decisions on Bus Contracts

A recent editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal claims that the Madison school board rejected Superintendent Art Rainwater’s “painstaking” analysis of known problems with local bus companies when it granted long-term contracts to transport our students to locally owned companies. According to the editorial, the administration informed the Board about safety and reliability problems with … Continue reading Eyewitness Report: School Board Decisions on Bus Contracts

Families Leaving West?

Many good things are happening in the Madison Metropolitan School District! This viewpoint and the things we see conflict with the stated concern by some families as they tell us that they will be leaving the district rather than attend West high school. The one reason common to families is that they want their child … Continue reading Families Leaving West?

K-12 Math Curriculum: A Visit With UW Math Professor Dick Askey

UW Math Professor Dick Askey kindly took the time to visit with a group of schoolinfosystem.org writers and friends recently. Dick discussed a variety of test results, books, articles and links with respect to K-12 math curriculum. Here are a few of them: Test Results: Wisconsin is slipping relative to other states in every two … Continue reading K-12 Math Curriculum: A Visit With UW Math Professor Dick Askey

MMSD Teacher Layoffs Target Elementary String Teachers

On Thursday, based upon Superintendent Rainwater’s recommendation, the Madison School Board approved 20 FTEs for layoff. These layoffs included 60% of the elementary string staff – the largest percentage of one academic personnel group ever laid off in the history of the Madison Metropolitan School District. How come a program that cost less than 1/10 … Continue reading MMSD Teacher Layoffs Target Elementary String Teachers

Failing the Wrong Grades (cont’d) – Needs Better High School Preparation

Diane Ravich It makes no sense to blame the high schools for their ill-prepared incoming students. To really get at the problem, we have to make changes across our educational system. The most important is to stress the importance of academic achievement. Sorry to say, we have a long history of reforms by pedagogues to … Continue reading Failing the Wrong Grades (cont’d) – Needs Better High School Preparation