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October 18, 2007

The Need for Better PR & Madison High School Redesign Notes

Jason Shephard:

Beebe made his pitch at a meeting of the school board's communications committee chaired by Beth Moss, who says one of her top priorities this year is developing strategies to more aggressively seek changes in state funding.

"We're going to have to continue to cut the budget annually, and it's going to be worse and worse," laments Moss, a school board newcomer elected in April. She fears the district will have no choice but to begin "dismantling programs.

As for the perennial issue of school funding, Moss and others are gearing up for a Nov. 15 state Senate education committee hearing. Tom Beebe's group supports a proposal to hike state funding for K-12 education by $2.6 billion a year, based on a model developed by UW-Madison professor Allan Odden.

But as Beebe was asking the Madison district to join his group as a paying member, Rainwater expressed "serious doubts" about the plan and questioned whether Madison schools would benefit. The funding scheme, Beebe admitted, could potentially lead to an initial decrease in state funding to Madison.

"In the first year, Madison gets screwed for political reasons," Beebe told the committee — hardly the best message to send when seeking money from a cash-strapped district.

Beebe might benefit from a lesson in better communication. Or maybe he believes that sometimes, the best PR strategy is telling it like it really is.

I continue to believe that the odds of successfully influencing the State Legislature - in Madison's favor - are long. Better to spend the effort locally on community partnerships and substantively addressing the many issues facing our public schools (such as academic preparation in elementary and middle schools so that students are prepared for high school, rather than watering down high school curriculum). Madison spends more per student (about $13,997) than the average Wisconsin School District (11,085).

Tom Beebe Audio / Video.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at October 18, 2007 5:12 PM
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