Madison Student Enrollment Projections and where have all the students gone?

Madison School District PDF: Executive Summary: As part of its long-range facility planning efforts, MMSD requires a refined approach for predicting enrollment arising from new development and changes in enrollment within existing developed areas. As urban development approaches the outer edges of the District’s boundary, and as redevelopment becomes an increasingly important source of new […]

Where Have all the Students Gone? An Update

An update to Barb Schrank’s November, 2005 post:

Comments from a reader:

At $6,000 per child that’s about $16 million per year. At $9,000 per child, that’s about $23 million per year. If we kept 332, that would be $2-3 million more per year.
Also, MMSD not only lost students, which has a negative effect on what the district gets under revenue caps, we’ve increased our low-income population, which means that for every dollar the district gets, more of those dollars need to be spent on non-instructional services.
If the district does not consider the economic development implications of its decisions, we’re likely to

  • see more go to school outside MMSD, or
  • for the non-low income students who go to school here increased family dollars will be spent on private aspects of education- lessons, tutoring, etc.

Madison’s population in 2000 was 208,054 and is estimated to be 223,389, according to the census bureau. Madison’s poverty rate is estimated to be 13%, according to the Small Area Estimates Branch [Website].

District Enrollment
Per Student Spending (06/07 Budget) Administrators Total Staff ACT % Tested (05-06) ACT Comp Score
Madison 25,087 24,755 $12,422 91.5 3544.6 61.1 24.2
Verona 4222 4540 $12,113 22 603.4 69.6 23.6
Middleton-Cross Plains 5125 5640 $12,822 21 756.3 73 24.5
Waunakee 2836 3357 $11,987 14 427.6 70.7 23.3
Sun Priarie 4776 5946 $11,238 20 741.3 62.6 23
McFarland 1951 2017 $11,853 9.5 251.2 64 23.7
Monona Grove 2702 2885 $12,289 13 388 71.4 22.6
Oregon 3430 3588 $11,572 15 465.1 59.2 23.2

Data sources:

Thanks to a number of readers for the updated information.

Where Have All the Students Gone?

Additional Charts: Enrollment Changes, Number of Minority Students | Enrollment Changes, Low IncomeMMSD Lost 174 Students While the Surrounding School Districts Increased by 1,462 Students Over Four School Years. Revenue Value of 1,462 Students – $13.16 Million Per Year* MMSD reports that student population is declining. From the 2000-2001 school year through the 2003-2004 school […]

About 11,000 Washington high-school graduates didn’t fill out the paperwork that would have unlocked financial aid to go to college tuition-free in 2017, a new study shows.

Katherine Long: The promise of free college makes a snappy campaign pledge, as many candidates have discovered. But you might be surprised to learn that thousands of Washington students already have the opportunity to go to college for free — and don’t bother to take it. In 2017, about 11,000 students who graduated from Washington […]

Students in Rural America Ask, ‘What Is a University Without a History Major?’ Image The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, facing declining enrollment and revenue, is weighing major changes to its degree programs.

Mitch Smith: The locations of college campuses can be a reflection of a bygone America. Most universities were founded generations ago, when rural communities were thriving and when traveling across a state to a larger urban campus was more complicated. As people moved toward cities and the Sun Belt, and as cars and planes connected […]

The Mismatch Effect: A Danger for Students of All Races

Eugene Volokh: Say that you apply to many schools, including some where other students have much better predictors (chiefly test scores and grades from earlier institutions) than you. And you get in! Maybe it was affirmative action (whether based on race, socioeconomic status, or something else), maybe it was a preference because your relatives had […]

Trial Balloon on Raising Madison’s Property Taxes via another School Referendum? Homeowners compare communities…..

Molly Beck There’s been little movement since mid-March when Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham proposed asking voters in November for $39.5 million in borrowing to upgrade facilities and address crowding. The proposed referendum’s annual impact on property taxes on a $200,000 Madison home could range from $32 to $44, according to the district. After […]

Why It Makes Sense for Students to Grade One Another’s Papers

Barry Peddycord III:

By the time this post appears, the first peer-graded assignment in Cathy Davidson’s Coursera MOOC, “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education,” will have come and gone, and students will be well into the second. Unlike programming projects, algebra exercises, and multiple-choice questions that can all be reliably graded by a computer, Coursera offloads the task of evaluating essays to students. After the deadline for an assignment has passed, students have a week to evaluate five of their classmates’ essays using a rubric developed by the teaching staff. A student who fails to evaluate his or her classmates does not get a grade for the assignment, and in our course will not be able to achieve the statement of accomplishment “with distinction.” Whether students see that as a chore, duty, or opportunity, the necessary assessment is eventually done–for better or for worse.
Peer grading can be a controversial proposition. When students’ scholarships and internships are riding on their grades, it isn’t surprising that they hesitate to allow their classmates–who know as much as they do about the course material–to have any effect on their final assessment. Instructors scoff at the idea that students can be left to evaluate one another, certain that they will collude so that everyone will receive an A without doing any of the work. In its worst incarnation, peer grading can be a scheme for lazy professors to offload on students the boring work of assessment.

The University Has No Clothes: The notion that a college degree is essentially worthless has become one of the year’s most fashionable ideas, with two prominent venture capitalists (Cornell ’89 and Stanford ’89, by the way) leading the charge.

Daniel Smith:

Pity the American parent! Already beleaguered by depleted 401(k)s and gutted real-estate values, Ponzi schemes and toxic paper, burst bubbles and bear markets, he is now being asked to contend with a new specter: that college, the perennial hope for the next generation, may not be worth the price of the sheepskin on which it prints its degrees.
As long as there have been colleges, there’s been an individualist, anti-college strain in American culture–an affinity for the bootstrap. But it is hard to think of a time when skepticism of the value of higher education has been more prominent than it is right now. Over the past several months, the same sharp and distressing arguments have been popping up in the Times, cable news, the blogosphere, even The Chronicle of Higher Education. The cost of college, as these arguments typically go, has grown far too high, the return far too uncertain, the education far too lax. The specter, it seems, has materialized.
It’s no surprise, given how the Great Recession has corroded public faith in other once-unassailable American institutions, that college should come in for a drubbing. But inevitability is just another word for opportunity, and the two most vocal critics are easy to identify and strikingly similar in entrepreneurial self-­image. In the past year or so, James Altucher, a New York-based venture capitalist and finance writer, has emerged through frequent media appearances as something of a poster boy, and his column “8 Alternatives to College” something of an essential text, for the anti-college crusade. The father of two young girls, Altucher has a very personal perspective on college: He doesn’t think he should pay for it. “What am I going to do?” he asked last March on Tech Ticker, a popular investment show on Yahoo. “When [my daughters are] 18 years old, just hand them $200,000 to go off and have a fun time for four years? Why would I want to do that?” To Altucher, higher education is nothing less than an institutionalized scam–college graduates hire only college graduates, creating a closed system that permits schools to charge exorbitant ­prices and forces students to take on crippling debt. “The cost of college in the past 30 years has gone up tenfold. Health care has only gone up sixfold, and inflation has only gone up threefold. Not only is it a scam, but the college presidents know it. That’s why they keep raising tuition.”

Gone Too Far

ACLU: Kyle Thompson likes playing football, playing video games, and hanging out with his friends. He’s also been under house arrest since last March and barred from school for six months. Why? His teacher wanted to see a note he had written, and she tried to take it from him. He thought she was teasing […]

Free dual enrollment is a big deal for many Roanoke students; Madison continues one size fits all approach

David Kaplan:

It’s now even easier and cheaper for local high school students to get a college education.
At a joint meeting between City Council, The Roanoke City School Board and Virginia Western the community college talked about it’s newest program.
Back in March, Virginia Western announced it’s waiving tuition for students taking dual enrollment classes.
Those are classes students can take in high school and earn college credit, but many students weren’t.
They can now.

Related: Obtaining credit for non Madison School District Courses has been an ongoing challenge. Perhaps this issue has faded away as past practices die? Madison’s non-diverse or homogeneous governance model inflicts numerous costs, from one size fits all curricula to growth in the ‘burbs accompanied by ever increasing property taxes on top of stagnant or declining income.

‘They are the forgotten bunch’: Trenton school district’s Life Skills program has gone off the rails, a teacher’s aide alleges

Erin Duffy:

It started as a transitional program, a way to teach special education students with developmental disabilities how to handle personal finances, find a job and live independently once they left school.
But in the last several years, the Trenton school district’s Life Skills program has gone tragically off the rails, one teacher’s aide is alleging.
Students mindlessly copy answers teachers have written in textbooks. No curriculum exists. The students, all high school age, sometimes color sheets of Disney characters in lieu of classwork. There’s no rhyme or reason as to who graduates or who stays on for another year.

Laura Waters has more.

Students not to blame for web multitasking in class

Garth Beyer:

I’m going to be bold here and ask a question: “Does anyone pay attention in lectures?”
Of course some students do, but the majority are busy with other things: Facebook, emails, applying to internships (I hope you see the irony of this), reading, texting and now – what is most trendy – viewing images. Obviously not just any images but powerful images. Witty images. Funny images. Cute images. Images that really spark an emotion. In a couple of my classes if I sit in the back and look around, I can see a handful of people that are using laptops looking at images on Imgur.
Warning: If you haven’t been on sites like Imgur, 9gag, or Imgfav yet, you will get sucked in once you visit. You’ve been warned.
The days in which students could only spend boring classes napping are gone. The same goes with the age of merely texting. College students are notorious for multitasking. To think that we only text in class or only go on Facebook is outlandish.

Global Perspectives: How do we prepare students for a world we cannot imagine?

Marc Tucker:

An interview with Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the Institute of Education, University of London, on his paper entitled Optimizing Talent: Closing Educational and Social Mobility Gap Worldwide, published last year at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria.
Marc Tucker: In your paper, you start out making an argument that today’s children are more intelligent than their parents and their grandparents and you combine that with an argument that the quality of teaching in government-funded schools appears to be higher than that in private schools in most wealthy countries. Can you tell us more about the research on both points?
Dylan Wiliam: The first argument draws on the work of psychologist James Flynn (the Flynn effect), an American living and working in New Zealand. He found that IQ tests need to be re-benchmarked every decade, because IQs are rising, about 3 to 4 points every ten years. So IQ norms are rising, and people are getting smarter in ways we may not entirely realize. The average would be around 110 or 115 if we didn’t adjust it. It has risen 15 points since World War II. This is occurring on some tests more than others; arithmetic scores have gone up very little while spatial scores and problem-solving scores are increasing substantially. Maybe young people aren’t using their intelligence today as well as they could be but there is evidence that they are smarter.
Tucker: Most American teachers think about intelligence in the way they were taught to – it is a function of the genes. Is the gene pool changing, or do we have a different idea now about what these tests are measuring?

Ritalin Gone Wrong

L. Alan Sroufe:

THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning.
But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled?
In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.
As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.
Attention-deficit drugs increase concentration in the short term, which is why they work so well for college students cramming for exams. But when given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side effects, including stunting growth.

Students aren’t the only ones cheating–some professors are, too. Uri Simonsohn is out to bust them.

Christopher Shea:

Uri Simonsohn, a research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, did not set out to be a vigilante. His first step down that path came two years ago, at a dinner with some fellow social psychologists in St. Louis. The pisco sours were flowing, Simonsohn recently told me, as the scholars began to indiscreetly name and shame various “crazy findings we didn’t believe.” Social psychology–the subfield of psychology devoted to how social interaction affects human thought and action–routinely produces all sorts of findings that are, if not crazy, strongly counterintuitive. For example, one body of research focuses on how small, subtle changes–say, in a person’s environment or positioning–can have surprisingly large effects on their behavior. Idiosyncratic social-psychology findings like these are often picked up by the press and on Freakonomics-style blogs. But the crowd at the restaurant wasn’t buying some of the field’s more recent studies. Their skepticism helped convince Simonsohn that something in social psychology had gone horribly awry. “When you have scientific evidence,” he told me, “and you put that against your intuition, and you have so little trust in the scientific evidence that you side with your gut–something is broken.”
Simonsohn does not look like a vigilante–or, for that matter, like a business-school professor: at 37, in his jeans, T-shirt, and Keen-style water sandals, he might be mistaken for a grad student. And yet he is anything but laid-back. He is, on the contrary, seized by the conviction that science is beset by sloppy statistical maneuvering and, in some cases, outright fraud. He has therefore been moonlighting as a fraud-buster, developing techniques to help detect doctored data in other people’s research. Already, in the space of less than a year, he has blown up two colleagues’ careers. (In a third instance, he feels sure fraud occurred, but he hasn’t yet nailed down the case.) In so doing, he hopes to keep social psychology from falling into disrepute.
Simonsohn initially targeted not flagrant dishonesty, but loose methodology. In a paper called “False-Positive Psychology,” published in the prestigious journal Psychological Science, he and two colleagues–Leif Nelson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and Wharton’s Joseph Simmons–showed that psychologists could all but guarantee an interesting research finding if they were creative enough with their statistics and procedures.

Paul Vallas visits Madison; Enrollment Growth: Suburban Districts vs. Madison 1995-2012


Paul Vallas will be speaking at Madison LaFollette high school on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 1:00p.m. More information, here.
Much more on Paul Vallas, here.
Per Student Spending:
I don’t believe spending is the issue. Madison spends $14,858.40/student (2011-2012 budget)
Middleton’s 2011-2012 budget: $87,676,611 for 6,421 students = $13,654.67/student, about 8% less than Madison.
Waunakee spends $12,953.81/student about 13% less than Madison.
A few useful links over the past decade:

The State of Education Today: Where Has All The Money Gone? Administrative Bloat

Dr. Mark H. Shapiro:

[ Ed. Note: In the immediate aftermath of the CSU Board of Trustees approving a salary of $400,000 — 25% more than his predecessor was paid — for the new President of San Diego State University on July 12, 2011, this piece is particularly appropriate.]
Higher education is very important to California — to the students, to their parents, to the employers who hire the graduates, and to the people and organizations that fund the portion of the costs that is not covered by tuition. Therefore it is extremely important that educational funding be spent as efficiently as possible, and even more so in this time of financial distress.
I have taught at two campuses in the California State University system since 1998. My personal experiences at those schools raised concerns about administrative practices. Further research revealed statistics that all the stakeholders should be aware of, because of their effects on both the cost and quality of the education we provide.
For example, based on data in the California State University Statistical Abstract, the number of full-time faculty in the whole CSU system rose from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, an increase of only 3.5 percent. In the same time period the total number of administrators rose 221 percent, from 3,800 to 12,183. In 1975, there were three full time faculty members per administrator, but now there are actually slightly more administrators than full-time faculty. If this trend continues, there could be two administrators per full-time faculty in another generation.
I currently teach at Cal Poly in Pomona, where the trends for the whole system also are visible. In 1984 we had 90 “Management Personnel Plan” employees, but in 2010 there were 132. Based on data provided by the chief financial officer, the total compensation of those employees, including fringe benefits, was $20.6 million in 2010.
To put this total into perspective, if the administrators were reduced by 42 to return to the same level as in 1984, the university could hire over 50 full-time faculty (who are typically paid less than administrators). These additional faculty could teach over 300 additional classes per year, which would make it easier for students to graduate in a more timely fashion. The additional instructors would also make it unnecessary to eliminate academic programs as is currently being proposed.

Bay View students bringing history to life

Tom Tolan

In days gone by, before Milwaukee Public Schools undertook the busing of its students to promote racial integration, just about everybody in Bay View went to Bay View High School.
Today, the school has students from all over town, and so for area old-timers, it’s lost its identity with their neighborhood.
“People who fondly remember Bay View High School have been in mourning that their school no longer exists,” says Kathy Mulvey, president of the Bay View Historical Society.
That’s why she is so enthusiastic about a special course at the high school, created by staff from Discovery World science museum – a program that has four students this weekend collecting stories and artifacts from old Bay View at the Beulah Brinton House, the historical society’s headquarters.

Have things (Math Education) really changed that much? A letter to a friend.

Martha McClaren:

You ask whether things have changed — since math wasn’t being taught well 40+ years ago either. You’re absolutely right on that, but I believe it’s only gotten worse over the years, as more and more math phobic people have gone into the field of education. These people never understood math well, so their teaching had to be based on rote following of procedures, etc. Then came “new math”, which was an effort to reinvent math and make it more accessible. That bombed, and the efforts to reinvent continued.
What happened is that eventually those bright, math-phobic folks took over the education establishment. They reinvented math to be gentler, kinder, and more fun. Some of the hallmarks are: Small group problem solving, with students figuring our their own solutions to challenging problems. Visiting many topics for only a few weeks each year and moving on, regardless of whether any real mastery was attained. The thinking was/is that students will revisit the topics again in successive years, and will painlessly absorb the concepts. This turns out to be an extremely inefficient way to teach math, so, in order to have enough time to do all these hands-on projects in groups, the explanation of the underlying structure of math and and practice with standard algorithms have all been chucked.

‘College material’ label doesn’t stick for all – and that’s OK

Steve Blow:

I’ve got an assignment for you.
As you’re out and about over the next couple of days, I want you to notice all the jobs that don’t require a college degree.
I’ll get you started with a few – bus driver, cashier, plumber, cop, construction worker, waiter, sales clerk, janitor, child care worker, mechanic, appliance technician, cable installer, postal carrier, carpenter, barber, truck driver …
OK, you get the idea.
Now, let’s think about a pervasive philosophy in public education. It’s summed up in a bumper sticker I saw last week: “Our Students Are COLLEGE BOUND.”
That particular sticker was from the Garland Independent School District, but it’s the same mantra expressed in every district these days.
Our schools have turned into Lake Woebegone ISD, where every student is above average and on the way to a Ph.D.

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 … […]

Our School Board Needs a Budget: No Budget Yet We Have a Cut List that Harms Underprivileged Children’s Education and Divides Parent Groups

The inside, unsigned cover page of MMSD’s non-budget cut list that tells the public that the administration is protecting math and reading for young children. For $12,000+ per student, the administration will teach our kids to read and to do math – what happened to science and social studies? What happened to educating the whole […]

Life Way After Head Start – Innovative PreSchool Programs Have Decades Long Effects for Low Income and Minority Children

Madison’s preschool leaders are advocating for an innovative K-4 program that involves a public/private partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District, City of Madison and Madison preschools. There are proposed options that will build upon current preschool programs and entry into public school. As the article below states, innovative pre-school programs can have decades long […]

Madison School Climate, Achievement, Rhetoric & The New Superintendent

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

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

Perhaps the State Journal’s new K-12 reporter might dive into what is actually happening in the schools.
Related: Madison’s long term disastrous reading results and “When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before“.

“The notion that parents inherently know what school is best for their kids is an example of conservative magical thinking.”; “For whatever reason, parents as a group tend to undervalue the benefits of diversity in the public schools….”

Where have all the students gone?
Madison School Board President Ed Hughes:

Esenberg sets out to identify the fundamental differences between voucher advocates and opponents. His thesis is that views on vouchers derive from deeper beliefs than objective assessments of how well voucher schools perform or concerns about vouchers draining funds from public schools. To him, your take on vouchers depends on how you view the world.
Esenberg asserts that voucher advocates are united by their embrace of three fundamental principles: that a centralized authority is unlikely to be able to decide what is best for all; that families should be trusted to select their children’s schools since ordinary people are capable of making choices for themselves without paternalistic direction; and that “government does not do diversity, experimentation and choice very well.”
By implication, he asserts that voucher opponents think that a centralized authority will be able to decide what’s best for all, that families shouldn’t be trusted to make choices for their children, and that government control is the best way to foster innovation.
And there you have it. Your views on school voucher expansion are entirely explained by whether you prefer individual freedom, like the voucher advocates, or stultifying government control, like the voucher opponents. In cinematic terms, voucher opponents are the legions of lifeless, gray drones in Apple’s famous 1984 commercial and voucher supporters are the colorful rebel, bravely challenging the control of Big Brother and hurling her sledgehammer to smash mindless conformity. You couldn’t ask for a more sophisticated analysis than that, could you?
While his thesis invites mockery, Esenberg’s short article does present a bit of a challenge to voucher opponents like myself. Can we set out a coherent justification for our opposition that doesn’t depend on the facts that voucher schools drain needed resources from public schools and don’t perform any better? Sweeping those fairly compelling points aside, Esenberg asks, in effect, what else you got?

Mr Hughes anti-voucher rhetoric is fascinating on several levels:
1. The Madison School District’s long term, disastrous reading results. How much time and money has been wasted on anti-voucher rhetoric? Reading has long been job one.
2. Local private schools do not have much, if any availability.
3. Madison spends double the national average per student (some of which has been spent on program explosion). Compare Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending.
4. Madison’s inability to address its long-term disastrous reading results will bring changes from State or Federal legislation or via litigation.
5. Superintendent Cheatham cited Long Beach and Boston as urban districts that have “narrowed the achievement gap”. Both districts offer a variety of school governance models, which is quite different than Madison’s long-time “one size fits all approach”.
I recall being astonished that previous Madison School District administrators planned to spend time lobbying at the State level for this or that change – while “Rome is burning“. Ironically, Superintendent Cheatham recently said:

“Rather than do a lot of work on opposing the voucher movement, we are going to focus on making sure our schools are the best schools possible and the schools of choice in Madison,” Cheatham said.

Mr. Hughes in 2005:

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.

A great, salient quote. I would hope that the District would focus completely on the matter at hand, disastrous reading scores. Taking care of that problem – and we have the resources to do so – will solve lots of other atmospheric and perception issues.
In closing, I sense politics in the voucher (and anti-open enrollment) rhetoric. Two Madison School Board seats will be on the Spring, 2014 ballot. One is currently occupied by Mr. Hughes, the other by Marj Passman. In addition, local politics play a role in becoming school board President.

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

Larry Winkler kindly emailed the chart pictured above.

Where have all the Students gone?

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin:

We are not interested in the development of new charter schools. Recent presentations of charter school programs indicate that most of them do not perform to the level of Madison public schools. I have come to three conclusions about charter schools. First, the national evidence is clear overall, charter schools do not perform as well as traditional public schools. Second where charter schools have shown improvement, generally they have not reached the level of success of Madison schools. Third, if our objective is to improve overall educational performance, we should try proven methods that elevate the entire district not just the students in charter schools. The performance of non-charter students in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago is dismal.
In addition, it seems inappropriate to use resources to develop charter schools when we have not explored system-wide programming that focuses on improving attendance, the longer school day, greater parental involvement and combating hunger and trauma.
We must get a better understanding of the meaning of ‘achievement gap.’ A school in another system may have made gains in ‘closing’ the achievement gap, but that does not mean its students are performing better than Madison students. In addition, there is mounting evidence that a significant portion of the ‘achievement gap’ is the result of students transferring to Madison from poorly performing districts. If that is the case, we should be developing immersion programs designed for their needs rather than mimicking charter school programs that are more expensive, produce inadequate results, and fail to recognize the needs of all students.
It should be noted that not only do the charter schools have questionable results but they leave the rest of the district in shambles. Chicago and Milwaukee are two systems that invested heavily in charter schools and are systems where overall performance is unacceptable.

Related links:

I am unaware of Madison School District achievement data comparing transfer student performance. I will email the Madison School Board and see what might be discovered.
Pat Schnieder:

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has some pretty strong ideas about how to improve academic achievement by Madison school children. Charter schools are not among them.
In fact, Madison’s ongoing debate over whether a charter school is the key to boosting academic achievement among students of color in the Madison Metropolitan School District is distracting the community from making progress, Soglin told me.
He attended part of a conference last week sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Madison that he says overstated the successes elsewhere of charter schools, like the Urban League’s controversial proposed Madison Preparatory Academy that was rejected by the Madison School Board a year ago.
“A number of people I talked with about it over the weekend said the same thing: This debate over charter schools is taking us away from any real improvement,” Soglin said.
Can a new committee that Soglin created — bringing together representatives from the school district, city and county — be one way to make real progress?

The City of Madison’s Education Committee, via a kind reader’s email. Members include: Arlene Silveira, Astra Iheukemere, Carousel Andrea S. Bayrd, Erik Kass, Jenni Dye, Matthew Phair, Maya Cole and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff.

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 –.

Madison Schools enrollment remains steady at 24,622

via a Madison School District email:

Student enrollment in the Madison Metropolitan School District for the 2009-10 school year is up 82 students to 24,622 according to the official enrollment count conducted on the third Friday in September, as required by state law.
The 82 student rise over last year’s official enrollment count of 24,540 represents an increase of one third of one percent (0.33%).
Enrollment in Madison Schools has been remarkably consistent. This is the ninth straight year that MMSD enrollment has been between 24 and 25-thousand students.
Of note is the increase in the number of kindergarten students enrolled in Madison Schools. The count of 2,146 kindergarten students is:

  • 140 students above last year’s number (2,006);
  • the highest enrollment for that grade level in the last 15 years;
  • nearly four percent greater than the most recent projection (80 students above 2,066 projection).

For more information on kindergarten-12th grade enrollment, go to

Related: “Where have all the students gone?” The student population drives a school district’s tax & spending authority.

Madison’s Population Grew 22,491 from 2000 to 2008, School Enrollment Flat

Bill Glauber:

Madison continued its remarkable population surge with a 10.7% increase from 2000 to 2008, top among Wisconsin cities with a population of 50,000 or more. The capital also led Wisconsin in numerical growth, adding 22,491 people, for a total population of 231,916.
“Madison remains a very desirable place to live, and positive growth rates like this reflect that high quality of life,” Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said in a statement.
The new estimates are intriguing, both locally and nationally, because they detail America’s population at the cusp of the financial meltdown and in the midst of a housing bust. They’re also the last estimates to be released before the 2010 census is taken.
“Big cities are resilient,” said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “They’ve been able to survive in a very difficult economy. These cities have diverse economies that can hold their own in these troubled times.”


Madison’s enrollment was 24,758 during the 1999-2000 school year and 24,189 during the 2008-2009 academic year. More here and here.
Given Madison’s academic orientation (UW-Madison, MATC, Edgewood College, not to mention a number of nearby institutions), our students (every one of them) should have access to world class academics.

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)


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.

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.


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.

Wingra School proves that progressive education works. Could it be a model for a public charter school?

Jason Shephard:

Inside Wingra School, the day is just beginning, and already Lisa Kass is commandeering a discussion about violence sparked by storyboards written by her fourth- and fifth-grade students.
“Why do you play violent videogames?” she asks. “Do you think the violence affects you?” This leads to a 45-minute discussion that temporarily pushes back a math lesson.
“It’s cartoon violence, it’s not real violence,” says one boy. “Well, really the goal is to kill people,” admits another. That, says a third student, is why he plays mostly strategy videogames.
The students at Wingra are articulate, reflective and eager to share their opinions. They refine their thoughts as Kass prods them to be more specific or clearer.
Kass, a 19-year veteran Wingra teacher, says later: “I don’t want to censor them, but I want them to think about what’s appropriate and what effects violence might have on them and others.”


Parents prove charter schools work

Scott Milfred:

The magic of charter schools isn’t so much the innovation they strive to achieve. The magic is the effect these schools have on parents.
At the Nuestro Mundo charter school on Madison’s East Side, you have to win a lottery to get your child into the program. This is true even for parents like me who live just a few blocks from Allis Elementary School, where Nuestro Mundo (which means “Our World ” in Spanish) is housed.
Imagine that — parents flooding a city school with enrollment applications for their kids. This is the opposite trend that Madison fears and must avoid.
Though rarely discussed in a frank way, Madison is increasingly nervous about middle- to upper-income parents losing faith in city schools and moving to the suburbs. As so many Madison leaders love to say: “As the schools go, so goes the city. ” Madison doesn ‘t want to become Milwaukee.

Related: Where have all the students gone?

Madison School Board Discussion of School Models, Including Basic and Alternative Approaches

The Madison School Board’s Performance and Achievement Committee recently discussed alternative education models. Watch the video here (or download the mp4 file via a CTRL Click. mp4 files can be played back on many portable media players such as iPods). Listen via this mp3 audio file.

I Just Couldn’t Sacrifice My Son

David Nicholson:

When a high school friend told me several years ago that he and his wife were leaving Washington’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood for Montgomery County, I snickered and murmured something about white flight. Progressives who traveled regularly to Cuba and Brazil, they wanted better schools for their children. I saw their decision as one more example of liberal hypocrisy.
I was childless then, but I have a 6-year-old now. And I know better. So to all the friends — most but not all of them white — whom I’ve chastised over the years for abandoning the District once their children reached school age:
I’m sorry. You were right. I was wrong.
After nearly 20 years in the city’s Takoma neighborhood, the last six in a century-old house that my wife and I thought we’d grow old in, we have forsaken the city for the suburbs.


Megan McArdle has more.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Suburbs vs. Urban Markets

Joel Kotkin: Some suggest that the trends of the first decade of this century already are passé, and that more Americans are becoming born-again urbanistas. Yet after a brief period of slightly more rapid urban growth immediately following the recession, U.S. suburban growth rates began to again surpass those of urban cores. An analysis by […]

Are our suburban heads in the sand?

Erika Sanzi: Parents prefer relationships to data. Most of us enjoy people more than numbers and like parent teacher conferences better than bar graphs. We take comfort in knowing that our kids are being educated in a safe space and worry very little about the high school profile or SAT participation rate in our town. […]

Property Tax Increase Climate: Madison’s Proposed 2015 Spending Referendum

A variety of notes and links on the planned 2015 Madison School District Property Tax Increase referendum: Madison Schools’ PDF Slides on the proposed projects. Ironically, Madison has long supported a wide variation in low income distribution across its schools. This further expenditure sustains the substantial variation, from Hamilton’s 18% low income population to Black […]

Denver’s Attempt to Address Their “Enrollment Gap”

Superintendent Michael Bennet and the Denver School Board: The Rocky Mountain News series, “Leaving to Learn [Denver Public Schools Enrollment Gap],” tells a painful and accurate story about the state of our school district. It is hard to admit, but it is abundantly clear that we will fail the vast majority of children in Denver […]

Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship

James A. Lindsay, Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose: This essay, although hopefully accessible to everyone, is the most thorough breakdown of the study and written for those who are already somewhat familiar with the problems of ideologically-motivated scholarship, radical skepticism and cultural constructivism. Part I: Introduction Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain […]

College Bloat Meets ‘The Blade’

Tunku Varadarajan: Mitch Daniels teaches a course on World War I at Purdue University, where he is president, and loves to talk about Woodrow Wilson. Wilson left the presidency of Princeton in 1910 and was elected governor of New Jersey the next year—“sort of the opposite of the thing I did,” says Mr. Daniels, who […]

Wisconsin DPI: “We set a high bar for achievement,” & abort Foundations of Reading Teacher Content Knowledge Requirement}

Molly Beck and Erin Richards: “We set a high bar for achievement,” DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said. “To reach more than half (proficiency), we would need to raise the achievement of our lowest district and subgroup performers through policies like those recommended in our budget, targeted at the large, urban districts.” The new scores reveal […]

Support modifications to the Wisconsin PI-34 educator licensing rule

Wisconsin Reading Coalition E-Alert: We have sent the following message and attachment to the members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules, urging modifications to the proposed PI-34 educator licensing rule that will maintain the integrity of the statutory requirement that all new elementary, special education, and reading teachers, along with reading specialists, […]

Requesting action one more time on Wisconsin PI-34 teacher licensing

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Thanks to everyone who contacted the legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) with concerns about the new teacher licensing rules drafted by DPI. As you know, PI-34 provides broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT) that go way beyond providing flexibility for […]

More teachers pursuing national board certification

Pamela Cotant: The certification came with a 4.5 percent increase in pay and the satisfaction that she is doing more than “delivering some kind of curriculum you’ve been handed,” Folberg said. She said that is especially important because as a teacher of English language learners she is working with families who have to rely on […]

The Hidden Cost Of College: Rising Student Fees

Jeffrey Sellingo: With tuition bills arriving as the fall semester starts, students and parents might notice a line with a pretty big number next to it: student fees. During their college search, many prospective students tend to pay attention to tuition. But in the last decade, fees have started to make up a larger share […]

How teachers’ unions are fighting his education secretary pick, Betsy DeVos.

Edwin Rios: On the day President-elect Donald Trump announced Michigan billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos as his pick for education secretary, the heads of the country’s two largest teachers unions jumped to condemn the choice. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten called DeVos “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter […]

A freshman who says he has a 4.0 announces his plans to drop out and denounces college as a scam — setting off a debate on his soon-to-be-former campus and elsewhere.

Scott Jaschik: Billy Willson finished his first (and his last) semester at Kansas State University this week — and in so doing has set off a debate there and beyond on the value of college and of general education in particular. In a Facebook post, he announced that he was dropping out, despite having earned […]

Common Core Links

Richard Phelps, via a kind email: Drilling through the Core: “The federal Department of Education’s coercion of states to join Common Core sought to preempt a necessary debate at the state and local level. Nevertheless, that debate is now raging in state capitals across the country and Pioneer has been at the forefront of the […]

Madison Schools 2016 Property Tax Increase Referendum – Let’s Compare: Madison and Middleton Property Taxes

The Madison School District is considering another property tax increase referendum for the upcoming November election. We’ve long spent more than most districts (“plenty of resources”), despite challenging academic outcomes. I thought it might be useful to revisit the choices homeowners and parents make. I’ve compared two properties, one in Middleton (2015 assessment: $257,500.00) and […]

Defending Free Speech On College Campuses

Chicago Tribune: Free expression is not faring well on American college campuses these days. In some places, the problem is students taking grave offense at opinions that merit only minor umbrage or none at all. In others, it’s official speech codes that chill discussion. In still others, it’s administrators so intent on preventing sexual harassment […]

A Familiar Feeling, But Worse This Time

Nate Bowling: Elijah was the most energetic student I have ever taught. He drove me up the wall freshmen year. But, over the next three years I had the pleasure of watching him grow, mellow slightly, and turn into one of the hardest working students I had last year. He was a captain of the […]

Fascism at Yale

Bill Parlow: Usually, we at Harvard are more than happy to see Yale students make fools of themselves on camera. The video that emerged this week of Yale students screaming down one of their professors might make for a good laugh, if its implications were not quite so serious. It’s a scene we’ve seen played […]

Alan Borsuk: It’s a vastly different picture now. Many of the limitations are gone; an estimated 26,900 students who live in the city of Milwaukee are using vouchers to attend 117 private schools, the vast majority of them religious. Public spending for the current school year will exceed $190 million. And that’s just Milwaukee. Vouchers […]

Reviewing the Madison Government Schools Superintendent

Doug Ericsson: This year, she exceeded expectations in her relations with the board, her management of the district’s budget and operations, her management of the district’s talent pool, and her relations with the community and schools. She “met expectations” in instructional leadership and in the district’s organizational climate and culture. According to the board, highlights […]

Texas Sends Poor Teens To Adult Jail For Skipping School

Kendall Taggert & Alex Campbell: The 11th-grader in the courtroom wore braces, loved Harry Potter movies, and posted Katy Perry lyrics on Facebook. She also had a bad habit of cutting school, and now, a judge informed her, she owed $2,700 in truancy-related fines. But Serena Vela, who lived in a trailer with her unemployed […]

I Will Not Be Lectured To. I’m Too Busy Teaching.

Kevin: I was having a really good day today; recovering from post-semester burnout, recharging the batteries–all in all, getting to my Happy Place. But then I read Mark Bauerlein’s Op-ed in today’s New York Times, and now I’m all irritated. “What’s the Point of a Professor?” Bauerlein asks; he then goes on to tell us, […]

Marina Warner on the disfiguring of higher education

London Review of Books: The first time I suggested an exercise to a roomful of creative writing students, something on the lines of ‘We’ve been reading Elizabeth Bowen, now think of a house where you were happy, but you no longer live there. Write it!’, they all bent their heads down over their paper and […]

Problem’s Swirl Around Wisconsin’s next student test….

Erin Richards: Costs to administer the new test have gone millions of dollars over budget. And administrators learned last week that a key technological feature of the new test — its ability to adapt to students’ individual ability levels by offering harder or easier questions as they take the exam — won’t be ready this […]

Homework assignment: Finish application for college aid

Karen Herzog: For the past three years, Teresa Piraino of South Milwaukee has diligently filled out the federal application for financial aid for her son Anthony, who is studying criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In the next few weeks, the Pirainos will scramble to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid […]

A College Degree Pays Off Far Faster Than It Used To

Josh Mitchell: College graduates may be taking on historically high debt burdens to finance their educations. But it will take them far less time to get a return on that “investment” than it took their parents’ generation. That’s the conclusion of new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Researchers there estimate someone […]

College Access Index: “But the problem for schools is when you admit one of those kids, you forgo $50,000 a year that you could use for other things”

David Leonhardt: Vassar has taken steps to hold down spending on faculty and staff. Amherst and the University of Florida have raised new money specifically to spend on financial aid for low-income students. American University reallocated scholarships from well-off students to needy ones. Grinnell set a floor on the share of every freshman class – […]

The Common Core Commotion

“Decisions about what content is to be taught,’ they insist, ‘are made at the state and local levels.’ At the same time, we read that Common Core’s “educational standards are the learning goals for what students should know.” Is what students should know different from content?” [That is the question. WHF] Andrew Ferguson: The logic […]

Academia and the people without jobs

Ryan Anderson The 1960s are over. When are we going to wake up and realize that it’s 2014 and our academic paradise is a smoldering ash heap, a sad leftover from thirty something years of complete and utter demolition? We no longer have a booming economy and tons of federal money going into the university […]