School Information System
Newsletter Sign Up | Send Ideas | Directory | | Sponsorships

January 31, 2005

Decoding Why Few Girls Choose Science or Math

Valerie Strauss:

Ask teachers, administrators and students why such discrepancies exist in these classes, and they will say it has nothing to do with ability. So what explains it

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 8:59 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Wisconsin DPI Candidate Forum

Three of the four candidates for Wisconsin DPI Superintendent participated in a Madison Forum Saturday morning. The League of Women Voters Melanie Ramey kindly moderated. Watch the forum here (video and audio clips). You can also read individual questions and watch/listen to the candidate responses.

Incumbent Libby Burmaster was unable to attend, though the three candidates mentioned that she has not participated in any primary events to date. I find this disappointing. These challenging education times require more debate, a more engaged citizenry and leadership.

I was impressed with the three participating candidates. They addressed the issues and were willing to put their names on a position.

In days long gone, it was likely sufficient to rely on special interests and avoid direct public interaction. Our current President certainly avoids any sort of critical engagements. Russ Feingold, to my knowledge, has always mingled easily with the public. [Melanie mentioned that incumbent non-participation is a growing problem around the state.]

The internet era is dramatically changing the way in which we all communicate, are informed and express our points of view. Any candidate seeking office would do well to participate in the conversation.

I also want to thank the local media for their extensive coverage:

  • 3, 15 and 27. Their coverage enabled these three candidates to have a few broadcast words with Madison voters.
  • Isthmus posted the event in their weekly calendar.
  • Sheryl Gasser emailed and mentioned that Wisconsin Public Radio will be interviewing the four DPI candidates individually starting this Monday morning from 7 to 8a.m. through Thursday morning. I'll post audio links to these conversations.

Take a look at the forum page and email the candidates with questions. The primary is Tuesday, February 15, 2005. Vote!

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 5:01 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 28, 2005

Wisconsin DPI Candidate Madison Forum - Saturday Morning 1/29/2005 is hosting a Wisconsin DPI Candidate Forum tomorrow morning at 10:00a.m. at the Madison Senior Center. Three of the four candidates: Todd Stelzel, Gregg Underheim and Paul Yvarra have confirmed.

This is the ONLY Madison opportunity you'll apparently have to meet the candidates before the February primary.

When: January 29, 2005 10:00a.m. (9:30 if you want to chat with the media folks)
Madison Senior Center, 2nd Floor
330 W Mifflin St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 266 6581

[Map/Directions]. There's quite a bit of parking around this facility, just behind the new Overture Center.

Please note that the Winter Farmer's market is on the first floor of the Madison Senior Center, so bring your shopping bag.

Notes, photos audio and video files will be posted here after the event. I'll post additional media links as they are available.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 10:56 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 27, 2005

Need 3-5 Year Budget - Where Are We Going?

Monday night a majority of school board members voted to go to referendum in May 2005, one month after the April 5th election. To be on the ballot in May, the board will have to vote on referenda language by late February.

Why wait one month? In one month, board members expect to have more information about what the financial needs will be for the next year for educational programs and services. In reality, board members will have an estimate of the revenue gap for the operating budget. Carol Carstensen, before voting yes on a maintenance referendum, wants to see what the revenue gap is and what programs/services might be affected by the revenue gap.

To the public this seems like a jumble of information - vote to build a new school in January, vote to redistrict/close school in February, vote to redistrict so there's a better balance/mix of students in schools in the near future, maintenance for schools that may be closed, and the real budget - the operation budget.

Posted by at 10:26 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 26, 2005

Expert in multicultural and gifted education to visit Madison

A support group for parents of talented and gifted (TAG) students, the Madison TAG Parents Group, is pleased to announce that Donna Ford, Ph.D., will be visiting Madison on February 8 and 9 to discuss the issues surrounding the identification and retention of gifted and talented low income and minority students. Dropout data from the school district classify more than 25% of all dropouts as well behaved high achievers. More than 50% of these students are low income and more than 40% of them are minority students.

Dr. Ford is the Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. She conducts research primarily in gifted education and multicultural/urban education. Specifically, her work focuses on: (1) recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education; (2) multicultural and urban education; and (3) minority student achievement and underachievement.

Dr. Ford's work has been recognized by many different professional organizations. She received a Research Award from the Shannon Center for Advanced Studies; an Early Career Award from The American Educational Research Association; an Early Scholar Award from The National Association for Gifted Children; and the Esteemed Scholarship Award from The National Association of Black Psychologists. She has published more than 90 articles and is the author of Reversing underachievement among gifted black students (1996) and a co-author of Multicultural gifted education (1999) and In search of the dream: Designing schools and classrooms that work for high potential students from diverse cultural backgrounds (2004).

Dr. Ford will be meeting with TAG staff and administrators during her visit, and will be speaking about multicultural education at West High School as part of a staff in-service. She is also scheduled to give a colloquium on Wednesday, February 9, in the UW Department of Counseling Psychology. On Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Ford will be giving a community presentation at Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Rd. She will be talking about increasing the participation of at risk students in gifted and talented education. This presentation is open to all interested parents and community members. Translation will be available for Spanish, Hmong, and hearing impaired audience members. For further information, please contact Jeff Henriques, or visit the TAG Parents website:

You can find out more about Donna Ford by visiting her webpages:

Posted by Jeff Henriques at 3:30 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 25, 2005

Madison Schools Maintenance Referendum: Fox 47/27 Report

Fox 47/WKOW 27 broadcast a report on the Madison Schools planned maintenance referendum Tuesday night [3.9MB Quicktime Video] The story included an interview with Superintendent Art Rainwater and ACE's Don Severson. Lee Sensenbrenner has more here and here. UPDATE: Aubre Andrus has more on the recent board meeting.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 10:08 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 24, 2005

Editorial: School Board Must Show Unity - A Capital Times Editorial - January 24, 2005

In an editorial in today's Capital Times, School Board unity is identified as a key factor before deciding on going to a referendum. I couldn't agree more with this editorial.

At this point in their deliberations, MMSD's School Board is not ready to make a decision to go to referendum(s), because they have more work to complete and more discussions are needed with the public before making these important decisions. And, I do not count public hearings as conversations with the public.

Board members must be united and they must be able to present a complete, viable package to the public where they can demonstrate other options considered and decisions that led them to this as the best choice for our children's education.

What is some of the work yet to do? Before voting on Leopold, review updated options for boundary changes and school closings. You won't have a successful vote on a new school at Leopold if you vote to go to referendum on Leopold in January and come back in February with suggested closings on the east side of Madison. That won't work.

The "maintenance referendum" is only one part of the operating budget. School Board members need to have the complete budget, and they need to know what the estimate of all revenues are for next year. Waiting for a same service budget won't get them there and won't let the Board make the decisions about where scarce resources are allocated. Board members need to begin a process to look out 3-5 years and tell Madison voters what our schools need to be successful, how much that will cost and what options do we have for funding our investment in education.

As a minor aside, the administration continues to tell the board that the maintenance referendum will not cost any additional property tax dollars. Wait a minute - isn't it the School Board's decision about how to finance their operating budget. Why wouldn't School Board members want the "no tax increase option" to go toward the general operating budget.

Let's get the whole picture - our children cannot afford piecemeal approaches to decisionmaking. Our children deserve leadership and hard work from our School Board members without threats that this list will be cut if you don't vote yes on a referendum. That option won't cut it with the voters.

As the Capital Times Editorial writes, "...voters have a right to expect that any referendums placed before the community will have the support of all board members, including Robarts, who was re-elected by an overwhelming margin last year despite the fact that she faced an able opponent and a concerted campaign against her. Robarts is not always right, but she is never so wrong that board members should feel comfortable going into a referendum fight without her."

Robarts' Long Range Planning Conmmittee, which she chairs, and the public advisory committee, which she asked the board to form, have been working hard and asking good questions. The advisory committee's discussions have been substantive and well thought out. The advisory committee's continued work on the school and maintenance issues will make an important contribution to referendum decisions by board members.

Had Bill Clingan, who, chaired Long Range Planning Committee last year convened his committee from late December 2003 through mid-April 2004, the current members of the Long Range Planning Committee might be further ahead in the process and Leopold Elementary parents would be in a new school in Fall 2006 vs. Fall 2007. Four months of no meetings last year potentially delayed the overall process and opening of the new Leopold School by one year - that's an unfair burden for the kids.

Continue Reading Editorial: School Board Must Show Unity

Posted by at 3:19 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Gray Matter and the Sexes: Still a Scientific Gray Area - by Natalie Angier and Kenneth Chang - NYTimes January 24, 2005

I hope scientists researching the differences been the sexes' gray matter take more time digesting their results than Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, did before he made his comments about the innate difference between the sexes in a recent speech.

"Researchers who have explored the subject of sex differences from every conceivable angle and organ say that yes, there are a host of discrepancies between men and women...," write Angier and Chang,

"Yet despite the desire for tidy and definitive answers to complex questions, researchers warn that the mere finding of a difference in form does not mean a difference in function or output inevitably follows."

"We can't get anywhere denying that there are neurological and hormonal differences between males and females, because there clearly are," said Virginia Valian, a psychology professor at Hunter College who wrote the 1998 book "Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women." "The trouble we have as scientists is in assessing their significance to real-life performance."

Continue Reading Gray Matter and the Sexes: Still a Scientific Gray Area - by Natalie Angier and Kenneth Chang - NYTimes January 24, 2005

Posted by at 12:56 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 23, 2005

ACE Maintenance Referendum Testimony

Don Severson forwarded a pdf [67K] of ACE's presentation to the Madison School District's Board of Education on the proposed maintenance referendum.

Don also forwarded ACE's suggestions for the Board of Education's strategy. [97K PDF]

Public Hearing Presentation to Long Range Planning Committee of MMSD Board of Education
January 19, 2005

By law, the members of the Board of Education of the Madison Metropolitan School District are to be held in a fiduciary responsibility to the public in the operation of the schools. As elected officials, this responsibility is expected to be based in trust, confidence and openness to those served.

Trust, confidence and openness are key factors by which the greater Madison community of taxpayers will judge your decisions regarding the promulgation of a referendum seeking tax revenues for future maintenance projects in our schools. Your decisions and communications will be expected to demonstrate that the public can have confidence that:

1. expenditure requests for maintenance
a. are an integral and continuous part of the total budgeting process
b. show the implications for projected near term and long term revenue shortfalls
c. differentiate clearly one-time projects proposed for referendum support from ongoing operations budget maintenance expenditures
d. show the potential for seeking taxpayer approval to raise the revenue cap for general operations monies

2. maintenance is an ongoing business expense addressed in the operations budget with expenditures prioritized by using written objective criteria

3. funds allocated for maintenance in the operations budget will be �held harmless� from reduction and/or re-allocation to other budget line items

4. proposed maintenance projects are considered in relation to proposed and/or actual closing or change of functional status of school buildings or other facilities

5. maintenance decisions are related to purposes which are good business decisions according to established criteria

6. balanced assessment of infrastructure and equipment using actuarial studies of probable useful life combined with appropriate evaluation of the current condition of the systems within the context of same use and/or changed use

7. there are separate categories and prioritization of energy conservation projects; capital projects; and, day-to-day operational maintenance

8. policies are initiated and implemented consistently and fairly with regard to Request for Proposals (RFPs) and for scoring projects for contracting out vs projects for possible completion by in-house staff with follow-up evaluation

9. energy saving a. initiatives are planned and costs are determined in advance b. calculations are delineated and justify the investment and return on investment c. paybacks and savings are accounted for and re-invested in the maintenance program by the district

10. accountability for the true costs of management and administration and staffing levels for projects is spelled out in project estimates and final costs

For the District to continue along the same pathway as has been evident the past few years is NOT acceptable. The highly questionable accountability will indeed put the children of this community further at risk. The lack of sound decision-making and poor performance will continue to put more and more homeowners and renters at risk thereby forcing us out of our homes, neighborhoods and the community. The taxpayers of this community have long been abundantly generous in the support of the Madison school system (and we believe will likely continue to be so). There are, however, higher expectations and demands for effectiveness, performance and efficiency within affordable means. Every household in this community is impacted through taxes levied for the schools--over 70% of these households do not have children. We are expecting much better and higher levels of accountability from the policy makers and administrators of the school district.

Presented by: Active Citizens for Education; Don Severson, President; 238-8300; info @ activecitizensforeducation . org

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 6:57 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

San Diego Superintendent Alan Bersin & No Child Left Behind


Haven't yet had your fill of political shenanigans in California? Then keep an eye on San Diego where one of the nation's longest serving urban superintendents is facing political trouble. National implications as this episode shows what can happen when push comes to shove on NCLB.

Superintendent Alan Bersin is poised to reorganize several of the city's chronically underperforming schools. At two of the three schools a majority of teachers have voted to make the schools charter schools to help facilitate this and at all three 60-80 percent of parents voted to do the same. Remember, these are not schools that didn't do well "on a single test" but schools that have not done right by students for years.

Yet the school board member who represents these schools has apparently decided to oppose this and in the process force a vote on buying out the remainder of Bersin's contract because he won't play ball. Possible reasons for her move? (A) It's a great way for her to make a lifelong friend of the Bersin-loathing teachers' union there. Or (B) concerns that if several schools in her district become semi-autonomous it will hurt her political clout and power on the board. There is no (C) because it's generally agreed that changes are in the interest of the kids....600 parents showed up at a recent school board meeting to push for these changes.

So the pressure is on Bersin to ignore the chronic problems for children at these schools and go against the wishes of a majority of parents and in two cases teachers or see one more (possibly decisive) board vote slip into the union's column.

Board meeting on Tuesday. Could be the second time in a month the establishment does in a Democratic education reformer in California.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 9:26 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 22, 2005

The Art of Education Success by Nick Rabkin and Robin Redmond

Rabkin and Redmond wrote in the Washington Post on January 8, 2005 that "...the arts are not just affective and expressive. They are also deeply cognitive."

Districts with music and art curriculum standards and benchmarks tied to other curriculum see improved test scores. The research is showing more and more that children's learning directly benefits from music and art curriculum.

The authors note that "Successful programs in Chicago, Minneapolis and elsewhere have proven that arts integration is within the reach of most schools and districts. Now research is showing that connecting the arts to learning across the curriculum is a strategy that helps close the achievement gap and make schools happier places by moving beyond a crippling focus on basics and discipline. It is time for more districts and schools to make use of this strategy."

MMSD's fine arts teachers know this and gear their curriculum to provide student's with the benefits in learning from music and art education. If MMSD administration narrowly focuses on reading, math, science, etc., scores and not what contributes to children learning experiences being successful, administrators will miss the benefits of the arts.

Children and teachers have been telling them for the past several years how music and art benefit children's learning. Hopefully, they are listening.

The Art of Education Success

By Nick Rabkin and Robin Redmond

Saturday, January 8, 2005; Page A19

It is fall. Fourth-graders in a Chicago school in a low-income neighborhood are focused and coiled with excitement. They are drawing portraits of each other in a lesson that is part of a unit on descriptive writing. They are deeply engaged, and the rich writing and art on the walls are evidence of real learning and accomplishment. Most other classrooms in the building also integrate the arts with other subjects and buzz with the intensity of discovery.

The same day, in another low-income Chicago school, fourth-graders slump in their chairs, waiting to read a bit of advice to their classmates. They mumble, "Don't hit your sister," and "Do your homework." There is no children's work on the walls, no evidence of learning. Instead, posters remind students of rules they must follow. One asks, "What is freedom?" The answers suggest freedom is a reward for self-control.

The new economy may require higher-order skills such as creativity, adaptability and teamwork, but most schools in low-income areas focus narrowly on "basic" academic skills, testing and discipline. The student boredom and academic failure that follow prompt calls for yet more testing and discipline.

The first school and others like it are proving that integrating the arts into the core of the academic program is a far more productive strategy. Recently the principal of Edgebrook, Chicago's highest-scoring non-selective elementary school, attributed her school's success to its embrace of the arts. "We were concerned we might see a negative impact on test scores," Diane Maciejewski said. "But actually, just the opposite happened."

A growing body of research is yielding data that support her claim. A study of 23 arts-integrated schools in Chicago showed test scores rising up to two times faster there than in demographically comparable schools. A study of a Minneapolis program showed that arts integration has substantial effects for all students, but appears to have its greatest impact on disadvantaged learners. Gains go well beyond the basics and test scores. Students become better thinkers, develop higher-order skills, and deepen their inclination to learn.

The studies also show that arts integration energizes and challenges teachers. Karen Seashore, a distinguished sociologist who studies urban schools, called the Minneapolis program "one of the most powerful professional development experiences we have seen for large numbers of teachers."

When the arts are an interdisciplinary partner with other subjects, they generate conditions that cognitive scientists say are ideal for learning. The curriculum becomes more hands-on and project-based, offering what University of Chicago researchers have called authentic and challenging intellectual work. Learning in all subjects becomes visible through the arts. Teachers' opinions of their students rise.

Students invest emotionally in arts-integrated classrooms, where the curriculum often connects lessons to their own experience, and where they often work in groups and turn classrooms into learning communities. These classroom changes lead to a cascade of broader school changes. Schedules change to accommodate sustained attention to meaningful questions. Parents become more involved in schools. Teachers collaborate and take on new leadership roles.

These successes make clear that the arts are not just affective and expressive. They are also deeply cognitive. They develop the tools of thinking itself: careful observation of the world, mental representation of what is observed or imagined, abstraction from complexity, pattern recognition and development, symbolic and metaphoric representation, and qualitative judgment. We use these same thinking tools in science, philosophy, math and history. The advantage of the arts is that they link cognitive growth to social and emotional development. Students care more deeply about what they study, they see the links between subjects and their lives, their thinking capacities grow, they work more diligently, and they learn from each other.

Students will not be prepared for work in an economy that demands higher-order skills if their schools focus exclusively on the basics. Students will not learn to think for themselves if their schools expect them just to stay in line and keep quiet. Successful programs in Chicago, Minneapolis and elsewhere have proven that arts integration is within the reach of most schools and districts. Now research is showing that connecting the arts to learning across the curriculum is a strategy that helps close the achievement gap and make schools happier places by moving beyond a crippling focus on basics and discipline. It is time for more districts and schools to make use of this strategy.

Nick Rabkin is executive director of the Center for Arts Policy, Columbia College Chicago, and Robin Redmond is its associate director. They edited "Putting the Arts in the Picture: Reframing Education in the 21st Century."

� 2005 The Washington Post Company

Posted by at 3:19 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Arts Are a Core Subject Under No Child Left Behind - Flexibility for Federal Funding of the Arts Exists

In an August Letter to ALL superintendents across the country, Secretary Paige (Dept. of Education) stated that the arts are a core subject area of No Child Left Behind, provided research that demonstrates children who are more engaged in the arts do better on tests, and offered guidance on flexibility, funding for arts

Noting that the arts are a core subject under the No Child Left Behind Act, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige has issued guidance on the law's funding and flexibility that can be used to improve art education and teacher quality, particularly as a means to improve the educational achievement of economically disadvantaged students through the arts.

The letter cites research that shows arts teaching and learning can increase students' cognitive and social development and serve as a "critical link" to help students develop crucial thinking skills and become motivated to achieve at higher levels. Research also shows that students who are highly involved in the arts earn better grades and perform better on standardized tests.

Secretary Paige's letter also reminds superintendents about the law's flexibility and the funding available to support core subjects through programs supported by the No Child Left Behind Act, including: Title I funds to improve the academic achievement of the neediest students; the Comprehensive School Reform program; and Title II Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants to provide professional development for teachers of the arts.

In Arizona, for example, as part of Superintendent Tom Horne's current "content-rich curriculum" initiative, $4 million in Comprehensive School Reform (Title I, Part F) funds are supporting arts education at 43 current Comprehensive School Reform schools throughout the state. Additional Arizona Arts Education Initiative school sites are being supported with Title V (Innovative Programs) funding under NCLB.

The City of Madison needs to ask what available funding for the arts under NCLB the Madison Metropolitan District has pursued.

Continue Reading "US Department of Education Press Release: Arts are a Core Subject Under No Child Left Behind"

Posted by at 12:11 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 21, 2005

MUSIC ADVOCACY: Caring Enough to Put the Student First by Dr. Benham

Dr. John Benham, writing on says, "Music Education Advocacy. The concept can make us indignant. Why should anything so valuable to the education of every child need to be defended?"

He continues, "If you�re a parent of a young person interested in playing music, you�ve already experienced first-hand the positive impact of this sort of challenge. If you�re a member of the community with a love of music, you know how much it has benefited you.

But the truth is, we have no choice but to defend school music programs. In a time of drastic reductions in school budgets, music can sometimes be misunderstood as not core to an academic curriculum. But we do know that participation in music is vital to a young person�s academic and social development."

Advocacy for music education for students is not about what we teach children as much as it is about what children are learning and music education is fundamental to that.

Continue Reading "MUSIC ADVOCACY: Caring Enough to Put the Students First" - Dr. John Benham

Posted by at 11:52 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Report on Rainwater meeting about East principal selection

An author, asking to remain anonymous, prepared a summary of the meeting on January 18, when Superintendent Rainwater met with community members and discussed the process for selecting a new principal at East High School. The author concluded:

"If you believe that our superintendent cares about East and wants to get it right this time (like he finally did at Sherman and Black Hawk), then you left the meeting feeling good. If you question the process and his decision-making ability given some of his poor choices in the past, you probably left the meeting feeling disappointed, which is mostly what I heard. Nothing has changed."

"It was not said, but we pay for the mistakes for a very long time. A great principal can turn a school around in weeks, but a bad principal or several principals for several years can really hurt the students going through those schools. It is not just failing to master academics, but their feeling of connection gets hurt as well. It could be argued that some of the problems East is having today stem not only from the void at the top at East, but also from the fact that two of its feeder middle schools and some of its feeder elementary schools have been struggling due to poor leadership."

You can read the full report by clicking
Report on meeting with Rainwater on East Principal Selection.

Ed Blume

ps. No I didn't write the report. I didn't attend the meeting. Ed

Posted by Ed Blume at 3:56 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Winkler Letter to Keys & School Board on Administrator Contracts

Madison School Board Candidate, Parent and activist Lawrence Winkler forwarded a letter to Board President Bill Keys regarding Madison School's budget process if cuts must be made for the 2005-2006 School Year.

Winkler provides some useful background information and offers a suggestion to move forward with an improved decision making process. Click below to read his letter or here for a 37K pdf print version.

Dear Mr. Keys, Members of the Board

The Board is to consider issuing non-renewal notices for administrative staff positions at the Special Board meeting of January 24. Unlike others, I do not at this time recommend issuing non-renewal notices. It does not foster my goals toward establishing a better decision-making process.

The Board�s decision-making process is flawed, in part, because the timing of critical budget-related decisions occurs piecemeal (sequentially) throughout the year. The result of sequential decision-making has several negative consequences.

1. Not all stakeholders are at the table during the budget negotiations

2. The Board and other stakeholders are unable to negotiate in light of the total needs of MMSD and other stakeholders.

3. The degrees of freedom open to the Board have been lost.

4. Different interests groups dominate at each stage, desiring only to �get their cut�, without being forced to consider the best interests of all.

5. It is well known that the result of sequential decisions is less than optimal (and certainly different) compared to a process where all decisions are made at once.

The Board is bound by Section 118.24 Wis. Stats. regarding the timing of non-renewal notices, appeal processes by affected staff, etc., but the timing is based on contract expiration date, and the contract expiration date is not explicitly determined by statute.

Therefore, I propose that the Board consider extending the expiration date of the Administrative contracts to August 31 from the current June 30, and modify HR Policy 9.04 accordingly.

Because the Administration offers a proposed budget model in February, with the Board approving the potential cut list in March, there will be opportunity to better consider the budget as a whole. Letters of non-renewal, if so decided in light of the whole budget, would occur on April 1, with hearings requested by affected staff on May 1.

I believe this proposal offers a viable alternative to the current process, and would allow the Board to make better budget decisions.

Thank you and the Board in advance for considering this proposal.


Lawrence J. Winkler

Cc: Art Rainwater

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 10:18 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Music To His Ears by Sandy Cullen, WI State Journal

Janitor Directs Generosity To East High, Trades His Broom For Baton Tonight by Sandy Cullen, January 13,2005, WI State Journal

Jim Ely loves music and the arts.

He also loves Madison East High School.

It's where he and his wife, Judy, who died of ovarian cancer in February 2003, were high school sweethearts more than 30 years ago, when he took her to his prom and she took him to the TWIRP (The Woman Is Required to Pay) dance.

It's where they worked together on the 1969 production of "Oklahoma!"

Read the entire article,
Music to His Ears

Posted by at 12:38 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 20, 2005

Dane County School Funding Forum Followup

Margaret Stumpf sent a followup message to the recent Dane County School Funding Forum.

Please check with Channel 10 on the televised version of the State Budget Information Seminar held on WED, Jan 12 at Monona Grove HIgh School if you did not attend. It was very informational. I also have hard copies (as daoe Amy through me) of the infor passed out at the meeting.

All are encouraged to contact Governor Doyle IMMEDIATELY (as the budget is in the works) to encourage him to accept Superintendent Burmeister's and the Governor's Task Force on Educational Excellence's proposals for school fuding.

Letters can be sent to:

Governor Jim Doyle (web email link)
Officer of the Governor
115 East
State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
608-267-6790 (TTY
608-267-8983 (FAX)

They can be sent individually or en mass. As we all know, a lot of what individual districts are able to do is based on state aid, and the lack of in areas that the state had committed to (such as 2/3 special ed funding) that was later revoked.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 8:23 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Update on Hiring MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator - Art Rainwater Briefs Board on Ongoing Delay and Reposting of Position with Fewer Requirements

Art Rainwater informed MMSD School Board members on January 10, 2005 that the Fine Arts Coordinator position would be reposted. Why? It's unclear, as the following quicktime movie shows. There were about 9 candidates.

Members on the committee, who included MMSD and public representatives, said they forwarded two qualified candidates for the next step toward hiring. Why wasn't one of those people hired?

Art Rainwater says that the license requirement for the position will be removed to attract a broader category of candiate. My question is - possibly a less qualified candidate? There has been no public notice of a substantive change in the responsibilities of this position. You would think that professionals in the field and the arts community would be involved in major changes were being considered. Read Mariel Wozniakl for information on how removing a license can be problemmatic and what experience an MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator needs to have.

Video of Art Rainwater's Update on Hiring of Fine Arts Coordinator to the MMSD School Board on Monday, January 10, 2005

Posted by at 7:02 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

A Local Music Coalition - Madison Needs Its Own Music Coalition

" my view it is the most effective way to ensure that your school district provides equal educational opportunities for all of its students to participate in the making of music!" Dr. Benham exclaims for children in his recent commentary on music advocacy, "An effective local music coalition holds a school district accountable for student-centered decision making."

Some of the leading reasons Dr. Benham identifies for a local music coalition include:

* A local coalition places the student back to the center of the decision-making process.
* A local coalition identifies the music program as an integral part of the community.
* A local coalition unifies the music program as a unified district-wide curriculum.
* A local coalition promotes music education, not just band, choir, orchestra, or general music.
* A local coalition is a community organization that incorporates all of its constituents in the support of music making.
* A local coalition provides for bringing music into all of life.
* A local coalition puts the "public" in Public Education!

Continue Reading "The Local Music Coalition - Dr. John Benham"

Posted by at 4:56 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 19, 2005

Coaching in Wisconsin - Worth it?

Coaching in Wisconsin - Worth it?
Pearly Kiley - [PDF Version 103K]
"With all this talent, why aren�t we winning more games?"

"My kid averaged 20 points in summer league, why isn�t he playing more?"

"Why are we walking the ball up the floor all the time?"

"I wish we had the old coach back."

These unfounded sentiments were also a major reason why over 80 coaches
chose to resign, were relieved of duty or retired since last season.

There are coaches who point to AAU basketball and all its dramatically improving impact. Some blame school administrators for showing more allegiance to parents than them in disputes over individual roles and playing time. Still others say it takes too much time � and impossible patience � to deal with the increasingly overzealous parent.

�At the high school level, the rewards aren�t tangible,� said former Waupaca coach Tim Locum, who resigned after last season and is currently an assistant coach at UW-Oshkosh.

�There is no shoe deal, radio show, big contract, national TV exposure or endorsements. What keeps a coach going is the joy of watching young men mature, the pat on the back from an AD, a thank you from a parent. Instances such as those have continued to slowly dwindle, if not disappear altogether. And what is left is over 80 Wisconsin Boys Varsity positions turning over in one year � almost 20% of the schools!�

Are parents and fans simply out of control?

I point to my hometown of Cuba City as an example, where longtime coach Jerry Petitgoue has won 654 games and is the all-time leader in coaching wins in Wisconsin history.

If two weeks from now they held a referendum on the boy�s basketball job, and whether he should keep his job or be fired, I believe that vote would actually be very close. What does this say about the state of high school athletics in Wisconsin?

(I�m not sure it�s an altogether new thing, though. Hollywood captured the idea perfectly in Hoosiers; George, Milan High�s interim coach before coach Norman Dale, summed it up perfectly:

"Look mister, there's two kinds of dumb ... the guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and the guy who does the same thing in my living room. The first one don't matter, and the second one you're kinda forced to deal with."

How much money do we think George would be spending on his kid to play AAU basketball nowadays? How crazy would he have gotten when, after spending all this money, his kid wasn�t playing significant minutes or getting scholarship offers? The issue today is that parents handle the problems much more subtly � and administrations aren�t near as loyal as principal Cletus.

In the 1950s parents simply bought a basketball, in some cases a hoop, and kids became great players the old fashioned way, by working on their fundamentals and developing a jump shot -- yes, a jump shot (Jimmy Chitwood made 98% of his shots!). The point is, too many parents are spending too much money nowadays, and when results don�t materialize, they cast their blame on the easiest and most visible target.

�It�s human nature for parents to see the best in their own kids, said Cuba City coach and Executive Director of the WBCA Jerry Petitgoue.

�Kids are starting to play competitively in third and fourth grade nowadays and most of the time it�s parents that are coaching. With this, parents start thinking they know the game as well as the high school coach and therein lies the problem.�

All you have to do is sit in the crowd at any basketball game and you�re guaranteed to learn more about the game from some parents and fans than you�d learn if you were listening to John Wooden himself.

Don�t think so? Just go to your local pub and they�ll tell �ya.

Wisconsin Rapids coach Dan Witter was forewarned well before he got into coaching.

�An administrator who was also a former coach warned me that most of my friends that have kids will likely stop talking to me if I don�t play, or cut, their kid, and as a coach you have to go into it knowing your not going to be friends with everyone and your going to upset some people.�

Sound fun yet?

The Time Issue

In many castes, coaches have families of their own. How can they be expected to do all the work that goes into coaching in today�s climate?

�As a head coach,� Locum said, taking a deep breath, �you are expected to know the game, teach it to your players, relate to their adolescent minds and emotions, scout and break down your opponents, come early, stay late, watch film, track your players academic and behavioral progress, fund raise to get the �extras� everyone else has, help and inspire your youth coaches and programs, make sure the high school assistants are prepared, and oh yeah�.win most if not all of your games."

Despite all these factors, most coaches truly enjoy their job, work hard, and want the best for the kids they coach. Problems arise when you factor in everything coaches simply don�t have enough time to do, while still doing the job the way they think it should be done.

�"With the changing role of today's family, it is not uncommon for both spouses to work,� WIAA Associate Director Deb Hauser said. �Thus, the pressures and expectations at home require both parents to provide time for household duties. Many young coaches will try coaching for a short time, feel the pressures from parents and fans, and opt to spend more time with their own families instead.

�We all know that anyone who coaches at the high school doesn't do it for the money but rather for the love of the game. Thus, the transition back to spending time with one's own family has become the more popular choice."

Choosing between your children and spouse and dealing with what some of these coaches do is simple, isn�t it?

What�s easy is criticizing an overworked and underpaid coach, getting pleasure from Monday morning quarterbacking every move he or she makes. This is becoming the reality for more and more coaches, who rarely get the great gratitude and respect from their communities that they deserve.

New game, new era

Then again, how can we expect kids to listen to a coach trying to teach them fundamentals of the game? Consider the influences on today�s players: Michael Jordan and the glorification of the slam dunk, AAU�s run-and-gun style, ESPN SportsCenter, and the And 1 Tour.

�Kids are no longer dedicated and willing to sacrifice to be the best they can be,� said Oshkosh North coach Frank Schade. �They simply have too many other outside influences and interests.�

A daily look at WisHoops offers confirmation. Threads on how to jump higher, the state�s best dunker, people�s favorite player on the AND 1 Tour. These posts are fun, but they are also strong statement about this generation of basketball players.

I�m still waiting for someone to ask how to shoot better, the best way to work on your ball skills, or how to best position yourself to become a better rebounder.

A big problem is that kids are playing over 50 games in the spring and summer nowadays and think that�s good enough. Many are becoming more interested in playing during the summer with their AAU team and less in playing with their high school team during the school year, posing several problems for high school coaches.

What�s a high school coach to do when they rightfully bench a kid for lack of hustle or insubordination, only to have an AAU coach swoop in after the game, consoling and assuring the player that things will be different when summer rolls around.

While most AAU coaches support their high school counterparts 100 percent, there are some out there who undermine the authority of the high school coach. Worse, yet, they can potentially damage the attitude and work ethic of the player, which hurts them greatly if they continue to play at college level where things don�t come so easily.

The bottom line is that while some parents and AAU coaches are busy enabling kids that aren�t working as hard as they should be, the people getting hurt ever more are the varsity coaches.

Where�s the support from the top?

If you hire a coach that wins games, treats all kids equally, and has respect from fellow coaches, that�s all you ask for. Isn�t it?

You would certainly think so, but what happened at Cedarburg High School this offseason tells a different story.

A few months after the season ended, Cedarburg coach Ben Siebert received a letter from school board President Jack Dobson. The letter indicated that the school was seeking a new coach but gave no reason as to why, saying only that the move wasn�t inspired by the team�s prior performance.

The letter asked Siebert to attend a school board meeting, where they would vote on whether or not to retain him as the head coach. The meeting took place behind closed doors, despite requests by Coach Siebert and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to open it to the public.

Coach Siebert read a prepared statement, which received not a single word response from anyone on the board. Three and a half hours later, Siebert was told he would not be returning.

The shadowy decision left him piecing together a complex puzzle without a picture.

The school board�s position was that it retained the right to look for a new coach if it was an attempt to improve the high quality of service the district provided to its students.

Which begs the question: what, exactly, was it about Siebert�s performance what wasn�t high quality?

Siebert had a zero tolerance policy when it came to violating the rules, and when three of his players admitted their involvement in conduct against the athletic code they were dismissed from the team. The violations took place when the team and coaches stayed at the home of one of Siebert�s relative in Sheboygan while participating in a Christmas tournament in 2003.

Two families filed a lawsuit against the school following Siebert�s decision, citing their sons� emotional distress that came from being thrown off the team. The parents alleged a lack of supervision on the part of the coaches, but Siebert and others have refuted that claim.

Keep in mind, though, that both sets of parents signed contracts before the season agreeing to the zero tolerance policy. In addition, the school has since adopted a new policy that it sees as much stricter than the one formerly in place.

One can only assume that Cedarburg�s new coach will think twice before enforcing these new rules, lest he face a similar fate as Siebert.

"What he brings to high school basketball is great respect," fellow North Shore Conference coach Paul Hepp told the Journal Sentinel in June about Siebert. "His players are always very respectful, and they play the game the way that it's supposed to be played. I think he's a great all-around coach and gets the most out of them and their potential, year in and year out."

Oh, and then there�s Siebert�s performance on the court: he coached his players to a 56-33 record in a tough North Shore conference before being dismissed.

Schools boards and administrators are asking for a revolving door of coaches if they continue this process. Precedents are being set for how to easily remove coaches, and this trend will only continue to hurt the game.

What can coaches do?

There are no definite answers to these problems. That said, here are a few words of caution and advice to anyone considering a high school coaching position.

Get support before taking job

Potential coaches need to demand backing from the administration when interviewing for jobs. Otherwise, they should simply walk away and say no thank you. Without the full support of Superintendent, Principal, and School Board, you simply won�t survive in today�s climate in most cities.

Have thicker skin and ignore the criticism.

If you work hard and can hit the pillow each night knowing you did your best, nothing any parent or fan should get under your skin. As one coach once said, �If I stay out of the bars I never hear a negative word about me.�

Pretty good advice I think.

Communicate and have a dialogue with parents.

If you�re truthful with parents before the season starts and let them know what you want from their son/daughter, I think it can help alleviate potential problems. If you appear to care and show them you want the best for their child, I think they will show you respect you deserve. The worst thing you can do is give them more ammo to use by ignoring them and showing them disrespect; after all, you are coaching their child and you have to expect them to see things differently and be blinded by emotion sometimes.

Have fun coaching.

Some coaches never seem to be enjoying themselves, and I think that translates to kids not having fun playing the game. Basketball is a great game and should be played and coached with enthusiasm. Sixteen- and 17-year-old kids don�t like it when everything is negative and often take that negativity home with them, opening up the potential for parents to blame the coach.

Continue your hard work and you�ll be successful.

The greatest coach of all-time, John Wooden, defines success better than

�Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

�Furthermore, only one person can ultimately judge the level of your success you. Think about that for a moment.

�I believe that is what true success is all about. Anything stemming from that success is simply a by-product, whether it be the score, the trophy, a national championship, fame, or fortune. They are all by-products of success, rather than success itself, indicators that you perhaps succeeded in the more important contest.

�That real contest, of course, is striving to reach your personal best, and that is totally under your control.

�When you achieve that, you have achieved success. Period! You are a winner and only you fully know if you won.�

A great place to end I think.

David Bernhardt raised some related issues (kids & sports) recently at

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 8:10 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Maintenance Referendum: Long Range Planning Meeting Tonight

The Madison School Board's Long Range Planning Committee is holding a public hearing on the proposed maintenance referendum (one of potentially 3 referendums this spring) Wednesday night, January 19, 2005 @ 6:00p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building, McDaniels Auditorium.

I've emailed the MMSD TV folks to see if they are broadcasting this event, but have not heard back from them. I will post broadcast information here upon receipt.

Madison Metropolitan School District
545 West Dayton Street
Madison WI 53703-1995 [Map]

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 10:44 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 17, 2005

Kobza letter to Keys: Don't cut teachers

Madison School Board Candidate, Parent and PTO activist Lawrie Kobza forwarded a letter to Board President Bill Keys regarding Madison Schools financial priorities if cuts must be made for the 2005-2006 School Year.

In past years, the district limited its budget options when it passed on non-renewal of administrator contracts by February 1 (the MMSD is required to provide six months non-renewal notice prior to the July 1 administrative contract start date).

This date, February 1, passes long before detailed public discussions begin on the next budget. Inevitably as cuts, or reductions in the increase must be made, school staff such as teachers and custodians (or wrestling, or strings in 2004) are the target (because the administrative contracts have not been given the required six month non-renewal notice).

Kobza's letter (28K PDF) & Linda Hall's Administrative contract background 2 pager. (77K PDF)

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 12:02 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Robarts & Severson on the planned MMSD Maintenance Referendum

MP3 audio file (22 minutes, 3.8MB) of Ruth Robarts & Don Severson's recent appearance on local AM radio station wiba.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 12:00 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 16, 2005

Notice of Talk on U.S. Language Policy

At War With Diversity: U.S. Language Policy in an Age of Anxiety

James Crawford, Executive Director, National Association for Bilingual

4:00 pm, Tuesday, February 8
1418 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Posted by at 9:53 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

California Bilingual Litmus Test

Susan Estrich - former Dukakis campaign manager and USC Professor takes California Democrats to task for pushing out one of their own over bilingual education:

But unlike much of Silicon Valley, he is a passionate Democrat, and his issue is public education. He has twice served as president of the State Board of Education. The idea that Democrats could reject him had me checking the local headlines this morning twice, to make sure that this wasn't some joke edition. Have these people lost their minds? This is the most talented guy on the team, not to mention that he's responsible for about $15 million to Democratic campaigns in the last couple of cycles.

Then I got it. Cut to the chase.

This isn't about qualifications or performance. So what if he killed himself for the last five years working on the Board of Education, running all over the state encouraging charter schools, using his own money when necessary to help provide start-up funds, while running a multimillion dollar business as his day job?

He failed the bilingual education litmus test.

Mickey Kaus has more.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 12:49 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

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 recently completed his Masters Degree at Edgewood College in Madison. Fat Links (click on the icons):

Look for an interview with another candidate, Dr. Paul Yvarra soon. I've not heard from incumbent Madison resident Elizabeth Burmaster or Gregg Underheim. If I do, I will post their interviews as well.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 11:37 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 15, 2005

There�s something deeply wrong here.

In a letter to the editor of Isthmus UW Psychology Professor Mark Seidenberg wrote, "There�s something deeply wrong here. The educational establishment has embraced methods for teaching reading that have a weak scientific basis and are counterproductive for many beginning readers. They then develop a very expensive remedial reading program to fix the problems created by these instructional methods. Why not do it right the first time?" To read the full text of the letter go to
Dr. Seidenberg's letter

Posted by Ed Blume at 9:48 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 13, 2005

New Posting for the Fine Arts Coordinator Position Mentioned - Removes Professional License Requirements by Dr. Mariel Wozniak, retired MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator

I was concerned and confused as I listened on Monday night to Superintendent Rainwater inform the School Board that the position description posted for the Fine Arts Coordinator was being reposted without a license requirement so that more applicants could be included. The Fine Arts Coordinator oversees the design and implementation of the District's Fine Arts curriculum, and this position has an important community role with the City's varied fine arts organizations.

All other coordinators require a license #10 and so should the Fine Arts Coordinator position. Licenses insure that an applicant has met certain standards and is meant to protect against less qualified applicants being hired.

"The points in the posting indicate a change in the position of a full-time Coordinator of Fine Arts," Dr. Wozniak, retired MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator pointed out in a recent essay. "While educational change is legitimate, a new role for the Coordinator of Fine Arts and reasons for change should not only be well known by the community, but by arts education specialists who should be involved in those changes. This city values education which includes designated arts instruction in its schools and its enhancement by the arts and other resources in the community. We need to remember that teachers, principals, and superintendents are public servants and should fulfill the community's educational goals."

What continues to be lacking in the District's decisionmaking about Fine Arts education is the ongoing lack of an open process that includes professionals in the field and the community so that best choices can be made for children's learning.

Dr. Wozniak notes, "The responsibility of the board of education is to make informed decisions for the education of its children with accountability and commitment to its electorate." This is not possible at MMSD, because decisions about Fine Arts education are being made behind closed doors by a handful of administrators and then announced to the board of education as fact.

Download Dr. Wozniak's Complete Essay: New Posting for the Fine Arts Coordinator Position Mentioned - Downgrades Professional Requirements

Posted by at 9:18 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Focus is on education

Patricia Simms and Phil Brinkman Wisconsin State Journal
January 13, 2005

Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday used his State of the State speech to put forward a potent "education agenda" for Wisconsin.

It included:

� Increasing math and science requirements for high school graduation.

� Giving school districts more money for 4-year-old kindergarten and for reducing class size in the early grades.

� Rating child-care providers on quality as he promised last May.

Continue Reading "Focus in on Education"

Posted by at 8:32 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas


Wisconsin�s arts leaders will come together to show support for greater visibility and increased investment in the arts to benefit Wisconsin's communities and the people of the state, on ARTS DAY 2005, Wednesday, March 2, 2005, at the State Capitol in downtown Madison.

Wisconsin�s arts leaders will come together to show support for greater visibility and increased investment in the arts to benefit Wisconsin's communities and the people of the state, on ARTS DAY 2005, Wednesday, March 2, 2005, at the State Capitol in downtown Madison. Across Wisconsin, the arts, culture, creativity and innovation are becoming recognized as integral to economic development, downtown revitalization, educational advancement, and community engagement. Creative economy guru Richard Florida says, "Better than any other country in recent years, America has developed innovative technologies and ideas that spawn new industries and modernize old ones. These creative industries, employing scientists, artists, designers, engineers, financiers, marketers, and sundry entrepreneurs, have generated more than 20 million U.S. jobs since the 1990s and currently account for fully half of all U.S. wages and salaries." Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the national arts service organization, recently released a study of the nation�s �creative industries�, based on an analysis of data provided by Dun and Bradstreet. Wisconsin boasts over 8,000 �creative industry� businesses, supporting over 43,000 full-time jobs. In addition, a 2002 study conducted by AFTA and the Wisconsin Arts Board found that Wisconsin�s non-profit arts industry generates $289.8 million in economic activity every year. And research from the National Governors Association proves that arts-based education helps build students� skills, increase academic success, heighten standardized test scores, and lower the incidence of crime among general and at-risk populations. Wisconsin�s creative economy must be nurtured to drive, expand and sustain our state�s economic, educational and civic well-being. Arts advocates from throughout the state will convene at the State Capitol on March 2 to show their strength in numbers, and demonstrate the importance of the state�s investment in the arts and creativity to Governor Doyle, Lt. Governor Lawton, and state legislators. These elected decisionmakers will learn that public and private investment in the arts and arts education reaps tremendous benefits in human, economic, educational, and civic capital. ARTS DAY 2005 will begin with the fifth Legislative Arts Breakfast, 8:30-10 am, and will include: �� poetry reading by Denise Sweet, Wisconsin�s new Poet Laureate �� constituent meetings with legislators �� the latest information on the issues facing the arts in Wisconsin �� new initiatives addressing the impact and importance of the creative economy �� roundtables on current and future trends, policies, and issues for Wisconsin�s arts industry �� Weston, WI�s DC Everest Chamber Choir and Songspinners, performing at noon in the Capitol Rotunda �� Artwork by Wisconsin artists on display in Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton�s office, Room 19 East. ARTS DAY 2005 endorsing sponsors include UW Extension-Division of Outreach and E-Learning Extension, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Wisconsin Music Educators Association. Endorsing partners are Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters and Wisconsin Alliance of Artists and Craftspeople. For up to the minute information on ARTS DAY 2005, Arts Wisconsin and the arts across Wisconsin, contact Anne Katz, Executive Director, Arts Wisconsin, 608 255 8316 / /

Posted by at 1:04 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 12, 2005

Cherokee Middle School PTO Priorities

The Cherokee PTO recently forwarded their top 5 Madison School District Priorities:

  • Long range planning, especially to include a plan for the increased numbers of students who will be attending Cherokee and West.

  • Maintaining a challenging level of curriculum while providing services to an increased number of students with diverse needs (TAG, music, reading specialists, ESL, special needs and children living in poverty were especially mentioned as being areas in need of services).

  • Insuring a safe and nurturing environment (to include physical safety, cultural understanding and a positive climate).

  • Purchasing and maintaining needed equipment and materials (there was a discussion about teacher's requests to include basic classroom materials and the difficulty in funding new equipment such as the FOSS science kits required by the district).

  • Preserving facility maintenance/repair while maintaining the small class sizes as we deal with issues of growth.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 8:15 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 11, 2005

Is My Music Program Vulnerable to Cuts? - Dr. John Benham

As one superintendent stated, "There is no group of people more capable of rallying immediate and effective advocacy than a well-organized music coalition!" John Benham, music education advocate, reminds his readers in his December 15th column on

Dr. Benham urges his readers to become active participants in the education decision-making process. "In the face of what appears to have become a national trend to target music programs for reduction, it becomes the responsibility of the music advocate to stay informed by active participation in the decision-making process." he advises, "We must encourage and/or remind parents and other advocates that the school district really belongs to the community. We must become educated in school polity, empowering the people to ensure student-centered decisions."

Continue Reading "Is My Music Program Vulnerable to Cuts? - Dr. John Benham"

Posted by at 9:57 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 10, 2005

Panel Discussion on Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted and Talented Students

Come listen to a panel of experts discuss the social and emotional needs of gifted and talented students. Diagnostic, assessment, treatment/intervention, educational, parenting and theoretical issues will be addressed. Resources will be shared. This program is intended for parents of children within the full range of high ability (i.e., not only the profoundly gifted).

This event will be held on Thursday, January 13 in McDaniels Auditorium of the Doyle Administration Building at 7:00 p.m. Please note that this is a location change from Room 209.

Please note: Questions for the panelists are heartily encouraged. Questions may be submitted before the meeting at

The panelists:

Nira Scherz-Busch, M.S., is a licensed school psychologist now working in private practice. She is the owner and director of Child & Family Psychological Services Clinic located on the west side of Madison. Nira has worked as a school psychologist and a coordinator/assistant director of special education services for both the Jefferson County and the Dane County Departments of Special Education, as well as for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections at Ethan Allen School for Boys in Wales, WI. Since 1980, Nira has owned and operated Child & Family Psychological Services Clinic, an outpatient mental health clinic that specializes in meeting the needs of children, adolescents and adults who are "different" learners. Services provided at the clinic include the assessment and treatment of the gifted/talented, the "twice exceptional", and learners with dyslexia and other developmental learning disorders. Clinic staff also specialize in identifying and addressing the social and emotional needs of the different learner. Since the inception of Eagle School and WCATY, Nira and her staff have provided the initial cognitive/intellectual assessment for students at the Eagle School, public school children from around the state and WCATY. They continue to work closely with Eagle School staff and public school TAG coordinators to meet the emotional needs of gifted students and different learners. In addition to her professional work, Nira is the mother of four children, including two with different learning styles and needs.

Donna Rae Clasen, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She received her doctorate in Educational Psychology from the UW-Madison. She was the director of Project STREAM at U.W.-Whitewater for thirteen years. Project STREAM is a university/school collaboration supporting gifted secondary minority students. The program was developed with a three-year Jacob Javits grant and supported by the university, the state, and participating schools when the grant expired. Dr. Clasen is a long-time advocate for gifted and talented youth and has worked extensively with school districts, gifted and talented coordinators, and classroom teachers in meeting the needs of high-ability students. Her work has emphasized attention to all needs of the individual, from the educational to the socio-emotional.

Wendy Johnson, Ph.D. Dr. Johnson is a licensed school psychologist. She currently works at Toki Middle School, where she facilitates discussion groups for gifted 7th and 8th grade girls and works closely with the middle school TAG coordinator to assist in the assessment of and programming for gifted students. As a school coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY), where she is also sits on the advisory board, Dr. Johnson facilitates the participation of talented low-income Toki students in the Midwest Talent Search and WCATY summer programs. In her private practice, Dr. Johnson assesses gifted students with areas of skill weakness relative to their significant strengths; recommends strategies to foster children�s academic and personal development; evaluates students for grade acceleration (which provides exciting opportunities for expanding the knowledge of teachers and administrators regarding the unique needs of gifted and talented youth); and provides cognitive assessments as part of the initial evaluation process for admission to Eagle School and Madison Country Day School.

Posted by Jeff Henriques at 5:40 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 9, 2005

Madison Special Education Assistant Board Presentation

Faye Roll Kubly, Jacqueline Olson and other (I don't have their names) Special Education Assistants in the Madison Schools talked with the Madison School Board this past Monday evening about the safety, health and climate issues facing the district. This video clip includes some of their comments and interactions with several Board members.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 2:02 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 8, 2005

The Sable Flames: Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit

Johnny Winston, Jr. forwarded this event announcement:

Please mark your calendar! On Saturday, February 26, 2005 at the Edgewater Hotel at 666 Wisconsin Avenue in Downtown Madison, The Sable Flames, Inc. will present its Twelfth Annual �Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit� at 8:00 p.m. until 1 a.m.

The Sable Flames (the African-American Firefighters of the City of Madison Fire Department) have developed two scholarships to help individuals fulfill their educational dreams and goals. The Jones-Robinson Scholarship has been awarded minority persons from single-family households or living in low-income neighborhoods. The Arthur Dinkins III/MATC Fire Education Scholarship has been developed to financially assist persons who would like to take classes at MATC to enter the field of Firefighting or Emergency Medical Technician. Over $30,000 has been raised since the group�s inception in 1993.

Entertainment for this year�s event features a live disc jockey; complimentary hors d�oeuvres, door prizes, music, dancing and a cash bar will be provided. A mature audience and dress attire is requested.

Tickets are available from members of The Sable Flames, Inc. or can be purchased at the door. The cost of the event is $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Tickets are tax-deductible and can be purchased as a donation if you cannot attend the event. The Sable Flames, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

For more information, please contact President, Mahlon Mitchell at 698-2333; Treasurer Steve Redmond at 209-2095 or Johnny Winston, Jr., at 441-0224 or e-mail:

Please feel free to send this message to other interested persons, organizations or parties. My apologies for any duplicate messages or cross-postings.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 5:23 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Speakers Needed for Schools Make a Difference

Johnny Winston, Jr. forwarded this announcement from Ken Syke:

School Makes A Difference is a career exploration and planning activity for Madison 8th grade students. It is an opportunity for students to hear adults tell about their career journey and to ask questions and have a brief dialogue with the presenters.
Sign up with this excel file and email it to Ken Syke (ksyke at

The Business and Education Partnership believes this activity helps students to learn about career planning, and to hear from successful adults that there is no one way or right way to achieve one�s career goal. Students will also hear that career goals change because of personal interest, talent and opportunity.

We would very much appreciate the willingness of some of your group members to speak to 8th grade students about their own career. Each person speaks for 5 - 10 minutes two times to different classes. We ask speakers to talk about their own career and career choices. Speakers from a wide variety of jobs and careers are welcome.

Schools would like more speakers of color, and persons in jobs that don�t necessarily require a 4-year college degree. It�s wonderful when one person can go to 2 or more schools, especially where we need �more speakers.� We need about 350 speakers in all, so please encourage participation!

The sign-up sheets on the 2nd attachment give the dates and times of School Makes A Difference at ten middle schools. Please place your name and career field in the right column block by the school/s that you will attend. At the bottom, indicate your own mailing address. Then return the sheets by fax or e-mail as indicated on the sheet bottom.

About one week prior to the speaking day, you will receive by mail detailed information (what to talk about, school and room location, etc.) about the program.

We hope that your organization can participate in School Makes A Difference this year. Thanks for your assistance in communicating to students about career planning.


Ken Syke
Business and Education Partnership, Inc.
Phones: Ken � 663-1903

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 5:09 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 7, 2005

What is the Single Most Important Issue in Music Advocacy - YOU! by Dr. John Benham is a website storehouse of resources for defending music education in schools. In December, this website began a weekly blog on advocacy for music education by Dr. John Benham, who is President of Music in World Cultures, Inc. and Director of Graduate Studies in Music at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In his December 8th blog, Dr. Benham writes that "In over 20 years as a consultant for music advocacy I have never seen a music program cut when there was a well-organized and cohesive support group.

There is no place where your participation has more immediate impact than in your school district. Your participation is vital to the health of your music program.

It is quite simple: Your participation is a "YES" vote, providing music making opportunities for the students in your district. Your failure to participate is a "NO" vote, even if by default."

Continue Reading "What is the Single Most Important Issue in Music Advocacy - YOU!"

Posted by at 10:56 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Kobza announces for school board

January 6, 2005

Lawrie Kobza 608 283-1788

Seeks Improved District Decision-Making

MADISON�Lawrie Kobza, a school activist for over a decade,
announced her candidacy for the Madison Metropolitan School District
Board District 6 seat today. Submitting the maximum 200 nomination
signatures, Kobza launched her campaign with a promise to improve
District decision-making.

"When resources are limited, it is especially important to make good
decisions ", Kobza said. "My professional and community experience
has taught me that the best decisions come from listening to a variety of views, asking tough questions, and carefully considering the possible alternatives. I think the School Board needs to do a better job of this."

A first-time candidate, Ms. Kobza served as President or Vice
President of the Sherman School parent group since 1998; she was a
2004 recipient of the North Star Award from the Northside Planning
Council for her service to schools on Madison's north side.

Ms. Kobza has three children in the Madison schools: two sons attend
East High School and her daughter attends Sherman Middle School. With husband Peter Oppeneer, she is an active supporter of Northside youth soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball.

"In allocating our limited resources, I want to be sure services
for our kids are preserved while taking a fresh look at how we might
be more efficient and effective," Kobza said. "I will seek
out the best information with an open mind to make sure we have a
clear picture of all available alternatives in these tight economic

Ms. Kobza is an attorney and partner with the Boardman Law Firm in
Madison, concentrating in municipal law with an emphasis on utility
and environmental issues. She is a graduate of UW-Madison Law School
and the UW-Madison Business School. Madison Magazine named her a top
attorney in environmental law for 2005.


Authorized and paid for by Lawrie Kobza for School Board, Barbara
Schrank, Treasurer

Posted by Ed Blume at 8:29 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 5, 2005

More meetings on selecting East principal

According to Valencia Douglas' secretary "two meetings will be held
regarding selection of East Principal. They are:

1/12/05 at Kennedy Heights Neighborhood Center
1/19/05 at Vera Court Center
both start at 6:30 p.m.

Also, Art Rainwater is conducting a meeting on 1/18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Warner Park Community Center."

Ed Blume

Posted by Ed Blume at 9:07 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 4, 2005

Hewlett Foundation/RAND Study on California's K-12 System

The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation sponsored a RAND Education study of the California K-12 System, released today. Press Release | Full Document [900K PDF].

California's public school system lags behind most of the nation on almost every objective measurement of student achievement, funding, teacher qualifications and school facilities, according to a new RAND Corporation analysis that is the first comprehensive examination of measurable dimensions of the state's education system.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 12:21 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Madison School Board Candidates page

I've posted a page with some links to information on the four Madison School Board Candidates (two of the seven board seats are up for election this spring). We'll update this page rather frequently over the next few months. This page also features "fat links", that is, pre-defined links to the major search engines. Have a look and send feedback.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 12:01 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 3, 2005

Dane County School Funding Forum 1/12/2005; 7 to 9p.m.

Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick sent notice of a Dane County School Funding forum, to be held January 12th, 2005 from 7-9p.m. at the Monona Grove High School [Map]. 92K 1 Page PDF Flyer. Link to the excellent schools site

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 3:46 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 2, 2005

TABOR - Why did Colorado Approve it?

I posted a series of links to Colorado's TABOR experience (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) here. One of the articles I linked to demonstrates the root cause of TABOR type laws: "The problem: From 1983 to '92, spending by Colorado state government rose by 97%, while inflation rose 29.7% and the state's population increased by 10.4%".

I think it's critical for the Madison School District to publish detailed revenue and spending data over the past decade as part the upcoming referendum process. As far as I can tell, Madison School spending was $194M in 1994 and grew to $307M+ in 2004 with roughly a similar number of students. I'll post the actual year to year numbers, as I asked for here, once we obtain them....

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 9:21 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

Milwaukee Area School Chiefs Pay Outpaces Teachers

Amy Hetzner:

More than three of every four school districts paid their superintendents more in 2003-'04, when measured against what the average teacher was paid, than they did in the 1995-'96 school year, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis of data reported to the state.

In addition, with perks such as payments to tax-sheltered annuities added in, fringe benefits for superintendents in about half the five-county Milwaukee area districts have increased at a higher rate than their teachers' benefits. But while rising costs for teachers' health insurance and pensions have strained contract negotiations, escalating superintendent benefits have gotten little attention.

All of this has happened despite a provision in state law that requires school boards to restrict compensation raises for school administrators to 3.8% or the same percentage increase given to teachers the prior year.

Since the law was enacted in 1993, the Legislature has approved enough loopholes that the law can be largely ignored. There also is apparently no oversight other than local school boards and their voters.

"I mean, so what? So you break the rule," said Roger Danielsen, a member of the Waukesha School Board, which approved a 15.9% salary increase for its superintendent this year. "I don't think there's any enforcement, although we're trying to stay true to the (teachers') package."

I wonder what the data looks like around Madison?

Posted by Jim Zellmer at 8:48 AM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 1, 2005

MMSD threw away "crackerjack" administrator

Capital Times Editor Dave Zweifel recently praised former Lapham principal Barb Thompson, calling her a "crackerjack school superintendent" for the astonishingly successful commuity-wide holiday luncheon in New Glarus, just as she organized a similar and equally popular holiday luncheon at Lapham.

By contrast MMSD Superintendent Art Rainwater passed over Thompson in the search to replace East High Principal Milt McPike, instead hiring and then firing a woman who could not lead East.

Read Zweifel's article at New Glarus shows spirit of the season.

Posted by Ed Blume at 4:45 PM Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas