As readers know, one of my hobby horses is the need for early childhood education as the most cost-effective way to break the cycles of poverty in America. But the issue never gets much traction, and one reason is the perception that it's politically hopeless: Republicans would never go for such a program. My Sunday column tries to push back at the assumption that it's hopeless and notes that one of the leaders in providing pre-K in America is-not Massachusetts, not New York, not some other blue state, but reliably red Oklahoma. It's all the more surprising because Oklahoma spends less per pupil on education than almost any other state, and pays its teachers near the bottom. This is not a state that believes in lavish spending on schooling. Yet, quite remarkably, it provides universal high-quality pre-K, with a ratio of no more than 10 students per staff member, and all teachers have a college degree.
My own take is that even earlier interventions may get even more bang for the buck than pre-K for 4-year-olds, and sure enough Oklahoma also invests in those, including home visitation programs to coach parents on reading to toddlers and talking more to them. It also has some programs for kids 0 to 3 if they're from disadvantaged families. These are no silver bullet to defeat poverty-there isn't one-but there seems a recognition in Oklahoma that they work in improving school performance and life outcomes and reduce the risk that poverty will be transmitted from generation to generation. So if Oklahoma can do it, why not the rest of the country?
Bipartisan legislation is expected to be introduced this coming week in Congress to establish national support for pre-K programs, and polling shows the idea has broad support. It'll be an uphill struggle, but I'm hoping that Congress will, like Oklahoma, see that this isn't a social welfare program exactly, but an investment in our children and our future. Read the column and help spread the word about the need for this legislation!
The column: "Oklahoma! Where the Kids Learn Early"
"The aim is to break the cycle of poverty, which is about so much more than a lack of money."
About a third of kindergartners in Madison schools miss 10 or more days of classes. And a fifth are "chronically absent," meaning they miss 18 or more days, which is at least 10 percent of the school year.
Attendance improves by fifth grade and into middle school, then falls when students reach high school.
That's why the United Way of Dane County this fall plans to emphasize in new ways the need for young parents to establish strong habits for children going to school every day (barring illness).
The effort -- dubbed "Here!" -- will stress the correlation between good attendance and academic success. It will include promotional materials at schools, follow-up calls to parents and encouragement from community leaders such as church pastors who will include the message in their sermons.
"We shouldn't be surprised that the (high school) graduation rate is about the same as the attendance rate," said Deedra Atkinson, the United Way's senior vice president of community impact and marketing.
The nonprofit, as it launches its annual fundraiser today, also is committing more attention and resources to helping high school dropouts earn diplomas and find work.
The United Way does so much good work for our community that it deserves your financial support and time. The public is welcome at today's lunch and launch of the United Way's annual Days of Caring. So far, the number of volunteers is up about 400 people from last year, to 3,500.
The group's annual fundraising goal is $18.1 million, up 3 percent from last year's total collected, said campaign chairman Doug Nelson, regional president of BMO Harris Bank.
The United Way of Dane County will host its annual Days of Caring this week, starting today with a lunch and campaign kickoff at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The public is welcome. To donate to the nonprofit's fundraising effort go to www.unitedwaydanecounty.org or call 608-246-4350. To volunteer, visit www.volunteeryourtime.org or call 608-246-4357. Donate your time; donate your money.
Please help if you can.
When Parker Sheffy, a first-year teacher in the Bronx Leadership Academy II, a high school in the South Bronx, talks shop with friends who are also new teachers, he often hears about the problems they are facing: students not showing up to class on time, not understanding their work, not doing homework. "I'm thinking: I don't have that problem... I don't have that problem..." Sheffy recalled. In his ninth grade integrated algebra class, he estimates that 80 to 90 percent are on track to pass the Regents exam, more than double last year's figure.
"But I have to remind myself that this is not just because of me," Sheffy said. "I'm one of six people who have created this class."
Sheffy's school is one of three New York City public schools working with an organization called Blue Engine, which recruits and places recent college graduates as full-time teaching assistants in high schools, helps teachers shift to a small-group classroom model with a ratio of one instructor for roughly every six students, uses data tracking to generate rapid-fire feedback so problems can be quickly addressed, and provides weekly instruction in "social cognition" classes, where students are introduced to skills and concepts -- such as the difference between a "fixed" and a "growth" mind-set -- that can help them grasp their untapped potential.
Blue Engine also targets algebra, geometry and English language arts in the ninth and 10th grades because performance in these so-called "gateway" courses is associated with college success.
Despite its modest size and short track record, Blue Engine has already seized the attention of educators and attracted notice from President Obama. Last year, in its schools, as a result of the program, the number of students who met the "college ready" standard -- scoring above 80 on their Regents exams in algebra, geometry or English language arts -- nearly tripled, from 49 to 140.
Katherine Callaghan, the principal of the Bronx Leadership Academy II, who has worked in the school for more than 10 years, said: "Blue Engine has moved a huge number of our students in a way that nothing else that we've ever tried has been able to do." She added: "Last year we had a 44 percent pass rate on the integrated algebra Regents, with two kids scoring above an 80. This year, we're on track for 75 or 80 percent passing, with 20 kids hitting the college-ready mark. We're close to doubling our pass rate and multiplying by a factor of 10 our college-ready rate."
Gains like this are not often seen in education. So it's worth taking note. What's happening?
Here's a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.
Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.
What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.
One way to see this is to look at the scores of rich and poor students on standardized math and reading tests over the last 50 years. When I did this using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, I found that the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago.
To make this trend concrete, consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000.
In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children's success in school than race.
In San Francisco this week, more than 14,000 educators and education scholars have gathered for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The theme this year is familiar: Can schools provide children a way out of poverty?
If not the usual suspects, what's going on? It boils down to this: The academic gap is widening because rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students. This difference in preparation persists through elementary and high school.
But we need to do much more than expand and improve preschool and child care. There is a lot of discussion these days about investing in teachers and "improving teacher quality," but improving the quality of our parenting and of our children's earliest environments may be even more important. Let's invest in parents so they can better invest in their children.
ALONG his block in Newark's West Ward, where drugs are endemic and the young residents talk about shootings with alarming nonchalance, Najee Little is known as the smart kid. He got all A's his sophomore year, breezing through math and awing his English teachers. His mother, a day care worker, and father, who does odd jobs to make ends meet, have high aspirations for him. They want him to earn a college degree.
So last year, when Bard College opened an early college high school in Newark for disadvantaged students with dreams of a bachelor's degree, he was sure he'd do well there. He wrote his first long paper on Plato's "Republic," expecting a top grade. He got a D minus. "Honestly," he recalled, "I was kind of discouraged."
That paper marked the beginning of a trying academic path that would both excite and disillusion him. The past two years have been peppered with some promising grades -- an A in environmental science -- and some doozies. He failed "Africa in World History" and squeaked by in calculus. Mostly, he came to realize that getting into college and staying there would be a herculean task. There was tricky grammar, hard math and tons of homework. There was the neighborhood cacophony to tune out and the call of his Xbox. And there was the fact that no one in his house could help him.
"My work is more advanced than anyone at home has experienced," he said. And that, it turns out, is why the school had accepted him.
High poverty, high ability, high expectations, high achievement.
A number of figures stood out at the Ed Talks panel on the achievement gap that I attended last Wednesday night, part of a UW-Madison series of free conversations and presentations on educational issues. Here are two:
• 50: The percentage of children currently defined as low-income in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
• 9: The percentage of children defined as low-income when Paul Soglin was first elected mayor in 1973.
It is not just the schools' responsibility to address the effects of such a dramatic increase in poverty, says the mayor, who participated on the panel along with School Board President James Howard and others.
"The school system has the children about 20 percent of the time," Soglin said. "The remaining 80 percent is very critical."
The city, he says, needs to help by providing kids with access to out-of-school programs in the evenings and during the summer. It needs to do more to fight hunger and address violence-induced trauma in children. And it needs to help parents get engaged in their kids' education.
"We as a community, for all of the bragging about being so progressive, are way behind the rest of the nation in these areas," he says.
PROVIDENCE, R. I. -- Bloomberg Philanthropies has chosen Providence as the top winner of its Mayor Challenge.
The $5 million prize will be used to implement Mayor Angel Taveras' initiative, Providence Talks, to increase the vocabulary of young students living in low-income homes before their fourth birthday. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg previously said the challenge was launched in the fall of 2012 to inspire innovation in local government, and spread the very best ideas. Three hundred and five cities competed, and Providence was awarded the top prize because it had "the best potential to take root and spread," read challenge rules. The initiative coincides with the mayor's goal to increase reading proficiency to 70 percent for entering fourth graders by 2015. In Providence, less than half of the district's fourth-grade students scored at or above proficiency on the state reading assessment in 2011.
This initiative is based on the research done by Hart and Risley, as described in their book "Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Life of Young American Children."
The UW-Odyssey Project changes lives for adults near the poverty level. Now in its tenth year, this inspirational project has empowered more than 250 low-income adults to find their voices and get a jumpstart at earning college degrees they never thought possible. Graduates of the program have journeyed from homelessness to UW-Madison degrees, from incarceration to meaningful work in the community.
You are warmly invited to a special screening of a new documentary about the UW-Odyssey Project on Thursday, December 6, at the Sundance Cinema (Hilldale Shopping Mall). Showings will be at 5:00, 5:40 and 6:20 p.m. in theater #3. Refreshments will be served in the second floor bistro. This event is free, but donations to the Odyssey Project's important work will be gratefully appreciated.
For more information about the UW-Odyssey Project, the new documentary, and how to vote for Emily Auerbach (Odyssey Project founder and director) for Lady Godiva Chocolate's Inspirational Woman of the Year, go to http://www.odyssey.wisc.edu/.
School reform superintendent Paul Vallas spoke at LaFollette High School at the behest of Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson. The two and a half hour presentation with question and answer periods as attended by about 100 people in the LaFollette Auditorium.
Paul Vallas has been the Superintendent of schools in Chicago (CPS), Philadelphia, New Orleans, and currently Bridgeport Connecticut. He is currently hired to improve the schools in both Chile and Haiti, and has been praised in two State of the Union addresses. His work as a superintendent has engendered both strong support and strong disagreement.
The two and a half hour meeting has been divided into five clips and I have tried to summarize comments made by Paul Vallas, the panel and the audience members who spoke.
Legislation to allow home-schooled students to play varsity sports at public schools passed the Republican-controlled Virginia Assembly on Wednesday. It will now go before the State Senate. Robert McDonnell, Virginia's Republican governor, has said he supports the bill.
Alabama and Mississippi are considering similar legislation, and 25 states now allow home-schooled students to play sports at public schools with varying restrictions. Is this a move in the right direction?
Madison Schools Superintendent Dan Nerad packed the house Monday night for what he termed "a call to action" to the community to join his administration in a strategy to close the racial achievement gap that has haunted the school district for decades.Tepid response to Nerad's plan to close achievement gap in Madison school district; $105,600,000 over 5 Years.
His blueprint for change, "Building our Future," weighs in at 100 pages and took an hour to outline with a Power Point presentation to an audience of about 200 at the Fitchburg Community Center. The proposal will be digested, dissected and debated in the weeks to come, including at a series of community meetings hosted by the school district.
But one thing is clear: from Nerad's point of view, the future of children of color in our city lies not only in the hands of the teachers and administrators who shape their lives at school, but also in the hands of their families, their neighbors, and members of the community who live and work all around town.
"It can't be the schools alone; it has to be the schools working with the community if we're going to have outcomes," he said.
Research supports parental involvement as a viable means of enhancing children's academic success. Once again, Michelle Belnavis, a cultural relevance instructional resource teacher (K-5) for MMSD, has organized an event that brings African American community leaders, families, staff, students, and neighborhood organizations together to provide inspiration and information to schools and neighborhoods in honor of National African American Parent Involvement Day.
"We have been doing a lot of research in looking at the effect of having parents' actively involved in their children's education and a big part is that relationship-building," Belnavis tells The Madison Times. "This gives an opportunity for teachers and families and parents to come together for the purpose of celebrating unity. I think a lot of times when parents come into school there's a feeling like, 'I don't really belong here' or 'My children go to school here but I don't really have a connection with the teacher.'
Los Angeles Unified School District is embroiled in negotiations over teacher evaluations, and will now face pressure from outside the district intended to force counter-productive teacher evaluation methods into use. Yesterday, I read this Los Angeles Times article about a lawsuit to be filed by an unnamed "group of parents and education advocates." The article notes that, "The lawsuit was drafted in consultation with EdVoice, a Sacramento-based group. Its board includes arts and education philanthropist Eli Broad, former ambassador Frank Baxter and healthcare company executive Richard Merkin." While the defendant in the suit is technically LAUSD, the real reason a lawsuit is necessary according to the article is that "United Teachers Los Angeles leaders say tests scores are too unreliable and narrowly focused to use for high-stakes personnel decisions." Note that, once again, we see a journalist telling us what the unions say and think, without ever, ever bothering to mention why, offering no acknowledgment that the bulk of the research and the three leading organizations for education research and measurement (AERA, NCME, and APA) say the same thing as the union (or rather, the union is saying the same thing as the testing expert). Upon what research does the other side base arguments in favor of using test scores and "value-added" measurement (VAM) as a legitimate measurement of teacher effectiveness? They never answer, but the debate somehow continues ad nauseum.Much more on "value added assessment", here.
It's not that the plaintiffs in this case are wrong about the need to improve teacher evaluations. Accomplished California Teachers has published a teacher evaluation report that has concrete suggestions for improving evaluations as well, and we are similarly disappointed in the implementation of the Stull Act, which has been allowed to become an empty exercise in too many schools and districts.
A day before the Super Bowl, hundreds of people lined up for an altogether different, though similarly named, event.
The annual "Souper Bowl" event is now in its 16th year raising money for Habitat for Humanity.
This year's "Souper Bowl" was held at Madison West High School where attendees bought bowls made by members of the community.
Wisconsin's public school open enrollment period begins Monday, and for the first time, families will have three months to decide whether and where to enroll their students outside of their home school district.Related: Madison School District Outbound Open Enrollment Applications 2010-2011 School Year; As of 3/18/2010.
For the Madison School District, the extra time could mean more families choosing to leave for other districts or virtual schools, though Superintendent Dan Nerad said it's too early to know what the affect will be.
"By the nature that there's an open window, that's likely to happen for us as well as other districts around the state," Nerad said.
Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last week extending the official open enrollment period from three weeks in February to three months. Applications must be completed by April 30.
Proponents of the change, including school choice advocates and the virtual school industry, tout open enrollment as giving parents and students more control of their educational options.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
February 6, 2011
Greetings Community Member.
This evening, at 6pm at the Fitchburg Library, Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Daniel Nerad will present his plan for eliminating the racial achievement gap in our public schools to the Board of Education. We anticipate there will be many citizens in the audience listening in.
While we are pleased that our advocacy over the last 19 months has resulted in the District developing a plan to address the gap, we are also mindful of history. Our organization has pushed hard for our public school system to embrace change, address the gap and expand educational opportunity many times before.
In the 1960s, Madison learned that a wide gap existed between black and white students in reading, math and high school completion in Madison's public schools. In the 1970s, the Urban League of Greater Madison reported that just 60% of black students were graduating from the city's public high schools. In the 1980s, ULGM released a widely reported study that found the average GPA for a black high school student attending the city's public high schools was 1.58 on a 4.00 scale, with 61% scoring below a 2.0 GPA. It also found that a disproportionate number of black students were enrolled in remedial math and science classes, and that black students were significantly over-represented in special education and school suspensions. Then, in the 1990s, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute issued a report that stated there were two school districts in MMSD, one that poorly served black children and one that served everyone else.
Today, just 48% of black and 56% of Latino students are graduating from high school. Just 1% of black and 7% of Latino high school seniors are academically ready for college. Nearly 40% of all black boys in middle school are enrolled in special education, and more than 60% of black and 50% of Latino high school students earn below a 2.0 GPA.
Over the years, several district-wide efforts have been tried. Unfortunately, many of these efforts have either been discontinued, unevenly implemented, ineffective, lacked the support of parents/community/teachers, or failed to go far enough to address the myriad needs of students, families, teachers and schools. Madison also has a well-documented history of not heeding the advice of leaders and educators of color or educational experts, and not investing in efforts to codify and replicate successful strategies employed by its most effective educators. MMSD also has not acted fast enough to address its challenges and rarely looks beyond its borders for strategies that have proven effective elsewhere in the country.
The stakes are higher now; too high to continue on our present course of incrementalism rooted in our fear of the unknown, fear of significant change, and fear of admitting that our view of Madison being the utopic experience of the Midwest and #1 city in the U.S. doesn't apply to everyone who lives here. We no longer have the luxury of time to figure out how to address the gap. We cannot afford to lose nearly 300 black, 200 Latino and an untold number of Southeast Asian and underprivileged white students each year from our public schools. And we cannot afford to see hundreds of students leave our school system each year for public and private schools outside of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
We must embrace strategies that work. We must also behave differently than we have in the past, and can no longer afford to be afraid of addressing intersection or race and poverty, and how they are playing out in our schools, social relationships and community, and impacting the educational success of our kids.
Furthermore, we need all hands on deck. Everyone in our community must play a role in shaping the self-image, expectations and outcomes of our children - in school, in the community and at home. Some children have parents who spend more quality time with their career and coworkers than with their family. Some children have a parent or relative who struggles to raise them alone. Some have parents who are out of work, under stress and struggling to find a job to provide for their family. And unfortunately, some children have parents who make bad decisions and/or don't care about their well-being. Regardless of the situation, we cannot allow the lack of quality parenting to be the excuse why we don't reach, teach, or hold children accountable and prepare them for the future.
As we prepare to review the Superintendent's plan, we have developed a rubric that will allow for an objective review of his proposal(s). The attached rubric, which you can access by clicking here, was developed and informed by members of the staff and Board of Director of ULGM, business and community leaders, and teachers and leading experts in the field of K-12 and higher education. The tool will be used by an independent Community Review Panel, organized by the Urban League. pver the next several weeks to vet the plan. The intent of this review is to ensure MMSD has an optimal plan for ensuring that all of the children it serves succeed academically and graduate from high school prepared for college and work.
Specifically, our reasons for establishing this rubric and a Community Review Panel are four-fold:
We have high expectations of the Superintendent's plan. We hope for a bold, transformational, aggressive and concise plan, and stand ready to assist the Superintendent and his team in any way we can. We hope you will be standing their with us, with your arms outstretched and ready to uplift or babies - the next generation.
- Develop an objective and comprehensive understanding of the plan and its many elements;
- Objectively review the efficacy of the plan, its goals and objectives, and desired outcomes;
- Formally communicate thoughts, concerns and ideas for supporting and/or improving the plan; and
- Effectively engage the Madison community in supporting and strengthening its public schools.
All Hands on Deck!
Team Urban League of Greater Madison
Urban League of Greater Madison 2012 Agenda
Here are things that impressed Desiree Pointer Mace when she and her husband were considering where to send their first child for school: The seventh and eighth graders at Woodlands School, 5510 W. Blue Mound Road, held the door for guests, said hello and shook hands. And you could ask a student in any class what he or she was working on and get a good answer.
Pointer Mace is not your typical parent. She is associate dean for graduate programs in education at Alverno College.
But if her credentials are distinctive, the goals she has for school for her children are not unusual: A place where they thrive and develop, both in academics and in personal traits.
Only some of the things she - or any good parent - want can be reduced to numbers or grades. A lot of important aspects of a school involve quality, not quantity. They can be put under the broad label of "school culture."
Show me a good school and I'll show you a place where kids not only get good grades and scores, but a place where relationships of all kinds matter and are healthy.
Mary Battaglia kindly forwarded this email sent to the Madison School Board:
The high school graduation racial gap has been in the Madison news as though it only affects our fair city. It does not require much research, something the local media has failed to do, to see this is a national concern. According to an analysis called "Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education," nationally only 47% of black males graduated from high school in 2007. (1) It has been reported that Madison's graduation rate for black males is 50%. Obviously a pathetic rate compared to the 87% for whites, but what has not been a part of the local conversation is how Madison compares in relationship to the rest of the nation, and perhaps figure out where black males are graduating at a higher rate, and why. The Schott's report, revealed two communities with large minority populations with much better graduation outcomes than the rest of the nation, Baltimore and Fort Bend, Texas. What MMSD should be looking into is what are these cities doing, and what curricula or community effort has made them successful? One interesting part of the gap for Madison and the state of Wisconsin is the high rate of whites graduating. While Wisconsin is the worst defender in the racial gap, the states total graduation rate is one the highest in the nation.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
When you read various assessments of the "reason" for the gap nationally, the theories include the lack of financial investment, lack of good teachers, and the lack of community structure. While I find these proposals reasonable, I fail to understand how in this community they are relevant. MMSD spends well over $13,000 per student, lack the overwhelming urban problems of Milwaukee and Chicago, and have many fine teachers that somehow get non-minority students educated. These excuses ring hallow as to why MMSD has such a poor rate. What does ring true is we are not educating the population as it exist today. In the last 25 years the MMSD's minority rate has increased from 20% to one closer to 48%. (2) In the last 25 years MMSD has changed from a district of less than 25% free and reduced lunch to one that is closer to 50%. (3)Madison is still teaching to the population of 25 years ago, the students have changed, but the curriculum has not.
Perhaps, MMSD could improve the graduation rate for all students, with a significant change of focus. For example, MMSD's high school's emphasize 4 year college candidates when many of the students would do better in a 2 year or technology school focus. There has been an increased coordination with MATC, but what would be beneficial is to offer a dual graduation for students, so as they graduate from MMSD, they also have a 2 year degree or a certificate from MATC. This is a system that has been successful in a high school in North Carolina. (4) A student that wants to head to college still has that opportunity and perhaps a chance to make some money to support the effort. Perhaps, another way to improve graduation outcomes would include an overhaul of the summer school program. Currently, MMSD summer school staff are paid poorly, the programs focus is mostly on students that have flunked their classes and need a recovery grade, and the programs poor reputation have lead many staff to discourage students from participating. (5) Why not invest in a comprehensive retooling of the summer program that provides a better salary for staff, and includes enrichment, regular classes, as well as recovery options. Let's find a creative summer program with smaller class sizes and build a program that is the envy of the country and one that works. If summer school is going to be provided, then make it an awesome program, not just a warehouse for failing kids. Perhaps, as most research reveals, early education is a key component to better graduation outcomes, and the district finally is getting a 4K program up and running after a decade long battle with the union.
Madison Prep was an idea, but it is a unique group of students that would select to participate in such a rigorous program, which means an already motivated student or parents with very high expectations, both factors that frequently mean a student would do well anyway. MMSD needs to look at students that may not be that motivated or academically talented and assess what works to keep them engaged. The one thing MMSD has no control over is probably the most important issue for a students outcome. Research concludes the number one predictor of a students academic success is parental expectations. (6) Our schools cannot change parental expectations, however, they can change what a student expects. MMSD students need to expect a positive future, a purpose and a reason to stay in school. Not all kids will succeed but more than half of the black male students should. Let's develop a district that gives all the students the opportunity to succeed.
DPI.wi.gov Public school data
This statement is based on personal experience of having many staff, from middle school up to high school, discourage my daughter who struggles in math from attending summer school. I have also spoke to many parents with the same experience.
*** Of note the data of graduation rate is debated in academic circles as the data is not always standardized. Some data includes GED and 5 year rates others include only 4 year rates.
Mary Kay Battaglia
Last year my commenters and I discussed Ed Glaeser's claim that the way to create a great city is to "create a great university and wait 200 years."
I passed this on to urbanist Richard Florida and received the following response:This is a tough one with lots of causality issues. Generally speaking universities make places stronger. But this is mainly the case for smaller, college towws. Boulder, Ann Arbor and so on, which also have very high human capital levels and high levels of creative, knowledge and professional workers.I responded: Another factor in the interaction is: how good does the university have to be? Glaeser cited UW and Seattle, but that's kind of a funny example, because I don't think UW was such a great university 30 years ago. On the other hand, given the existence of Boeing and Microsoft, UW is good enough to do the job of providing a center for the creative class. Perhaps Ohio State (another good but not great university) has played a similar role in Columbus.
For big cities the issue is mixed. Take Pittsburgh with CMU and Pitt or Baltimore with Hopkins, or St Louis. The list goes on and on.
Kevin Stolarick and I framed this very crudely as a transmitter reciever issue. The university in a city like this can generate a lot of signal, in terms of innovation or even human capital and the city may not receive it or push it away. A long ago paper by Mike Fogarty showed how innovations in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, by universities in these communities, tended to be picked up in Silicon Valley or even Tokyo.
The dangers which Peter Wilby points out (Does Gove realise he is empowering future dictators?, 31 January) were recognised 70 years ago. Unfortunately secretaries of state know very little history. The Oxford historian Dr Marjorie Reeves, when invited to be on the Central Advisory Council For Education (England) in 1946, was told by the permanent secretary, John Redcliffe-Maud, that the main duty of council members was "to be prepared to die at the first ditch as soon as politicians try to get their hands on education".
A war had been fought to prevent the consequences of such concentrated power. The 1944 Education Act, hammered out during the war years, created a "maintained system" of education as a balance of power between central government, local government responsibility, the voluntary bodies (mainly the churches) and the teachers. That balance is now disappearing fast, without the public debate it needs and with hardly a squeak from Labour. The existing education legislation refers to the fast-disappearing "maintained schools", leaving academies and free schools exposed, without the protection of the law, to whatever whimsical ideas are dreamt up by the present or future secretaries of state, to whom they are contracted with minimal accountability to parliament.
Professor Richard Pring
Green Templeton College, Oxford
• The removal of 3,100 vocational subjects from the school performance tables from 2014 (Report, 31 January) has major implications. It is certainly the case that "perverse incentives" were created by the league tables to use soft options to boost school league table positions - the phenomenon known as gaming. However, the cull to 70 accepted vocational subjects, with 55 allowed on the margins, essentially destroys vocational and technical education. Given that the old basis is the one for the current (2012 and 2013) tables, a whole raft of students are on worthless courses.
I am running for the Madison School Board because I care about the state of our public schools and this community.The 2012 Madison School Board Contest:
The facts are: I am employed at the Urban League of Greater Madison and spoke in support of Madison Prep as a parent and citizen. Am I running because Madison Prep was voted down? No. My focus is broader than the charter school proposal, but the Madison Prep vote was a defining moment in my decision to declare candidacy.
It became apparent to me as I sat in the auditorium that night that we can no longer afford to wait for our district to take the casual approach to the urgent matter of minority under-achievement. Our entire community is affected by the failure to do so.
Every child in this district -- from the at-risk, the middle-of-the-road student, to the most academically talented -- should have an equal opportunity to thrive in our school system. And here's the reality, Madison -- we are not delivering.
It's been hard for us to accept that we are a different community than we were 10 years ago, but we are. If we move beyond politically correct conversations about race and poverty, we'd readily realize that we cannot go about "business as usual."
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
You work immense hours and subject yourself to scathing criticism all in the pursuit of better serving children. I know a few of you--and without fail you are all passionate about your work. In short, I'm a fan. So know that I'm not writing this letter to attack anyone--rather, I aim to offer advice, which I hope some of you accept.Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
In the following letter I aim to convince you of this: the single most important reform strategy you can undertake is to increase charter school quality and market share in your city--with the ultimate aim of turning your district into a charter school district.
In other words: rid yourself of the notion that your current opinions on curriculum, teacher evaluation, technology, or anything else will be the foundation for dramatic gains in student achievement. If history tells us anything, they will not be:
They raise chickens. They grow vegetables. They knit. Now a new generation of urban parents is even teaching their own kids.
In the beginning, your kids need you--a lot. They're attached to your hip, all the time. It might be a month. It might be five years. Then suddenly you are expected to send them off to school for seven hours a day, where they'll have to cope with life in ways they never had to before. You no longer control what they learn, or how, or with whom.
Unless you decide, like an emerging population of parents in cities across the country, to forgo that age-old rite of passage entirely.
When Tera and Eric Schreiber's oldest child was about to start kindergarten, the couple toured the high-achieving public elementary school a block away from their home in an affluent Seattle neighborhood near the University of Washington. It was "a great neighborhood school," Tera says. They also applied to a private school, and Daisy was accepted. But in the end they chose a third path: no school at all.
Below is a letter from Dr. Daniel Nerad, Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District. Please show up on Monday, February 6 to learn about his plan and register to participate in an input session. We need you to exercise your voice, share your view and speak to our children's needs. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
-- "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963
February 2, 2012
RE: Invitation to attend Board of Education meeting on Monday, February 6, 2012
Dear Community Leader:
As you may know, this Monday, February 6, 2012, we are poised to present to the Board of Education a significant and system-wide plan to close the achievement gaps in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Building Our Future: A Plan for Eliminating Gaps in MMSD Student Achievement
We invite you to attend Monday's Board of Education workshop at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Road in Fitchburg beginning at 6:00 p.m. This workshop is for presentation purposes only. Members of the public will not have the opportunity to speak. However, Monday's workshop marks the beginning of a two-month, community-wide engagement process. We invite parents, students, and residents concerned about the future of our children to join one or more of the many sessions held throughout Madison to learn about the achievement gaps in the MMSD and discuss and provide input into the plan.
I have greatly appreciated your concern, commitment, and willingness to challenge us to provide the kind of education that every child deserves and is due. Together, we must eliminate our achievement gaps.
The Board of Education workshop on Monday, February 6th is just the beginning. Please consider participating in one of the upcoming information and input sessions. To register for a session, go to: www.mmsd.org/inputsession
Beginning Tuesday, February 7, go to: www.mmsd.org/thefuture to read more about the Plan.
Daniel A. Nerad
Superintendent of Schools
Reprinted from a letter sent to community leaders today by Superintendent Nerad. We are sharing this to inform you and help the Madison Metropolitan School District get the word out. We have not yet seen the plan and therefore, this email should not viewed as an endorsement of it. We will reserve judgment until after the plan is released, we have had a chance to review it, and the public has responded.
lot is riding on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad's upcoming plan for improving low-income, minority student achievement.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The plan is billed as a blueprint for addressing an intractable, divisive issue in Madison, and it could also factor into the upcoming School Board discussion of Nerad's future in Madison.
The United Way of Dane County has made closing the achievement gap one of its primary issues for more than 15 years through the Schools of Hope tutoring program. But president Leslie Howard said the recent debate over the proposed Madison Prepatory Academy charter school has drawn more public attention to the issue than ever before.
"I don't want to say something so grandiose that everything's at stake, but in some ways it feels like that," Howard said.
"And I tell you this: you do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it's usually called 'assault' - not 'leadership'."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, as told to Emmet John Hughes, for "Re-Viewing the Cold War: Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East-West Confrontation"
Last year, someone said to me: "Laurie, I heard you're a nut job. So tell me, who are you, really?" I said: "You've heard me talk. What do you think?" The person chuckled and said: "I kind of like you. I think you care."
I do care. I have a fierce protective instinct toward the community, the country, and the children. I'm a patriot, but no politician. I'm not interested in making money or gaining political allies through District 81, the union or the media. I was trained as an old-style reporter, with an eye to supportable facts and a determination to know and report the truth. I'm not a natural extrovert, but five years of dealing with administrators and board directors have turned me into a fighter. I'm not a liar, and I'm no quitter, and I don't know how to do just the bare minimum of anything (except dusting).
In 2011 Kaleem Caire, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, reintroduced the topic of the Academic Achievement Gap that exists in theMadison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). As reported, just 48% of African American students and 56% of Latino students graduated on time from MMSD in 2010.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Just as staggering as these statistics is the fact that until the conversation was reintroduced, a large majority of our community was not aware that the academic achievement gap even existed. Why is that? Four more important questions may be: How did we get here?What have we proposed before? Why has this problem persisted? AND - What should we do now? To answer these questions, and many more, the Urban League of Greater Madison would like to invite you to participate in a community forum moderated by Derrell Connor.
6:00 Welcome Derrell Connor
6:45 Q&A from Audience Members
Sixty-two New York City schools are on a path to be closed or otherwise re-shaped this year. Here's a score card to help you keep track of what schools are affected and how.
This post lists the 19 schools that the Department of Education wants to phase out, along with the six that will have their middle school grades removed (that's called truncation).
Until Feb. 9, when the Panel for Educational Policy votes on the changes, hearings are going on almost every night at the schools that are to be phased out or truncated. You can find the calendar of hearings here.
It was Jamie Oliver's toughest challenge... getting US youngsters to ditch junk food and eat a healthier diet.
But six months after he convinced an LA school to swap fattening burgers for low-calorie salads, his revamped menu is - literally - being binned.
Hundreds of students at West Adams Preparatory High School, where his hit show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution was filmed, are refusing to eat his cuisine.
Instead, bins are overflowing with the TV chef's veg curries, quinoa salads, Thai noodles and wheatbread burgers.
Many youngsters even go without lunch altogether.
Madison Preparatory Academy doesn't have the money to open as a private school next fall and its future is in the hands of the Madison School Board, according to a lead supporter of the charter school proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Supporters still want to open Madison Prep in the fall but haven't been able to raise about $1.2 million needed to run the school because its future beyond next year remains uncertain, Madison Prep board chairman David Cagigal said last week; moreover, a key donor said her support is contingent on School Board backing.
Cagigal said the private school option was never intended to be more than an interim plan before the school opened as a public charter school. One of the most common reasons charter schools fail is lack of funding, he added.
"We can't approach these donors unless we mitigate the risk," Cagigal said. "The only way we can do that is seek a 2013 vote."
Cagigal acknowledged that if the School Board doesn't vote on opening Madison Prep as a charter school in 2013, "then we may have to wait."
The fate of Madison Prep was discussed at a recent school board candidate forum.
Charter schools: The Oakland school board rejected the charter school petitions submitted by the faculties of ASCEND and Learning Without Limits, public elementary schools in the Fruitvale area that want to secede from the school district. The district's charter schools office recommended that the board approve the request, but Superintendent Tony Smith took a different stance, pointing to the financial investment the district has made in the schools since they opened.
This section of a staff resolution seems to sum up the superintendent's position: "Whereas, the District cannot succeed at its strategic plan to create a Full Service Community School District that serves the whole child ... if after millions of dollars in investment, individual schools that have achieved because of the District's investment can separate and opt out of the District, with the consequence that the District loses its collective identity as a school system serving children in all neighborhoods in
PLEASE NOTE: This is a provisional website meant to convey vital information to those interested. Our much-improved website will launch here soon, so stay tuned!
Launched through a generous gift from Gus and Rita Hauser, the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) is a Presidential Initiative to catalyze experimentation in teaching that improves student learning. It will capitalize on, strengthen, and broaden the scope of existing learning and teaching activities at Harvard, transform Harvard students' educational experience in keeping with current and future technological and pedagogical needs, build on Harvard's leadership in the research, application, and assessment of innovative pedagogy, and develop a robust, synergistic network of expertise, scholarly work, and creativity through dedicated University support that flows to the Schools and allows for sharing across Harvard campuses.
First of a series180K PDF version.
The recent controversy over the Urban League of Greater Madison's proposal for a Madison Preparatory Academy has been framed primarily as a local story pitting contending interests within the city. The charter school's promoters, supporters and mainstream media have portrayed the ULGM's CEO and President, Kaleem Caire as the Prep's public champion and native son returned home on a mission to help "close the achievement gap," the racial disparities in Madison's schools.
But Caire's well-established national ties, spanning more than a decade, to numbers of conservative foundations, think tanks and individuals bent on privatizing public school coffers, creating for-profit schools, and destroying teachers' unions, certainly suggest that there is more to the story.
Caire has consistently dismissed any suggestion of his links to various right-wing efforts. On occasion he has admitted some distant connections but asserted his independence by saying, "They have their agenda, but we have ours." Lately, he has taken to waving off critic's references to such ties as nothing more than "guilt-by-association crap" or part of a "conspiracy" and "whisper campaign" coming from those trying to discredit the Mad Prep Academy project. However, a readily traceable history reveals some truth to the charges.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
What if you suddenly found out that half of the eighth-graders in Wisconsin, all kids you thought were highly rated readers, really didn't merit being called proficient? That instead of four out of five being pretty decent in math, it was really two out of five?A substantial improvement in academic standards is warranted and possibly wonderful, assuming it happens and avoids being watered down. The rightly criticized WKCE was an expensive missed opportunity.
You better start thinking how you'd react because it's likely that is what's coming right at us. That's how dramatic a proposal last week by the state Department of Public Instruction is.
As parents, teachers, school leaders, politicians, community leaders and taxpayers, will we be motivated to do better? Will we see the need for change? Will we rise to the occasion? Or will we settle for being discouraged and basically locked into what we've come to expect?
Here's what's going on: With Congress failing to pass a revision, originally due in 2007, of the education law known as No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Department of Education has begun issuing waivers from the enforcement program of the increasingly dysfunctional law. Wisconsin wants a waiver - it's one of the things people such as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic-oriented Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers agree on. So a task force developed a proposal. People have until Feb. 3 to react to the proposal and the application is to be submitted Feb. 21.
The plan will change a lot of important dynamics of what students and schools in Wisconsin are expected to accomplish. It calls for publicly rating all schools on a 1 to 100 point scale, with student outcomes as a key factor. Schools that score low will face orders to improve and, possibly, closing. And that goes for every school with students whose education is paid for with public dollars - in other words, private schools in the voucher programs for Milwaukee and Racine kids are included.
Overall, the waiver plan means we are at the point where Wisconsin gets serious about raising expectations for student achievement. Wisconsin is regarded as having one of the lowest bars in the U.S. for rating a student as proficient. No more, the proposal says.
Eighth-grade reading: Using the WKCE measuring stick, 86% of students were rated as "advanced" or "proficient." Using the NAEP measuring stick, it was 35% - a 51-point difference. At least as vivid: Using the WKCE measure, 47% of eighth-graders were "advanced," the top bracket. Using the NAEP measure, it was 3%. Three percent! In other words, only a handful of kids statewide would be labeled advanced under the new system, not the nearly half we're used to.
Fourth-grade reading: On the WKCE scale, 82% were proficient or advanced. On the NAEP scale, it was 33%.
Eighth-grade math: WKCE, 78% proficient. NAEP: 41%.
Fourth-grade math: WKCE: 79% proficient. NAEP: 47%.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
via a kind reader's email
Madison School District BoardBoth Madison School Board races are contested this year.
Seat 1: Arlene Silveira Website / Facebook
Seat 2: Michael Flores Website / Facebook
Now we have to make sure they get elected! That takes money (some) and work (lots).
The money part is easy--come to the Progressive Dane Campaign Fund-raiser
Sunday February 12, 5-7 pm
Cardinal Bar, 418 E Wilson St
(Potluck food, Cash Bar, Family Friendly)
Meet the candidates, hear about Madison School District and Dane County issues, pick some to work on this year!
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
First Niagara Bank has pledged $3 million to support a nonprofit group that is representing business interests in Connecticut's education reform debate.
The money will go to Hartford's Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), which is led by a group of prominent Connecticut business leaders including former Hartford Financial Services Group CEO Ramani Ayer, and Peyton Patterson, the former chief executive of NewAllinace Bank, which was acquired by First Niagara Bank last year.
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform also unveiled Thursday its education agenda for the upcoming legislative session, which includes urging the state to adopt:
--Teacher and leader employment and retention policies that attract the highest quality professionals and insist upon effectiveness as defined by their ability to demonstrate improvement in student performance, not seniority, as the measure of success defined by redesigned evaluation systems.
n recent listening sessions with Madison parents, I heard how we can improve our schools, what we can be really proud of and stories about our wonderful teachers. In these discussions and in others, people have talked about addressing the racial achievement gap and shared concerns about Madison Prep.
For the 12 years I have been involved in Madison schools, I have been championing education and addressing the racial achievement gap. An East High teacher and I co-founded the AVID/TOPS program, which I also supported financially and continue to co-chair. This program has increased the number of students graduating and going on to post-secondary education. But AVID TOPS alone is not enough. We need to do more.
When Madison Prep was discussed last fall, it was the only proposal put on the table in the last five years to significantly address the racial achievement gap. At that time the teachers union and the planners of Madison Prep were in agreement that the school would run with Madison School District employees, union teachers and under the leadership of the district (as an instrumentality). A major concern raised was that Madison Prep would pull resources needed by existing schools.
Bill Cosby and Dick Morris presumably disagree about most things, so it's instructive to note that both have officially endorsed "School Choice Week," which began yesterday with a series of rallies and events around the country celebrating the idea of parents being able to decide where their children go to school. Indeed, school choice seems like such an obviously good idea that the most interesting thing about School Choice Week is why it exists at all.
That school choice is valuable is beyond dispute. That's why there's a multi-billion dollar private school industry serving millions of students. And it's why there is a much larger system of school choice embedded in the American real estate market. While some parents pay school tuition directly, many more pay it through their monthly mortgage and property tax bills. Anyone who has deliberately purchased a home in a "good" school district is, by definition, a beneficiary and supporter of school choice.
The most important domestic subject that I FAIL to adequately cover is K-12 education. It's potentially the most effective tool we have for increasing vertical mobility in our society -- and hence is currently misused as the best single method to repress disadvantaged minorities.
What the education unions and their bought-and-paid-for Democrat allies have done to inner city black and Hispanic kids would warm the cockles of any KKK Grand Dragon. The Progressives' steadfast opposition to improving education angers me every time I think about it.
Thus I include intact below an excellent op-ed on the topic from the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS. It's upbeat -- giving the growing success of the school choice movement in all its many flavors.
Sadly, California is one of the least successful states in this effort to improve education. All we hear from CA liberals is that we don't spend enough. But the growing popularity and acceptance of school choice in other states is going to make it more and more difficult for our voters to ignore this innovation.
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
The event was sponsored by the Dane County Council of Public Affairs.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
via a kind reader. It is great to see competitive races.
UPDATE 2.8.2012: A transcript is now available.
The way Florida grades its public schools will soon be changing.
On Tuesday, the state Board of Education heard an extensive presentation on proposed changes to the school grading formula.
The ideas ran the gamut, from incorporating the test scores of children with disabilities, to giving extra points to students who boost their test scores into the highest range.
Of course, high school grades will have to take into account the new end-of-course exams, which are being given this year in algebra, geometry and biology. Some middle-school students will also be taking the exams -- and the grades given to middle schools need to reflect that, too.
Last week, I went to a Spokane Public Schools math presentation at Indian Trail Elementary School. It was billed as a forum in the school newsletter and on the reader board outside of the school. It was not, in any way, a forum. It was a tightly controlled 20-minute presentation that offered no data, little information, allowed for no parent input and was patronizing in tone.Related: Math Forum audio & video.
At one point, parents were asked to define math to the person next to us. (The principal said he would not offer his definition.) We also were told to describe to our neighbor a math experience we'd had. These conversations ended right there, thus being pointless. We watched a video of several small children talking about the importance of math. The kids were cute, but the video was long. It was made clear to us that math is hard, parents don't get it (see slide 7 of the presentation), "traditional math" is no longer useful, and math is intimidating to all. Printed materials reinforced the idea of parent incompetence, with students supposedly "taking the lead" and teaching their parents.
Parents were warned to stay positive about math, however, despite our supposed fear and lack of skill, and we also were told what a "balanced" program looks like - as if that's what Spokane actually has.
Missouri lawmakers are facing increasing pressure to deal with a potential flood of student transfers stemming from the loss of accreditation in urban school districts like Kansas City's.
But looming over this year's legislative session is a pledge by House Speaker Steve Tilley, a Perryville Republican, that any plan to deal with school transfers to suburban districts, or adjustments to the state's school funding formula, be coupled with ideas that have doomed previous reform efforts.
Those include controversial measures such as expanding charter schools, eliminating teacher tenure, basing teacher pay on student achievement and offering tax credit vouchers to parents who want to send children to private schools.
MADISON -- Wisconsin's request for waivers from several provisions of federal education law creates the expectation that every child will graduate ready for college and careers by setting higher standards for students, educators, and schools.
"Education for today's world requires increased rigor and higher expectations," said State Superintendent Tony Evers. "The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has shackled schools by being overly prescriptive and prohibiting creative reforms that would help more students gain the skills needed for further education and the workforce. Wisconsin's request for flexibility from NCLB is driven by the belief that increasing rigor across the standards, assessment, and accountability system will result in improved instruction and improved student outcomes."
To receive waivers, state education agencies must demonstrate how they will use flexibility from NCLB requirements to address four principles: transitioning to college- and career-ready standards and assessments; developing systems of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; evaluating and supporting teacher and principal effectiveness; and reducing duplication. The Department of Public Instruction has posted its draft waiver request online and is asking for public comment through a survey. After the two-week comment period, the agency will revise the waiver request and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education by Feb. 21.
Kai Ryssdal: However students get their textbooks -- on an iPad or the old-fashioned way -- those books don't do any good unless they're actually used.
There are 37 million people in this country who've started college, who have some credits -- but never finished. When they do that, when they drop out, there are costs -- to them, and to the rest of us, in the billions of dollars, in wasted loans and grants and lost opportunities. Those costs are one reason college dropouts are starting to get more attention from the Obama administration on down.
But finding ways for people to finish their degrees might mean rethinking the way Americans go to college. Emily Hanford of American RadioWorks reports.
Charter schools are public schools. Historically, however, the relationship between school districts and charters has been nonexistent at best, antagonistic at worst. As the charter sector continues to grow steadily, an analysis of the national landscape explores how that relationship needs to start changing--and where it already has.
This year's 6th annual edition of Hopes, Fears, & Reality provides a clear roadmap for school districts and charter schools interested in working together to improve education options. The report explains the risks and technical challenges behind charter-district collaboration and provides powerful examples of how they can be overcome.
Where will the thin blue line lead these children? What will their path mean to Milwaukee's education scene?
I'm talking about the 330 kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Milwaukee Scholars Charter School.
The corridors of the school's new building at 7000 W. Florist Ave. have gray carpeting - except for blue stripes near each wall.
When students pass in the halls, whether in groups or solo, they are required to walk only on the blue stripe on the right side of the hall as they face it. Get caught off that stripe and you can get marked down in the school's discipline system.
Minus the blue lines and with a discipline system that isn't structured quite so firmly, Milwaukee Math and Science Academy, a charter school at 110 W. Burleigh St., brings to mind the same questions for its 160 kindergarten through fifth-grade pupils.
There used to be a time when Milwaukee was considered one of the most active education reform cities in the country. The City's private school choice program, the oldest and largest in the country, was our ticket to fame (or infamy, depending on who you ask) through most of the 1990's. The choice program was supposed to be a game changer to public education. It was supposed to set off a chain reaction of innovation and competition that would not only improve the lives of children, but change the way we configured our education policy for the City of Milwaukee. In short, we were going to be the hotbed of the reform movement for decades to come.
Sadly, the game changing education movement we expected didn't come to pass. There is no doubt, however, that the existence of parent choice in Milwaukee has changed the lives of thousands of kids. The movement that created and protected the choice program fostered the development of two of the City's best charter schools and promoted a small sector of independent charters authorizers and schools. Unfortunately, aside from these developments there has been little large-scale reform in Milwaukee since the mid-1990's. Instead of a catalyst, the choice program became a scapegoat for both political parties and many status quo stakeholders. The failing public school district in Milwaukee has been allowed to sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand while union interests and their status quo Democrats blamed the choice program for all the public schools considerable ills. The GOP used the choice program as the be-all-end-all urban education solution, and was happy to let thoughtful public school policy and funding fall by the way side. The independent charter school community put their heads down and tried to stay out of the political fray - they served small pockets of kids very well, but without the ability or the will to take their model to scale. As a result, Milwaukee, not only fell behind, we fell off the map entirely.
"Student responsibility is the third rail of the accountability movement." Walt Gardner
If Mr. Gardner is correct, then is that why have we decided to leave student effort and their responsibility for their own learning and academic achievement out of our considerations of the reasons for such results as the 2010 NAEP history exam, which found that fifty-five percent of our high school seniors scored Below Basic?
Japan, South Korea and Singapore are quite forthright in their views that students must work hard, even very hard, in order to do well in their studies. (see Surpassing Shanghai, Harvard 2011, edited by Marc Tucker).
For our part, just about everyone, from journalists to legislators to edupundits of all sorts and degrees, holds everyone else responsible for student academic failure here. They blame legislation, governors, school boards, superintendents, unions, teachers and all other adults working in education, but they never seem to include student responsibility and effort into their calculations.
Anyone who suggests students may have a part to play in whether they learn anything or not risk being called racists, or supporters of poverty, or prejudiced against immigrants and those whose primary language is other than English.
Immigrants have been coming to this country, learning English, and doing well since the earliest days of our country, but lately we seem to enjoy pretending that these tasks are something new and the burden must be place on all the adults in our educational systems to make things easier. They may not realize that Albert Shanker spoke only Yiddish when he entered the New York public schools, and they conveniently ignore the children of Vietnamese boat people, and many others, some of whom come to this country knowing no English and before long are valedictorians of their high school graduating classes.
Of course it is nearly impossible to create educators without compassion, sympathy, even pity as part of their make-up, but at some point making excuses for students who are not trying and making an effort to lift all responsibility from their shoulders turns out to be cruelty of another kind.
Martin Luther King never said that minority children should not be asked to take their share of the load in becoming educated citizens, just that they have a fair chance, and perhaps some extra help.
In fact, some of those who once believed that discrimination and racism could account for the failure of African-American children in our schools began before too long to have difficulty reconciling those notions with the manifest academic success of too many Asian-American children, some of whose parents had been interned in this country, some of whom came here with no knowledge of the country or the language, and often from an even longer history of oppression and discrimination behind them (e.g. the Japanese Burakumin immigrants).
It is interesting that when American black athletes achieve unprecedented success and achievement and multi-million-dollar salaries, no one rushes to explain that result as the outcome of centuries of unpaid labor, rampant racism and discrimination. For some reason it is acceptable to expect, and common to find, outstanding effort and achievement among black athletes, but it is not thought suitable to expect serious academic effort from black students in our schools.
If coaches thought all the effort in sports was their job, and expected nearly nothing from their athletes, we might see the same failure in sports that we have in academics. And we would find that most athletes were less inclined to try their hardest and to take responsibility for their effort and success in sports.
As long as we put all the onus on adults in our education systems, we deprive our students of all kinds of the challenges they need, as we try to disguise from them the fact that their achievement will always in life depend mostly on their own efforts for which they alone have to take the responsibility.
Call me names, if that makes you feel better, but all our students are waiting to be treated more like the responsible human beings they, in fact, are.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
Ruth Heuer RTI International, Stephanie Stullich U.S. Department of Education:
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) requires that, taken as a whole, services provided in Title I schools from state and local funds be at least comparable to those provided in non-Title I schools (Section 1120A). The purpose of this comparability requirement is to ensure that federal assistance is providing additional resources in high-need schools rather than compensating for an inequitable distribution of funds that benefits more affluent schools. The Title I comparability requirement allows school districts to demonstrate compliance in a number of ways, including through a district-wide salary schedule, and does not require districts to use school-level expenditures. Several recent policy reports have called for revising the Title I comparability provision to require comparability of actual school-level expenditures (Hall and Ushomirsky, 2010; Miller, 2010; Luebchow, 2009; Roza, 2008).
Until recently, data on school-level expenditures have not been widely available, in part because most school districts have not designed their accounting systems to track revenues and expenditures at the school level. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) required each school district receiving Title I, Part A, ARRA funds to report a school-by- school listing of per-pupil education expenditures from state and local funds for the 2008-09 school year to its state education agency and required states to report these data to the U.S. Department of Education.
This report from the Study of School-Level Expenditures presents findings on how state and local education expenditures at the school level vary within school districts. This study is not examining compliance with the current Title I comparability requirement, nor does it examine the comparability of resources between districts. Rather, it focuses on the question of whether Title I schools and higher-poverty schools have comparable levels of per-pupil expenditures as non-Title I schools and lower-poverty schools within the same district. More specifically, this report examines three questions:
Basic InformationMuch more on the "Phoenix Program", here.
The Phoenix program began serving students in the fall of 2010-11. The Phoenix program was housed in the Doyle Administration Building
During this school year the program served
35 middle school students and
33 high school students
28 middle school students progressed through the Phoenix program and returned to an MMSD educational environment
24 high school students progressed through the Phoenix program and returned to an MMSD educational environment
7 middle students were expelled from the Phoenix program due to behavioral issues 9 high students were expelled from the Phoenix program due to behavioral issues
The first year the curriculum consisted of on-line academics supported by additional resource material.
Each quarter a student could receive up to a .25 credit in Community Service, Career Planning, English, Writing, Math, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies
The program's partnership with community FACE and district PBST staff allowed the students to participate in social emotional skill development forty-five hours per week.
P.S. This Madison School District document includes a header that I've not seen before: "Innovative Education". I also noticed that the District (or someone) placed a billboard on the Beltline marketing Cherokee Middle School's Arts education.
Just when all signs indicated that supporters of Madison Preparatory Academy were abandoning hope of joining forces with the Madison school district, they've decided to give it one more shot. They're seeking another vote on the controversial charter-school proposal in late February.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Urban League of Greater Madison CEO and president Kaleem Caire says Madison Prep will open this fall as a private entity, but hopes it will transition into the district in 2013, once the district's union contract expires.
Board members who voted against the charter school in December expressed concerns that it would put the district in breach of its contract with Madison Teachers Inc., due to a provision requiring district schools to hire union staff.
School board president James Howard, who voted for Madison Prep, says the board may not have time to address the proposal in February.
Whether the Urban League -- which proposed Madison Prep as an ambitious step toward closing the district's decades-old achievement gap -- can recapture its earlier momentum is uncertain, considering that Superintendent Dan Nerad and school board members seem particularly excited about their own plans to address the issue.
"We're going at it from so many different angles right now," says board member Beth Moss. "I can't see how we can't make some improvement."
We produced the above piece for PBS NewsHour in November of 2011; the focus was on new school choice initiatives in Indiana and the backlash they're receiving. School choice remains a major issue in education as 2012 begins, so we wanted to convene several experts for a discussion on the topic. Feel free to add your own comments below, as well.
When Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed through New Orleans' school voucher program four years ago, political interest in using taxpayer money to send students to private schools had waned across the country. School choice advocates had suffered several stinging defeats, causing some to throw their weight behind charter schools, which generally receive more bipartisan support.
In 2009, St. Joan of Arc School in New Orleans had more than 80 students receiving vouchers.
Now, as officials expect Jindal to begin an effort to expand Louisiana's voucher program, the national landscape has changed dramatically.
Although charter schools continue to dwarf vouchers in terms of overall growth, voucher programs have rebounded on the national political and educational scene in the past year. In 2011, more than 30 states introduced bills that would use taxpayer dollars to send children to privately run schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That's up more than 300% from the previous year, when only nine voucher bills were introduced.
It was the second week of UNIV 101: University of Phoenix New Student Orientation, and Dr. U. was talking about goals.
"What is goals?" she asked in her melodious Polish accent. There were four of us in UNIV 101, me and Ty and Rob and Junior, and no one seemed quite sure what to make of the question. Thus far there had been little evidence of Socratic irony or indirection holding a prominent place in the pedagogical toolkit here at Phoenix, so if Dr. U. was asking what is goals? then the answer was almost certainly somewhere in the reading. Shuffling through the printouts in front of me, I saw it written at the top of a page: "Simply stated, goals are outcomes an individual wants to achieve in a stated period of time." By then, Ty's hand was already up.
"Goals," he told Dr. U., "are when you have something you want to accomplish in the future."
Much like the brief torrential rain which drenched New Yorkers on Thursday morning, Mayor Bloomberg's Thursday afternoon State of the City Address received a deluge of media attention. Today, the print and electronic media feature talk of his jeremiad against the UFT, of his attempted resurrection of 'market reforms' such as merit pay which have been discredited even in 'reform' circles, as study after study has shown them ineffective, and of his claims that he will introduce a new evaluation system by fiat. Tellingly, nowhere will you read an account of what the Mayor's proposed imposition of closure under the Turn-Around model would mean for the PLA schools, were he to be successful in implementing it.
Consider what is happening to just a few of the PLA schools. Note that we use here the performance data that, the DoE insists, informs their decisions on the future of schools.
This fall New York City will open The Academy for Software Engineering, the city's first public high school that will actually train kids to develop software. The project has been a long time dream of Mike Zamansky, the highly-regarded CS teacher at New York's elite Stuyvesant public high school. It was jump started when Fred Wilson, a VC at Union Square Ventures, promised to get the tech community to help with knowledge, advice, and money.
I'm on the board of advisors of the new school, which plans to accept ninth graders for fall of 2012. Here's why I'm excited about this new school:
The proposals would allow charter schools in the state, establish a process for failing schools to be taken over by outside organizations and continue an overhaul of the way all teachers and principals are evaluated.
Charters, which are public but independent schools allowed to use unconventional techniques, would be closely monitored by a state board, lawmakers said. Only 50 would be allowed in the state - with no more than 10 new ones authorized each year. Each would be required to adopt a specific plan to serve educationally disadvantaged children.
The evaluations, which would include student test scores and classroom observations, would build on a pilot system already used in several districts in the state, lawmakers said.
Poor performance on the evaluations could lead teachers to lose their tenure, but the focus would be on improvement of teaching methods.
When asked why he didn't second Ed Hughes' motion at the Dec. 19 meeting to delay the schools' opening until 2013, Howard replied, "We had not discussed the implications of what that means. I think we have time if we're talking about 2013, to make sure we do it correctly, because we don't know what the rules of the game will be in 2013."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said, "Whether it will move forward I don't know. That depends on whether the motion gets on the floor. I don't have a read on it at this point."
Others aren't as diplomatic. "This is a waste of time and money for all involved," said TJ Mertz, an Edgewood College professor and district watchdog who is among Madison Prep's most ardent critics.
"The votes are not there and will not be there," he continued. "It distracts from the essential work of addressing the real issues of the district, including issues of achievement for students in poverty."
Cecelia Thornton sets up a makeshift classroom at her kitchen table every day after school to tutor her grandchildren in reading and writing with materials she buys at the local thrift store in the Mojave Desert town of Adelanto (San Bernardino County).
The 5- and 6-year-olds, she said, just aren't learning enough in their classes at Desert Trails Elementary School.
That's the key reason why she and a band of other parents and guardians filed a petition Thursday under California's "parent trigger" law to demand reforms at the K-6 school where just 35 percent of pupils last year tested proficient in reading and 46 percent in math.
Leaders of a proposed charter school for low-income minority students said Friday that they expect to have sufficient funding and will open Madison Prep as a private academy next fall but will continue to return to the Madison School Board for approval, starting with a proposed revote in February to make the school a publicly funded charter starting in 2013.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
That would be just weeks before a Madison School Board election in which two Madison Prep supporters are vying for seats.
"We will go back, and we'll go back, and we'll go back until the vote is a yes," said Laura DeRoche-Perez, director of school development at the Urban League of Greater Madison. "That is because we cannot wait."
The prospects for school board approval for the 2013 opening, at least with the current board, appear uncertain after the same board voted against the school opening in 2012 by a 5-2 margin in December. Those who opposed cited the school's plan to use non-union teachers and staff and concerns over the school's accountability to taxpayers and the district and don't appear to have wavered in their opposition.
Perhaps the most widespread peril children face isn't guns, swimming pools or speeding cars. Rather, scientists are suggesting that it may be "toxic stress" early in life, or even before birth.
This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing a landmark warning that this toxic stress can harm children for life. I'm as skeptical as anyone of headlines from new medical studies (Coffee is good for you! Coffee is bad for you!), but that's not what this is.
Rather, this is a "policy statement" from the premier association of pediatricians, based on two decades of scientific research. This has revolutionary implications for medicine and for how we can more effectively chip away at poverty and crime.
Toxic stress might arise from parental abuse of alcohol or drugs. It could occur in a home where children are threatened and beaten. It might derive from chronic neglect -- a child cries without being cuddled. Affection seems to defuse toxic stress -- keep those hugs and lullabies coming! -- suggesting that the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector.
Cues of a hostile or indifferent environment flood an infant, or even a fetus, with stress hormones like cortisol in ways that can disrupt the body's metabolism or the architecture of the brain.
The upshot is that children are sometimes permanently undermined. Even many years later, as adults, they are more likely to suffer heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other physical ailments. They are also more likely to struggle in school, have short tempers and tangle with the law.
The crucial period seems to be from conception through early childhood. After that, the brain is less pliable and has trouble being remolded.
"You can modify behavior later, but you can't rewire disrupted brain circuits," notes Jack P. Shonkoff, a Harvard pediatrician who has been a leader in this field. "We're beginning to get a pretty compelling biological model of why kids who have experienced adversity have trouble learning."
This new research addresses an uncomfortable truth: Poverty is difficult to overcome partly because of self-destructive behaviors. Children from poor homes often shine, but others may skip school, abuse narcotics, break the law, and have trouble settling down in a marriage and a job. Then their children may replicate this pattern.
Liberals sometimes ignore these self-destructive pathologies. Conservatives sometimes rely on them to blame poverty on the poor.
The research suggests that the roots of impairment and underachievement are biologically embedded, but preventable. "This is the biology of social class disparities," Shonkoff said. "Early experiences are literally built into our bodies."
The implication is that the most cost-effective window to bring about change isn't high school or even kindergarten --although much greater efforts are needed in schools as well -- but in the early years of life, or even before birth.
"Protecting young children from adversity is a promising, science-based strategy to address many of the most persistent and costly problems facing contemporary society, including limited educational achievement, diminished economic productivity, criminality, and disparities in health," the pediatrics academy said in its policy statement.
One successful example of early intervention is home visitation by childcare experts, like those from the Nurse-Family Partnership. This organization sends nurses to visit poor, vulnerable women who are pregnant for the first time. The nurse warns against smoking and alcohol and drug abuse, and later encourages breast-feeding and good nutrition, while coaxing mothers to cuddle their children and read to them. This program continues until the child is 2.
At age 6, studies have found, these children are only one-third as likely to have behavioral or intellectual problems as others who weren't enrolled. At age 15, the children are less than half as likely to have been arrested.
Evidence of the importance of early experiences has been mounting like snowflakes in a blizzard. For example, several studies examined Dutch men and women who had been in utero during a brief famine at the end of World War II. Decades later, those "famine babies" had more trouble concentrating and more heart disease than those born before or after.
Other scholars examined children who had been badly neglected in Romanian orphanages. Those who spent more time in the orphanages had shorter telomeres, a change in chromosomes that's a marker of accelerated aging. Their brain scans also looked different.
The science is still accumulating. But a compelling message from biology is that if we want to chip away at poverty and improve educational and health outcomes, we have to start earlier. For many children, damage has been suffered before the first day of school.
As Frederick Douglass noted, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
MEDIA ADVISORYMuch more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
For immediate release: January 12, 2012
Contact: Laura DeRoche-Perez
Director of School Development
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 S. Park St., Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
Urban League and Madison Prep Boards to Hold Press Conference
Will announce their plans to seek a new vote on authorizing the opening of Madison Prep for 2013
WHAT: Madison Preparatory Academy and the Urban League of Greater Madison will announce their intentions to seek a February 2012 vote by the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education to authorize Madison Prep to open in the fall of 2013. Three MMSD Board of Education members have already shared their support of the motion.
WHEN: 3:30 pm CST, Friday, January 13
WHERE: Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St., Madison, WI 53713
WHO: Madison Preparatory Academy Board of Directors
Urban League of Greater Madison
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche-Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-729-1230.
Barack Obama has been accused of "class warfare" because he favors closing several tax loopholes -- socialism for the wealthy -- as part of the deficit-cutting process. This is a curious charge: class warfare seems to be a one-way street in American politics. Over the past 30 years, the superwealthy have waged far more effective warfare against the poor and the middle class, via their tools in Congress, than the other way around. How else can one explain the fact that the oil companies, despite elephantine profits, are still subsidized by the federal government? How else can one explain the fact that hedge-fund managers pay lower tax rates than their file clerks? Or that farm subsidies originally meant for family farmers go to huge corporations that hardly need the help?
Actually, there is an additional explanation. Conservatives, like liberals, routinely take advantage of a structural flaw in the modern welfare state: there is no creative destruction when it comes to government programs. Both "liberal" and "conservative" subsidies linger in perpetuity, sometimes metastasizing into embarrassing giveaways. Even the best-intentioned programs are allowed to languish in waste and incompetence. Take, for example, the famed early-education program called Head Start. (See more about the Head Start reform process.)
The idea is, as Newt Gingrich might say, simple liberal social engineering. You take the million or so poorest 3- and 4-year-old children and give them a leg up on socialization and education by providing preschool for them; if it works, it saves money in the long run by producing fewer criminals and welfare recipients -- and more productive citizens. Indeed, Head Start did work well in several pilot programs carefully run by professionals in the 1960s. And so it was "taken to scale," as the wonks say, as part of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.
That Kaleem Caire, the charismatic champion of the Madison Preparatory Academy, is frustrated by the proposal's defeat before the Madison School Board last month should surprise no one.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
But the prospect that resentment over the defeat of the proposal runs so deep that it could poison the initiative's future prospects as a private school or public charter -- that's a distressing possibility whose existence is just now emerging.
The proposal for the school by the Urban League of Greater Madison has won many supporters because of the embarrassingly persistent achievement gap between whites and minorities in the Madison School District, but when Caire spoke Monday to Communities United, a community group dedicated to social justice, his passionate appeal to go beyond the district's existing model was laced with anger towards the School Board members who voted down the plan.
Much of the discussion Monday between Caire and a handful of staffers from the Urban League -- where he is president and CEO -- and those at the Communities United meeting centered around the ultra-sensitive topics of race and racism.
Even in that friendly environment (the informal, nonpartisan coalition was already on record in favor of the school), Caire's accusations against school officials were rejected as political spin by a Madison City Council member on hand and criticized as more of the "race card" by an African-American activist who has skirmished with Caire before over Madison Prep. But a Latina parent and activist greeted his words as an apt assessment of the situation in Madison schools.
Accountability for significantly narrowing the achievement gap must be at the top of the Madison School District agenda in 2012. How long should the current members of the School Board, Superintendant Dan Nerad, the administration and staff have to demonstrate gains in narrowing the gap?
In 2010 a five-year strategic plan was implemented with narrowing achievement gaps as the number one priority, and we are now starting to get results from the initiatives in the plan.
What will the level of accountability be for those of us who approved the plan? What will the level of accountability be for those of us who have responsibility for implementing the plan?
The question must be: Have we achieved the desired results or educational outcomes demanded by the taxpayers?
Click here to watch Sunday's "For the Record" on WISC-TV (Ch. 3) with Neil Heinen. Panelists include State Journal editorial page editor Scott Milfred, Republican insider Brandon Schulz and The Progressive editor Matt Rothschild. They bantered about the recent Iowa caucus results, the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, the likely gubernatorial recall and the coming Madison School Board elections, which Milfred argues are likely to decide whether a charter school called Madison Preparatory Academy opens its doors."
This article is third in a series of articles regarding media coverage of public education. This article and its predecessors in the series articulate part of the reason we need a new and better news source.
Instead of discussing the myriad legal and academic issues currently surrounding Spokane Public Schools, the editors for the daily newspaper The Spokesman-Review and the weekly publication The Inlander seem determined to drum up stray rumors and unsupported accusations against AP English teacher Jennifer Walther, who perhaps was caught TWC (Teaching While Conservative).
In October 2011, Walther's Leadership Class at Ferris High School put on the annual political forum "Face-Off at Ferris." Writers for The Spokesman-Review (SR) and The Inlander have since accused Walther of allowing her political views to sway the Ferris forum in favor of mayoral and school board candidates who are thought to be politically conservative.
The accusers have not been able to support their claim by pointing at actual questions that were asked. Sitting at the Ferris forum last October, I heard people all around me saying, "Those are great questions." What does a conservative question even look like? Are only conservatives concerned about accountability, transparency, outcomes, Otto Zehm's death, water rates, union clout and misspent finances? I know plenty of Democrats and progressives who are concerned about these issues.
The education reform package advanced Tuesday by the state's largest teachers' union would speed up the dismissal process for poor teachers, but would not strengthen the link between job security and how well students do on state tests.
Mary Loftus Levine, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, said student achievement has always factored into teacher evaluations.
"There are multiple indicators. It's not just about test scores," she said, adding true reform would be to streamline the dismissal process for bad teachers and do more to make sure teachers have proper training before and once they get into the classroom.
The CEA package, called A View From the Classroom, contains a number of other suggestions to provide universal preschool and all-day kindergarten and increase state funding for local education expenses.
George Soros's latest multimillion dollar gift to the Central European University Business School underlines the gulf between the Budapest-based private institution and its rivals elsewhere in the region.
"They are unique in the region in having a serious endowment," says the head of a competitor school. "Everybody else has to survive off tuition fees."
Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire investor founded the business school in 1988, a year before the fall of communism in the country. It does not want for resources - all students will receive an iPad this year, for example - but Mel Horwich, who was appointed dean at the beginning of this year, clearly has a mandate to shake things up.
MMSD has now posted the videos from the December 19, 2011 meeting at which the Board of Education voted on the proposed Madison Preparatory Charter School. The first video contains the public appearances statements; the second contains the board comments, vote, etc., through the vote to adjourn.
The versions that are now posted are much improved - the video that was originally posted had issues with sound quality and ended abruptly during board statements. The new videos have terrific sound quality and contain the full meeting. (Thanks to MMSD staff for the work that went into this.)
This article is second in a series of articles regarding media coverage of public education. This article and its predecessor in the series show that Spokesman-Review coverage of the 2011 school-board election in Spokane was biased in favor of a particular candidate and a particular agenda.
On Sept. 28, I filed a Public Disclosure Commission complaint regarding election activity in 2009 and 2011 by Spokane Public Schools administrators, board directors, (new school board director) Deana Brower, and bond and levy advocacy organization Citizens for Spokane Schools (CFSS).
According to Washington State law, articulated in RCW 42.17.130, school district employees and school board directors are prohibited from using public resources to promote - directly or indirectly - elective candidates or ballot propositions such as bonds and levies. This is what RCW 42.17.130 says, in part:
With a unanimous vote Monday, the State Board of Education approved a tougher scoring system for the FCAT, the state's standardized reading and math exam.Related: Excellence in Education explains Florida's reading reforms and compares Florida's NAEP progress with Wisconsin's at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting
The change is meant to raise the academic standards for Florida students. Last year, state officials rolled out the FCAT 2.0, a new version of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. A new scoring system is needed for the new test, state officials have said.
However, many students are expected to score lower under the newly approved grading system, which determines the "cut scores" or the scores that determine failing and passing grades. State officials estimate:
Studies have consistently shown that compared to their white counterparts, minority students are less likely to graduate high school on time or receive any form of higher education, and more likely to drop out of high school.
While some experts point to methods for closing achievement gaps and enhancing the performance of the bottom 5 percent of schools and students by way of legislation and policy, a new report out by the Public Education Network examines the role of the parent.
Whereas just 37 percent of the general public considers schools in their communities -- versus schools in other areas -- as examples of institutions needing reform, about 70 percent of black and Latino parents point to those in their neighborhoods.
The American Chamber of Commerce has warned the chief executive that Hong Kong's status as a world-class city is under threat because the shortage of international school places has reached a "crisis point".1.7MB PDF: Education Policy Framework on Primary School Places for International Assignees
In a paper submitted to Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's government, the business organisation said it wanted a permanent committee to be established to ensure schooling would be available for children of foreign investors and professionals.
"We feel that the situation is hitting a crisis point now," the paper said. "The government urgently needs to work with the private sector to set coherent and long-term, sustainable policies to support Hong Kong's education and talent development."
The chamber, or AmCham, released the paper - sent to the government in August - to the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) last week.
The Mind Trust's plan for transforming Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) would dramatically shrink the central administration, send about $200 million more a year to schools without raising taxes one cent, provide pre-k to all 4-year-olds, give teachers and principals more freedom, hold them accountable for student achievement gains, and provide parents with more quality school choices. It is the boldest school reform plan in the country.Nonprofit's proposal would radically reorganize the Indianapolis Public Schools:
Take five minutes and watch a short video of The Mind Trust's Founder and CEO David Harris outlining highlights from the plan.
An Indianapolis nonprofit has unveiled an ambitious 160-page reform proposal to completely overhaul Indianapolis Public Schools.Report should encourage a serious discussion about district's future
If it came to fruition, the sweeping proposal offered by the Mind Trust would create one of the nation's most radical new organizational approaches to public education.
"If we're going to be serious about doing something transformational, we need an aggressive plan," Mind Trust CEO David Harris said. "Incremental reforms haven't worked here, and they haven't worked in other parts of the country."
The proposal features four key changes:
Here's my Christmas wish:
It's that the new Mind Trust report that calls for a sweeping overhaul of the way Indianapolis Public Schools operates will not turn into another tired battle over turf, pride and special interests. Instead, my hope is that it will lead to a broad and much-needed communitywide discussion about the future of the state's largest, and in some ways most important, school district.
The thorough, sensible and provocative report should spark the same kind of urgent discussion and action that we're seeing over mass transit, and that we've seen for decades over sports stadiums.
Those other issues are important. The education debate is vital.
Nichols said though she disagreed with Silveira's vote, "This is bigger than Madison Prep."
"My motivation comes from listening to a lot of the community dialogue over the last year and hearing the voices of community members who want greater accountability, who want more diversity in the decision-making and just a call for change," Nichols said.
Silveira did not return a call for comment Friday.
Two candidates have announced plans to run for the other School Board seat up for election next spring, which is being vacated by Lucy Mathiak. They are Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive, and Michael Flores, a Madison firefighter, parent and East High graduate.
That is a request from J. and here is one recent story, with much more at the link:A global study of learning standards in 74 countries has ranked India all but at the bottom, sounding a wake-up call for the country's education system. China came out on top.On this question, you can read a short Steve Sailer post, with comments attached. Here are my (contrasting) observations:
1. A big chunk of India is still at the margin where malnutrition and malaria and other negatives matter for IQ. Indian poverty is the most brutal I have seen, anywhere, including my two trips to sub-Saharan Africa or in my five trips to Haiti. I don't know if Pisa is testing those particular individuals, but it still doesn't bode well for the broader distribution, if only through parental effects.
Truly involving parents and communities in our public schools, and the decisions that affect them, is essential to improving our school system.
While parent involvement is crucial to a child's educational success, the reality is that such involvement is not always present for various reasons. However, the larger communities in which a student's school and home are located also play an instrumental role in nurturing educational achievement, as expressed by the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child."
Unfortunately over the past several years, the Department of Education has consistently failed to meaningfully empower and involve these important stakeholders in its decisions about schools. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the Education Department's decisions and proposals regarding closing or phasing out schools, and opening new ones.
It's lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day's fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
But Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don't even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it "nasty, rotty stuff." So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.
"This is our daily lunch," Iraides says. "We're eating more junk food now than last year."
For many students, L.A. Unified's trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.
It's dangerous to be away. I briefly left the country a few weeks ago, and while I was gone, the district superintendent announced her retirement and The Spokesman-Review (SR) launched what I see as a media "lynching" of a local high school teacher.
Did you read about the attack on Jennifer Walther, an Advanced Placement English teacher (news.google.com search) at Ferris High School in Spokane, WA? Are you shocked by the newspaper's biased coverage? I'm not shocked. Nowadays, the SR doesn't bear much resemblance to the newspapers I've enjoyed reading. Smaller, thinner and nastier, it contains less content, less local news and more ads. Often biased, incomplete or hypocritical, the paper tolerates questionable material that fits an editorial agenda.
I'm an avid newspaper reader, but I canceled the SR in 2008 when it kept quoting unsubstantiated rumors from the ex-boyfriend of the daughter of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Things have not improved since then.
Now, the SR is using its bully pulpit to accuse Walther of doing something the SR appears to do nearly every day of the week - pursue a biased political agenda. Evidence suggests that, rather than stand up for this teacher, the school district and teachers union initiated or are assisting with the pile-on.
A cascade of statistics from the 2010 Census and other Census Bureau sources released during 2011 show a nation in flux--growing and moving more slowly as it ages, infused by racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants in its younger ranks, and struggling economically across a decade bookended by two recessions. The nation's largest metropolitan areas, and especially their suburbs, stood on the front lines of America's evolving demographic transformation. Following is a slideshow of the five most important findings to emerge from our State of Metropolitan America analyses over the past year. Additional insight from co-author William H. Frey is available in a related video and at time.com.
As discussed in prior posts, high-quality analyses of charter school effects show that there is wide variation in the test-based effects of these schools but that, overall, charter students do no better than their comparable regular public school counterparts. The existing evidence, though very tentative, suggests that the few schools achieving large gains tend to be well-funded, offer massive amounts of additional time, provide extensive tutoring services and maintain strict, often high-stakes discipline policies.
There will always be a few high-flying chains dispersed throughout the nation that get results, and we should learn from them. But there's also the issue of whether a bunch of charters schools with different operators using diverse approaches can expand within a single location and produce consistent results.
Charter supporters typically argue that state and local policies can be leveraged to "close the bad charters and replicate the good ones." Opponents, on the other hand, contend that successful charters can't expand beyond a certain point because they rely on selection bias of the best students into these schools (so-called "cream skimming"), as well as the exclusion of high-needs students.
Wealthy donors have created a fund to pay the salary of a new Bridgeport school superintendent, ushering in hopes of a new era of private money for reform efforts in Connecticut's most troubled school system.
City and school officials said the fund would be administered by the Fairfield County Community Foundation, a $150 million organization where Democratic Rep. Jim Himes and former Bridgeport mayoral hopeful Mary-Jane Foster serve as board members.
Samuel Abrams, a visiting scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University, and national expert on why schools in Finland are so successful, visited Anchorage and Bethel area schools last month, ate the lunches and sat in on classes.
Some things impressed him, and others illustrated problems that schools face across the U.S., he said.
Abrams was here to participate in a conference on how to improve Anchorage schools that was sponsored by Mayor Dan Sullivan.
Before and after the November conference, Abrams went to King Career Center and William Tyson Elementary in Anchorage for half-day each, and spent full days at Denali Montessori, Begich Middle and East High in Anchorage. He also observed classes at a school-within-a-school run by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council at Bartlett High.
The phone call came late one afternoon last March. Rachel Krinsky -- then the executive director for the Road Home, a nonprofit agency serving homeless families in Dane County -- was preparing to meet with the board of directors, which had recently voted to end a three-year campaign to raise money to build apartments for homeless families.Burke announced recently that she plans to run for one of two Madison School Board seats on the April, 2012 ballot.
Having fallen $900,000 short of its fundraising goal, the board decided to build seven apartment units instead of the 15 it had sought, meaning eight families would remain on the street. "We had been fundraising for a long time and were out of ideas," Krinsky recalls. "Everyone was tapped out."
On the phone was Mary Burke, a wealthy 52-year-old philanthropist and former business executive, calling with unexpected news: She wanted to give the $450,000 needed to build those eight additional units. (The remaining $450,000 was an endowment goal.)
Krinsky's jaw dropped.
"I was just stunned," she says. "Mary wasn't even in our database."
The data presented in this combined report―Rankings & Estimates―provide facts about the extent to which local, state, and national governments commit resources to public education. As one might expect in a nation as diverse as the United States--with respect to economics, geography, and politics--the level of commitment to education varies on a state-by-state basis. Regardless of these variations, improvements in public education can be measured by summary statistics. Thus, NEA Research offers this report to its state and local affiliates as well as to researchers, policymakers, and the public as a tool to examine public education programs and services.Wisconsin ranks 21st in average teacher salaries (page 35), 10th in property tax revenue as a percentage of total tax revenue (page 52), 16th in per capita state individual income tax revenue (page 53) and 15th in public school revenue per student.
Part I of this combined report--Rankings 2010--provides state-level data on an array of topics relevant to the com- plex enterprise of public education. Since the 1960s, Rankings has presented facts and figures useful in determining how states differ from one another--or from national averages--on selected statistics. In addition to identifying emerging trends in key economic, political, and social areas, the state-by-state figures on government financing, state demographics, and public schools permit a statistical assessment of the scope of public education. Of course, no set of tables tells the entire story of a state's education offerings. Consideration of factors such as a state's tax system, pro- visions for other public services, and population characteristics also are needed. Therefore, it is unwise to draw con- clusions based solely on individual statistics in this report. Readers are urged to supplement the ranked data with specific information about state and local service activities related to public education.
Part II of this combined report--Estimates 2011--is in its 67th year of production. This report provides projections of public school enrollment, employment and compensation of personnel, and finances, as reported by individual state departments of education. Not surprisingly, interest in the improvement and renewal of public education continues to capture the attention of the nation. The state-level data featured in Estimates permit broad assessments of trends in staff salaries, sources of school funding, and levels of educational expenditures. The data should be used with the un- derstanding that the reported statewide totals and averages may not reflect the varying conditions that exist among school districts and schools within the state.
Public education in the United States is a joint enterprise between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, progress in improving public education stems primarily from the efforts of state education agencies, local districts, and indi- vidual schools. These public organizations deserve credit for recognizing that spending for education needs to be ac- knowledged as an investment in our nation's most valuable resource--children. Similarly, this publication represents a collective effort that goes well beyond the staff of the National Education Association. Individual state departments of education and the NEA's state affiliates participate in collecting and assembling the data shown here. As a result, the NEA appreciates and acknowledges the cooperation it receives from all those whose efforts make this publication possible.
The American Federation of Teachers, vilified by critics as an obstacle to school reform, is leading an unusual effort to turn around a floundering school system in a place where deprivation is layered on heartache.
The AFT, which typically represents teachers in urban settings, wants to improve education deep in the heart of Appalachia by simultaneously tackling the social and economic troubles of McDowell County.
The union has gathered about 40 partners, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cisco Systems, IBM, Save the Children, foundations, utility companies, housing specialists, community colleges, and state and federal governments, which have committed to a five-year plan to try to lift McDowell out of its depths.
The McDowell Initiative, to be announced Friday, comes in the middle of a national debate about what causes failing schools in impoverished communities: the educators or the environment?
On Monday morning, the start of the school week, five teenagers rowed toward the breakwater leading into San Francisco Bay.
"It's so foggy you can't even see the Golden Gate Bridge," said Austin, a 17-year-old student at Downtown High School in Potrero Hill, as he worked the oars. When the students passed an old sailboat, their instructor, Jeff Rogers, told them it was built 120 years ago in Hunters Point.
"Hey," Austin said. "My 'hood."
If not for the boating expedition, Austin might have still been home, in bed, instead of in school. But on that day his classroom happened to be a sailboat. Before coming to Downtown, he was a chronic truant in the San Francisco school system, one of the thousands of students at risk of dropping out. Now he attends school about 80 percent of the time.
A year after Luiz Munoz-Rivera School shut its doors as the public school system dealt with a budget shortfall, the district has opted to reopen it for nearly the same reason.
Rebranded as the Rivera Learning Community, the school has become the flagship for the district's efforts to invest in in-house special education programs rather than send students to expensive out-of-district institutions.
The rising cost of out-of-district placement for special education students has dogged the district for years and drawn heavy criticism from the state Department of Education.
Pierre "Nic" Antoine, principal of two Catholic schools in Racine formed by school mergers, understands the pain families feel when their schools are closed.
But with the expansion of private-school vouchers to Racine, Antoine believes Catholic education has been reinvigorated this year. Enrollment is stable at Our Lady of Grace Academy, which added 30 voucher students this year, and up by about 20% at John Paul II Academy, which added 40 voucher students.
"We went from being 70% full in 2010-'11 to being 95% full this year," Antoine said of John Paul II Academy.
The boost in student enrollment is part of a larger trend in the Milwaukee Archdiocese this year - enrollment is up for the first time in 13 years, driven by voucher student enrollment that increased from 7,502 students last year to 8,831 students this year.
Nationwide and in Milwaukee, Catholic school enrollment has decreased over the years. After the recession caused families to tighten their budgets, some private schools' enrollment figures dropped even further, prompting mergers and closures.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, second biggest in the United States with some 700,000 students, located in the center of the most segregated area in the country for Latino students, is a place where students of color are very often denied any opportunity to do any meaningful preparation for college and are often attending dropout factory high schools. In this system, where mandatory desegregation was abandoned in 1981, there's one small place where's there some racial and economic diversity and special programs offered for students who choose to participate in them.
More than 170 magnet school programs exist in the Los Angeles Unified School District. They have been funded with billions of dollars of state money for desegregation assistance. The strong magnets are one of the last vestiges of middle class education that exist in the City of Los Angeles and one of the few places where students from really disadvantaged backgrounds can come to classes with students from more advantaged backgrounds, in schools where the teachers want to participate in those schools and where there's a special curriculum offered to draw them there. Not all of these schools are great schools. Some of them are phony magnets, and some of them are wonderful schools. But they are a really important option for the City of Los Angeles. When a student can transfer from a dropout factory school to one where many students go to college, a bus is a great educational investment.
I can't shake the feeling that something important was going on at our School Board meeting last Monday night to consider the Madison Prep charter school proposal, and that the actual School Board vote wasn't it.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The bare-bone facts are that, after about 90 public speakers, the Board voted 2-5 to reject the Madison Prep proposal. I reluctantly voted against the motion because I was unwilling to violate the terms of our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.
After the motion failed, I moved that the Board approve Madison Prep, but delay its opening until the fall of 2013. My motion failed for lack of a second. (And no, I don't have an explanation for why neither James Howard nor Lucy Mathiak, who voted in favor of the first motion, was willing to second my motion.)
Probably like most who attended Monday night's meeting, I have thought a lot about it since. People who know I voted against the proposal have come up to me and congratulated me for what they say was the right decision. I have felt like shaking them and saying, "No, you don't understand. We blew it Monday night, we blew it big time. I just hope that we only crippled Madison Prep and didn't kill it."
I appreciate that that's an odd and surprising place for me to have ended up. To echo the Talking Heads, "Well, how did I get here?" I'll try to explain.
At Dugsi Academy, a public school in St. Paul, Minnesota, girls wearing traditional Muslim headscarves and flowing ankle-length skirts study Arabic and Somali. The charter school educates "East African children in the Twin Cities," its website says. Every student is black.
At Twin Cities German Immersion School, another St. Paul charter, children gather under a map of "Deutschland," study with interns from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and learn to dance the waltz. Ninety percent of its students are white.
Six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down "separate but equal" schools for blacks and whites, segregation is growing because of charter schools, privately run public schools that educate 1.8 million U.S. children. While charter-school leaders say programs targeting ethnic groups enrich education, they are isolating low-achievers and damaging diversity, said Myron Orfield, a lawyer and demographer.
The most straightforward, clear and dispassionate vote taken on the Madison Preparatory Academy charter school proposal at last Monday's Madison Metropolitan School District Board meeting didn't even count. It was the advisory vote cast by the student representative, Philippo Bulgarelli.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The School Board turned down the controversial proposal on a 5-2 vote, and after nearly five hours of public testimony, all the school board members gave speeches explaining how they arrived at their decisions. In addition to being the most succinct, Bulgarelli's statement penetrated all of the intense emotions and wildly divergent interpretations of data and personal anecdotes used to argue both for and against the proposal. Bulgarelli said that the students for whom he speaks did not have enough information to make a reasonably good decision, so he voted to abstain.
A headline-generating study, published in the journal Pediatrics this week, suggests that approximately one in three Americans is arrested before age 23. That's up from about one in five in 1965, the last time a similar study was conducted. The study used data from surveys given to the 7,335 people who enrolled in the federal government's National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1996.
This study, a recent joint initiative between the Departments of Justice and Education and a spate of anecdotal stories in the news all suggest a surge in the arrests of minors, and particularly in arrests that originate in schools. But the federal government is both fighting the "school-to-prison" pipeline while continuing to fund the same programs that critics say are causing it. Moreover, because the government hasn't been collecting data on school-based arrests, and the little available data shows overall arrests of juveniles are down, it's difficult to determine if a problem exists, much less whether federal initiatives are solving it -- or contributing to it.
Students in Democracy Prep High School's Korean classes typically learn words that boost their vocabulary and develop basic grammar -- standard fare for introductory foreign language instruction. But this week the lessons took a turn for the geopolitical.
Youngjae Hur greeted his students yesterday with an unusual pop quiz in English and asked them to define words such as "despotism," "denuclearize," and "repressive."
For Hur, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's abrupt death over the weekend offered the school a unique opportunity to infuse what students learn about the South Korean language and culture every day with the politics that have shaped life on the Korean Peninsula for decades.
"It's important to let them know not just the skills to understand the language, but also the culture, the history, the politics," said Hur, a first-year teacher who moved to the United States from South Korea three years ago. "Especially at this special moment."
Kaleem Caire, via email
For Immediate Release: December 21, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Contact: Laura DeRoche-Perez
Director of School Development
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 S. Park St., Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
Madison, WI - This morning, the Board of Directors of Madison Preparatory Academy unanimously decided to pursue a set of actions that will assist with eliminating the racial achievement gap in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). These actions are consistent with the objectives of the Urban League of Greater Madison.
Specifically, Madison Prep's Board has committed to partnering with the Urban League of Greater Madison to:
Work with the Madison Metropolitan School District to ensure MMSD has a bold and effective plan for eliminating the racial achievement gap that embraces innovation, best practices and community engagement as core strategies.
Evaluate legal options that will ensure MMSD affirmatively and immediately addresses the racial achievement gap.
Establish Madison Preparatory Academy as an independent school within the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District in August 2012 as a model of whole school reform and a necessary education option for disadvantaged children and families.
David Cagigal, Chair of Madison Prep's Board, shared that "Madison Prep is a necessary strategy to show how our community can eliminate the achievement gap and prepare our most vulnerable students for college. MMSD's rejection of our proposal does not change this fact."
Cagigal further stated that, "We look forward to engaging the Greater Madison community in addressing the racial achievement gap in Madison's public schools and supporting the establishment of Madison Prep next fall."
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at Lderoche@ulgm.org or 608-729-1230.
This email was sent to email@example.com by firstname.lastname@example.org |
Urban League of Greater Madison | 2222 S. Park Street | Suite 200 | Madison | WI | 53713
Supporters of a controversial charter school proposal geared toward low-income, minority students said Tuesday they will continue to fight to establish it next fall -- including possibly as a private school.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Their comments came Tuesday after the Madison School Board voted 5-2 early that day to reject a proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy, which would offer single-sex classrooms and a college preparatory curriculum.
The board didn't vote on an alternate proposal to approve the school but delay its opening until 2013.
David Cagigal, president of the Madison Prep board, said a private school would be expensive because the school's target low-income population wouldn't be able to afford tuition. Instead, the board would ask private donors to replace the roughly $9,300 per pupil it had sought from the School District.
"Maybe money is not the issue if we want to go ahead and prove our point," Cagigal said. "I can assure you we will persist with this idea of closing the achievement gap."
The proposed Madison Prep Charter School was voted down by the Madison school board on Monday. A bold proposal to address the achievement gap in Madison, Madison Prep supporters have a very good point- the status quo is not working for minority students.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
There wasn't any magic to the Madison Prep proposal: longer school year, extended school days, smaller class ratios, additional support services, we know these things work, and taken together these things would likely make a significant impact on student achievement. But all these things cost significant amounts of money which is ultimately the problem. What distribution of resources is the most effective and fair?
The donor whose $350 million gift will be critical in building Cornell University's new high-tech graduate school on Roosevelt Island is Atlantic Philanthropies, whose founder, Charles F. Feeney, is a Cornell alumnus who made billions of dollars through the Duty Free Shoppers Group.
Mr. Feeney, 80, has spent much of the last three decades giving away his fortune, with large gifts to universities all over the world and an unusual degree of anonymity. Cornell officials revealed in 2007 that he had given some $600 million to the university over the years, yet nothing on its Ithaca campus -- where he graduated from the School of Hotel Management in 1956 -- bears Mr. Feeney's name.
The $350 million gift, the largest in the university's history, was announced on Friday, but the donor was not named. Officials at Atlantic Philanthropies confirmed on Monday evening that it was Mr. Feeney, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who is known for his frugality -- he flies coach, owns neither a home nor a car, and wears a $15 watch -- as well as his philanthropic generosity, particularly to medical research.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Dear Madison Prep,Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
First, thank you to all of you who have supported the Madison Prep effort to this point. Your volunteer hours, work on Design Teams, attendance at meetings, letters to the district and media, and many other acts of support have not gone unnoticed by the Urban League and Madison Prep.
In earlier morning hours today, the MMSD Board of Education voted 5-2 AGAINST Madison Prep. This outcome came after hours of testimony by members of the public, with Madison Prep supporters outnumbering opponents 2:1. Lucy Mathiak and James Howard voted YES for Madison Prep; Ed Hughes, Arlene Silviera, Beth Moss, Maya Cole, and Marj Passman voted NO. After the vote was taken, Ed Hughes made an amendment to the motion to establish Madison Prep in 2013 (rather than 2012) in order to avoid what some see as a conflict between Madison Prep and the teachers' union contract. Mr. Hughes' motion was not seconded; therefore there was no vote on establishing Madison Prep one year later.
While the Urban League and Madison Prep are shocked by last night's outcome, both organizations are committed to ensuring that Madison Prep becomes a reality for children in Madison. We will continue to press for change and innovation in the Madison Metropolitan School District and Dane County to ensure that the racial achievement gap is eliminated and that all children receive a high quality education that adequately prepares them for their future.
We will advance a number of next steps:
1.We will pursue different avenues, both public and private, to launch Madison Prep. We are still hopeful for an opening in 2012. There will be much the community will learn from Madison Prep and our children need this option now.
2.We will continue to coordinate community support and action to ensure that the Madison Metropolitan School District is accountable for eliminating the racial achievement gap. We will consider several strategies, such as implementing a Citizen Review Board that will hold the school board and district administration accountable for good governance, planning, implementation, execution, community engagement and student achievement results. We will also consider legal avenues to ensure MMSD understands and responds to the community's sense of urgency to address the sizable and decades-long failure rates of Black and Latino children.
3.We must also address the leadership vacuum in K-12 education in Madison. Because of this, we will ensure that parents, students and community members are informed of their rights and responsibilities, and have a better understanding of promising educational strategies to close the achievement gap. We will also work to ensure that they have opportunities to be fully engaged in planning, working and deciding what's best for the children educated in our public schools.
4.We will continue to work in collaboration with MMSD through our existing partnerships, and hope to grow these partnerships in the future.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to ensure that children in our schools and families in our community have hope, inspiration, support and opportunity to manifest their dreams and make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.
As expected, the Madison Metropolitan School Board voted 5 -2 last night against authorizing the Madison Prep charter school. Only two board members overseeing a school district with an African-American graduation rate below 50% saw fit to support a new approachMuch more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Those voting against the school did offer reasons. Board member Beth Moss told the Wisconsin State Journal she voted no because of concerns about the school's ability to serve students needing more than one year of remedial education. Board member Ed Hughes said he could not support the school until after the Madison teachers union contract expires in 2013.
But no worries, Superintendent Dan Nerad told the Wisconsin State Journal he has a plan:
Q. What were some early management challenges for you?
A. At a school in Massachusetts where I once worked, we managed early on through consensus. Which sounds wonderful, but it was just a very, very difficult way to sort of manage anything, because convincing everybody to do one particular thing, especially if it was hard, was almost impossible.
Q. How big a group was this?
A. There were about 25 teachers and instructors and others. And very quickly I went from being this wonderful person, "Geoff is just so nice, he's just such a great guy," to: "I cannot stand that guy. He just thinks he's in charge and he wants to do things his way." And it was a real eye-opener for me because I was trying to change something that everybody was comfortable with. I don't think we were doing a great job with the kids, and I thought we could perform at a higher level.
The Madison School Board voted early Tuesday morning against a charter school geared toward low-income minority students.Nathan Comp:
Moments later, Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire announced to a crowd of emotional supporters that he planned to file a racial discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department. He also urged the supporters to run for School Board.
"We are going to challenge this school district like they've never been challenged before, I swear to God," Caire said.
The School Board voted against the plan 5-2, as expected, just after midnight. In the hours leading up to the vote, however, hundreds of Madison Preparatory Academy supporters urged them to change their minds.
More than 450 people gathered at Memorial High School for public comments, which lasted more than four hours.
It was the first School Board meeting moved to Memorial since a 2001 debate over the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.
But the night's harshest criticism was leveled not at the proposal but at the board itself, over a perceived lack of leadership "from the superintendent on down."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
"You meet every need of the unions, but keep minority student achievement a low priority," said one parent.
Others suggested the same.
"This vote is not about Madison Prep," said Jan O'Neill, a citizen who came out to speak. "It's about this community, who we are and what we stand for -- and who we stand up for."
Among the issues raised by opponents, the one that seemed to weigh heaviest on the minds of board members was the non-instrumentality issue, which would've allowed Madison Prep to hire non-union staff.
A work preservation clause in the district's collective bargaining agreement with the teacher's union requires the district to hire union staff. Board member Ed Hughes said he wanted to approve Madison Prep, but feared that approving a non-instrumentality school would put the district in breach of its contract with Madison Teachers, Inc.
"It's undeniable that Madison school district hasn't done very well by its African American students," he said. "But I think it's incumbent upon us to honor the contract."
(new charter school being opened in the MASH [Middleton Alternative Senior High School] building. This proposal got started less than a year ago, got a planning grant from DPI in August, and will open in the fall.)Middleton High School Black Students Find A Voice
It's Thursday morning and a group of students are seated around an oblong table in a classroom at Middleton High School.Much more on the Clark Street Community Charter School.
Most of the students are black. A few are white. Together they make up the school's Black Student Union (BSU), which was founded last year thanks in large part to the work of a few dedicated teen-agers. Today they are passing around a small toy, a black and white Holstein cow (the student holding the cow has the floor), and talking candidly about issues of race.
"I don't want us to be a joke," said one student. "I don't see other student organizations treated like a joke, and I want this one taken seriously, too."
Another turns her criticism inward, saying she feels it is important that African-American students not perpetuate negative stereotypes about themselves in the school's corridors.
Yet another suggests holding more public events and charitable activities, prompting one young woman to volunteer to prepare food for a bake sale.
Part 1 here, (the introductory material is copied from there).Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The discussion around the Madison Preparatory Academy (MPA) proposal and the related events and processes has been heated, but not always grounded in reality. Many have said that just having this conversation is a good thing. I don't agree. With myths being so prevalent and prominent, a productive conversation is nearly impossible. Since the vote is scheduled for Monday (12/19), I thought it would be good to take a closer -- fact based, but opinionated -- look at some of the myths. This is part two, although there are plenty of myths left to be examined, I've only gotten one up here. I may post more separately or in an update here on Monday.
Three things to get out of the way first.
One is that the meeting is now scheduled to be held at 6:00 Pm at the Memorial High School Auditorium and that for this meeting the sign up period to speak will be from 5:45 to 6:00 PM (only).
Second, much of the information on Madison Prep can be found on the district web page devoted to the topic. I'm not going do as many hyperlinks to sources as I usually do because much of he material is there already. Time constraints, the fact that people rarely click the links I so carefully include, and, because some of the things I'll be discussing presently are more along the lines of "what people are saying/thinking," rather than official statements, also played a role in this decision. I especially want to emphasize this last point. Some of the myths being examined come straight from "official" statements or sources, some are extensions of "official" things taken up by advocates, and some are self-generated by unaffiliated advocates.
A majority of the Madison School Board won't support opening next fall a controversial, single-sex charter school geared toward low-income minority students.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
But it's unclear whether a compromise proposal to start Madison Preparatory Academy in 2013 will gain enough votes Tuesday night when the board meets.
School Board members Beth Moss and Arlene Silveira were the latest to publicly express their opposition to the current proposal for the school.
Moss said Monday in a letter to the State Journal published on madison.com that she doesn't believe the school will help the neediest students. Silveira confirmed her opposition in an interview.
The seven-member board is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on the proposal.
For the last 17 months, I have followed the commentary and misinformation shared about our organization's proposal to establish Madison Preparatory Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Some who have written and commented about our proposal have been very supportive; others don't think Madison Prep should exist. With less than 24 hours until the Madison School Board votes on the school, we would like to bring the public back to the central reasons why we proposed Madison Prep in August 2010.
First, hundreds of black and Latino children are failing to complete high school each year. In 2009, the Madison School District reported that 59 percent of black and 61 percent of Latino students graduated. In 2010, the percentage of graduates dropped to 48 percent for Black and 56 percent for Latino students. This not only has an adverse impact on our young people, their families and our community, it results in millions in lost revenue to the Madison district every year.
Second, in 2010, just 20 percent of the 387 black and 37 percent of the 191 Latino seniors enrolled in the district completed the ACT college entrance exam. The ACT is required for admission by all public colleges and universities in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, just 7 percent of black and 18 percent of Latino student who completed the ACT were "ready for college." This means that only 5 of 387 black and 13 of 191 Latino students were academically ready for college.
The main principle of the Harlem Children's Zone is simple: When failure is not allowed, success prevails.
"Are your kids graduating high school? No. Are your kids going to college? No. That's not success," Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive officer of the Harlem Children's Zone, asked a Buffalo audience Friday.
Canada, nationally recognized as an advocate for education reform, was the keynote speaker at the first Education Summit presented by the Community Action Organization of Erie County's Education Task Force.
Entitled "Power of Education -- Children First," the summit was held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo. The purpose was to advance the cause of educational reform in the interests of children across Western New York and explore how to create those opportunities. About 300 people attended.
Public employee union leaders Mary Bell and Marty Beil say the collective bargaining restrictions on their members enacted this year have galvanized the state's labor movement and paved the way for victory in potential recall elections in 2012.
But even if Dems are swept into the governor's office and the Senate majority, the union heads say they aren't necessarily seeking a complete return to the way things were before February.
"There has to be some changes ... has to be some tweaking there," said Beil (left), executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union. "But certainly not tweaking in the areas of the unions being able to bargain collectively for wages, hours and working conditions."
Bell, leader of the Wisconsin Education Association Council -- the state's largest teachers union -- added she's simply hoping for a collective bargaining environment that ensures the voice of workers and "whether that is the law we had or the law that we needed even then, I think, is the question."
"But the most important piece of this is that if you're going to make that kind of significant change, you do not do it without a conversation among the people that are affected," Bell told a WisPolitics.com luncheon. "That's what's been so offensive about the last year."
Hawaii's charter school system received a scathing report from the state auditor's office Thursday.
The Charter School Review Panel, which is the agency charged with overseeing charter schools, "has misinterpreted state law and minimized its role in the system's accountability structure," the report states in its summary. It adds that the panel has delegated too much of the monitoring and accountability to the boards of individual schools.
The auditor's two overarching findings were:
The Charter School Review Panel fails to hold charter schools accountable for student performance.
Charter school operations fail to comply with state law and principles of public accountability.
Most of the information in the report was not news to the officials who oversee the 32-school charter school system, or to members of the public following the numerous nepotism, ethics and other scandals at charter schools around the state.
No matter where the votes fall Monday when the Madison School Board decides whether to OK a charter school proposal for the controversial Madison Preparatory Academy, the idea of a buttoned-down, no-nonsense alternative to the city's public schools already has entered the local popular culture. It is not only a beacon of hope in efforts to end a lingering race-based academic achievement gap, but also has become an emblematic stick to nudge underperforming kids into line.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
As high school senior Adaeze Okoli tells it, when her little brother isn't working up to his potential, her mom jokingly threatens to send him to Madison Prep.
That anecdote says a lot about how distinct a presence the proposed school already has become in local communities of color. It makes me wonder how kids would feel about attending a school that is boys-only or girls-only and requires uniforms, longer school days, a longer school year and greater parental involvement.
Put the kids first for a change, Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire, the architect and unflagging advocate of the school plan, chided school district administrators after they declared that his proposal would violate the district's union contract with its teachers and provide inadequate accountability to the School Board. But for all the analysis and debate about the Madison Prep plan, I haven't heard much from young people about how they would like to go to such a school, and how they think the strict rules would influence learning.
To sound out some students, I turned to the Simpson St
Superintendent Dan Nerad acknowledged last week that existing Madison School District programs aimed at boosting minority achievement "are not having the impact we need for our kids."
"The data is telling us we need to do different things," Nerad added.
And the Urban League of Greater Madison's proposal for an unusual public charter school catering to low-income blacks and Latinos "has elevated the conversation, and I appreciate that," the superintendent said.
"I'm not raising any concerns about the programming side of it," he told the State Journal editorial board.
It sounded like a windup to endorsing the Madison Preparatory Academy, which faces a final vote by the Madison School Board on Monday night.
Instead, Nerad is recommending the School Board reject the academy, primarily because of complicated contract language.
That shouldn't happen.
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors met on December 15, 2011, and adopted the following resolution:Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Motion: The Board of Directors encourages a comprehensive approach to eliminate the student achievement gap currently present in Madison schools.
The Board strongly endorses the advancement of the Urban League of Greater Madison's proposed Madison Preparatory Academy. The Board also acknowledges and endorses the continued investment in successful strategies already employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District and the United Way of Dane County.
The Chamber Board recognizes that there is no panacea or singular solution to eliminating the student racial achievement gap. Rather, a comprehensive approach should be employed utilizing multiple strategies to address this problem.
The Chamber Board acknowledges the work of community and school leaders who have worked tirelessly on this issue. In particular, the United Way of Dane County has demonstrated tremendous leadership to ensure all struggling students achieve better results. The GMCC is a partner in Schools of Hope, a collaborative community initiative aimed at reducing the achievement gap. In addition, the United Way is committing more than $2 million over the next year for programs to address this issue.
The Madison School Board Monday night needs to work out the necessary details to make the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy a reality.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
There's absolutely no question that our school system, long deemed to be one of the best in the country for a vast majority of its students, is failing its African-American students and, as board member Ed Hughes recently pointed out, we need to accept that fact and be willing to give the Urban League an opportunity to show us a better way.
Still, it needs to be done carefully and not by yielding to heated tempers and ill-informed finger-pointers. This, after all, is not about conservatives vs. liberals, as some would gleefully proclaim, or even union supporters against those who believe unions lurk behind every failure in American education. It's about honest philosophical differences among well-meaning people on how best to educate our children during troubling economic times.
Yet, more importantly, despite the enormous hurdles, it has got to be about the kids and finding a way for them to succeed.
Though there are difficult issues to overcome, there's no need for the board and the Madison Prep advocates to draw lines in the sand. There surely is a middle ground that can honor the union contract, maintain a level of accountability at an acceptable cost to the taxpayers, and give the final OK to open the school.
One of the last remaining opportunities for a locally-elected government body to stop the increasing spread of the entitlement society and the dumbing down of education will occur Monday when the Madison School Board, together with their highly paid educational professionals, will determine the fate of Madison Prep Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Based on news reports, the local teachers union and its always pushy head, John Matthews, oppose the venture. Why? Because the proposal advocates flexibility by hiring non-union teachers at a cost savings of millions!
To Matthews and MTI, your argument that "it's all about the kids" rings hollow and empty again.
Even though I am not a member of a minority and I dislike paying more real estate taxes for unnecessary projects, this non-union driven proposal by Kaleem Caire deserves approval for the future benefit of Madison's kids and residents.
It's ironic that John Matthews, executive director for Madison Teachers Inc., writes in a State Journal guest column that Madison Prep charter school could be implemented only if it was more like Nuestro Mundo.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
In 2004, when Nuestro Mundo applied, Matthews didn't support the formation of a charter school. He opposed the charter despite the fact that Nuestro Mundo wanted teachers to remain in the collective bargaining agreement as members of MTI.
If the Madison School Board had listened to Matthews back in 2004, there would not be a Nuestro Mundo charter school.
Nuestro Mundo came into existence through the work of members of the community and the efforts of three Madison School District board members, Ruth Robarts, Ray Allen and Juan Jose Lopez. In spite of the many legal and economic questions, they found a way to make Nuestro Mundo a reality.
Matthews has not assisted in the formation of charter schools. Don't look to him for a balanced opinion -- he's anti-charter.
-- Peter Joyce, Madison
Yesterday, the California Charter Schools Association caused a stir. The pro-charter group came out with a list of 10 independently-run schools it deemed underperforming -- and encouraged their respective school districts to close them when their 5-year contracts expire!
That list included West County Community High in Richmond, as my colleague Hannah Dreier reported in today's paper. Leadership High in San Francisco was also on it.
The complete list included 31 schools, but the association only published the names of those that are nearing the end of their 5-year terms and seeking a charter renewal.
Here's the reasoning behind the mov, from the news release:
The Madison Metropolitan School District has a problem educating minority pupils. Less than 50 percent of African-Americans graduate in four years and only 31 percent even take the ACT, an important prerequisite for admittance to four-year colleges. Yet the Madison School Board appears poised to vote down Kaleem Caire's promising proposal to educate the very demographic the district has proved incapable of reaching.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Caire's proposed school, Madison Prep, has several attributes that differentiate it from traditional MMSD schools. Among other things the school would have an extended school day and offer an International Baccalaureate program. Both features have proven track records in schools in Milwaukee.
Much has been made of the fact that there is no guarantee that Madison Prep would be successful. Well no, but the strength of the charter model is that, if the school is unsuccessful, the MMSD board is empowered to terminate its contract. Given the achievement levels of Madison's minority students, any hesitation of the board to try the innovative model is inexplicable.
Worse yet, the reasons for rejecting Madison Prep are divorced from education. The proposed school is a non-instrumentality charter, meaning the School Board authorizes the school but the school is not required to use MMSD employees, including union teachers. Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews finds this problematic, telling The Capital Times that the Madison Prep proposal could "easily be implemented" if it was an instrumentality school employing union teachers. Perhaps it would be easier, but it would also take away from Caire's goal of raising minority student achievement. There are key advantages to the non-instrumentality structure, most notably the ability to assemble and compensate a staff free from the pay schedule and work rules contained in the MTI contract.
I want to support the Urban League's Madison Prep charter school proposal. It is undeniable that the Madison School District has not done well by its African-American students. We need to accept that fact and be willing to step back and give our friends at the Urban League an opportunity to show us a better way.One wonders what additional hurdles will appear between now and 2013, should the District follow Ed's proposal. Kaleem Caire:
The issue is far more complicated than this, however. There are a number of roadblocks on the path to saying yes. I discuss these issues below. Some are more of an obstacle than others.
The biggest challenge is that a vote in favor of Madison Prep as it is currently proposed amounts to a vote to violate our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. I see no way around this. I believe in honoring the terms of our contracts with our employees. For me, this means that I have to condition my support for Madison Prep on a one-year delay in its opening.
Most other obstacles and risks can be addressed by including reasonable provisions in the charter school contract between the school district and Urban League.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison's public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it's not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.Monday's vote will certainly reflect the District's priorities.
Some days, it has felt like we're desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who've been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children's education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
The Madison Metropolitan School District's Board of Education vote on the proposed charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, is just around the corner.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
We have heard from school board members, business leaders, teachers and other members of the community. It's safe to say that this is one of the most important issues in this city's history. While I am happy that Madison is finally having the long overdue conversation about how we educate our students who are falling through the cracks, I am not happy that the Urban League of Greater Madison and the school district couldn't come together to agree on a solution. In fact, it bothers me greatly.
It is a huge mistake to have this yearlong discussion come down to a contentious school board vote on Dec. 19. Both sides needed to come together to figure out a way to make Madison Prep a reality before that meeting.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad and various members of the school board say approving Madison Prep would violate the current contract with Madison Teachers, Inc. So, if 2012 isn't feasible, committing to a date to open Madison Prep's doors in 2013, and using the next three to six months to figure out the terms of that agreement should have been an option. But, unfortunately, that's not going to happen. Instead we have a school district and a civil rights organization arguing over ways to address the achievement gap and graduation rates. Not a good look. And the future relationship between the MMSD and the African American community could hang in the balance.
Don Severson, via a kind email:
(Madison, WI) The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will make a decision at its regular meeting December 19th regarding the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) proposal for a non-instrumentality charter school. Active Citizens for Education (ACE) has discussed several issues related to the proposal with the Board of Education, administration and with ULGM.
The Board of Education, in its deliberations, must weigh several implications and consequences for the schools, students, parents and the taxpaying public.
In its public statement, ACE will announce its position on the
financial implications of the proposal for future MMSD budgets and the taxpayers; how the issues of "control" and "accountability" relate to the authority of the Board of Education regarding approval or non-approval of the charter school proposal; and Madison Preparatory Academy over-all proposal.
The media conference will be held
December 15, 2011 (Thursday)
12:30 PM, Conference Room
Genesis Enterprise Center (GEC)
313 West Beltline Highway (off Rimrock Road to the west)
Mr. Severson will be available for questions and comments following the media conference.
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said Wednesday he will unveil next month a new plan for improving the achievement of low-income minority students.Superintendent Nerad's former District; Green Bay offers three "magnet options":
The plan will summarize the district's current efforts as well as put forth new approaches, such as a longer school year and opening magnet schools, Nerad said.
Nerad discussed the plan in a meeting with the State Journal editorial board less than a week before the School Board is to vote on Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed charter school geared toward low-income, minority students.
Nerad said he opposes the current proposal for Madison Prep primarily because it would violate the district's contract with its teachers union, but that he agrees with the charter school's supporters in that a new approach to close the achievement gap is necessary.
"I made a purposeful decision to not bring (a plan) forward over the past several months to not cloud the discussion about Madison Prep," Nerad said. "It's caused us to take a step back and say, 'We're doing a lot of things, but what else do we need to be doing?'"
Here's a quote from an on-line comment of a Madison Prep opponent responding to one of the several op-ed pieces posted in the Cap Times in recent days: "There are barriers to students with special education needs, barriers to students with behavioral needs, and barriers to kids who rely on public transportation. These children are simply not the 'right fit'. It is Madison Prep's proposal to leave these kids in their neighborhood schools."Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The notion seems to be that Madison Prep may not be welcoming for students from all points along the spectrum of educational needs, even though our neighborhood schools are obligated to serve everyone.
I think the self-selection process for Madison Prep should be taken into account in assessing how its students perform. But it does not trouble me that the school is not designed to meet the needs of all our students. No one need apply to attend and no student will be denied current services or programs if Madison Prep is authorized.
Appearances suggest Madisonians would be sympathetic to Madison Preparatory Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Here is a citizenry known for its progressivism, inclusiveness and embrace of the disenfranchised.
And here is a five-year educational experiment aimed at helping students of darker skin and lesser means who are sometimes only a couple of years removed from failing schools in Chicago and Milwaukee.
I guess appearances can be deceiving.
On Monday, the Madison School Board is likely to go along with district administrators' recommendation to vote down a five-year charter for Madison Prep, a project of the Urban League of Greater Madison that would aim to improve the performance and life prospects of students the district has so far failed to reach.
I suspect Madison Prep's future wouldn't be so dire if over the last year Madison's supposedly liberal power structure had been willing to take up its cause.
My decision to vote against the Madison Prep proposal is very difficult. I pushed for the planning grant over a year ago when only one other School Board member would sponsor the proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
I raised many questions because of the complex scope of the Urban League's proposal for a charter school that aims to reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students. My concerns come down to this: Will this proposal be the best investment for the most students? Is this college-prep program the area of focus that would best serve the many struggling students in our district?
The fundamental conclusion I came to over the course of a year is that this proposal would put the district at risk legally and would challenge our district philosophy pertaining to special education students. Perhaps more importantly, the proposal constructs undue barriers such as mandatory information meetings, fundraising and parent contracts. These admission policies would have the effect of excluding students based on language background, prior academic performance, or parental self-selection.
My decision has nothing to do with defending the status quo or protecting the union. However, as a School Board member, parent and neighbor to many children in our district, I believe we have some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable staff in education today.
Last week, I posted an item that asked readers for their suggestions on how to reform Michigan schools. It drew a good number of comments, and I'll be posting some of them later this week.
But today I'm offering offering more food for thought, in the form of a memo written by my good friend Tim Bartik, an economist for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and a former school board president for Kalamazoo Public Schools. Through his work as an economist and as a school board member, Bartik is one of the best-informed people around on best-practices in education and here's what he has to say:
The Urban League's proposal to create a Madison Preparatory charter school is, at its heart, a proposal about public education in our community. Although the discussions often boil down to overly simplistic assertions about whether one position or the other is supportive of or hostile toward public education, it is not that simple. What we are facing is a larger and more fundamental question about our values when it comes to the purpose of public education and who it is supposed to serve.Also posted at the Capital Times.
I am voting "yes" because I believe that strong public education for all is the foundation for a strong society. While our schools do a very good job with many students who are white and/or living above the poverty line, the same cannot be said for students of color and/or students living in poverty. The record is most dismal for African American students.
The Madison Prep proposal is born of over 40 years of advocacy for schools that engage and hold high academic expectations for African American and other students of color. That advocacy has produced minor changes in rhetoric without changes in culture, practice, or outcome. Yes, some African American students are succeeding. But for the overwhelming majority, there are two Madison public school systems. The one where the students have a great experience and go on to top colleges, and the one that graduates only 48% of African American males.
The individual stories are heartbreaking, but the numbers underscore that individual cases add up to data that is not in keeping with our self-image as a cutting edge modern community. We ALL play a role in the problem, and we ALL must be part creating a sound, systemic, solution to our failure to educate ALL of our public school students. In the meantime, the African American community cannot wait, and the Madison Prep proposal came from that urgent, dire, need.
Our track record with students and families of color is not improving and, in some cases, is going backward rather than forward as we create more plans and PR campaigns designed to dismiss concerns about academic equality as misunderstandings. To be sure, there are excellent principals, teachers, and staff who do make a difference every day; some African American students excel each year. But overall, when presented with opportunities to change and to find the academic potential in each student, the district has failed to act and has been allowed to do so by the complicit silence of board members and the community at large.
A few turning points from the past year alone:
The single most serious issue this year, however, came in May when MMSD administration was informed that we are a District Identified for Improvement (DIFI) due to test scores for African American students along with students from low income families and those with learning disabilities. This puts Madison on an elite list with Madison (Milwaukee?) and Racine. The superintendent mentioned DIFI status in passing to the board, and the WI State Journal reported on the possible sanctions without using the term DIFI.
- The Urban League - not MMSD administration or the board - pointed out the dismal graduation rates for African American students (48% for males)
- Less than 5% of African American students are college ready.
- AVID/TOPs does a terrific job with underrepresented students IF they can get in. AVID/TOPs serves 134 (2.6%) of MMSD's 4,977 African American secondary students.
- The number of African American students entering AVID/TOPs is lower this year after MMSD administration changed the criteria for participation away from the original focus on students of color, low income, and first generation college students.
- Of almost 300 teachers hired in 2011-12, less than 10 are African American. There are fewer African American teachers in MMSD today than there were five years ago.
- Over 50 African Americans applied for custodian positions since January 1, 2011. 1 was hired; close to 30 custodians were hired in that time.
- 4K - which is presented as a means to address the achievement gap - is predominantly attended by students who are not African American or low-income.
- In June, the board approved a Parent Engagement Coordinator to help the district improve its relations with African American families. That position remains unfilled. The district has engagement coordinators working with Hmong and Latino families.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with NCLB, DIFI status is a serious matter because of the ladder of increasing sanctions that come with poor performance. In an ideal world, the district would have articulated the improvement plan required by DPI over the summer for implementation on the first day of school. Such a plan would include clear action steps, goals, and timelines to improve African American achievement. Such a plan does not exist as of mid-December 2011, and in the most recent discussion it was asserted that the improvement plan is "just paper that doesn't mean much." I would argue that, to the African American community, such a plan would mean a great deal if it was sincerely formulated and implemented.
At the same time, we have been able to come up with task forces and reports - with goals and timelines - that are devoted to Talented and Gifted Programing, Direct Language Instruction, Fine Arts Programing, and Mathematics Education to name a few.
Under the circumstances, it is hard to see why the African American community would believe that the outcomes will improve if they are 'just patient' and 'work within the existing public school structures to make things better.' Perhaps more accurately, I cannot look people in the face and ask them to hope that we will do a better job if they just give up on the vision of a school structure that does what the MMSD has failed to do for the African American community since the advocacy began some 40 years ago.
Join us for an evening with one of the country's most notable figures in public education. Labor lawyer, former President of the United Teachers Federation and current President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten discusses the challenging terrain of our public education system.334 amsterdam ave at 76th st, new york, ny 10023 | 646.505.4444
Burke, who made headlines recently for pledging $2.5 million to Madison Preparatory Academy, a controversial charter school proposal, plans to run for the seat being vacated by Lucy Mathiak.
Burke also served as president of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County for nine years and along with the Burke Foundation has donated about $2.6 million to the AVID/TOPS program, which has shown promising results in improving achievement among low-income, minority students.
Burke emphasized closing the district's racial achievement gap as a motivation for her decision to run.
Several others have expressed interest in running for the seat, including Joan Eggert, a Madison schools parent and reading specialist in the McFarland School District, who issued an official announcement last week.
Others who said they are considering a run include parents Jill Jokela and Mark Stokosa. Tom Farley, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 against James Howard, said Monday he is no longer interested in running and Burke's entry in the race makes him confident in that decision.
December 11, 2011Related: Who Runs the Madison Schools?
Mr. Ed Hughes
Board of Education
Madison Metropolitan School District 545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53713
Dear Mr. Hughes:
This letter is intended to respond to your December 4, 2011 blog post regarding the Madison Preparatory Academy initiative. Specifically, this letter is intended to address what you referred as "a fairly half-hearted argument [advanced by the Urban League] that the state statute authorizing school districts to enter into contracts for non-instrumentality charter schools trumps or pre-empts any language in collective bargaining agreements that restricts school districts along these lines." Continuing on, you wrote the following:I say the argument is half-hearted because no authority is cited in support and itjust isn't much ofan argument. School districts aren't required to authorize non-instrumentality charter schools, and so there is no conflict with state statutesfor a school district to, in effect, agree that it would not do so. Without that kind of a direct conflict, there is no basis for arguing that the CBA language is somehow pre-empted.We respectfully disagree with your assessment. The intent of this letter is to provide you with the authority for this position and to more fully explain the nature of our concern regarding a contract provision that appears to be illegal in this situation and in direct conflict with public policy.
As you are aware, the collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") between MMSD and MTI Iprovides "that instructional duties where the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that such be performed by a certificated teacher, shall be performed only by 'teachers."' See Article I, Section B.3.a. In addition, "the term 'teacher' refers to anyone in the collective bargaining unit." See Article I, Section B.2. You have previously suggested that "all teachers in MMSD schools-- including non-instrumentality charter schools- must be members of the MTI bargaining unit." As we indicated in our December 3, 2011 correspondence to you, under a non-instrumentality charter, the school board may not be the employer of the charter school's staff. See§ 118.40(7)(a).
Under Wisconsin's charter school law, the MMSD School Board (the "Board") has the exclusive authority to determine whether a school is an instrumentality or not an instrumentality of the school district. See§ 118.40(7)(a). That decisio n is an important decision reserved to the Board alone. The effect of that decision drives whether teachers and staff must be, or cannot be, employees of the Board. The language of the CBA deprives the Board ofthe decision reserved to it under the statute and that language cannot be harmonized to give effect to both the statute and the CBA. Alternatively, the CBA language creates a situation whereby the Board may exercise its statutory authority to approve a non- instrumentality charter, but it must staff the school with school district employees, a result clearly prohibited under the statute. For reasons that will be explained below, in our view, the law trumps the CBA in either of these situations.
Under Wisconsin law, "[a]labor contract may not violate the law." Glendale Professional Policeman's Ass'n v. City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d 90, 102 (Wis. 1978). City ofGlendale addressed the tension that can arise between bargained for provisions in a collective bargaining agreement and statutory language. In City of Glendale, the City argued that a provision dealing with job promotions was unenforceable because it could not be harmonized with statutory language. Specifically, the agreement in question set forth parameters for promoting employees and stated in part that openings "shall be filled by the applicant with the greatest department seniority..." City of Glendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 94. Wisconsin law provided the following:The chiefs shall appoint subordinates subject to approval by the board. Such appointments shall be made by promotion when this can be done with advantage, otherwise from an eligible list provided by examination and approval by the board and kept on file with the clerk.Wis. Stat.§ 62.13(4)(a).
The City contended that "the contract term governing promotions is void and unenforceable because it is contrary to sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats." City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 98. Ultimately, the court ruled against the City based on the following rationale:Although sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats., requires all subordinates to be appointed by the chief with the approval of the board, it does not, at least expressly, prohibit the chief or the board from exercising the power of promotion of a qualified person according to a set of rules for selecting one among several qualified applicants.The factual scenario in City ofGlendale differs significantly from the present situation. In City of Glendale, the terms of the agreement did not remove the ability of the chief, with the approval of the board, to make promotions. They could still carry out their statutory duties. The agreement language simply set forth parameters that had to be followed when making promotions. Accordingly, the discretion of the chief was limited, but not eliminated. In the present scenario, the discretion of the Board to decide whether a charter school should be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality has been effectively eliminated by the CBA language.
There is nothing in the CBA that explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. This discretion clearly lies with the Board. Pursuant to state law, instrumentality charter schools are staffed by District teachers. However, non-instrumentality charter schools cannot be staffed by District teachers. See Wis. Stat.§ 118.40. Based on your recent comments, you have taken the position that the Board cannot vote for a non-instrumentality charter school because this would conflict with the work preservation clause of the CBA. Specifically, you wrote that "given the CBA complications, I don't see how the school board can authorize a non-instrumentality Madison Prep to open its doors next fall, and I say that as one who has come to be sympathetic to the proposal." While we appreciate your sympathy, what we would like is your support. Additionally, this position creates at least two direct conflicts with the law.
First, under Wisconsin law, "the school board of the school district in which a charter school is located shall determine whether or not the charter school is an instrumentality of the school district." Wis. Stat. § 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added.) The Board is required to make this determination. If the Board is precluded from making this decision on December 19"' based on an agreement previously reached with MTI, the Board will be unable to comply with the law. Effectively, the instrumentality/non- instrumentality decision will have been made by the Board and MTI pursuant to the terms and conditions of the CBA. However, MTI has no authority to make this determination, which creates a direct conflict with the law. Furthermore, the Board will be unable to comply with its statutory obligation due to the CBA. Based on your stated concerns regarding the alleged inability to vote for a non-instrumentality charter school, it appears highly unlikely that the Board ever intentionally ceded this level ofauthority to MTI.
Second, if the Board chose to exercise its statutorily granted authority on December 19th and voted for a non-instrumentality charter school, this would not be a violation of the CBA. Nothing in the CBA explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. At that point, to the extent that MTI chose to challenge that decision, and remember that MTI would have to choose to grieve or litigate this issue, MTI would have to try to attack the law, not the decision made by the Board. Pursuant to the law, "[i] f the school board determines that the charter school is not an instrumentality of the school district, the school board may not employ any personnel for the charter school." Wis. Stat.§ 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added). While it has been suggested that the Board could choose to avoid the legal impasse by voting down the non-instrumentality proposal, doing so would not cure this conflict. This is particularly true if some Board members were to vote against a non-instrumentality option solely based on the CBA. In such a case, the particular Board Member's obligation to make this decision is essentially blocked. Making a decision consistent with an illegal contract provision for the purposes of minimizing the conflict does not make the provision any less illegal. "A labor contract term whereby parties agree to violate the law is void." WERC v. Teamsters Local No. 563, 75 Wis. 2d 602, 612 (Wis. 1977) (citation omitted).
In Wisconsin, "a labor contract term that violates public policy or a statute is void as a matter of law." Board of Education v. WERC, 52 Wis. 2d 625, 635 (Wis. 1971). Wisconsin law demonstrates that there is a public policy that promotes the creation of charter schools. Within that public policy, there is an additional public policy that promotes case-by-case decision making by a school board regarding whether a charter school will be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality. The work preservation clause in the CBA cannot be harmonized with these underlying public policies and should not stop the creation of Madison Preparatory Academy.
The Madison Prep initiative has put between a rock and a hard place. Instrumentality status lost support because of the costs associated with employing members of MTI. Yet, we are being told that non-instrumentality status will be in conflict with the CBA and therefore cannot be approved. As discussed above, the work preservation clause is irreconcilable with Wisconsin law, and would likely be found void by acourt of law.
Accordingly, I call on you, and the rest of the Board to vote for non- instrumentality status on December 19th. In the words of Langston Hughes, "a dream deferred is a dream denied." Too many children in this district have been denied for far too long. On behalf of Madison children, families and the Boards of the Urban League and Madison Prep, I respectfully request your support.
President & CEO
cc: Dan Nerad, Superintendent
Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel
MMSD Board ofEducation Members
ULGMand Madison Prep Board Members and Staff
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
As schools across California bemoan increasing class sizes, the Alliance Technology and Math Science High School has boosted class size -- on purpose -- to an astonishing 48. The students work at computers most of the school day.
Next door in an identical building containing a different school, digital imaging -- in the form of animation, short films and graphics -- is used for class projects in English, math and science.
At a third school on the same Glassell Park campus, long known as Taylor Yards, high-schoolers get hands-on experience with a working solar panel.
These schools and two others coexist at the Sotomayor Learning Academies, which opened this fall under a Los Angeles school district policy called Public School Choice. The 2009 initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, has allowed groups from inside and outside the Los Angeles Unified School District to compete for the right to run dozens of new or low-performing schools.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his push for overhauling the state's public education system, asking a handful of lawmakers and some members of the state's chief school board for their input Friday. Jindal, who has targeted "education reform" as his chief agenda item for his second term, met with several veteran and rookie lawmakers and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members behind closed doors at the Governor's Mansion for 90 minutes to get their thoughts on potential programs and legislation.
"We are open to listening to people's ideas," Jindal told reporters after the meeting. "But we will not tolerate those who defend the status quo and (want to) keep doing what we have been doing and expect different results.
And no matter which way the Dec. 19 vote goes, there's no way to know now whether the school will be entirely effective.Two School Board seats will be on the Spring, 2012 ballot. They are currently occupied by Lucy Mathiak, who is not running again and Arlene Silveira. I suspect the outcome of this vote will drive new candidates, and perhaps, even recalls.
"This is the most difficult decision I will ever make on the School Board," said Marj Passman, who plans to vote against the proposal. "It has the potential for polarizing our community, and that's the last thing I want to happen."
The vote comes more than a year after the charter was proposed and in the wake of a School District report outlining its opposition to Madison Prep. The school would violate the district's contract with its teachers and preclude sufficient oversight of the $17.5 million in district funds the school would receive over five years, the report said.
District opposition likely will lead the board to reject the proposal, said School Board president James Howard.
"I don't see how it can pass," said Howard. He and Lucy Mathiak are the only two board members who said they will vote to approve the school.
Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire, the lead proponent of the charter, acknowledged he doesn't have the votes. But he's engaged in a full-court press to generate public support for the proposal.
"We have a moral obligation to do whatever it takes to support our children and special interest of adults should not come before that," Caire said last week.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
December 10, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison's public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it's not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.
Some days, it has felt like we're desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who've been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children's education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
Our proposal for Madison Prep has certainly touched a nerve in Madison. But why? When we launched our efforts on the steps of West High School on August 29, 2010, we thought Madison and its school officials would heartily embrace Madison Prep.We thought they would see the school as:
(1) a promising solution to the racial achievement gap that has persisted in our city for at least 40 years;
(2) a learning laboratory for teachers and administrators who admittedly need new strategies for addressing the growing rate of underachievement, poverty and parental disengagement in our schools, and
(3) a clear sign to communities of color and the broader Greater Madison community that it was prepared to do whatever it takes to help move children forward - children for whom failure has become too commonplace and tolerated in our capital city.
Initially, the majority of Board of Education members told us they liked the idea and at the time, had no problems with us establishing Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality - and therefore, non-union, public school. At the same time, all of them asked us for help and advice on how to eliminate the achievement gap, more effectively engage parents and stimulate parent involvement, and better serve children and families of color.
Then, over the next several months as the political climate and collective bargaining in the state changed and opponents to charter schools and Madison Prep ramped up their misinformation and personal attack campaign, the focus on Madison Prep got mired in these issues.
The concern of whether or not a single-gender school would be legal under state and federal law was raised. We answered that both with a legal briefing and by modifying our proposal to establish a common girls school now rather than two years from now.
The concern of budget was raised and how much the school would cost the school district. We answered that through a $2.5 million private gift to lower the per pupil request to the district and by modifying our budget proposal to ensure Madison Prep would be as close to cost-neutral as possible. The District Administration first said they would support the school if it didn't cost the District more than $5 million above what it initially said it could spend; Madison Prep will only cost them $2.7 million.
Board of Education members also asked in March 2011 if we would consider establishing Madison Prep as an instrumentality of MMSD, where all of the staff would be employed by the district and be members of the teacher's union. We decided to work towards doing this, so long as Madison Prep could retain autonomy of governance, management and budget. Significant progress was made until the last day of negotiations when MMSD's administration informed us that they would present a counter-budget to ours in their analysis of our proposal that factored in personnel costs for an existing school versus establishing a modest budget more common to new charter schools.
We expressed our disagreement with the administration and requested that they stick with our budget for teacher salaries, which was set using MMSD's teacher salary scale for a teacher with 7 years experience and a masters degree and bench-marked against several successful charter schools. Nevertheless, MMSD argued that they were going to use the average years of experience of teachers in the district, which is 14 years with a master's degree. This drove up the costs significantly, taking teacher salaries from $47,000 to $80,000 per year and benefits from $13,500 to $25,000 per year per teacher. The administration's budget plan therefore made starting Madison Prep as an instrumentality impossible.
To resolve the issue, the Urban League and Board of Madison Prep met in November to consider the options. In doing so, we consulted with every member of MMSD's Board of Education. We also talked with parents, stakeholders and other community members as well. It was then decided that we would pursue Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality of the school district because we simply believe that our children cannot and should not have to wait.
Now, Board of Education members are saying that Madison Prep should be implemented in "a more familiar, Madison Way", as a "private school", and that we should not have autonomy even though state laws and MMSD's own charter school policy expressly allow for non-instrumentality schools to exist. There are presently more than 20 such schools in Wisconsin.
As the mountains keep growing, the goal posts keep moving, and the razor blades and rose bushes are replenished with each step we take, we are forced to ask the question: Why has this effort, which has been more inclusive, transparent and well-planned, been made so complicated? Why have the barriers been erected when our proposal is specifically focused on what Madison needs, a school designed to eliminate the achievement gap, increase parent engagement and prepare young people for college who might not otherwise get there? Why does liberal Madison, which prides itself on racial tolerance and opposition to bigotry, have such a difficult time empowering and including people of color, particularly African Americans?
As the member of a Black family that has been in Madison since 1908, I wonder aloud why there are fewer black-owned businesses in Madison today than there were 25 years ago? There are only two known black-owned businesses with 10 or more employees in Dane County. Two!
Why can I walk into 90 percent of businesses in Madison in 2011 and struggle to find Black professionals, managers and executives or look at the boards of local companies and not see anyone who looks like me?
How should we respond when Board of Education members tell us they can't vote for Madison Prep while knowing that they have no other solutions in place to address the issues our children face? How can they say they have the answers and develop plans for our children without consulting and including us in the process? How can they have 51 black applicants for teaching positions and hire only one, and then claim that they can't find any black people to apply for jobs? How can they say, "We need more conversations" about the education of our children when we've been talking for four decades?
I have to ask the question, as uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, "Would we have to work this hard and endure so much resistance if just 48% of white children in Madison's public schools were graduating, only 1% of white high school seniors were academically ready for college, and nearly 50% of white males between the ages of 25-29 were incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision?
Is this 2011 or 1960? Should the black community, which has been in Madison for more than 100 years, not expect more?
How will the Board of Education's vote on December 19th help our children move forward? How will their decision impact systemic reform and seed strategies that show promise in improving on the following?
Half of Black and Latino children are not completing high school. Just 59% of Black and 61% of Latino students graduated on-time in 2008-09. One year later, in 2009-10, the graduation rate declined to 48% of Black and 56% of Latino students compared to 89% of white students. We are going backwards, not forwards. (Source: MMSD 2010, 2011)
Black and Latino children are not ready for college. According to makers of the ACT college entrance exam, just 20% of Madison's 378 Black seniors and 37% of 191 Latino seniors in MMSD in 2009-10 completed the ACT. Only 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors completing test showed they had the knowledge and skills necessary to be "ready for college". Among all MMSD seniors (those completing and not completing the test), just 1% of Black and 7% of Latino seniors were college ready
Too few Black and Latino graduates are planning to go to college. Of the 159 Latino and 288 Black students that actually graduated and received their diplomas in 2009-10, just 28% of Black and 21% of Latino students planned to attend a four-year college compared to 53% of White students. While another 25% of Black and 33% of graduates planned to attend a two-year college or vocation program (compared to 17% of White students), almost half of all of all Black and Latino graduates had no plans for continuing their education beyond high school compared to 27% of White students. (Source: DPI 2011)
Half of Black males in their formative adult years are a part of the criminal justice system. Dane County has the highest incarceration rate among young Black men in the United States: 47% between the ages of 25-29 are incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision. The incarceration phenomena starts early. In 2009-10, Black youth comprised 62% of all young people held in Wisconsin's correctional system. Of the 437 total inmates held, 89% were between the ages of 15-17. In Dane County, in which Madison is situated, 49% of 549 young people held in detention by the County in 2010 were Black males, 26% were white males, 12% were black females, 6% were white females and 6% were Latino males and the average age of young people detained was 15. Additionally, Black youth comprised 54% of all 888 young people referred to the Juvenile Court System. White students comprised 31% of all referrals and Latino comprised 6%.
More importantly, will the Board of Education demonstrate the type of courage it took our elders and ancestors to challenge and change laws and contracts that enabled Jim Crow, prohibited civil rights, fair employment and Women's right to vote, and made it hard for some groups to escape the permanence of America's underclass? We know this is not an easy vote, and we appreciate their struggle, but there is a difference between what is right and what is politically convenient.
Will the Board have the courage to look in the faces of Black and Latino families in the audience, who have been waiting for solutions for so long, and tell them with their vote that they must wait that much longer?
We hope our Board of Education members recognize and utilize the tremendous power they have to give our children a hand-up. We hope they hear the collective force and harmony of our pleas, engage with our pain and optimism, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the proposal we have put before them, which comes with exceptional input and widespread support, is approved on December 19, 2011.
Madison Prep is a solution we can learn from and will benefit the hundreds of young men and women who will eventually attend.
If not Madison Prep, then what? If not now, then when?
SCHOOL BOARD VOTE ON MADISON PREP
Monday, December 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
Madison Metropolitan School District
Doyle Administration Building Auditorium
545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Contact: Laura DeRoche Perez, Lderoche@ulgm.org
CLICK HERE TO RSVP: TELL US YOU'LL BE THERE
Write the School Board and Tell Them to "Say 'Yes', to Madison Prep!"
Madison Prep 2012!
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
OUR RESPONSE TO MMSD'S NEW CONCERNS
Autonomy: MMSD now says they are concerned that Madison Prep will not be accountable to the public for the education it provides students and the resources it receives. Yet, they don't specify what they mean by "accountability." We would like to know how accountability works in MMSD and how this is producing high achievement among the children it serves. Further, we would like to know why Madison Prep is being treated differently than the 30 early childhood centers that are participating in the district's 4 year old kindergarten program. They all operate similar to non-instrumentality schools, have their own governing boards, operate via a renewable contract, can hire their own teachers "at their discretion" and make their own policy decisions, and have little to no oversight by the MMSD Board of Education. All 30 do not employ union teachers. Accountability in the case of 4K sites is governed by "the contract." MMSD Board members should be aware that, as with their approval of Badger Rock Middle School, the contract is supposed to be developed "after" the concept is approved on December 19. In essence, this conversation is occurring to soon, if we keep with current district practices.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): MMSD and Madison Teachers, Incorporated have rejected our attorney's reading of ACT 65, which could provide a path to approval of Madison Prep without violating the CBA. Also, MTI and MMSD could approve Madison Prep per state law and decide not to pursue litigation, if they so desired. There are still avenues to pursue here and we hope MMSD's Board of Education will consider all of them before making their final decision.
If 2010 was the year of the bombshell in research in the three "major areas" of market-based education reform - charter schools, performance pay, and value-added in evaluations - then 2011 was the year of the slow, sustained march.
Last year, the landmark Race to the Top program was accompanied by a set of extremely consequential research reports, ranging from the policy-related importance of the first experimental study of teacher-level performance pay (the POINT program in Nashville) and the preliminary report of the $45 million Measures of Effective Teaching project, to the political controversy of the Los Angeles Times' release of teachers' scores from their commissioned analysis of Los Angeles testing data.
In 2011, on the other hand, as new schools opened and states and districts went about the hard work of designing and implementing new evaluations compensation systems, the research almost seemed to adapt to the situation. There were few (if any) "milestones," but rather a steady flow of papers and reports focused on the finer-grained details of actual policy.*
Madison Metropolitan School District was provided an award from the Microsoft Cy Pres settlement in the Fall of 2009. Since that time the district has utilized many of these funds to prorate projects across the district in order to free up budgeted funds and to provide for more flexibility. The plan and process for these funds liquidates the General Purpose portion of the Microsoft Cy Pres funds, provides an equitable allocation per pupil to each school, and is aimed at increasing the amount of technology within our schools.I found the device distribution to be quite interesting. The iPad revolution is well underway. Technology's role in schools continues to be a worthwhile discussion topic.
The total allocation remaining from Cy Pres revenues totals $2,755,463.11, which was the target for the technology acquisition plan. Two things happened prior to allocating funds to schools: first was to hold back $442,000 for the future purchase of iPads for our schools (at $479 per iPad this equates to a 923 iPads), and second was to hold back $200,000 necessary for increased server capacity to deal with the increase in different types of technology.
The final step was to allocate the remaining funding ($2,113,463.11) out to the schools on a per pupil basis. This was calculated at $85.09 per pupil across all schools within the district.
John Matthews, Executive Director of Madison Teachers, Inc., via email:
The Urban League proposes that Madison Prep be operated as a non-instrumentality of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Urban League's proposal is unacceptable to Madison Teachers, because it would effectively eliminate supervision and accountability of the school to the Madison School Board regarding the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and because it would also violate long-standing terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Madison Metropolitan School District and MTI.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
The Urban League proposes to use District funds to hire non-District teaching staff at lower salaries and benefits than called for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It was recently stated in a meeting between representatives of Madison Prep, the School District and MTI that the Urban League plans to hire young African-American males and asks that MTI and the District enable them to pay the teachers they hire less than their counterparts, who are employed by the District. MTI cannot agree to enable that. We believe that such is discriminatory, based both on race and gender. The MTI/MMSD Contract calls for teachers to be compensated based upon their educational achievement and their years of service. MTI and MMSD agreed in the early 1970's that the District would not enable such undermining of employment standards. The costing of the Contract salary placement was explained by both Superintendent Nerad and John Matthews. Those explanations were ignored by the Urban League in their budgeting, causing a shortfall in the proposed operational budget, according to Superintendent Nerad.
It is also distasteful to MTI that the Urban League proposes to NOT ADDITIONALLY pay their proposed new hires for working a longer day and a longer school year. Most employees in the United States receive overtime pay when working longer hours. The Urban League proposes NO additional compensation for employees working longer hours, or for the 10 additional school days in their plan.
Finally, the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that MTI and the District could modify the MMSD/MTI Contract without triggering Act 10, Governor Walker's draconian attack on teachers and other public employees. The Contract would be destroyed if MTI and the District agreed to amend it. Such is caused by Walker's Law, Act 10. MTI is not willing to inflict the devastating effects of Act 10 on its members. The Urban League states that Walker's Act 65 would enable the Contract to be amended without the horrible impact cause by Act 10. That claim is unfounded and in error.
The Madison Prep proposal could easily be implemented if it followed the Charter Plan of Wright School, Nuestro Mundo, and Badger Rock School, all of which operate as instrumentalities of the District, under its supervision and the MMSD/MTI Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Madison Preparatory Academy could easily open if it followed the same model as the district's other charter schools, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews said in response to yesterday's Urban League press conference.Related: Some Madison Teachers & Some Community Members (*) on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
But the current proposal is "unacceptable" to Madison teachers because it would "effectively eliminate School Board oversight of the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money" and violate the district's contract with its union, Matthews said.
Matthews initially declined to comment on Madison Prep when I contacted him yesterday, but later responded in an e-mail.
In his response, Matthews criticized Madison Prep's plan to pay its teachers lower salaries and benefits than other district teachers, and not offer overtime for working longer days.
He also said the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that the current union contract can be modified without nullifying it under the state's new collective bargaining law.
Related: student learning has become focused instead on adult employment - Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman.
Supporters of a controversial, single-sex charter school Thursday blasted the Madison School District for its opposition to the proposal and said the teachers union is an impediment to improving student achievement.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
At a news conference, the Urban League of Greater Madison's president, Kaleem Caire, also said the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, which would target low-income, minority students, isn't dead and called on the School Board to put "learning before labor" when it votes Dec. 19 whether to approve the charter.
"Our children aren't there to be subjects of teachers and teachers unions," Caire said. "But the decisions that have been made in the Madison Metropolitan School District for a mighty long time have been determined by adults getting what they need first before kids."
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews declined comment Thursday.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Fails to address core issues impacting racial achievement gap and middle class flightRelated: "They're all rich, white kids and they'll do just fine" -- NOT!.
WHAT: The Urban League of Greater Madison and the founding Board of Madison Preparatory Academy will share their response to the Madison Metropolitan School District Administration's recommendation that the Board of Education not Support Madison Prep, and will call for immediate and wider education reforms within the Madison Metropolitan School District to address the racial achievement gap and middle-class flight and crises.
WHEN: 12:00 pm, Thursday, December 8, 2011
WHERE: Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St., Suite 200, Madison, WI 53713
WHO: Kaleem Caire, Urban League President & CEO Urban League of Greater Madison Board of Directors Madison Preparatory Academy Board of Directors Community Leaders and Parents
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at email@example.com or 608-729-1235.
Madison Teacher's Inc. Twitter feed can be found here.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
* Please see TJ Mertz's comment below. A link to the document was forwarded to me via a kind reader from Madison Teachers, Inc. Twitter Feed (a "retweet" of Karen Vieth's "tweet"). Note that I enjoyed visiting with Karen during several Madison School District strategic planning meetings.
A screenshot of the link:
The outcome of the Madison Prep "question" will surely reverberate for some time.
Finally, I suspect we'll see more teacher unions thinking different, as The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has done: Minneapolis teacher's union approved to authorize charter schools.
Attention Nevada college students: Your tuition is going up again next year.
The Nevada System of Higher Education's Board of Regents on Friday approved an 8 percent tuition increase for undergraduate students statewide.
Regents and institutional leaders said the permanent tuition hike would help restore some of the multimillion-dollar budget cuts to higher education in recent years.
"States are disinvesting in higher education across the country," UNLV President Neal Smatresk said. "That's the direct cause of this...We're stuck between a rock and a hard place."
Chicago Public Schools on Tuesday became the latest large urban district to sign a compact agreement with the education-reform powerhouse Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pledging greater cooperation and collaboration between the city's charter and traditional neighborhood schools.
The agreement allows Chicago to compete for a piece of a $40 million grant from the Gates Foundation, aimed at building relationships between charters and neighborhood schools and allow for the sharing of innovative ideas.
Kaleem Caire has only been back in Madison for less than two years, but he sure has grabbed our attention.
Caire didn't waste any time after coming home from a successful private sector career on the East Coast to be the new president for the Urban League of Greater Madison, starting to shake up the local establishment more or less immediately upon arrival. He has been pushing a bold proposal to attack the long-standing issue of minority underachievement in the Madison public schools. His idea for the Madison Preparatory Academy was vetted well in Nathan Comp's cover story for Isthmus last week.
For well over a year now, Caire has been shuttling between the district administration, Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) union leaders, school board members, parents, editorial boards and community meetings fighting for this idea.
In response to union and district administration concerns, he changed the proposal to make the school an "instrumentality" of the district, meaning it would be under school board control and be staffed by MTI member teachers. But that proposal came in at a cost for the district of $13 million over five years. Superintendent Dan Nerad, for whom I have a lot of respect, told the League that he couldn't support anything over $5 million.
IF you want to see the direction that education reform is taking the country, pay a visit to my leafy, majority-black neighborhood in Washington. While we have lived in the same house since our 11-year-old son was born, he's been assigned to three different elementary schools as one after the other has been shuttered. Now it's time for middle school, and there's been no neighborhood option available.
Meanwhile, across Rock Creek Park in a wealthy, majority-white community, there is a sparkling new neighborhood middle school, with rugby, fencing, an international baccalaureate curriculum and all the other amenities that make people pay top dollar to live there.
Such inequities are the perverse result of a "reform" process intended to bring choice and accountability to the school system. Instead, it has destroyed community-based education for working-class families, even as it has funneled resources toward a few better-off, exclusive, institutions.
The debate over whether the Madison School Board should give the final OK to the Madison Preparatory Academy is getting a bit nasty.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
And that should not be.
While the passion on the part of the advocates for the school, led by the energetic Urban League CEO Kaleem Caire, is perfectly understandable given our schools' dismal record on minority achievement, so is the questioning from those who aren't convinced the prep idea will solve that problem.
Now, on the eve of a vote on that final approval, is not the time to point fingers and make accusations, but to come together and reasonably find ways to overcome the obstacles and reassure those who fret about giving up duly elected officials' oversight of the school and the impact it will have on the entire district's union contracts if not done correctly.
The union problem is not the fault of the union, but stems from Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature's action to dramatically change public employee collective bargaining in Wisconsin. If the union or the School Board makes concessions for Madison Prep, the collective bargaining agreement for the entire district, which is to expire in June 2013, could be negated.
About 12 percent of all charter schools have bargaining agreements. Why do charter schools unionize? What is in these charter school contracts? Can they be considered innovative or models for union reform? And how do they compare to traditional district/union teacher contracts? Center on Reinventing Public Education legal analyst Mitch Price investigated those questions in his study of charter school collective bargaining agreements.
Price examined nine charter schools unionized either by management design or by teacher vote. For comparison, he examined traditional district contracts and analyzed data from non-unionized charter schools as well. He found that the new contracts can be crafted in ways that respect the unique missions and priorities of charter schools, provide teachers with basic protections, and maintain organizational flexibility. However, while these new contracts innovate in many ways, they could go much further given the opportunity to create contracts from scratch.
Prior to the Thanksgiving break, we administered a survey asking for feedback from families about their knowledge and thoughts on the changes we are making to the curriculum delivery model at Wedgwood. Thank you to the 259 families who responded to the survey. We have 449 students currently enrolled at Wedgwood, 185 of whom are siblings. If respondents only completed one survey per family, as requested, our sample is quite accurate.Charlie Mas has more:
Overall, families want more information about what cluster grouping is. This was expressed in a variety of ways by families of general education, spectrum and special education students. I will attempt to clarify what it is here and how Wedgwood staff is using this information to move forward.
For those who do not know, cluster grouping is a method of grouping gifted students (gifted being identified as students who score in the 98th - 99th percentile on a cognitive ability test) into clusters of 6 students in one classroom that also include high achievers and above average students. The remaining students would be clustered so that the highest achieving students and lowest achieving students are not in the same classroom. With that as a guide, Wedgwood is developing plans to move from having self-contained spectrum classrooms to integrated classrooms using an interpretation of this model. We are already doing this in 1st grade, albeit more heterogeneously than what the research we based our 1st grade model on suggests.
Are you confused about what Wedgwood is doing with their Spectrum program? Join the club. Everyone is confused about what Wedgwood is doing with their Spectrum program. The president of the confusion club appears to be the school's principal, Chris Cronas.
In a New York Times op-ed article on Monday, Natalie Hopkinson writes that school choice in her neighborhood in Washington has destroyed community-based education for working-class families. With New York ranked No. 1 in the nation in giving parents and students choices, according to one study last week, Amy Stuart Wells, a parent of an eighth grader and a professor at Teachers College, has her own take on New York's system.
When my son's high school choice process began last spring, I already had a full-time job. I was not looking for a second one. But as the summer turned to fall, and the high school touring and test-taking kicked into full gear, I watched as many 8th grade parents (myself included) became increasingly bleary eyed and overwhelmed.
We sought each other's empathy and commented that orchestrating our children's school choices was like a full-time job -- a second one for many of us.
The Urban League's Madison Prep proposal continues to garner attention as we draw closer to the School Board's December 19 up-or-down vote on the proposal.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
This weekend the news has been the school district administration's analysis of the Urban League's current proposal for a non-instrumentality charter school (i.e., one where the teachers and other school staff would be employees of the Urban League rather than the school district and the school would be free of most administrative oversight from the district).
The analysis recommends that the School Board reject the Madison Prep proposal, for two principal reasons.
The first is that, as a matter of policy, the administration is opposed to non-instrumentality charter schools because of the lack of day-to-day oversight of their operations. The second reason is that there does not seem to be a way the school district could enter into a contract for a non-instrumentality charter school without running afoul of our collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI).
How much is a good school system worth?
The Virginia Beach, Va., school district believes its own system is worth about $1.53 for every $1 spent from the 70,000-student district's operating fund.
Not content with making an argument that good schools have an economic value that is unmeasurable, the district asked a university economist to calculate just what it brings both to the city and the Hampton Roads region in southeastern Virginia.
The report generated for the district, the third-largest in the state, is more than an academic exercise for James G. Merrill, the Virginia Beach superintendent. The district is one of the few in the state that receive money from local taxpayers based on a revenue-sharing formula, which is currently under fire. As the city and the school district head into budget season, Mr. Merrill said he wanted to make an argument for school funding based on business principles.
Paula Prosper worried that her son was not ready for the differences between his private Montessori school and the public Fairfax County seventh grade she planned to transfer him to next year.
Prosper, a teacher, asked if he and she could sit for a few hours at Longfellow Middle School "to see what happens in classes and to get a feel for the school in general." The answer was no, with explanations that made little sense.
Prosper said Longfellow's director of student services, Gail Bigio, told her "it had to do with privacy issues for the teachers -- the public employees whose salaries are paid by my tax dollars. Then she brought up immunization and likened it to the students attending the school who wish to have a visiting cousin shadow them." Longfellow Principal Carole Kihm told me Bigio did not mention teacher privacy.
Nobody is forced to go to Dr. Brenda Noach Choice School. The 87 students enrolled this September were there because their parents chose the school.
So why should we be concerned about how the students are doing? None of our business, right?
I would disagree for two reasons: One, those 87 students mean the school is in line to receive more than $500,000 this year in public support. And, two, results for the school's students a year ago on the state's standardized tests were bad.
A few slices of an answer: Only 18% of the school's students were rated proficient in reading. None - that is, zero - were proficient in math. There were only a handful of 10th-graders last year, and among them, none scored as proficient in reading, language arts, math, science, or social studies. Zero.
The Brenda Noach school, 3965 N. 15th St., is among a handful of schools at the bottom of the spectrum (judging by test scores and other indicators) of the 106 schools in Milwaukee's nationally important private school voucher program.
We are in agreement that the achievement gaps for low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English Language Learners must be eliminated. The Administration agrees that bolder steps must be taken to address these gaps. We also know that closing these gaps is not a simple task and change will not come overnight, but, the District's commitment to doing so will not waiver. We also know that to be successful in the long run, we must employ multiple strategies both within our schools and within our community. This is why the District has held interest in many of the educational strategies included in the Madison Prep's proposal like longer school days and a longer school year at an appropriately compensated level for staff, mentoring support, the proposed culture of the school and the International Baccalaureate Program.
While enthusiastic about these educational strategies, the Administration has also been clear throughout this conversation about its concern with a non-instrumentality model.
Autonomy is a notion inherent in all charter school proposals. Freedom and flexibility to do things differently are the very reasons charter schools exist. However, the non-instrumentality charter school model goes beyond freedom and flexibility to a level of separateness that the Administration cannot support.
In essence, Madison Prep's current proposal calls for the exclusion of the elected Board of Education and the District's Administration from the day-to-day operations of the school. It prevents the Board, and therefore the public, from having direct oversight of student learning conditions and teacher working conditions in a publicly-funded charter school. From our perspective, the use of public funds calls for a higher level of oversight than found in the Madison Prep proposal and for that matter in any non-instrumentality proposal.
In addition, based on the District's analysis, there is significant legal risk in entering into a non- instrumentality charter contract under our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.
In our analysis of Madison Prep's initial instrumentality proposal, the Administration expressed concerns over the cost of the program to the District and ultimately could not recommend funding at the level proposed. Rather, the Administration proposed a funding formula tied to the District's per pupil revenues. We also offered to continue to work with Madison Prep to find ways to lower these costs. Without having those conversations, the current proposal reduces Madison Prep's costs by changing from an instrumentality to a non-instrumentality model. This means that the savings are realized directly through reductions in staff compensation and benefits to levels lower than MMSD employees. The Administration has been willing to have conversations to determine how to make an instrumentality proposal work.
In summary, this administrative analysis finds concerns with Madison Prep's non-instrumentality proposal due to the level of governance autonomy called for in the plan and due to our collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. Based on these issues, we cannot recommend to the Board that Madison Prep be approved as a non-instrumentality charter school.
We know more needs to be done as a district and a community to eliminate our achievement gaps. We must continue to identify strategies both within our schools and our larger community to eliminate achievement gaps. These discussions, with the Urban League and with our entire community, need to continue on behalf of all of our students.
In anticipation of the recommendation, Caire sent out an email Friday night to School Board members with a letter responding to concerns about the union contract issue.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The problem concerns a "work preservation" clause in the Madison Teachers Inc. contract that requires all teaching duties in the district be performed by union teachers.
Exceptions to the clause have been made in the past, such as having private day-care centers offer 4-year-old kindergarten, but those resulted from agreements with the union. Such an agreement would nullify the current union contract under the state's new collective bargaining law, according to the district.
Caire said a recent law signed by Gov. Scott Walker could allow the district to amend its union contract. However, School Board member Ed Hughes, who is a lawyer, disagreed with Caire's interpretation.
Nerad said even if the union issue can be resolved, he still objects to the school seeking autonomy from all district policies except those related to health and safety of students.
Caire said Madison Prep's specific policies could be ironed out as part of the charter contract after the School Board approves the proposal. He plans to hold a press conference Tuesday to respond to the district's review.
"The purpose of a charter school is to free you from red tape -- not to adopt the same red tape that they have," Caire said. "We hope the board will stop looking at all of those details and start looking at why we are doing this in the first place."
The fate of Madison Prep, yea or nea, will resonate locally for years. A decisive moment for our local $372M schools.
As Dropout Nation reported on Wednesday, the National Education Association reported in its recent U.S. Department of Labor filing that it spent $133 million in 2010-2011 on lobbying and contributions to groups whose agendas (in theory) dovetail with its own. And the list of organizations and players who have benefited from the union's largesse grows even larger.More here.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, a longtime beneficiary of NEA funds, garnered $400,373 from the union during its last fiscal year. The Great Lakes Center for Education, which, like the Economic Policy Institute, always churns out studies that dovetail nicely with NEA positions, got $250,000 from the national union. (Three affiliates -- Michigan Education Association, Education Minnesota, and the Illinois Education Association -- chipped in another $30,000, according to each of their respective federal filings.) National Board for Professional Teaching Standards got $10,000 from the union last fiscal year. And the University of Colorado at Boulder also picked up $250,000 for a "sponsored project", likely something being put together by one of the NEA's longtime fellow-travelers, Kevin Welner's National Education Policy Center that is based on the university's campus.
Fewer than one-third of California students who took a statewide physical fitness test this year managed to pass all six areas assessed, new results show.
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a longtime cross-country coach who has made physical fitness a signature issue, announced the results this week as he launched a program to improve children's health. The campaign will use such celebrity athletes as NBA all-star Bill Walton and others to visit schools to urge students to drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables and increase their exercise.
"When only 31% of children are physically fit, that's a public health challenge we can't wait to address," Torlakson said in a statement.
The Minneapolis teachers' union has become the first in the nation to win the right to authorize charter schools.This makes sense. I hope we see much more of this.
State officials have approved the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers as a charter school authorizer.
Authorizers don't run charters; they oversee the administrators and school boards that handle day-to-day operations of a charter school. Authorizers are also primary decision makers on which schools to sponsor.
During the 20-year history of charter schools there have been examples of teachers starting schools, and some charters have unionized teachers.
MFT will be the first union to serve as a charter sponsor. Formally, it has created an organization called the Minnesota Guild of Charter Schools (informally 'the Guild') that will serve as authorizer.
Of course Madison Prep wants the media opportunity of children waiting in an auditorium, some advocates for the school have demonized teachers, the Madison Prep Board has decided that the only way to make the school happen is to employee non-union staff and not pay them for the extended day and year (that they are also seeking African American and Latino staff, makes this even worse). It should also be noted that school choice backers like the Kochs, the Waltons and (Bradley and Koch funded) ALEC aren't all that keen on "the right to clean water" either.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Madison schools aren't failing, by any stretch of the imagination, for many students.Remarkable. Are there some excellent teachers in Madison? Certainly. Does Madison's Administration seek best in the world results? A look at the math task force, seemingly on hold for years, is informative. The long one size fits all battle and the talented and gifted complaint are worth contemplating.
In fact, if you're a white, middle-class family sending your children to public school here, your kids are likely getting an education that's on a par with Singapore or Finland -- among the best in the world.
However, if you're black or Latino and poor, it's an unquestionable fact that Madison schools don't as good a job helping you with your grade-point average, high school graduation, college readiness or test scores. By all these measures, the district's achievement gap between white and minority students is awful.
These facts have informed the stern (and legitimate) criticisms leveled by Urban League President Kaleem Caire and Madison Prep backers.
But they doesn't take into account some recent glimmers of hope that shouldn't be discounted or overlooked. Programs like AVID/TOPS support first-generation college-bound students in Madison public schools and are showing some successes. Four-year-old kindergarten is likely to even the playing field for the district's youngest students, giving them a leg up as they enter school. And, the data surrounding increasing numbers of kids of color participating in Advanced Placement classes is encouraging.
Stepping back from the local district and looking at education through a broader lens, it's easy to see that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have aimed to legislate, bribe and punish their way toward an unrealistic Lake Wobegon world where all the students are above average.
Could Madison be the best? Certainly. The infrastructure is present, from current spending of $14,963/student to the nearby UW-Madison, Madison College and Edgewood College backed by a supportive community.
Ideally, Madison (and Wisconsin) should have the courage to participate in global examinations (Florida Students Take Global Examinations, Wisconsin's Don't). Taxpayers and parents would then know if Troller's assertions are fact based.
Kaleem Caire, via email
December 2, 2011PDF letter:
Greetings Madison Prep.
Tomorrow afternoon, we are expecting to learn that MMSD's Administration will inform the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education that Madison Prep should not be approved. A possible reason we expect will be MMSD's concern that the current collective bargaining agreement between the District and Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) has a "work preservation clause" which the teacher's union advocated for long ago to ensure that it was the only game in town to represent public school teachers in Madison.
Below, is the cover note that I forwarded to Ed Hughes of the Board of Education and copied to a number of others, who had asked a thoughtful question about our proposal to establish Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter school, we hope, in fall 2012. Also see the letter attached to this email.
December 2, 2011
Attached, please find a letter that contains the answer to your question referenced in your email below. The letter contains the explanation of a path to which Madison Prep could be established as a non-instrumentality public charter school, under Wisconsin law, and in a way that would not violate the current collective bargaining agreement between MMSD and Madison Teachers Inc.
We look forward to answering any questions you or other members of the Board of Education may have.
Thank you so much and Many blessings to you and your family this holiday season.
cc: Daniel Nerad, MMSD Superintendent
Dylan Pauly, MMSD Legal Counsel
MMSD Board of Education Members
ULGM Board of Directors
Madison Prep Board of Directors
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
Steve Goldberg, CUNA Mutual Foundation
This letter is intended to respond to your November 78,207I email and to suggest that there is a viable option for moving forward with Urban League's proposal for the Madison Preparatory Academy ("Madison Prep") that: [i) will reduce cost; and (ii) will not sacrifice the union security provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement "Agreement" or "Contract") between the Madison Metropolitan School District ("MMSD" or "District") and Madison Teachers, Inc. ("MTI").Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Your email asks for a response to a question concerning how the school district could authorize Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter without thereby violating the terms of the District's Agreement with MTI. Your email references a provision in the MTI Agreement that provides "that instructional duties where the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that such be performed by a certifìcated teacher, shall be performed only by'teachers."' .See Article I, Section 8.3.a. In addition you note that "the term 'teacher' refers to anyone in the collective bargaining unit." See Article I, Section 8.2. You conclude your email by stating that "it appears that all teachers in MMSD schools -- including non-instrumentality charter schools - must be members of the MTI bargaining unit."
The Urban League is aware of the Agreement's language and concedes that the language, if enforceable, poses an obstacle as we look for School Board approval of the plan to open and operate a "non-instrumentality" school. Under an instrumentality charter, the employees of the charter school must be employed by the school board. Under a non-instrumentality charter, the school board may not be the employer of the charter school's staff. See S 118.40(7)(a). Thus, the statement in your email that all teachers, including those in a non-instrumentality charter school - "must be members of the MTI bargaining unit" and, presumably, employed by the school board is not permitted under Wisconsin law.
Under Wisconsin's charter school law the School Board has the exclusive authority to determine whether a school is an instrumentality or not an instrumentality of the school district. .See S 118.40(7)(a). That decision is an important decision reserved to the School Board alone. The effect of that decision drives whether teachers and staff must be, or cannot be, employees of the School Board. The language of the Contract deprives the School Board of the decision reserved to it under the statute and that language cannot be harmonized to give effect to both the statute and the Agreement. Alternatively the Contract language creates a situation whereby the School Board may exercise its statutory authority to approve a non-instrumentality charter but it must staff the school with school district employees, a result clearly prohibited under the statute. In our view the law trumps the Contract in either of these situations.
The situation described above could likely only be resolved in a court of law. The Contract includes a "savings clause" that contemplates that where a court invalidates a provision in the Agreement, the invalid provision is deleted and the remainder of the contract remains intact. See Article VIII, Section E.
The Urban League is, however, mindful that litigation is both expensive and time consuming. Moreover it is clear that the Contract language will become a prohibited subject of bargaining in the near future when the current Agreement expires. Unfortunately, the children we seek to serve, do not have the time to wait for that day.
Our second purpose in writing is to make you aware of a possible solution to a major obstacle here. One of the major obstacles in moving forward has been the cost associated with an instrumentality school coupled with MTI's reluctance to work with the District in modifying the Contract to reduce costs associated with staffing and certain essential features of Madison Prep, like an extended school day, As we understand it MTI does not want to modify the Contract because such a modification would result in an earlier application of 2077 Wisconsin Act L0 to the District, members of the bargaining unit and to MTI itself.
We understand MTI's reluctance to do anything that would hasten the application of Act 10 in the school district, With the passage of 2011. Wisconsin Act 65, that concern is no longer an obstacle.
Act 65 allows the parties to a collective bargaining agreement to enter into a memorandum of understanding that would run for the remaining term of the collective bargaining agreement, for the purpose of reducing the cost of compensation or fringe benefits in the collective bargaining agreement,
The Act also provides that entering into such a memorandum would not be considered a "modification" of the collective bargaining agreement for the purposes of Act 10. Act 65 was published on November 23,2077 and took effect the following day. The law allows the parties to a collective bargaining agreement to enter into such a memorandum no later than 90 days after the effective date of the law.
The Urban League believes that Act 65 gives the Board and MTI the opportunity to make changes that will facilitate cost reductions, based in compensation and fringe benefits, to help Madison Prep move forward. And, the law allows the parties to do so in a way that does not adversely impact the teachers represented by MTI or the union security provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
For example, the parties could agree to reduce the staffing costs for Madison Prep, The parties could also agree that a longer school day would not have to cost more. And, the parties could agree that the work preservation clause referenced in the first part of this letter does not apply where the School Board has determined a charter school willbe a non-instrumentality of the District, a move that would also most certainly reduce costs. These changes would not be forced upon any existing MTI represented teacher as teachers would apply for vacancies in the school.
We hope that the School Board will give serious consideration to the opportunity presented by Act 65. 0n behalf of the Urban League of Greater Madison and Madison Preparatory Academy, we thank you for your support of Madison Prep.
Value-added and other types of growth models are probably the most controversial issue in education today. These methods, which use sophisticated statistical techniques to attempt to isolate a teacher's effect on student test score growth, are rapidly assuming a central role in policy, particularly in the new teacher evaluation systems currently being designed and implemented. Proponents view them as a primary tool for differentiating teachers based on performance/effectiveness.Much more on value added assessment, here.
Opponents, on the other hand, including a great many teachers, argue that the models' estimates are unstable over time, subject to bias and imprecision, and that they rely entirely on standardized test scores, which are, at best, an extremely partial measure of student performance. Many have come to view growth models as exemplifying all that's wrong with the market-based approach to education policy.
It's very easy to understand this frustration. But it's also important to separate the research on value-added from the manner in which the estimates are being used. Virtually all of the contention pertains to the latter, not the former. Actually, you would be hard-pressed to find many solid findings in the value-added literature that wouldn't ring true to most educators.
High school goes digital. Never mind pep rallies and locker rooms. We'll look at the rise of online high school.
We all know what school means. Especially high school. Classrooms. Study halls. Pep rallies. Locker rooms. For most, that's still the formula.
But a rising wave of American students - and not just high school but the full K-12 - is turning away from that. Is getting its education online.
This past weekend the New York Times devoted two big op-eds to the decline of the suburb. In one, new urban theorist Chris Leinberger said that Americans were increasingly abandoning "fringe suburbs" for dense, transit-oriented urban areas. In the other, UC Berkeley professor Louise Mozingo called for the demise of the "suburban office building" and the adoption of policies that will drive jobs away from the fringe and back to the urban core.
Perhaps no theology more grips the nation's mainstream media -- and the planning community -- more than the notion of inevitable suburban decline. The Obama administration's housing secretary, Shaun Donavan, recently claimed, "We've reached the limits of suburban development: People are beginning to vote with their feet and come back to the central cities."
Yet repeating a mantra incessantly does not make it true. Indeed, any analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census would make perfectly clear that rather than heading for density, Americans are voting with their feet in the opposite direction: toward the outer sections of the metropolis and to smaller, less dense cities. During the 2000s, the Census shows, just 8.6% of the population growth in metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people took place in the core cities; the rest took place in the suburbs. That 8.6% represents a decline from the 1990s, when the figure was 15.4%.
In a distressed neighborhood north of Miami's gleaming downtown, a group of enthusiastic but inexperienced instructors from Teach for America is trying to make progress where more veteran teachers have had difficulty: raising students' reading and math scores.
"These are the lowest performing schools, so we need the strongest performing teachers," said Julian Davenport, an assistant principal at Holmes Elementary, where three-fifths of the staff this year are Teach for America corps members or graduates of the program.
By 2015, with the help of a $50 million federal grant, Teach for America recruits could make up one-quarter of all new teachers in 60 of the nation's highest need school districts. In 2010, the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education approved a contract to bring 24 Teach for America teachers into Tuscaloosa. Eight teachers began working in schools in the Central zone -- the poorest and lowest-performing zone in the school system -- in the 2011-12 school year. Eight more are to arrive in 2012-13 and another eight in 2013-14.
Bernie Marcus is a do-it-yourself kind of guy. Sure, he knows his way around sheetrock and, yes, he can talk in great detail about remodeling a bathroom or putting in a backyard deck. But for Marcus, home improvement projects represent a part of something much more profound. Doing it yourself means being able to take control of your own life, shaping your own destiny, daring to accomplish more than you imagine possible. It's an essential part of being an American. After all, it's what inspired his signature project. He built a company from scratch, and turned his idea into a household name with a $60 billion market cap. Bernie Marcus built Home Depot.
"It happened because of us," says Marcus. "I mean, we had no money. When we opened Home Depot in 1979, we were broke. I had just been fired. Some of us were on the verge of bankruptcy. But we had a great idea, and we had some people who were willing to support us. And we put in the work--we put in sweat and tears, our hearts and souls. But today Home Depot has more than 300,000 people working for it. We built it all."
Two Madison School Board members who say they are likely to vote no on Dec. 19 when the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal comes before the board for final approval or denial have some ideas they believe would better serve all of Madison's students.
Marj Passman, School Board vice president, says she hopes the local Urban League and its president, Kaleem Caire, will pursue funding for Madison Prep as a private school if the proposal fails to gain approval from a majority of board members. Passman says it's likely she will vote against Madison Prep as a public charter school, although she will look at an administrative analysis due by Dec. 4 prior to making her final decision.
"There's been a lot of community support and I'm sure he (Caire) can come up with the money for the school as a private academy," Passman told me in a recent phone interview.
"Then he could pursue the school in its purest form, he won't have to compromise his ideas, and he can showcase how all these elements are going to work to help eliminate the achievement gap, increase graduation rates and raise GPAs for minority students," she says.
Board member Maya Cole also tells me she is a "pretty firm no vote" against the Madison Prep proposal. What Cole would like to see as an alternative is a charter school embedded within an existing district middle school like Wright or Toki, using district staff.
Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/education/blog/chalkboard-school-board-members-float-alternatives-to-madison-prep-charter/article_9cdb35d8-1bdf-11e1-8845-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1fLBMOiNx
The new Brookings index on school choice is interesting and worth a look but as I go through it two things seem to jump out. First, despite the rhetoric in the public square there still isn't a great deal of real choice in education. And second, the index seems to reward places (relatively speaking) that have limited choices but still do all the things you should do (information, transportation etc...nonetheless). That's like having an incredible restaurant with easy valet parking, wonderful fresh food, great service, and lovely ambiance - but that can only seat four people a night. Nice but limited.
Parents gathered in the auditorium of the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars on Tuesday morning were not happy.
Their school, one of only three citywide gifted and talented programs in Manhattan, shares space in an East Harlem building with three middle schools. They learned recently that one of the schools, Esperanza Preparatory Academy, wants to expand to a high school, and they are concerned that the expansion will cause overcrowding and bring other problems.
Tuesday's meeting was called by the Education Department last week after parents flooded the office with calls and e-mails expressing concern about the addition of high school grades when their school has children as young as kindergarten.
Chicago Public Schools officials plan to overhaul 10 schools next year, six of which will be managed by a private organization in the latest move by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration to turn to the private sector to aid poorly performing public schools.
The proposed overhauls--commonly called turnarounds--involve the firing of existing staff and improvements to school curriculum and culture. Turnarounds are the first step in a series of school actions that include consolidating and closing underperforming schools.
A new state law requires CPS to announce all school closings and turnarounds by Thursday. There was vociferous opposition to any proposed closings at recent public hearings, which were also required by the law, even though though the list of targeted schools had not yet been released.
The elementary schools slated for turnaround are: Pablo Casals, 3501 W. Potomac Ave.; Melville W. Fuller, 4214 S. Saint Lawrence Ave.; Theodore Herzl, 3711 W. Douglas Blvd.; Marquette, 6550 S Richmond St.; Brian Piccolo, 1040 N Keeler Ave.; Amos Alonzo Stagg, 7424 S Morgan St.; Wendell Smith, 744 E 103rd St. and Carter G. Woodson South Elementary Schools, 4414 S Evans. The Chicago Vocational Career Academy, at 2100 E 87th St., and Tilden Career Community Academy, 4747 S Union Ave., high schools also are targeted for turnaround.
No one wants to see the Kansas City School District recover just enough to regain provisional accreditation and limp along in wounded form for another decade or so.Money And School Performance:
Kansas Citians are looking for an administrative structure capable of running schools that meet the state's expectations and prepare students for college and jobs.
With the school district scheduled to become unaccredited on Jan. 1, the Missouri Board of Education is contemplating structural changes. Chris Nicastro, the education commissioner, has spent considerable time trying to figure out what to recommend to the board when it meets Thursday and Friday. At one point, she asked members of the Kansas City school board if they'd be willing to step aside in favor of an appointed board. Most would prefer to remain in charge.
School board governance has not served Kansas City well in recent decades. Candidate choices have mostly been weak. Voter participation in elections has been abysmal. Boards have been factious and meddlesome.
For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, "You can't solve educational problems by throwing money at them." The education establishment and its supporters have replied, "No one's ever tried." In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil--more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers' salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.
The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can't be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.
As soon as the school day ended, the rush at the health clinic began.
Two high school seniors asked for sports physicals. A group of teenagers lined up for free condoms. A girl told a counselor she needed a pregnancy test.
The clinic, at Belmont High School near downtown Los Angeles, is part of a rapidly expanding network of school-based centers around the nation offering free or low-cost medical care to students and their families.
In California, there are 183 school health centers, up from 121 in 2004. Twelve more are expected to open by next summer, according to the California School Health Center Assn.
The centers have become a small but important part of the nation's healthcare safety net, experts say, treating low-income patients who might otherwise not have regular medical care. Now, they add, campus clinics are serving as a model for health officials trying to reduce costs.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she's concerned about the economy, the deficit, and the "jaded" nature of American politics - but she says the country's "biggest single problem" is with the public school system.
Rice, speaking to CBS' Bob Schieffer on a special Thanksgiving edition of "Face the Nation," argued that the nation's educational system is failing crucial populations, and that "it's gonna drive us into class warfare like we've never seen before."
Responding to a question about the current state of American politics, Rice argued that "we've become a bit jaded as a country."
But she said that wasn't her biggest concern with the future of America right now.
"I think we've got a deeper problem," she said. "It speaks to the way that, for instance, I and my family got ahead. I think the biggest single problem we've got is the K-12 education system."
English class is about to start, and Taneli Nordberg introduces the day's guests: a row of fresh-faced university students sitting in the back of the classroom. They're training to be teachers at the University of Helsinki.
Nordberg, 31, wants the eighth-graders to become teachers for a moment.
"I want you to tell the teacher trainees something you would like them to do when teaching and something you want them to avoid doing," he explains. "In English, please."
The students tumble up to the chalkboards and start writing. Some of the advice is predictable - "not too much homework" - but much of it is insightful.
The exercise, though short and light, is something of a microcosm of the Finnish educational approach - engagement and collaboration between teacher and student, a comfortable atmosphere, and the expectation of quality in how students express themselves.
Over the past decade, students in Finland have soared on international measures of achievement. They've continued to post some of the best scores in the developed world in reading, math and science, according to a respected international exam. The country has one of the narrowest gaps in achievement between its highest and lowest-performing schools, and on average spends less per pupil than the United States.
Among the extended family I saw over the holiday was a young relative who is working as a substitute teacher in the Northeast since he can't find a full-time teaching post. He shared a story that surprised me, and I wanted to run it by folks here.
He was subbing at a low-performing high school that recently had a well-publicized stabbing. A student in his class pulled what he thought was a real gun on him, and they had a standoff for several minutes until the teen put the "gun" away and the teacher tackled him to the floor. It turned out the gun was a toy, and the student received a three-day suspension for the incident.
The substitute teacher was disappointed with the punishment, but said the school wanted to prevent another round of negative press.
Would such an incident be kept quiet in Georgia? Could it go so easily unreported under zero tolerance policies in which students can get suspended for Tweety Bird key chains?
Here's a depressing but documented comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is breaking bad, and getting worse (twice a month, I update crucial data on this fact sheet):
California has the 3rd worst state income tax in the nation. 9.3% tax bracket starts at $46,766 for people filing as individuals. 10.3% tax starts at $1,000,000. http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59_es.pdf
Highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.25% (as of 1 July - does not include local sales taxes)
http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp60.pdf Table #15
California corporate income tax rate (8.84%) is the highest west of the Mississippi (our economic competitors) except for Alaska. http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59.pdf Table #8 - we are 8th highest nationwide.
The new Advanced Learning Task Force (or Steering Committee or Advisory Committee or whatever) has had its first meeting. It's kind of a mess.
I'm on the committee. So is Melissa. So are Dr. Vaughan and Dr. Thompson. There are principals, central staff, teachers and community members. The committee is too big for any real discussion. It will be almost impossible for it to reach any authentic consensus. I suspect that staff will just write our conclusions for us and then allow us a final meeting to argue for small edits - which they will unilaterally decide to accept or reject. That's how the Demographic Task Force worked.
The committee met once in November and will meet again in December. By that time we will already be overdue with our recommendation to FACMAC on the placement of elementary north-end APP. FACMAC needs it now. Without it, they will just move forward with their decisions without input from the Advanced Learning Committee.
The new president of the statewide teachers union has a tough task reorganizing the 13,000-member group after it took a beating during the 2011 Idaho Legislature, with measures passed to weaken their collective bargaining and phase out some job protections.
But Penni Cyr says she's up for the assignment.
Cyr is starting a three-year term as president of the Idaho Education Association after nearly 30 years teaching in Moscow public schools. Her husband, Craig, works at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc., in Pullman, Wash., and remains in Moscow, where their four adult children also live.
"I go home when I can, but it's often time to work," Cyr said.
Among her top priorities: A campaign to repeal the sweeping education changes that were signed into law earlier this year with backing from public schools chief Tom Luna and Gov. Butch Otter. The laws will go before Idaho voters in November 2012.
When the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released their 2011 results, things seemed to be working out well for Wisconsin's public schools. The state posted above average numbers in key subjects like reading and mathematics in fourth and eighth grade.Related: Updating the 2009 Scholastic Bowl Longhorns 17 - Badgers 1; Thrive's "Advance Now Competitive Assessment Report"
However, a deeper look into those numbers exposes some troubling trends. Namely, Wisconsin's Hispanic students are regressing when it comes to reading in the state's classrooms.
The state's 2011 results held steady at 202 points for fourth-grade reading amongst Hispanic pupils. This was down from a score of 208 in 2007 and less than the state's score of 209 in 1992, the first iteration of the test. In eighth grade, the average score dropped from 250 to 248. This is a decrease from 1998's average of 256 - the first year the test was recorded for the group.
These results highlight a grim trend. Over the past two decades, reading achievement amongst the state's Hispanic students has regressed. While national averages have seen a growth of 5.7 percent in fourth grade reading and 5.5 percent in eighth grade reading amongst Hispanic test takers, Wisconsin has posted losses. The state's scores dropped by 3.4 percent and 2.8 percent in the two grades, respectively.
Earlier this year Wisconsin teachers and their supporters compared Wisconsin and Texas academically and claimed that Wisconsin had better achievement because it ranked higher on ACT/SAT scores. The fact that this claim ignored the ethnic composition of the states, prompted David Burge to use the National Assessment of Educational Progress(NAEP) to compare educational achievement within the same ethnic groups. His conclusion, based on the 2009 NAEP in Reading, Mathematics, and Science (3 subject areas times 2 grades, 4th and 8th, times 3 ethnicities, white, black, and hispanic equals 18 comparisons), was Longhorns 17 - Badgers 1.
The 2011 NAEP results are now available for Reading and
Mathematics. The updated conclusion (2 subject areas times 2 grades, 4th and 8th, times 3 ethnicities, white, black, and hispanic equals 12 comparisons) is Longhorns 12 - Badgers 0. Not only did Texas students outperform Wisconsin students in every one of the twelve ethnicity-controlled comparisons, but Texas students exceeded the national average in all 12 comparisons. Wisconsin students were above the average 3 times, below the average 8 times, and tied the average once.
Charter schools, once considered the experimental outliers of public education, are poised to go mainstream in Santa Clara County.
That's due in part to sheer numbers. Eight new charter schools opened this school year, taking in 1,600 students. Last week alone, five charter schools were approved to open next August in the county. But perhaps more important, key places in the county have seen a transformation in attitude, from hostility and suspicion to acceptance and collaboration.
The growing number of charters cements the county's reputation, along with the giant Los Angeles Unified district, as the most charter-friendly place in the state. In a month or so, the county school board will consider approving 20 more charters schools for Rocketship Education. The increase comes amid widespread growth of charter schools in California. Today about 7 percent of the state's public school children attend a charter, which are public schools operating independently from local school boards and most of the state Education Code.
Scott Walker is now waging his war on public education by coming up with accountability standards that favor charter and private schools. His School and District Accountability Design Team consists of thirty business and education professionals from across the state.
The Design Team is led by "Quad-Chairs" Governor Scott Walker, Senator Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee, Representative Steve Kestell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, and Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Schools in Wisconsin. The proceedings are being facilitated by a team of high-paid consultants working with the American Institute for Research (AIR), a company that racked up $299 million in revenue for the 2009 fiscal year.
If you spend any amount of time on Facebook, eventually you'll see a copied-and-pasted status update that looks something like this: "If you learned long division by hand, bicycled to school in the rain, drank lead-tainted water directly from the hose, played fast-pitch baseball in the dark with shiftless strangers, skinned your knee and ignored it until it became infected and led to a series of painful brain hemorrhages, sucked mercury from thermometers like marrow from the bones of dead hobos, and lived to tell about it, repost this and be thankful for the good old days."
The implication, of course, is that kids are too mollycoddled these days, and we're overthinking their upbringing - why can't we just do things the way we used to? After all, we turned out fine.
I can't help but believe that this notion - as well as sharp resistance to it - has contributed greatly to the statewide rift over collective bargaining that's culminated in the current gubernatorial recall effort.
After all, in the past, kids did just fine under the tutelage of bitter, underpaid nuns and schoolmarms. Why spend more money for worse results? Teachers deserve a pay cut. They're not holding up their end of the bargain.
I suspect that this attitude is actually fairly pervasive. Commenting on one of my recent blog posts, a reader said this: "Go back to teaching math, science, history and [E]nglish the way it was taught in the 50's. Students either passed or failed based on work not on some stupid self-esteem."
Washington state education officials know a lot more about your kids than they ever knew about you.
They can now track a child from kindergarten through college enrollment and soon will be able to tell you everything about every kid who has gone to school in Washington from preschool through their first job.
Everything includes every school they attended, every achievement test they passed or failed, their ethnic identity, whether they qualified for free lunch, what college they chose, if they had to take remedial courses, when they started college, and more.
Of course this information is anonymous to outside viewers, including researchers and the public, but it gives local school officials a lot to comb through to find ways to improve their preparation of students for college and the world.
Although he didn't ask for it in his re-election campaign, Mayor Greg Ballard could become the boss of Indianapolis Public Schools in the coming year.
The most likely plan would include mayoral appointment of the School Board, combined with a decentralization of IPS. Schools would have an independence similar to what charter schools have, along with strict accountability to the mayor for performance.
A formal proposal along these lines will come from The Mind Trust, a local education reform organization led by David Harris, who was the city's charter school czar during Bart Peterson's administration. A shift in oversight of IPS would have to be approved by the General Assembly and Gov. Mitch Daniels. Informal talks about IPS reform took place earlier this year among Republican and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly as well as Indianapolis civic leaders.
Of Milwaukee's 187 elementary schools, only a dozen exceeded the statewide average in reading on Wisconsin's standardized test last year, according to statistics compiled on the whole range of schools in the city by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. When it comes to math, only 22 of those schools made that grade.
Shouldn't parents have easy access to this information? Shouldn't they know which schools didn't make the grade?
We think so, and so does the MMAC.
MMAC and an array of education experts, including Howard Fuller of Marquette's Institute for the Transformation of Learning, and UW-Madison's Value-Added Research Center, are developing a community "report card" for all city schools. The "report card" would include schools in the Milwaukee Public Schools system but also voucher and charter schools outside of the traditional district. While a wealth of data is available for all public schools on the state Department of Public Instruction website, creating an easily accessible, easily digestible common report makes sense to us. Look for that new "report card" sometime after the first of the year.
Let's see: Longer school year, parent report cards, meaningful teacher evaluations and bonus pay, union staff, teacher compensation of between $60,000 and $65,000.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Sounds about right to me. Where do I sign up?
Unfortunately, I can't, because while this seems like a pretty good model for a proposed charter school targeting under-performing, low-income minority students -- really, for any public school -- it was looking less and less possible last week.
The sticking points are an overly rigid Madison teachers union contract and a punitive new state law that pretty much makes tinkering with that contract tantamount to killing it.
Or, to put it another way, the issue, as it so often is, is money.
Under the proposal released last month by the backers of Madison Preparatory Academy, the school would employ union teachers at salaries of about $47,000, with benefits bringing total compensation to between $60,000 and $65,000.
In its own analysis of Madison Prep's financials, though, the district found the school would be required to pay about $76,000 per teacher, with benefits bringing total compensation to about $100,000.
Late last week I got an email from Kaleem Caire, Urban League CEO and champion of the Madison Preparatory Academy charter school proposal.I wonder if other Madison School District programs, many spending far larger sums, receive similar substantive scrutiny compared with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school? The District's math (related math task force) and reading programs come to mind.
Caire was unhappy with the way I had characterized the latest version of the charter school proposal.
In a blog post following the Madison Prep board's decision late Wednesday to develop the proposed school as what's known as a "non-instrumentality" of the school district, I described this type of school as being "free from district oversight."
While it's true that the entire point of establishing a non-instrumentality charter school is to give the organization maximum freedom and flexibility in the way it operates on a day-to-day basis, I agree it would be more accurate to describe it as "largely free of district oversight," or "free of routine oversight by the School Board."
In his message, Caire asked me, and my fellow reporter, Matt DeFour from the Wisconsin State Journal, to correct our descriptions of the proposed school, which will be approved or denied by the Madison School Board in the coming weeks.
In his message, Caire writes, "Madison Prep will be governed by MMSD's Board of Education. In your stories today, you (or the quotes you provide) say we will not be. This continues to be a subject of public conversation and it is just not true."
Ideally, the local media might dig into curricular performance across the spectrum, over time along with related expenditures and staffing.
In my view, the widely used (at least around the world) IB approach is a good start for Madison Prep.
The National Day of Listening is a new national holiday started by StoryCorps in 2008. On the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks all Americans to take an hour to record an interview with a loved one, using recording equipment that is readily available in most homes, such as computers, iPhones, and tape recorders, along with StoryCorps' free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide.
Celebrating the National Day of Listening provides a noncommercial alternative to "Black Friday" shopping sprees. Tens of thousands of Americans have participated in the National Day of Listening, and educators and community organizations have incorporated StoryCorps' interviewing techniques into their programs.
Before full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, Florida is gathering information about how our students compare internationally in reading, mathematics and science. We are participating in Trends in the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Adjustments to Florida standards will be made based on the results of these studies.How does Wisconsin compare? Learn more at www.wisconsin2.org.
The Urban League of Madison, via a kind Kaleem Caire email:
November 17, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Madison, Wis. - Last night, by unanimous vote, the Board of Directors of Madison Preparatory Academy announced they would request that the Madison Metropolitan School District's Board of Education approve their proposal to establish its all-boys and all-girls schools as non-instrumentality public charter schools. This means that Madison Preparatory Academy would employ all staff at both schools instead of MMSD, and that Madison Prep's staff would not be members of the district's collective bargaining units.
If approved, the Board of Education would retain oversight of both schools and likely require Madison Prep to submit to annual progress reviews and a five year performance review, both of which would determine if the school should be allowed to continue operating beyond its first five-year contract.
"We have worked for six months to reach agreement with MMSD's administration and Madison Teachers Incorporated on how Madison Prep could operate as a part of the school district and its collective bargaining units while retaining the core elements of its program design and remain cost effective," said Board Chair David Cagigal.
Cagigal further stated, "From the beginning, we were willing to change several aspects of our school design in order to find common ground with MMSD and MTI to operate Madison Prep as a school whose staff would be employed by the district. We achieved agreement on most positions being represented by local unions, including teachers, counselors, custodial staff and food service workers. However, we were not willing to compromise key elements of Madison Prep that were uniquely designed to meet the educational needs of our most at-risk students and close the achievement gap."
During negotiations, MMSD, MTI and the Boards of Madison Prep and the Urban League were informed that Act 10, the state's new law pertaining to collective bargaining, would prohibit MMSD and MTI from providing the flexibility and autonomy Madison Prep would need to effectively implement its model. This included, among other things:
Changing or excluding Madison Prep's strategies for hiring, evaluating and rewarding its principals, faculty and staff for a job well done;
Excluding Madison Prep's plans to contract with multiple providers of psychological and social work services to ensure students and their families receive culturally competent counseling and support, which is not sufficiently available through MMSD; and
Eliminating the school's ability to offer a longer school day and year, which Madison Prep recently learned would prove to be too costly as an MMSD charter school.
On November 1, 2011, after Madison Prep's proposal was submitted to the Board of Education, MMSD shared that operating under staffing and salary provisions listed in the district's existing collective bargaining agreement would cost $13.1 million more in salaries and benefits over five years, as compared to the budget created by the Urban League for Madison Prep's budget.
Cagigal shared, "The week after we submitted our business plan to the Board of Education for consideration, MMSD's administration informed us that they were going to use district averages for salaries, wages and benefits in existing MMSD schools rather than our budget for a new start-up school to determine how much personnel would cost at both Madison Prep schools."
Both MMSD and the Urban League used the same district salary schedule to write their budgets. However, MMSD budgets using salaries of district teachers with 14 years teaching experience and a master's degree while the Urban League budgeted using salaries of teachers with 7 years' experience and a master's degree.
Gloria Ladson Billings, Vice Chair of Madison Prep's Board and the Kellner Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison stated that, "It has been clear to all parties involved that the Urban League is committed to offering comparable and competitive salaries to its teachers but that with limited resources as a new school, it would have to set salaries and wages at a level that would likely attract educators with less teaching experience than the average MMSD teacher. At the budget level we set, we believe we can accomplish our goal of hiring effective educators and provide them a fair wage for their level of experience."
Madison Prep is also committed to offering bonuses to its entire staff, on top of their salaries, in recognition of their effort and success, as well as the success of their students. This also was not allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement.
Summarizing the decision of Madison Prep's Board, Reverend Richard Jones, Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church and Madison Prep Board member shared, "Our Board has thought deep and hard about additional ways to compromise around the limitations that Act 10 places on our ability to partner with our teachers' union. However, after consulting parents, community partners and the MMSD Board of Education, we ultimately decided that our children need what Madison Prep will offer, and they need it now. A dream deferred is a dream denied, and we must put the needs of our children first and get Madison Prep going right away. That said, we remain committed to finding creative ways to partner with MMSD and the teachers' union, including having the superintendent of MMSD, or his designee, serve on the Board of Madison Prep so innovation and learning can be shared immediately."
Cagigal further stated that, "It is important for the public to understand that our focus from the beginning has been improving the educational and life outcomes of our most vulnerable students. Forty-eight percent high school graduation and 47 percent incarceration rates are just not acceptable; not for one more day. It is unconscionable that only 1% of Black and 7% of Latino high school seniors are ready for college. We must break from the status quo and take bold steps to close the achievement gap, and be ready and willing to share our success and key learning with MMSD and other school districts so that we can positively impact the lives of all of our children."
The Urban League has informed MMSD's administration and Board of Education that it will share with them an updated version of its business plan this evening. The updated plan will request non-instrumentality status for Madison Prep and address key questions posed in MMSD's administrative analysis of the plan that was shared publicly last week.
The Board of Education is expected to vote on the Madison Prep proposal in December 2011.
Copies of the updated plan will be available on the Urban League (www.ulgm.org) and Madison Prep (www.madison-prep) websites after 9pm CST this evening.
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez at Lderoche@ulgm.org or 608.729.1230.
A Madison School Board vote to approve Madison Preparatory Academy has been delayed until at least December after the proposed charter school's board decided to amend its proposal to use nonunion employees.
The Madison Prep board voted Wednesday night after an analysis by the school district found the pair of single-sex charter schools, geared toward low-income minority students, would cost $10.4 million more than previously estimated if it were to use union staff.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said the district would have to update its analysis based on the new proposal, which means a vote will not happen Nov. 28. A new time line for approval has not been established.
In announcing Wednesday's decision, the Madison Prep board said the state's new collective bargaining law made the school district and teachers union inflexible about how to pay for employing teachers for longer school days and a longer school year, among other issues.
During the past three decades, Milwaukee no doubt has led the nation in the number of plans advanced to improve K-12 education. With another initiative announced last week, Journal Sentinel readers can be excused for feeling they've heard this story before.
New recommendations - from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce - are encouraging in one important area. MMAC and its allies have convinced innovative educators from elsewhere to open schools in Milwaukee. Two years ago, I visited a Rocketship charter school in San Jose. It's great news that impressive operation is coming here.
However, the worthwhile goal of adding high-quality charter schools stands in contrast to other aspects of the MMAC plan. Business leaders who will be asked to finance it should apply the kind of scrutiny required in the world where they operate.
The plan comes up short in two major areas. First, it relies on a dated, narrow and misleading description of the major problem. Second, it walks back from the organization's historic commitment to creating a real education marketplace.
Parent-teacher conferences for elementary-school children are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and evening, and for middle-school children on Wednesday. One teacher explains how his school has been able to draw parents in.
Many teachers and schools are wondering how to get more parents to come to parent-teacher meetings. At my school, the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science, where over 90 percent of parents come to the meetings, something seems to be working well.
What is the school doing to make them want to come? First it expends serious effort. A.M.S., as we call it, took responsibility for reaching out to the parents by making visits to the home of every new student before school started. So, come parent meetings, it is the parents' turn to go out of their way to meet the teachers.
Several members of the audience joined in the discussion over the public's relative support for Quincy schools. Among them was Larry Troxel, a local minister, who said the public has a desire to support education but has lost trust over the years in the School Board's handling of finances.
"I've seen previous boards buy out the contracts of two previous superintendents so they could bring in their own local person to be superintendent," Troxel said.
He also pointed to a previous board decision to build Lincoln Elementary School only to close it and sell it after a relatively short period of time.
"The boards over the last 30 years have lost the confidence of the taxpayers in this community," he said. "And just this sort of argument -- and especially saying that we don't care about education -- is dead wrong. We care. But we don't trust the board that wants to always raise taxes and spend more money, because we've seen money wasted."
Board member Steve Krause said "you can't damn the current board in front of you for past indiscretions."
The problems facing the children attending Buffalo's public schools are supposed to be addressed by the School Board. The nine members ran for office because they felt they were the best able to take care of our kids.
The fact is they are not getting the job done; student achievement and graduation rates are both far too low. Board members need to act in new ways and not get bogged down with the same failed ideas. And if they are incapable of seeing that our kids get the education they are entitled to, the state must step in and take over.
The district faces many problems, but the most immediate one is how to turn around its seven failing schools. A total of $42 million is available -- $2 million a year for each school for three years -- to turn those schools around. But first the district must come up with a turnaround plan for each school that is acceptable to the state Education Department. The district must choose from three models outlined by the state. The state also says, for reasons never explained, that the same model can't be used for all seven schools.
A new analysis (PDF) by the Madison school district shows that the budget submitted by the Urban League of Greater Madison for a pair of sex-segregated charter schools could potentially cost the district an additional $13 million over the schools' first five years.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The new numbers came as a shock to Urban League president Kaleem Caire, who says that Madison Prep may pull out of a tentative agreement with Madison Teachers, Inc., that would require Madison Prep to hire mostly union staff.
"It's become clear to us that the most reasonable path to ensure the success of these kids is as a non-instrumentality," says Caire. "Others on our board want to look at a couple of other options, so we're looking at those before we make that final determination."
One of those options would be to scale back the program, including the proposed longer school days and extended school year.
On Nov. 10, Spokane Public Schools hosted a lovely “Breakfast for Community Leaders.” The district’s goal was to assure well-connected and like-minded folks in the city that – as the district put it – it’s “better preparing all students for success after graduation.” A few students also were brought in to “share their stories about the effectiveness of that preparation and what high school is like today.”
Superintendent Nancy Stowell began the breakfast by saying she wanted to “put to rest” the “fingerpointing and blame” the district faced during the 2011 board election. Here are a few examples of how she put things to rest.
- Stowell praised the district for higher graduation rates, saying the next challenge is college readiness. Wasn't college readiness always the goal? Most parents think so. So, the district is letting more of the kids leave, and at some point, they'll start getting them ready for postsecondary life? How does that work?
- Stowell showed us how enrollment is increasing in Advanced Placement classes. Had she shown AP pass rates -- we also would have seen a precipitous drop in the percentage passing, and an alarming drop in the average AP grade.
WPRI polling shows that more Wisconsinites support charter schools than oppose them (42% vs. 32%). But what exactly are charter schools?
The concept of charter schools is all the more confusing in Wisconsin because we have three types operating in the state. However, all three types do have some basic similarities.
- First and most important they are all public schools.
- Second, they are all free from many traditional public school regulations.
- Third, they all operate under a contract with an authorizer that can be no longer than five years. It is this contract that specifies their regulations and goals.
- Fourth, all contracts must contain fifteen specific pieces of information (see pages 5 and 6 of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau informational paper on charter schools for a detailed description of the provisions.)
The Wisconsin Charter Schools Association has additional basic information on Wisconsin Charters on their FAQ site worth checking out.
A plan to move hundreds of pupils at a top international school to temporary premises inside a public housing estate has angered their well-off parents.
The Hong Kong International School proposes to demolish its lower primary school building in Repulse Bay and redevelop it into what it says will be a first-class facility.
During the three-year project - the first major redevelopment of the Repulse Bay campus since the school started in 1966 - about 500 pupils aged five to eight would be taught in a disused school building in Chai Wan, a 25-minute drive away.
The plan has ignited debate ahead of a meeting today of the Town Planning Board, which will be asked to approve it.
The Star article, "Poverty tightens its grip in cities," described a recent Brookings Institution study on the increasing concentration of poverty in cities, including Kansas City.Educational diversity is essential to progress.
Poor public schools, such as the Kansas City School District, are a major factor in creating pockets of poverty. Those with enough resources move out of underperforming districts leaving the poorest of the poor behind.
Reversing this trend requires, among other things, fixing the school district problem. A number of solutions have been proposed, most of which will be as effective as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Real change requires something more fundamental: What the left calls giving "power to the people" and what the right calls being "free to choose."
Wisconsin (and just about every other state) is involved in developing new state tests. That work is one of the requirements of getting a waiver and, if a bill ever emerges form Congress, it will almost certainly continue to require every state to do testing.The oft-criticized WKCE often provides grist for "successes". Sometimes, rarely, the truth about its low standards is quietly mentioned.
But the new tests aren't scheduled to be in place for three years - in the fall of 2014. So this fall and for at least the next two, Wisconsin's school children and schools will go through the elaborate process of taking a test that still gets lots of attention but seems to be less useful each year it lives on.
I remember a conversation with a well educated Madison parent earlier this year. "My child is doing well, the WKCE reports him scoring in the 95th percentile in math"......
www.wisconsin2.org is worth a visit.
Critique of the District (MMSD)
Page # 23: MPA - No College Going Culture among Madison's New Student Population
The data on student performance and course-taking patterns among students in MMSD paint a clear picture. There is not a prevalent college going culture among Black, Hispanic and some Asian student populations enrolled in MMSD. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. The majority of these students are failing to complete a rigorous curriculum that would adequately prepare them for college and 21st century jobs. Far too many are also failing to complete college requirements, such as the ACT, or failing to graduate from high school.
Page # 23: No College Going Culture among Madison's New Student Population -
MMSD has taken many steps towards ensuring college attendance eligibility and readiness for our students of color. Efforts include:
East High School became the first MMSD school to implement AVID in the 2007-2008 school year. Teens of Promise or TOPS became synonymous with AVID as the Boys and Girls Club committed to an active partnership to support our program. AVID/TOPS students are defined as:
"AVID targets students in the academic middle - B, C, and even D students - who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. These are students who are capable of completing rigorous curriculum but are falling short of their
potential. Typically, they will be the first in their families to attend college, and many are from low-income or minority families. AVID pulls these students out of their unchallenging courses and puts them on the college track: acceleration instead of remediation."
The MMSD has 491 students currently enrolled in AVID/TOPS. Of that total, 380 or 77% of students are minority students (27% African-American, 30% Latino, 10% Asian, 10% Multiracial). 67% of MMSD AVID/TOPS students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The 2010- 2011 school year marked an important step in the District's implementation of AVID/TOPS. East High School celebrated its first cohort of AVID/TOPS graduates. East Highs AVID/TOPS class of 2011 had a 100% graduation rate and all of the students are enrolled in a 2-year or 4- year college. East High is also in the beginning stages of planning to become a national demonstration site based on the success of their program. This distinction, determined by the AVID regional site team, would allow high schools from around the country to visit East High School and learn how to plan and implement AVID programs in their schools.
MMSD has a partnership with the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and they are conducting a controlled study of the effects of AVID/TOPS students when compared to a comparison groups of students. Early analysis of the study reveals positive gains in nearly every category studied.
AVID pilot studies are underway at two MMSD middle schools and support staff has been allocated in all eleven middle schools to begin building capacity towards a 2012-2013 AVID Middle School experience. The program design is still underway and will take form this summer when school based site teams participate in the AVID Summer Institute training.
I found this commentary on the oft criticized WKCE exams fascinating (one day, wkce results are useful, another day - this document - WKCE's low benchmark is a problem)" (page 7):
Page # 28: MPA - Student Performance Measures:
85% of Madison Prep's Scholars will score at proficient or advanced levels in reading, math, and science on criterion referenced achievement tests after three years of enrollment.
90% of Scholars will graduate on time.
100% of students will complete the SAT and ACT assessments before graduation with 75% achieving a composite score of 22 or higher on the ACT and 1100 on the SAT (composite verbal and math).
100% of students will complete a Destination Plan before graduation.
100% of graduates will qualify for admissions to a four-year college after graduation.
100% of graduates will enroll in postsecondary education after graduation.
Page # 28: Student Performance Measures - MMSD Response:
WKCE scores of proficient are not adequate to predict success for college and career readiness. Cut scores equated with advanced are needed due to the low benchmark of Wisconsin's current state assessment system. What specific steps or actions will be provided for students that are far below proficiency and/or require specialized support services to meet the rigorous requirements of IB?
No Child Left Behind requires 100% proficiency by 2014. Madison Prep must be held to the same accountability standards as MMSD.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Madison School District links & notes on Madison Prep.
TJ Mertz comments, here.
Single-gender classrooms, and, to a lesser degree, single-gender schools, are a hot trend in education circles. In less than a decade, Wisconsin has gone from zero classrooms segregated by gender to more than a dozen scattered across the state. That mirrors increasing numbers throughout the country.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
But there's growing pushback from researchers, who claim the desire to separate boys from girls in school is based on what they call "pseudoscience."
In September, the prestigious journal, Science, published results of a study that showed sex segregation did not contribute to increased academic performance and harmed students by making sex stereotypes acceptable. Seven well-regarded researchers, including UW-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde, write in the article, "A new curriculum, like a new drug or factory production method, often yields a short-term gain because people are motivated by novelty and belief in the innovation. Novelty-based enthusiasm, sample bias and anecdotes account for much of the glowing characterization of (single-sex) education in the media."
In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union has successfully sued on the basis of sex discrimination, recently forcing a public high school in Pittsburgh to abandon its single-sex classrooms and a school board in Louisiana to end its practice of separating boys and girls at a middle schoo
Have school vouchers moved away from their historic focus on low-income students? The political hacks at the Center on Education Policy think so. And as we know, whenever CEP weighs in, that's reason enough to check the facts.
Paul DiPerna of the Friedman Foundation did a headcount and found that as of now:
11 of 17 existing voucher programs have no income limits
7 of these are statewide special-needs programs (FL, GA, LA, OHx2, OK & UT), 3 have geographic caps (ME, VT & OH) and one has a numeric cap (CO)
Of the 6 programs with income limits, 5 have limits that are above 200% of the poverty line
What do you know? CEP is right!
Peter Theron via a kind Don Severson email:
Earlier this year Wisconsin teachers and their supporters compared Wisconsin and Texas academically and claimed that Wisconsin had better achievement because it ranked higher on ACT/SAT scores. The fact that this claim ignored the ethnic composition of the states, prompted David Burge to use the National Assessment of Educational Progress(NAEP) to compare educational achievement within the same ethnic groups. His conclusion, based on the 2009 NAEP in Reading, Mathematics, and Science (3 subject areas times 2 grades, 4th and 8th, times 3 ethnicities, white, black, and hispanic equals 18 comparisons), was Longhorns 17 - Badgers 1.Related: Comparing Madison, Wisconsin & College Station, Texas.
The 2011 NAEP results are now available for Reading and
Mathematics. The updated conclusion (2 subject areas times 2 grades, 4th and 8th, times 3 ethnicities, white, black, and hispanic equals 12 comparisons) is Longhorns 12 - Badgers 0. Not only did Texas students outperform Wisconsin students in every one of the twelve ethnicity-controlled comparisons, but Texas students exceeded the national average in all 12 comparisons. Wisconsin students were above the average 3 times, below the average 8 times, and tied the average once.
Again, as in 2009, the achievement gaps were smaller in Texas than in Wisconsin.
2011 Data from http://nationsreportcard.gov/
2011 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 253, Wisconsin 251 (national average 249)
Black students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 217 (national 224)
Hispanic students: Texas 235, Wisconsin 228 (national 229)
2011 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 304, Wisconsin 295 (national 293)
Black students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 256 (national 262)
Hispanic students: Texas 283, Wisconsin 270 (national 269)
2011 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 227 (national 230)
Black students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 196 (national 205)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 205)
2011 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 274, Wisconsin 272 (national 272)
Black students: Texas 252, Wisconsin 240 (national 248)
Hispanic students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 248 (national 251)
2009 data compiled by David Burge from NAEP
2009 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)
2009 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)
2009 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)
2009 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)
2009 4th Grade Science
White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)
2009 8th Grade Science
White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)
Thrive released its "Advance Now Competitive Assessment Report," which compares the Madison Region to competitors Austin, TX, Des Moines, IA, and Lincoln, NE, across the major areas of People, Prosperity and Place, 3MB PDF via a kind Kaleem Caire email.
Finally, www.wisconsin2.org is worth a visit.
Lots of kids have tried lentils. But what about Ethiopian-style lentils, accompanied by injera bread, couscous and cucumber salad?
Fourth graders in Santa Fe, N.M. prepared this lunch feast themselves as part of a nutrition education program called Cooking with Kids. And nutrition experts say programs like this one are not just about expanding timid kids' palates.
Even as home economics classes have been phased out in recent years, some schools are bringing cooking back. And a new study that evaluates cooking curriculum says these hands-on classes do more than just prepare students to cook a decent meal.
"Teachers and principals are seeing how the classroom cooking experience helps support critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills," says study author Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, a nutrition researcher at Colorado State University. The study appears this week in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Today, I walked my first-grade son to our neighborhood public school before joining over 500 leaders converging on New York City to make tangible commitments to promote economic mobility in America at the Opportunity Nation summit. I told Matthew that people were coming virtually every sector -- business, education, non-profit and community organizations, religious institutions and the military -- to focus on how to provide him and his peers from every background a great education and a shot at the American dream. When I dropped Matthew off at his school's front door, he looked at me and warned me with a big smile not to follow him inside -- something I occasionally do partly to make him laugh and partly out of that desire to support him wherever he goes.
I didn't follow my son inside that schoolhouse door. But I have been working hard to determine what commitments I can personally make to provide our kids and all of America's children with tools they can use to create opportunity once they walk as young adults out of our sight-line into America's future.
One must know where one is in order to determine where to go and how to get there, but today's parents face significant challenges in that regard.
When thousands of white students abandoned the Memphis schools 38 years ago rather than attend classes with blacks under a desegregation plan fueled by busing, Joseph A. Clayton went with them. He quit his job as a public school principal to head an all-white private school and later won election to the board of the mostly white suburban district next door.Much more, here.
Now, as the overwhelmingly black Memphis school district is being dissolved into the majority-white Shelby County schools, Mr. Clayton is on the new combined 23-member school board overseeing the marriage. And he warns that the pattern of white flight could repeat itself, with the suburban towns trying to secede and start their own districts.
"There's the same element of fear," said Mr. Clayton, 79. "In the 1970s, it was a physical, personal fear. Today the fear is about the academic decline of the Shelby schools."
Of the nation's 10 largest cities, eight use armed police in some form. And in the ninth city, New York, officers receive far more training and scrutiny prior to hiring.
Five of those city school districts - San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio - employ their own police officers, who receive comparable training to regular city police.
Chicago, Phoenix, and the San Jose Unified School District base city police officers in some of their buildings. In the case of San Jose, the officers are not in uniform, but rather dress casually in polo shirts and conceal their weapons.
In New York - the nation's largest school system - the city police department's school-safety division staffs the schools with unarmed officers who receive 14 weeks of training, intensive background scrutiny, and drug and character screening. (Armed precinct-based officers, however, also come into the schools.)
The nation's largest cities are by no means alone.
The Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of large urban districts, surveyed members in 2004 and found that 29 of 37 respondents indicated its officers were armed. Las Vegas, Miami, and Indianapolis are among other bigger districts with their own police forces.
Marla Sole recognizes the positive success stories of many charter schools ("approximately four times as likely as public schools to be ranked in the top 5%"), but then she comments that charter schools "were approximately two-and-a-half times as likely as public schools to be ranked in the bottom 5%" (Letters, Oct. 31).
What Ms. Sole fails to mention is that when a charter school is failing, its charter can be revoked. The parents also have the opportunity to send their children to a different school, possibly one of those in the top 5%. When the public school is a failure, we do not close it. Instead we hear calls demanding even more money to fix the failure, and we continue to force the children to attend that failing school, with no other opportunities for an education. Charter schools have that flexibility to be reformed and if that fails, the school is shut down.
On Sept. 28, 2011, a PDC complaint was filed with the Public Disclosure Commission because of concerns noted in multiple public records from Spokane Public Schools. This PDC complaint is about Washington State's RCW 42.17.130.
Sept. 26 (filed Sept. 28), 2011: PDC complaint
DFER Wisconsin headed into the fall of 2011 with three major objectives: two of objectives required action by the state legislature (a phrase that is oxymoronic at best right now) and the third required action by the Milwaukee City Council. I'm happy to say we won more than we lost, but there is plenty of work left to be done.
Good news first:
Six million, give or take. That's how many children are in public school in California.
Arguably, we won't have a strong economic future if they don't get a good education.
But boy, do the grown-ups love to muck things up for the kids.
Politics, ego, endless skirmishes between school districts and teacher unions -- it all gets in the way of the kids' best interests. And California spends less per pupil than all but a few states when you adjust for regional cost-of-living differences, leading to an annual ritual of laying off thousands of teachers and other staffers.
But in Los Angeles, the status quo is under attack.
Parents and education advocates are suing L.A. Unified in an effort to enforce an overlooked state law that requires teacher and principal evaluations to be linked to student achievement.
1. Guiding PrinciplesRelated: Wisconsin 25th in 2011 NAEP Reading, Comparing Rhetoric Regarding Texas (10th) & Wisconsin NAEP Scores: Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank second on eighth-grade NAEP math test, Wisconsin, Mississippi Have "Easy State K-12 Exams" - NY Times and Seidenberg endorses using the Massachusetts model exam for teachers of reading (MTEL 90), which was developed with input from reading scientists. He also supports universal assessment to identify students who are at risk, and he mentioned the Minnesota Reading Corps as a model of reading tutoring that would be good to bring to Wisconsin.
The Design Team believes that the successful development and implementation of the new performance-based evaluation system is dependent upon the following guiding principles,
which define the central focus of the entire evaluation system. The guiding principles of the educator evaluation system are:
The ultimate goal of education is student learning. Effective educators are essential to achieving that goal for all students. We believe it is imperative that students have highly effective teams of educators to support them throughout their public education. We further believe that effective practice leading to better educational achievement requires continuous improvement and monitoring.
A strong evaluation system for educators is designed to provide information that supports decisions intended to ensure continuous individual and system effectiveness. The system must be well-articulated, manageable
Four years ago Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen predicted that online education would take off slowly and then hit everyone by surprise: the S-curve effect. And indeed, while it initially grew slowly, online education has exploded over the past several years. According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, approximately 5.6 million students took at least one web-based class during the fall 2009 semester, which marked a 21% growth from the previous year. That's up from 45,000 in 2000 and experts predict that online education could reach 14 million in 2014.
Consider a recent Economist article featuring Bill Gates's educational poster child: Khan Academy, founded by Salman Khan in 2006. Khan's business model is simple, yet impactful. As The Economist noted, it flips education on its head. Rather than filling the day with lectures and requiring students to complete exercises after school, Khan focuses on classroom exercises throughout the day and allows students to download more lectures after school. When students arrive at their Silicon Valley suburb classroom with their white MacBooks, they begin their day doing various online learning exercises. The teacher, aware of what her students are working on based on her own monitor screen, then approaches students and provides one-on-one feedback and mentoring, tailoring her message to students' particular learning paces and needs.
THERE are many ways to interpret the Education Ministry's latest solution to its controversial policy with regard to the teaching of Mathematics and Science in schools.
Many parents would applaud the ministry's decision to allow children currently learning the two core subjects in English to continue doing so until they reach Form Five.
The "soft-landing" approach may be the best way out of this contentious issue and gradually pave the way for Bahasa Malaysia to be fully reinstated by 2016 at the primary school level and 2021 at the secondary school level.
This could be enough to avert the anger of parents and pressure groups who are opposed to the removal of the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy. In essence, the policy stays for now.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who went to great lengths to explain to editors on Friday why the six-year-old policy was unsustainable, insisted that the soft-landing approach was necessary.
"It is a fair decision. We are very considerate," he said.
The teaching profession is crucial to America's soci- ety and economy, but public-school teachers should receive compensation that is neither higher nor lower than market rates. Do teachers currently receive the proper level of compensation? Standard analytical approaches to this question compare teacher salaries to the salaries of similarly educated and experienced private-sector workers, and then add the value of employer contributions toward fringe benefits. These simple comparisons would indicate that public-school teachers are undercompensated. However, comparing teachers to non-teachers presents special challenges not accounted for in the existing literature.
First, formal educational attainment, such as a degree acquired or years of education completed, is not a good proxy for the earnings potential of school teach- ers. Public-school teachers earn less in wages on aver- age than non-teachers with the same level of education, but teacher skills generally lag behind those of other workers with similar "paper" qualifications. We show that:
A controversial bill that would have established a state-run authorizing board to help expand the number of independent charter schools in Wisconsin was not able to gather the 17 votes necessary for passage in the state Senate by the end of the day Thursday.
Now, with the current floor session complete and legislators heading home until January, the bill, at least in its current form, is dead.
Whether the bill -- first introduced early last spring -- comes back with enough adjustments to make it palatable during the spring session remains to be seen.
Sources close to Republican legislators at the Capitol say that several GOP senators raised questions about a number of elements of the bill, suggesting it could be difficult to rework it sufficiently to pass muster in a chamber where Republicans have a razor-thin 17-16 majority and Democrats have indicated their opposition.
With only 24 days remaining till the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will vote on the Madison Preparatory Academy charter and only 9 days until the MMSD administration is required to issue an analysis of their proposal (and that is assuming the analysis is issued on a Sunday, otherwise we are talking only one week), there are still many, many unanswered questions concerning the school. Too many unanswered questions.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school, here.
Where to start?
All officially submitted information (and more) can be found on the district web site (scroll down for the latest iterations, and thanks to the district public info team for doing this).
The issues around instrumentality/non instrumentality and the status of staff in relation to existing union contracts have rightfully been given much attention. It is my understanding that there has been some progress, but things seem to be somewhat stalled on those matters.
Do current schools face the same scrutiny as the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter?
Charter schools--public schools of choice that are operated autonomously, outside the direct control of local school districts--have become more prevalent over the past two decades. There is no consensus about whether, on average, charter schools are doing better or worse than conventional public schools at promoting the achievement of their students. Nonetheless, one research finding is clear: Effects vary widely among different charter schools. Many educators, policymakers, and funders are interested in ways to identify and replicate successful charter schools and help other public schools adopt effective charter school practices.Andrew Rotherham comments on the study.
Charter-school management organizations (CMOs), which establish and operate multiple charter schools, represent one prominent attempt to bring high performance to scale. Many CMOs were created in order to replicate educational approaches that appeared to be effective, particularly among disadvantaged students. Attracting substantial philanthropic support, CMO schools have grown rapidly from encompassing about 6 percent of all charter schools in 2000 to about 17 percent of a much larger number of charter schools by 2009 (Miron 2010). Some of these organizations have received laudatory attention through anecdotal reports of dramatic achievement results.
1. Develop or Revise a District Improvement PlanClusty Search: District Identified for Improvement (DIFI)
Address the fundamental teaching and learning needs of schools in the Local Education Agency (LEA), especially the academic problems o f low-achieving students.
MMSD has been identified by the State of Wisconsin as a District Identified for Improvement, or DIFI. We entered into this status based on District WKCE assessment scores. The data indicates that sub-groups of students-African American students, English Language Learner Students with Disabilities or Economically Disadvantaged -did not score high enough on the WKCE in one or more areas of reading, math or test participation to meet state criteria.
Under No Child Left Behind, 100% of students are expected to achieve proficient or advanced on the WKCE in four areas by 2014. Student performance goals have been raised every year on a regular schedule since 2001, making targets more and more difficult to reach each year. In addition to the curriculum changes being implemented, the following assessments are also new or being implemented during the 2011-12 school year (see Attachment 1):
Attached are six documents describing programs being implemented for the 2011-12 school year to address the needs of all students.
- The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): Grades 3-7. MAP is incorporated into the MMSD Balanced Assessment Plan as a computer adaptive benchmark assessment tool for grades 3-7. Administration of the assessment was implemented in spring, 2011.
- Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT): Grades 2 and 5. As proposed in the Talented and Gifted Plan approved by the Board of Education in August, 2009, the district requested approval of funds to purchase and score the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) which was administered in February, 2011, to all second and fifth graders.
- The EPAS System: Explore Grades 8-9, Plan Grade 10, ACT Grade 11. The EPAS system provides a longitudinal, systematic approach to educational and career planning, assessment, instructional support, and evaluation. The system focuses on the integrated, higher-order thinking skills students develop in grades K-12 that are important for success both during and after high school. The EPAS system is linked to the College and Career Readiness standards so that the information gained about student performance can be used to inform instruction around those standards.
1. Strategic Plan Document: Year Three (Attachment 2)
2. Strategic Plan Summary of Three Main Focus Areas (Attachment 3)
3. Addressing the Needs of All Learners and Closing the Achievement Gap Through K-12 Alignment (Attachment 4)
4. Scope and Sequence (Attachment 5)
5. The Ideal Graduate from MMSD (Attachment 6)
6. 4K Update to BOE- Program and Sites- (Attachment 7)
Madison School District administrators aren't keeping track of the best classroom instruction. Not all principals create a culture of high expectations for all students. And teachers aren't using the same research-based methods.
Such inconsistencies across the district and within schools -- stemming from Madison's tradition of school and teacher autonomy -- are hurting student achievement, according to a district analysis required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
"There are problems within the entire system," Superintendent Dan Nerad said. "We do have good practice, but we need to be more consistent and have more fidelity to our practices."
Inconsistencies in teaching and building culture can affect low-income students, who are more likely to move from school to school, and make teacher training less effective, Nerad said.
The analysis is contained in an improvement plan the district is scheduled to discuss with the School Board on Monday and to deliver next week to the state Department of Public Instruction.
Charter schools, publicly financed but independently operated, have encountered fierce resistance in many suburban communities, criticized by parents and traditional educators who view them as a drain on resources.
The district, in Westchester County, sued the State Education Department and the Amani school this year, calling the approval an "arbitrary and capricious" decision, and sought to block Amani from moving forward. It has refused to turn over state, federal and local aid money to Amani, so the state has begun paying the charter directly. During the summer, district workers were sent to knock on the doors of Amani students to check that they lived in the district, a tactic that angered some parents. And in recent weeks, the district has delayed providing special education services to Amani students.
Dr. Armand A. Fusco, via a kind email:
"No one has been able to stop the steady plunge of young black Americans into a socioeconomic abyss." Bob Herbert / Syndicated columnist
Everything you wanted to know about urban education and its solutions!
For over 50 years this shame of the nation and education has remained as a plague upon its most vulnerable children. All reform efforts involving billions of dollars have not alleviated this scourge in our public schools. The rhetoric has been profound, but it has been immune to any antidote or action and it is getting worse; but it doesn't have to be!
The following quotes summarize the 285 pages and over 400 references from my book.
Edited Insightful Quotes
The explanations and references are found in the contents of the book.
- School pushouts is a time bomb exploding economically and socially every twenty-six seconds
- Remember what the basic problem is--they are in all respects illiterate and that is why they are failing.
- Every three years the number of dropouts and pushouts adds up to a city bigger than Chicago.
- Politics trump the needs of all children to achieve their potential.
- One reason that the high school dropout crisis is known as the "silent epidemic" is that the problem is frequently minimized.
- Simply stated black male students can achieve high outcomes; the tragedy is most states and districts choose not to do so.
- In the majority of schools, the conditions necessary for Black males to systematically succeed in education do not exist.
- While one in four American children is Latino--the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States--they are chronically underserved by the nation's public schools and have the lowest education attainment levels in the country.
- Miseducation is the most powerful example of cruel and unusual punishment; it's exacted on children innocent of any crime.
- Traditional proposals for improving education--more money, smaller classes, etc.--aren't getting the job done.
- The public school system is designed for Black and other minority children to fail.
- The U.S. Department of Education has never even acknowledged that the problem exists.
- Though extensive records are kept...unions and school boards do not want productivity analysis done.
- Educational bureaucracies like the NEA are at the center of America's dysfunctional minority public schools.
- Does bonus pay alone improve student outcomes? We found that it does not.
- Performance pay is equivalent to "thirty pieces of silver."
- Data necessary to distinguish cost-effective schools are all available, but our system has been built to make their use difficult.
- Districts give credit for students who fail standardized tests on the expectation that students someday will pass.
- We saw some schools that were low performing and had a very high parent satisfaction rate.
- We're spending ever-greater sums of money, yet our high school graduates' test results have been absolutely flat.
- America's primary and secondary schools have many problems, but an excess of excellence is not one of them.
- Not only is our use of incarceration highly concentrated among men with little schooling, but corrections systems are doing less to correct the problem by reducing educational opportunities for the growing number of prisoners.
- Although states will require school districts to implement the common core state standards, the majority of these states are not requiring districts to make complementary changes in curriculum and teacher programs.
- We can show that merit pay is counterproductive, that closing down struggling schools (or firing principals) makes no sense.
- The gap between our articulated ideals and our practice is an international embarrassment.
- It's interesting to note that despite the growing support by minority parents for charters, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and other civil rights groups collectively condemn charter schools.
- Public schools do respond constructively to competition by raising their achievement and productivity.
- Gates Foundation has also stopped funding the small school concept because no results could be shown.
- The policies we are following today are unlikely to improve our schools.
- Our country still does a better job of tracking a package than it does a student.
- Indeed, we give these children less of all the things that both research and experience tell us make a difference.
- Reformers have little knowledge of what is working and how to scale what works.
- The fact is that illiteracy has persisted in all states for generations, particularly among the most vulnerable children, and getting worse is a testament that national policy and creative leadership rings hollow.
- We can't change a child's home life, but what we can do is affect what they do here at school.
- Only a third of young Americans will leave high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
- Black churches can no longer play gospel in the sanctuaries while kids drop out into poverty and prison. They must embrace school reform and take the role that Catholic churches have done for so long and for so many.
- There is only one way to equalize education for all--technology.
- Whatever made you successful in the past won't in the future.
- The real potential of technology for improving learning remains largely untapped in schools today.
- Can't read, can't learn, can't get a job, can't survive, so can't stay within the law.
- Of the 19.4 million government workers, half work in education, which rivals health care for the most wasteful sector in America.
- The only people not being betrayed are those who feed off our failing education system...that group gets larger every year.
- Mediocrity, not excellence, is the national norm as demonstrated by the deplorable evidence.
- Parents are left to face the bleak reality that their child will be forever stuck in a failing school and a failing system.
- The key is that unless there is accountability, we will never get the right system.
- The very public institutions intended for student learning have become focused instead on adult employment.
- We conclude that the strategies driving the best performing systems are rarely found in the United States.
- No reform has yet lived up to its definition!
- Minority males don't get the beef, they get the leftovers.
- The cotton plantations have become the school plantations (children held in bondage of failing schools) and the dropouts move on to the prison plantations.
Nicole is a teacher's dream student. Bright, curious and hard-working, she has high expectations for herself and isn't satisfied with anything less than A grades. In fact, her mother says, she sometimes has to be told not to take school too seriously.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school, here.
But when Nicole was tested in seventh grade to see if she'd qualify for an eighth-grade algebra course that would put her on track for advanced math courses in high school, her score wasn't top-notch. She assured the teacher she wanted to tackle the course anyway. He turned her down.
In fact, her score could not predict whether she'd succeed. Neither could the color of her skin.
As an African-American girl, Nicole didn't look much like the high-flying students her teacher was accustomed to teaching in his accelerated math classes at a Madison middle school. But instead of backing off, Nicole and her family challenged the recommendation. Somewhat grudgingly, her teacher allowed her in the class.
Fast forward a year: Nicole and one other student, the two top performers in the eighth-grade algebra class, were recommended for advanced math classes in high school.
On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council will consider the Charter School Review Committee's recommendation that the City of Milwaukee contract with Rocketship Education to open a network of independent charter schools.
Rocketship Education selected Milwaukee as its first expansion city outside of California because it saw great need but also because it sees the opportunity to be part of a systemic change in a community that desperately needs it. Rocketship has never promised miracles. It does promise a chance - a chance for children and a chance for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee has serious challenges and an urgent need to grow, develop and attract more schools that are effective in educating low-income children. Closing the gap in educational achievement for all 127,000 of the city's K-12 schoolchildren is a community-wide responsibility.
There are no miracles, and we cannot wait for Superman. What we can do is expand our best-performing schools and work to improve our high-potential schools that operate as Milwaukee Public Schools or under the charter and choice programs. This requires the development of quality teachers and school leaders.
Madison Preparatory Academy's educational program has been designed to be different. The eight features of the educational program will serve as a powerful mix of strategies that allow Madison Prep to fulfill its mission: to prepare students for success at a four-year college or university by instilling Excellence, Pride, Leadership and Service. By fulfilling this mission, Madison Prep will serve as a catalyst of change and opportunity for young men and women who live in a city where only 48% of African American students and 56% of Latino students graduate from high school. Madison Prep's educational program will produce students who are ready for college; who think, read, and write critically; who are culturally aware and embrace differences among all people; who give back to their communities; and who know how to work hard.Business Plan (PDF), via a kind Kaleem Caire email:
One of the most unique features of Madison Prep is the single gender approach. While single gender education has a long, successful history, there are currently no schools - public or private - in Dane County that offer single gender education. While single gender education is not right for every student, the demand demonstrated thus far by families who are interested in enrolling their children in Madison Prep shows that a significant number of parents believe their children would benefit from a single gender secondary school experience.
Madison Prep will operate two schools - a boys' school and a girls' school - in order to meet this demand as well as ensure compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The schools will be virtually identical in all aspects, from culture to curriculum, because the founders of Madison Prep know that both boys and girls need and will benefit from the other educational features of Madison Prep.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is one of those strategies that Madison Prep's founders know will positively impact all the students the schools serve. IB is widely considered to be the highest quality curricular framework available. What makes IB particularly suitable for Madison Prep is that it can be designed around local learning standards (the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and the Common Core State Standards) and it is inherently college preparatory. For students at Madison Prep who have special learning needs or speak English as a second language, IB is fully adaptable to their needs. Madison Prep will offer both the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP) to all its students.
Because IB is designed to be college preparatory, this curricular framework is an ideal foundation for the other aspects of Madison Prep's college preparatory program. Madison Prep is aiming to serve a student population of which at least 65% qualify for free or reduced lunch. This means that many of the parents of Madison Prep students will not be college educated themselves and will need the school to provide considerable support as their students embark on their journey through Madison Prep and to college.
College exposure, Destination Planning, and graduation requirements that mirror admissions requirements are some of the ways in which Madison Prep will ensure students are headed to college. Furthermore, parents' pursuit of an international education for their children is increasing rapidly around the world as they seek to foster in their children a global outlook that also expands their awareness, competence and comfort level with communicating, living, working and problem solving with and among cultures different than their own.
Harkness Teaching, the cornerstone instructional strategy for Madison Prep, will serve as an effective avenue through which students will develop the critical thinking and communication skills that IB emphasizes. Harkness Teaching, which puts teacher and students around a table rather than in theater-style classrooms, promotes student-centered learning and rigorous exchange of ideas. Disciplinary Apprenticeship, Madison Prep's approach to literacy across the curriculum, will ensure that students have the literacy skills to glean ideas and information from a variety of texts, ideas and information that they can then bring to the Harkness Table for critical analysis.
Yet to ensure that students are on track for college readiness and learning the standards set out in the curriculum, teachers will have to take a disciplined approach to data-driven instruction. Frequent, high quality assessments - aligned to the standards when possible - will serve as the basis for instructional practices. Madison Prep teachers will consistently be analyzing new data to adjust their practice as needed.
Based on current education and social conditions, the fate of young men and women of color is uncertain.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Black and Hispanic boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Likewise, boys in general lag behind girls in most indicators of student achievement.
Research indicates that although boys of color have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein men of color find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young men of color will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Likewise, girls of color are failing to graduate high school on-time, underperform on standardized achievement and college entrance exams and are under-enrolled in college preparatory classes in secondary school. The situation is particularly pronounced in the Madison Metropolitan School District where Black and Hispanic girls are far less likely than Asian and White girls to take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in high school or successfully complete such courses with a grade of C or better when they do. In this regard, they mimic the course taking patterns of boys of color.
Additionally, data on ACT college entrance exam completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement tests scores provided to the Urban League of Greater Madison by the Madison Metropolitan School District show a significant gap in ACT completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement scores between students of color and their White peers.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Women will be established to serve as catalysts for change and opportunity among young men and women in the Greater Madison, Wisconsin area, particularly young men and women of color. It will also serve the interests of parents who desire a nurturing, college preparatory educational experience for their child.
Both schools will be administratively separate and operated by Madison Preparatory Academy, Inc. (Madison Prep), an independent 501(c)(3) established by the Urban League of Greater Madison and members of Madison Prep's inaugural board of directors.
The Urban League of Greater Madison, the "founder" of Madison Prep, understands that poverty, isolation, structural discrimination, limited access to schools and classrooms that provide academic rigor, lack of access to positive male and female role models in different career fields, limited exposure to academically successful and achievement-oriented peer groups, and limited exposure to opportunity and culture experiences outside their neighborhoods contribute to reasons why so many young men and women fail to achieve their full potential. At the same time, the Urban League and its supporters understand that these issues can be addressed by directly countering each issue with a positive, exciting, engaging, enriching, challenging, affirming and structured learning community designed to specifically address these issues.
Madison Prep will consist of two independent public charter schools - authorized by the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education - designed to serve adolescent males and females in grades 6-12 in two separate schools. Both will be open to all students residing within the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) who apply, regardless of their previous academic performance.
Earlier this year, Dropout Nation argued that one way that school reformers -- including school choice activists and Parent Power groups -- could advance reform and expand school choice was to file lawsuits similar to school funding torts filed for the past four decades by school funding advocates. But now, it looks like Parent Power activists may be filing a lawsuit in Los Angeles on a different front: Overhauling teacher evaluations. And the Los Angeles Unified School District may be the place where the first suit is filed.
In a letter sent on behalf of some families Wednesday to L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy and the school board -- and just before the district begins negotiations with the American Federation of Teachers' City of Angels unit over a new contract -- Barnes & Thornburg's Kyle Kirwan demanded that the district "implement a comprehensive system" of evaluating teachers that ties "pupil progress" data to teacher evaluations. Kirwan and the group he represents are also asking for the district to begin evaluating all teachers "regardless of tenure status" and to reject any contract with the American Federation of Teachers local that allows for any veteran teacher with more than a decade on the job to go longer than two years without an evaluation if they haven't had one in the first place.
We represent minor-students currently residing within the boundaries of the Los Angeles Unified School District (the "District" or "LAUSD"), the parents of these students, and other adults who have paid taxes for a school system that has chronically failed to comply with California law.
Our clients seek to have the District immediately meet its obligations under the Stull Act, a forty year old law that is codified at California Education Code section 44660 et seq. (the "Stull Act").
In relevant part, the Stull Act requires that "[t]he governing board of each school district establish standards of expected pupil achievement at each grade level in each area of study."
Cal. Educ. Code § 44662(a). The Stull Act requires further that "[t]he governing board of each school district ... evaluate and assess certificated employee performance as it reasonably relates to ... [t]he progress of pupils toward the standards established pursuant to subdivision (a) and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by state adopted criterion referenced assessments ...." Cal. Educ. Code§ 44662(b)(l).
In the forty years since the California Legislature passed the Stull Act, the District has never evaluated its certificated personnel based upon the progress of pupils towards the standards established pursuant to Education Code section 44662(a) and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by the state adopted criterion referenced assessments; never reduced such evaluations to writing or added the evaluations to part of the permanent records of its certificated personnel; never reviewed with its certificated personnel the results of pupil progress as they relate to Stull Act evaluations; and never made specific recommendations on how certificated personnel with unsatisfactory ratings could improve their performance in order to achieve a higher level of pupil progress toward meeting established standards of expected pupil achievement.
I love this scene in Goodwill Hunting because it sums up in large part how I feel about the current education system (only Matt Damon says it way cooler than I ever will).
Does it trouble anyone else that university presidents (in Canada at least, I can't vouch for the USA) make more money than the Prime Minister does? It is primarily tax dollars that pay both of their salaries (most universities in Canada operate with about 60-70% of their costs covered by the government). How about the whole notion of publishing journal articles in a specific language that only certain people can speak effectively (APA, MLA, Chicago etc)? If you do not want to lay eyes on a somewhat cynical rant about the tyranny of post-secondary education monopolies then please avert your eyes.
Cynical or Realistic?
In my masters course last week someone who was taking their first course in several years (after being in the workforce for a substantial period of time) asked me why so much emphasis was placed on getting the exact period and comma marks right when citing sources (she was not questioning the validity of citing a source, only the extremely specific emphasis put on the minutiae of it). My response shocked her a little.
New Position Seeks to Connect Students and Teachers with Local Businesses
Madison - The Madison Metropolitan School District and Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce announced a new partnership today to connect high school students with on-site work experience through youth apprenticeships. A cornerstone of the partnership will be a new position that will meet the needs of existing students and increase the
capacity for future students participating in the Youth Apprenticeship Program.
Youth Apprenticeship is a rigorous elective program for high school juniors and seniors that combines academic and technical classroom instruction with mentored on-the-job learning. The new Youth Apprenticeship Facilitator will serve as a liaison connecting all program partners with the ultimate goal of growing the number of student participants and
For Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Alexander, collaborating with Madison schools to support youth apprenticeship was a natural alignment.
We applaud the Urban League's energy and persistence in identifying the significant achievement gap that remains in Madison schools. We welcome the fact that the Urban League has helped focus broader community discussion on this issue, and the need to serve more effectively and successfully African-American and Hispanic students. The achievement gap is real and must be addressed.
While the Madison Preparatory Academy may provide a fine educational experience for 840 students, the Madison Metropolitan School District is charged with improving outcomes for more than 12,000 children of color. We may be better served by using our limited and diminishing resources:
1. To increase the number of students in AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) by expanding this nationally proven and successful program, now in all four high schools, to lower grade levels. AVID is a college readiness system that accelerates learning for students in the academic middle who may not have a college tradition in their families. Ultimately, AVID uses research-based instructional strategies to increase academic performance schoolwide. East High, the first Madison school to implement AVID, has had two graduating classes. These graduates, who attend a variety of Wisconsin colleges and universities, are 90 percent students of color and 74 percent low income; 52 percent of these graduates speak a language other than English as their first language.
via a kind Larry Winkler email.
An independent charter school program would expand to medium and large school districts around Wisconsin, under a bill passed Wednesday by Republicans on the Legislature's budget committee.
The proposal passed 12-3 on a party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against.
The bill would take an independent charter school program currently operating in only Milwaukee and Racine and extend it statewide to districts with more than 2,000 students. That would apply to roughly a quarter of the state's districts.
Republicans said it would help provide another options for students whose schools are failing them.
"The bill we are taking up today is truly something that is going to help the long-term prospects of Wisconsin," said Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington), a co-chairman of the committee.
But Democrats said that the program would undermine local control of schools by elected officials in favor of an unelected board. They said the proposal could also prove another financial blow to regular public schools that are losing nearly $800 million in state aid over two years as part of the state budget and having tight state caps placed on their property tax levies.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) reports today on the 10.3% local tax levy increase in Milwaukee attributable to the Milwaukee school choice program. Because the choice program is not a taxing authority, the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) levy is used as a fiscal agent to pay 34% of the total cost of the MPCP. As I've noted before, the levy used to pay for choice does not lower the actual total revenue MPS receives.
There are two reasons for the increase in the MPCP levy this year. First, the local share of the cost of the choice program increased from 30% in 2010-11 to 34% this year due to a reduction in state poverty aid used to offset the MPCP levy. The second and more important reason, which Erin Richards focuses on in her MJS article, is the increase in choice program enrollment. The Department of Public Instruction estimates 22,400 Milwaukee students are using choice this year, up from about 20,300 last year. The rise is a direct result of changes in the 2011-13 state budget that raised income eligibility requirements for participating students and allowed suburban schools to enroll Milwaukee pupils through the program.
Charter schools are largely viewed as a major innovation in the public school landscape, as they receive more independence from state laws and regulations than do traditional public schools, and are therefore more able to experiment with alternative curricula, pedagogical methods, and different ways of hiring and training teachers. Unlike traditional public schools, charters may be shut down by their authorizers for poor performance. But how is charter school performance measured? What are the effects of charter schools on student achievement?
Assessing literature that uses either experimental (lottery) or student-level growth- based methods, this analysis infers the causal impact of attending a charter school on student performance.
Focusing on math and reading scores, the authors find compelling evidence that charters under-perform traditional public schools in some locations, grades, and subjects, and out-perform traditional public schools in other locations, grades, and subjects. However, important exceptions include elementary school reading and middle school math and reading, where evidence suggests no negative effects of charter schools and, in some cases, evidence of positive effects. Meta-analytic methods are used to obtain overall estimates on the effect of charter schools on reading and math achievement. The authors find an overall effect size for elementary school reading and math of 0.02 and 0.05, respectively, and for middle school math of 0.055. Effects are not statistically meaningful for middle school reading and for high school math and reading. Studies that focus on urban areas tend to find larger effects than do studies that examine wider areas. Studies of KIPP charter middle schools suggest positive effects of 0.096 and 0.223 for reading and math respectively. New York City and Boston charter schools also appeared to deliver achievement gains larger than charter schools in most other locations. A lack of rigorous studies in many parts of the nation limits the ability to extrapolate.
Charter schools provide plenty of compelling news. Often the coverage is of great schools producing amazing outcomes for kids. But too often the stories are more tragic or sordid. A school's governing board becomes mired in dysfunctional arguments; a school's students are performing badly on state tests for several years running; somebody absconds with money; or a student with disabilities is discouraged from enrolling in a school.
Facing these unfortunate circumstances, a person is likely to shout, "Somebody should do something!" The outraged observer is correct. Generally, the "somebody" that ought to act is a charter school authorizer. Strong charter school authorizers screen initial applicants to avoid future failures. They also implement practices that respect each school's autonomy while also protecting against abuses and ensuring that floundering schools close. Twenty years into the charter school movement, it appears that it will be difficult to hold all charter schools accountable unless we start to hold authorizers accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities.
Two out of three children in Africa are left out of secondary schoolThe complete report is available here (PDF).
Governments are struggling to meet the rising demand for secondary education, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where there are enough school places for just 36% of children of age to enrol, according the latest edition of the Global Education Digest.
Globally, secondary schools have been accommodating almost one hundred million more students each decade, with the total number growing by 60% between 1990 and 2009. But the supply is dwarfed by demand as more countries approach universal primary education.
In 2009, 88% of children enrolled in primary school reached the last grade of this level of education, compared to 81%. Yet, in 20 countries -- mostly in sub-Saharan Africa -- a child in the last grade of primary school has a 75% chance at best of making the transition to lower secondary school.
The path to prosperity
"There can be no escape from poverty without a vast expansion of secondary education. This is a minimum entitlement for equipping youth with the knowledge and skills they need to secure decent livelihoods in today's globalized world. It is going to take ambition and commitment to meet this challenge. But it is the only path towards prosperity," said UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova.
"An educated population is a country's greatest wealth," she added. "The inequalities signalled in this Report, especially in relation to girls' exclusion from secondary education in many countries, have enormous implications for the achievement of all the internationally agreed development goals, from child and maternal health and HIV prevention to environmental security."
In terms of enrolment, sub-Saharan Africa has made the greatest gains of all regions, with gross enrolment ratios rising from 28% to 43% for lower secondary and from 20% to 27% for upper secondary education between 1999 and 2009. Nevertheless, more than 21.6 million children of lower secondary school age remain excluded from education across the region and many will never spend a day in school.
On Oct. 24, a Spokesman-Review reporter called me to talk about education. Over five years of education advocacy, this was the second phone call I've received from a SR reporter.Related: asking questions.
The first call came Oct. 13, after I submitted a Letter to the Editor about the formal complaint I filed Sept. 28 with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). This PDC complaint concerns Spokane Public Schools and school board candidate Deana Brower. Reporter Jody Lawrence-Turner called me to ask for a copy of the complaint.
On Monday, Lawrence-Turner called again as I was driving home with my daughter and a student I'm tutoring. Before I talked with Lawrence-Turner, I confirmed that we were having a conversation that was NOT on the record. Having confirmed that, I talked with her about various education-related topics.
This is the article that showed up in the paper today: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/oct/25/caign-limit-trend-shifts-to-smaller-races
If Lawrence-Turner wonders why I asked if our conversation was off the record, all she needs to do is look at her articles. Gee, do you think The Spokesman-Review and Lawrence-Turner want Brower to win the school board election? I offered my entire blog to Lawrence-Turner, the information in it, and the links to district emails - and this is what she wrote. It looks to me like yet another slanted article with unsupported insinuations regarding school board candidate Sally Fullmer and a local community member, and with an accompanying free pass for opponent Brower.
If you want to tell if someone is a good driver, you watch them drive. If you want to tell if someone is a good teacher, watch them teach. When it comes to evaluating teachers, the further from the classroom you get, the weaker the measure is.
There's no doubt about it - high-quality evaluation systems for teachers and principals help students and schools. Our union of educators has called for consistent evaluations for years - and even advanced our own proposal back in January. We have been one of many voices on the State Superintendent's Educator Effectiveness Design Team, which is near to releasing a comprehensive evaluation framework.
The education community knows what works: professional development, consistent and thorough classroom observation and using results to help good educators become great.
It was troubling, then, when last week the state Senate voted to advance a bill to tie teacher discipline - even firing - to students' Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) test scores.
A much-heralded cap on property taxes championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is encountering resistance as some communities across New York chafe at what amounts to a restriction on their spending and seek to exempt themselves from the new limits.
The communities, which include affluent New York City suburbs and rural communities near the border with Canada, are declaring that they cannot restrain the growth of property taxes and still comply with a variety of state-mandated programs and provide the services residents expect. And now dozens of town and county boards are overriding, or proposing to override, the cap.
"We should be able to dictate our own financial future," said Lee V. A. Roberts, the supervisor in the Westchester County town of Bedford, where the Town Board has already voted to grant itself a waiver from the cap.
The Legislature approved the tax cap in late June, an effort to limit the annual growth of local property taxes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation. After that measure passed, Mr. Cuomo vowed that it would "provide much-needed relief" from rising taxes, and he was so proud of the law that he signed it six times, once in his office and five times on the front lawns of houses in high-tax communities.
The Madison School Board unanimously adopted the 2011-12 district budget and tax levy on Monday, saving the average Madison homeowner $2.74 over their 2010-11 property tax bill.Ally Boutelle:
The $372 million budget requires the district to levy slightly more than $245 million in taxes, down 0.03 percent, or about $62,000, from last year's levy.
The district gets more than $40 million in state funding and more than $10 million in federal funding. The rest of the budget gap is filled by student fees, special education funding and small-class-size funding, said Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Erik Kass.
Superintendent Dan Nerad's $3.5 million spending recommendations were amended into the adopted budget, but Kass said $2.5 million of that amount was reallocated money that already was built into June's preliminary budget.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad has proposed about $3.5 million in additional spending on top of the school district's current budget for 2012.Matthew DeFour:
MMSD spokesperson Ken Syke said about $2.5 million of that money will come from sources previously unaccounted for, but income taxes in the City of Madison may need to be upped to cover the remaining additions.
"$1.6 million of that [money] became available because of debt defeasance, and $937,000 of it is coming from revenue from a Medicaid time study," he said.
In addition to the newly available $2.5 million, the district has introduced a recommendation for a total of $1,034,935 in additional funding for school maintenance programs, a statement issued by the district said.
The Madison School Board is considering about $3.5 million in additional spending proposals before it sets its 2011-12 budget and property tax levy Monday night.
The new spending proposed by Superintendent Dan Nerad would come on top of the $369 million budget approved in June.
For an average Madison home valued at $239,239, the new spending would mean $28.71 more than what the board approved in June, for a December bill of $2,665.12. The school tax bill on the average home still would decline $2.74.
Nerad proposed the new spending because of additional revenue identified by the district since the board voted in June. The net result of the new spending and revenue would be a property tax levy that is about the same as the 2010-11 school year.
Much more on the Madison School District's 2011-2012 $372,000,000 budget, here.
The Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, Calif., is a public charter school. It must hold a random lottery when it has more applicants than vacancies. It is not supposed to be selective.
Yet somehow its average SAT score has risen to the top 10th of 1 percent nationally. Less than 10 percent of its students are from low-income families, compared with 40 percent in its city. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that the school is allowed to ask (not require, it emphasizes) that every family donate $3,000 and 40 hours of volunteer time a year.
As a supporter of the charter school movement, I get grief from people who say that charters -- independent public schools using tax dollars -- are private schools in disguise. They are almost always wrong about that, but there are enough Pacific Collegiate situations to make me wonder whether the rules need revision.
Armed with tote bags for the handouts awaiting them, thousands of Chicago parents shuffled through display tables adorned with brightly colored posters as they faced the daunting task of selecting schools for their children.
For many parents, the school fair, put on by the Neighborhood Parents Network, is their first encounter with the public school system. It is timed to coincide with the opening of the district's admissions process, which ends in December. Many parents hope to place their children in the growing number of charter, magnet and selective-enrollment elementary schools."If you hang out with parents of 4-year-olds, the conversation never stops," said Christine Whitley, a Chicago Public Schools parent. "That's all they talk about: 'Where are you sending your child to school?' "
As choosing a school becomes increasingly complicated, some entrepreneurial parents, including Ms. Whitley, have started small consulting businesses aimed at helping parents navigate the admission process. But some observers have raised concerns about the potential for parents to game the system.
The district has 482 elementary schools, multiple application forms and five specialty school options in addition to the neighborhood elementary schools: gifted, classical, magnet, magnet cluster and charter. Magnet, magnet cluster and charter schools select students largely through a computerized lottery, but gifted and classical require admission tests for children at age 4 because the schools offer an accelerated curriculum.
Echo Lau drove to Whitney High School on a recent Monday evening to pick up her kids. She left with dinner.
The student parking lot at the Cerritos campus is transformed every week into a congested food truck stop as eight mobile eateries attract the business of loyal followers, parents and students.
But this isn't a typical stop for these catering trucks; this is a school fundraiser, in which a portion of the proceeds go directly to Whitney to help pay for a new multi-media center.
Outdoor food courts are popping up in the parking lots of at least a dozen high schools across Southern California with more on the way. Financially strapped public schools -- hit hard by budget cuts, new fundraising guidelines, and fewer donors -- have found a way to capitalize on the food truck craze.
A tragedy of American politics is that civil rights groups like the NAACP oppose education reform, even as reform's main beneficiaries are poor and minority students in places like Harlem and New Orleans. The latest evidence comes in a study showing that black students in charter schools outperform their peers in traditional public schools.
The California Charter Schools Association looked at the state's Academic Performance Index (API), which runs on a scale from 200 to 1000, and found that the average black charter student outscored the average black traditional school student by an average of 18 points over the last four years of publicly available data.
In reform hubs like Los Angeles, the charter advantage was 22 points, in Sacramento 48 points, in Oakland 51 and in San Francisco 150. In San Diego, the other major urban center, traditional schools outscored charters by an average of eight points.
To note; again, not hugely comprehensive but a look at what the basic history is of charter schools. I think the history can best be summed up by saying the charter schools idea started as one thing and spread, like cracks on a windshield, in all directions. This is not to say that there are not some charters that are innovative. (I still need to do research to see if I can find even one charter that reflects the earliest thinking.)
Like NCLB, where we have 50 different tests and no real way to prove how American students are doing as a whole, there is charter law in 41 states and the District of Columbia and every single law is different, the numbers of allowed charters is different, the accountability is different and yet, the movement grows. When I get to the Landscape Today, I have some thoughts on why that is (and it's not because charters do well).
In a seminal paper published in 1955, Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman envisaged a universal school choice program for parents of all economic stripes to find schools best suited to their children. Friedman argued that injecting competition into the education market would greatly expand the range of parental choice and result in higher levels of academic attainment.
Unfortunately, today's school choice programs have yet to provide a real test for Friedman's free market thesis. They are simply too encumbered with anti-competitive and anti-free market constraints meant to equalize opportunities for disadvantaged students.
Despite the constraints, some choice programs around the country have shown encouraging results. Studies in Florida, Maine, Vermont, Ohio and Wisconsin have demonstrated that the proximity of choice programs to public schools had improved public school performance.
A 2001 study done by Caroline Hoxby, an economist from Harvard University, showed that Milwaukee's choice program had improved public school performance in math, science, language and social studies. Five more studies ensued, each showing results of increased academic productivity. According to Hoxby, just the threat of introducing choice competition into school districts had provoked a marked rise in public school productivity.
2011-2012 Revised Budget 1.3MB PDF (Budget amendments document). District spending remains largely flat at $369,394,753, yet "Fund Equity", or the District's reserves, has increased to $48,324,862 from $22,769,831 in 2007 (page 24). The District's property tax "underlevy" (increases allowed under Wisconsin school revenue limits which are based on student population changes, successful referendums along with carve-outs such as Fund 80, among others) will be $13,084,310. It also appears that property taxes will be flat (page 19) after a significant 9% increase last year. Interestingly, MSCR spending is up 7.97% (page 28).
2011-2012 enrollment is 24,861. $369,394,753 planned expenditures results in per student spending of $14,858.40.
I welcome clarifications and updates to these numbers, which are interesting. We've seen a doubling of District reserves over the past few years while spending has remained relatively flat as has enrollment.
Finally, this is worth reading in light of the District's 2011-2012 numbers: Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad Advocates Additional Federal Tax Dollar Spending & Borrowing via President Obama's Proposed Jobs Bill.
During the annual conference the team of students engaged in.
1. College planning including a tour of Missouri University
2. Participated in Achievement Gap Readings including discussions and student action planning
3. Shared their ideas about how to motivate students to succeed and how their school could be made a meaningful and interesting place
4. Developed plans of action to implement these strategies for change and report these valuable messages to the academic leaders of their schools and districts (See Attached- MSAN Students Conference Agenda)
Let's see:Related: Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Acdemy IB Charter school.
If the Madison Preparatory Academy can pull off all of that, how could it not improve the academic success of its largely black and Latino students?
- A longer school day and year, with July classes.
- Higher standards, expectations and school uniforms.
- Mandated extracurricular activities.
- Grades for parents based on their involvement at the school.
- More minority teachers as role models.
- More connections and internships with local employers.
- Millions in private fundraising.
That's the big picture view Madison should adopt as it considers the Urban League of Greater Madison's intriguing charter school request. Instead, a disproportionate amount of time and concern has been spent on a final part of the proposal:
When the notice went out that there would be a facilities planning meeting at Reagan High School a few weeks back, the rumor shot around that the administration was considering closing Reagan and that people should pack the meeting to protest such a move. In reality, facilities planning meetings were being held all over the school district, including most high schools, to figure out the direction for the entire district. Milwaukee has more school buildings than what it needs, and we need to close some of our oldest buildings, but that does not mean Reagan is on the chopping block.
When the school year began this fall, school officials at both Rufus King and Riverside high schools discovered that each school was about a hundred students short. When they contacted the missing students, they discovered that many of them had elected to attend suburban and private high schools after hearing the dire predictions of overcrowded classrooms and cancelled programs.
Make no mistake about it, both schools took a financial hit, but the death of either school was wildly exaggerated. Both schools had to dig deeply into their waiting lists to fill up their student ranks this fall. Fortunately both schools report that recent orientation sessions for prospective students and parents were once again filled, and both schools will have little trouble filling their school with new students next school year.
Chartering and Choice as an Achievement Gap-Closing Reform
One of the greatest public education challenges in California--and the nation--is the achievement and opportunity gaps between African American students and their White and Asian peers.
The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has an interest in understanding how the state's charter public schools can accelerate closing achievement gaps for African American students, while at the same time advancing educational innovation that improves teaching and learning for all public school students.
The Chartering and Choice as an Achievement Gap-Closing Reform report, released by CCSA in October 2011, details the performance and enrollment trends of African American students in both charter public and traditional public schools. The results show that California charter public schools are effectively accelerating the performance of African American students, and that African American students are enrolled at higher percentage in the state's charters, among other findings.
Since the inception of the Charter Schools Act in California in 1992, charter schools have become an important part of the public education system, opening their doors in both urban and rural areas, in order to provide quality educational options for families. Chartering and Choice as an Achievement Gap-Closing Reform demonstrates that as laboratories of innovation, California's highly effective charter public schools can demonstrate proven paths to success that should be replicated nationally.
Black and Latino boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Likewise, boys in general lag behind girls in most indicators of student achievement.
Research indicates that although boys of color have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein men of color find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young men of color will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Likewise, girls of color are failing to graduate high school on-time, underperform on standardized achievement and college entrance exams and are under-enrolled in college preparatory classes in secondary school. The situation is particularly pronounced in the Madison Metropolitan School District where Black and Latino girls are far less likely than Asian and White girls to take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in high school or successfully complete such courses with a grade of C or better when they do. In this regard, they mimic the course taking patterns of boys of color.
Additionally, data on ACT college entrance exam completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement tests scores provided to the Urban League by the Madison Metropolitan School District show a significant gap in ACT completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement scores between students of color and their white peers.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Women will be established to serve as catalysts for change and opportunity among young men and women in the Greater Madison, Wisconsin area, particularly young men and women of color. It will also serve the interests of parents who desire a nurturing, college preparatory educational experience for their child.
School board elections in Wake County (Raleigh) North Carolina delivered an important victory for proponents of integration last week as Democrats swept four of five contested school board seats and led substantially in a fifth race headed for a runoff. Most importantly, board chairman Ron Margiotta, who had led the effort to dismantle a nationally acclaimed socioeconomic school integration plan in North Carolina's largest school district, was defeated, denying conservatives a majority on the nine-member school board.
The vote has national significance because it demonstrates that if school diversity policies are pursued through choice, rather than compulsion, they can draw strong public support.
Wake County's widely lauded school integration plan sought to give all students a chance to attend solidly middle-class public schools by limiting the proportion of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch at 40% in any one school.
Gheorghe Craciun, via a kind email:
We have started the "Madison Math Circle" for interested middle and high school students (please see more details below, or at https://www.math.wisc.edu/wiki/index.php/Madison_Math_Circle ), but we are having some trouble advertising it.
Prof. Steffen Lempp told me that you might be able to help us.
Thank you very much!
A young and tech-savvy charter school network that's gotten attention for reducing the achievement gap in San Jose, Calif., got the green light from a Common Council committee Tuesday to bring the model to Milwaukee.
Rocketship Education, a nonprofit management company, has applied for a charter from the City of Milwaukee that would allow it to open a publicly funded school in the fall of 2013, with the eventual intent to serve up to 4,000 children in eight K-5 schools by 2017. Each school would have to show measurable progress before subsequent schools could open.
The organization, started in 2006, currently serves about 2,500 students in five San Jose area elementary schools.
A majority of members on the Steering and Rules Committee on Tuesday approved sending Rocketship's application to the full council for consideration.
Rocketship CEO and co-founder John Danner explained the organization's three areas of emphasis: engaging parents through teacher-led home visits and training them to advocate for their children; developing talent by growing a pipeline of teachers who can become school leaders; and giving all students individualized learning plans that blend six hours a day of face-to-face instruction with two hours of lab time spent working with online computer programs and low-cost tutors.
India and Bangladesh have launched their own brands of tablet and laptops, at unthinkably low prices.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched Doel, a brand of netbooks and laptop that will be manufactured entirely in Bangladesh, on October 11. Distribution will reportedly start this week. They will be available from 10,000 takas (US$131), according to the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency.
"This is a big step towards building a digital Bangladesh," Mohammad Ismail, managing director of state-owned Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS), which is in charge of making the gadgets, said following Doel's launch. At present, 90% of the laptop equipment is imported, "but within six months we will be able to produce 40% of the components," he said.
Kaleem Caire is feeling pretty confident that the Madison school board will approve Madison Preparatory Academy in late November. After all, he's made substantial concessions to appease his most influential critics, and support for the charter school, which would target at-risk minority students, appears to be gaining momentum.
Still, Caire, who is CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, the nonprofit agency that would run the school, faces a dedicated opposition that remains unflinching in its wide-ranging criticism, some of it highly personal. Some opponents have called Caire an "enemy of public education."
"The fact that people scrutinize us isn't the issue, but it gets to the point where some of this borders on ridiculous," he says.
Caire proposed the school last year, calling it an important first step in closing the minority achievement gap, a problem first documented by the Urban League in 1968. Supporters say that after four decades of doing little, the time has come for a more radical approach.
"Can you imagine this city if 48% of the white kids were dropping out?" asks Gloria Ladson-Billings, an education professor at UW-Madison and Madison Prep board member. "I don't get why that kind of failure is tolerable."
The first class of sixth-graders in the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy would attend school nearly year-round, be in class from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and participate in mandatory extracurricular activities.
Parents would take classes in how to prepare their students for college while the school would aim to enroll at least 70 percent minorities and 65 percent low-income students.
Those and other new details about the controversial charter school proposal are included in a draft business plan the Urban League of Greater Madison provided to the Madison School Board this week. The School District provided a copy to the State Journal at the newspaper's request.
The business plan is incomplete. More details will be shared with the board by the end of the month, Urban League President Kaleem Caire said.
Before Hurricane Katrina, more than 60 percent of children in New Orleans attended a failing school. Now, only about 18 percent do.
Five years ago, less than a quarter of the children in a special district set up by the state to manage the lowest performing schools scored at or above the "basic" level on state tests. Now, nearly half do.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the progress made by New Orleans's school reform effort in the six years since Hurricane Katrina has been "stunning." And there are many reasons for optimism about a system that is overwhelmingly made up of poor and minority students -- just the sort of place where optimism is in short supply.
There are three important things to consider about the New Orleans experience: Many of the structural changes occurred because the hurricane essentially destroyed the old system, allowing the city to begin fresh. Charter schools, while a foundation of the system now, did not by themselves improve achievement. And finally, New Orleans has done the hard work of changing the school culture while embracing new instructional methods.
In his recent post on this blog, Lessons From Finland #1 - Teacher Education and Training, Bob Compton states that the quality crisis in the US education system can be solved by changing teacher's educational requirements to stipulate higher levels of education, specialization in the fields teachers teach, and an increase in the amount of time student teachers spend in classrooms under the guidance of experienced master-level teachers, rather than just in online courses or teacher training. He notes that these educational changes require the action of each state's governor and its legislature, and further states "All it takes is courage to withstand the screams from colleges of education - the sacred cash cow of most universities." At the heart of this issue is the question: "what does it take to effect political change?"
Actually making political changes, of course, is for better or worse ultimately in the hands of our elected officials. Unfortunately the primary concern for many politicians becomes getting elected, even if their motivations are purely to serve their constituencies. We must also recognize that their constituencies are comprised of both individuals and businesses or other organizations, some of which often have very different priorities. Because corporate entities are frequently the largest political donors, their needs are often addressed first. Call it corruption or simply the nature of democratic government; either way, corporate contributors' interests often lead politicians to prevent legislative changes that might threaten business. Education reform is no exception.
So what can be done to spur the process? Unfortunately, there is no simple formula for creating the political will to change educational performance standards in this country. However, there are steps that can be taken to slowly turn the political behemoth in the right direction.
If Milwaukee needs a big, well-crafted, we're-all-in-this-together effort by a wide-range of power players working on meeting the educational needs of so many thousands of our children, why do I sense so much reluctance to be enthusiastic about an effort that aims to be all of those things?
Two simple answers:
Because we've been down roads like this before and nothing much came from them.
Because a lot of people, including some of those power players, are skeptical about our collective ability to make real progress.
I'm sympathetic with both of those points.
For years, I've seen community leaders of all kinds say good things (and often mean them) and come up with no consequential results.
I, too, suffer from oh-no-not-another-big-initiative syndrome. And we all know how deeply entrenched our problems are.
But overall, I say: It's time to get moving, folks.
But it's clear that teachers are doing their part to keep one small, if important, piece of the public education reform movement alive: making sure they have an organized voice.
Now we should do ours.
Say what you want about his approach, Walker basically gave reform-minded school districts their chance by ramming through a collective bargaining law that drastically limits what's subject to negotiation.
So, if you think the school year should be longer, if you'd like to see your district have an easier time keeping that awesome first-year teacher and ditching the underwhelming 20-year vet, if you want more money put into recruiting minority teachers and less into teachers' generous health care and pension benefits -- now's your chance.
For despite what you might have heard from union backers, teachers union priorities and students' needs are not always the same thing.
Unions exist, appropriately, to protect their members. You can quibble about whether Walker went too far in lessening their power. But a grudge against a transitory public figure shouldn't take precedence over trying something new to improve public education.
Besides, it's not as if teachers won't have a seat at the reform table.
What a month. I've learned so much in the past 30 days, I need a new brain in which to put it. This old brain of mine feels full. And tired. Public education is a rolling stone run amok. Who can keep up?
This is why we parents and advocates tend to hedge our comments. We never know how things really are, and the minute we figure it out, they change it - without telling us. When we ask for updates, we have to drag it out of them, kicking and screaming through public records requests. And when we get the information, by golly - they change it again.
They do that because a) rolling stones can't be held accountable, and b) they get to say, "You just don't get it." And we don't. That's one reason why few parents will discuss education in any depth. They know they don't get it. Real knowledge is held over our head like a favorite toy, just out of reach. "Jump for it!" But most parents won't jump for it; we just leave. Since 2002, full-time student enrollment in District 81 dropped by about 3,000 students (net), even as operating costs grew by about $60 million.
Public records requests are an effective way of clearing up the fog. After I found out that RCW 42.17.130 prohibits using public resources (directly or indirectly) to campaign for an elective candidate or a ballot proposition (such as a bond or levy), I noticed how close the ties were between District 81 and bond/levy advocacy organization Citizens for Spokane Schools (CFSS).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported on a new civic effort to improve K-12 education in Milwaukee titled "Milwaukee Succeeds." The effort is certainly ambitious. Erin Richards and Tom Tolan report that it is "focused on large, big-picture ideas that are easy for folks to stand behind, such as making sure all children are prepared to enter school, succeed academically and graduate, take advantage of postsecondary education or training, and contribute to the Milwaukee community."
It is ironic that the Journal Sentinel also recently ran a profile of former Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) superintendent Lee McMurrin. It was McMurrin who in 1975 unveiled his own ambitious ten-point plan for fixing K-12 education in Milwaukee. His goals, according to an August 6, 1975 Milwaukee Journal story, included improving attendance, achievement, job placement for graduates, and the creation of a plan to engage staff in school improvement.
Ten years later McMurrin's plan was replaced by a new plan from Milwaukee school board members Joyce Mallory, Mary Bills and David Cullen titled "A Plan for the Future and a Plan for Now." Their plan, according to a November 17, 1985 Milwaukee Journal article, called for the creation of a 20-member committee of community leaders "to look at the work of futurists and strategic planners and come up with new ideas for running the schools here." Their committee was to include "religious and business leaders, college educators, legal officials and public officials."
Fred Smoller is gone from his post as head of Brandman University's master of public administration program.
He's not fired, as he has tenure, but the situation is a sticky one that raises thorny issues of academic freedom with critics.
"I was told city officials were upset with my involvement in the examination of city compensation, and other things I've written regarding city consolidation, which they apparently found threatening," Smoller (far left) told us. "Academics are often criticized for living in an ivory tower. I've been criticized for trying to be relevant."
That's not quite the way Brandman (an independent part of the Chapman University system) sees it.
"There is an unfortunate rumor circulating that Dr. Fred Smoller was dismissed from his position as Director of the Master's in Public Administration program at Brandman University. This is totally incorrect," said a written statement we received from Brandman spokeswoman Rita Wilds.
Abby Ramirez wants other people to come to - and act on -- the same beliefs she has: That a large majority of low-income children can become high-performing students and that the number of schools where such success is widespread can be increased sharply in Milwaukee.
In an "On the Issues" session with Mike Gousha at Eckstein Hall on Tuesday, Ramirez described the work of Schools That Can Milwaukee, a year-old organization that has the goal of increasing the number of students in high-performing schools to 20,000 (more than twice the current total) by 2020. Ramirez is executive director of the organization.
"If you haven't seen a high-performing school, go visit one because it will change your belief in what's possible," she told about 150 people at the session hosted by Gousha, the Law School's distinguished fellow in law and public policy. She said you can tell in such a visit that the program is different - more energetic, more focused, more committed to meeting ambitious goals - than in schools where there is an underlying belief that the students aren't going to do well because of factors such as poverty.
We founded the American Center for School Choice because we believe a focus on parental empowerment can contribute to a broadening and coalescing of the coalition that seeks to provide the best possible education for children. Simultaneously, empowering parents creates a common good--for the child, the parent, the family, and society.Clusty Search: John Coons.
We begin with the delicate subject of authority--that of parent or of government over the mind of the young. In our culture, authority over thought (or even behavior) has never been a popular premise for argument. But no other way exists; some adult will in fact select a preferred set of skills and values and will attempt, through schooling, to convince Johnny, Susie, Jamal, or Juanita of their truth. Authority is simply a fact.
Whether one is Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or the National Education Association, we must proceed by asking which big person will decide this issue for some little person. The fact of authority is no exit, but it is instead the necessary entrance to the debate of educators and society about content, values, money, liberty, the best interest of the child, and the common good.
Welcome to Fantasyland. Eric Welch just sent me a detailed plan for a public charter school in Fairfax County. He and several other people on the board of what they call the Fairfax Leadership Academy say they want to help low-income families with a school unlike any local students have had before.
They are deluded to think this would ever be approved, although Welch, much-honored as an educator, knows a lot about kids and teaching. We met several years ago when I visited his class at J.E.B. Stuart High School, where he used a program known as Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) to prepare average students for challenging courses. He is now the executive director and board chairman of the planned academy.
Counting him, the 17-member board includes 12 current or former Fairfax school educators, plus state Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax). I expected more sense than this from such capable people, well-versed in the ways of public school politics. I hope they read the next few sentences carefully.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school, here.
To bolster their case and push their agendas, advocates for market-based education reform and market-based policies in general tout “miracle schools” that have supposedly produced amazing results . Urban Prep in Chicago is often exhibit A.
As Diane Ravitch wrote of Urban Prep and other ed deform favorites ” the only miracle at these schools was a triumph of public relations.”
Locally, backers of the Madison Preparatory Academy have incorporated much of the Urban Prep model in their plan and have repeatedly cited the “success” of that school as evidence of the soundness of their proposal. Just this weekend Derrell Connor was quoted as saying in relation to Madison Prep “We are using Urban Prep (in Chicago) as an example, which for the last four years has a 100 percent graduation rate and all those kids have gone on to college.” As I pointed out in a back-and-forth in the comments on that interview, the actual Urban Prep graduation rate is far below 100% (62.6% is the correct figure, my mistakes in the comments, also there have only been two graduating classes, not four) .
Choehorned into a small living room in a South Los Angeles apartment, a dozen parents discuss why their kids' school ranks as one of the worst in the nation's second-largest school district.
The answers come quickly: Teachers are jaded; gifted pupils aren't challenged; disabled students are isolated; the building is dirty and office staff treat parents disrespectfully.
"We know what the problem is -- we're about fixing it," said Cassandra Perry, the Woodcrest Elementary School parent hosting the meeting. "We're not against the administrators or the teachers union. We're honestly about the kids."
School parent groups are no longer just about holding the next bake-sale fundraiser. They're about education reform.
The parent-teacher organizations and associations in our schools do good work, yet rarely agitate for change. Parents often pick their neighborhood because they like the school the way it is. Teachers often prefer to make their own decisions without parental interference.
But occasionally, as happened at Leesburg Elementary School in Loudoun County, parent dissatisfaction reaches a level where the PTO begins asking questions and sending e-mails to the principal or, worse, the principal's bosses. Then those evening meetings, which used to put me to sleep, get stressful.
Communication breakdowns between parents and schools are common. We education writers usually shrug them off as too local and trivial. But little stories like the flap at Leesburg Elementary expose a major flaw in the way schools treat parents (that's right, I think the school is usually the villain) and deserve more attention than they get.
At John McDonough High School in this city's Esplanade Ridge district, the new superintendent points to a broken window boarded up with plastic. Nobody thought to fix it properly. "Why? Because these are the poor kids," says John White, who arrived in New Orleans this spring. "The message is: 'We don't care.'"
John Mac is one of the worst schools in New Orleans, which makes it one of the worst in America. It scored 30 out of 200 on a statewide performance scale when 75 counts as "failing." In a school built for 800 students, 340 are enrolled. Virtually all are African-American. A couple years ago, an armed gang burst into the cafeteria and assassinated a student.
Mr. White looks in on classrooms. In one, groups of seniors chat loudly and puzzle over a basic algebra problem. In another the teacher struggles to start a conversation about a USA Today article that few students had read. A girl in the corner sits with a jacket over her head, headphones in both ears.
Backers of the Madison Preparatory Academy and Madison School Board members appear to have ironed out some of the major wrinkles in the plans for the controversial new charter school aimed at improving the academic performance of minority students.
But the devil remains in the details, board members say. Bringing several issues into clearer focus and then getting agreement will be essential to move the project forward. A final vote by the School Board will take place before the end of the year.
Details to be examined include the fine print on a broad agreement announced last week between the Madison teachers union and organizers of the Urban League-sponsored charter school.
"There are still some tremendously big questions that haven't been answered about how this agreement would actually work," says Marj Passman, School Board vice president. "It's not clear to me that all the parties are on the same page on all the issues, large and small."
Today, Madison Preparatory Academy Board Chair, David Cagigal, announced a gift of $2.5 million presented to the public charter school from Madisonian Mary Burke.
Ms. Burke, a retired business executive whose family owns Trek Bicycles and who served as Wisconsin's Secretary of Commerce during the Doyle Administration, described the reason for her gift.
"We all know Madison can do better. I am happy to do my part to invest in our community and the future of all of our youth. Madison Prep is a powerful idea backed up by a powerful and cost-effective plan. It offers real hope to Madison students, teachers and families who want to realize their expectations and dreams."
Ms. Burke also shared, "I understand we are in tight budget times and don't want concerns about the cost of Madison Prep or the availability of public funding to supersede the real need for the School Board to support it. I am confident Madison Prep will be a great opportunity for children and want to see it happen. I hope my gift helps the School Board overcome its financial concerns."
Gloria Ladson-Billings, Vice Chair of Madison Prep's Board and the Kellner Family Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison sees Ms. Burke's gift as an investment in innovation and human potential.
"We need to search for new solutions to solve the achievement gap in our Madison schools. To do this, we must be willing to innovate. Madison can be a perfect incubator for new educational methods and approaches. Mary Burke's gift is stunning in its generosity and powerful in its potential."
Mr. Cagigal sees the gift as the start of an important trend in the region. "Mary is absolutely committed to eliminating the achievement gap and is investing her resources in multiple approaches to achieve this goal. Whether it's Madison Prep or the Boys & Girls Club's AVID/TOPS program, Mary believes that supporting such efforts will ultimately benefit our entire community in the future. She is setting a great example for others and we are very thankful to have her in our corner."
With Ms. Burke's gift, the Urban League of Greater Madison will further reduce its request for per pupil funding from the Madison Metropolitan School District from $11,471 per pupil to $9,400 in the school's first year, and $9,800 per pupil in years two through five of the school's proposed five year budget. The Madison district currently spends $13,207 per pupil to educate students in middle and high schools.
Madison Preparatory Academy plans to open two college preparatory public charter schools in the fall of 2012, one for boys and one for girls. Their mission will be the same: to prepare students for success at a four year college or university by instilling excellence, pride, leadership and service. Both academies will be tuition-free, offer an identical curriculum in a single-sex education environment, and serve as catalysts for change and opportunity, particularly for young people of color.
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the Academies will serve 60 sixth grade boys and 60 sixth grade girls when they open next year, eventually growing to serve 820 students total.
Madison's Board of Education will vote next month on the new charter schools.
Monopolists hate competition, and they'll say almost anything to prevent it. When natural gas competition was introduced in the mid-1980s, pipeline executives told regulators it would lead to gas explosions throughout Manhattan. As implausible as that tale was, it pales in comparison to the misinformation campaign waged by the public school monopoly against school choice.
The school choice movement is gathering steam because of one simple fact: Public education is one of the most unproductive and underperforming sectors in America. Since 1970, spending on public schools (per student, in inflation-adjusted terms) has more than doubled. Over the same period, students' combined math and reading scores have been flat, and the U.S. has fallen behind most other industrial nations on standardized tests.
Educational productivity can be measured as the "output" of educational achievement for each inflation-adjusted dollar spent per student, and by this measure, the productivity of American public schools has fallen by 50% since 1970. A dollar invested in public schools in the U.K., Ireland and New Zealand now yields nearly twice the educational achievement as the same dollar spent in U.S. public schools.
These results cannot be explained by the efforts made to educate the disadvantaged, or by "exit exams" that reduce the pool of high school graduates in some countries. America's public schools clearly need to be improved but, in spite of receiving a massive increase in resources, have consistently failed to do so. Given this dismal performance, the current calls for fundamental educational reform are natural, healthy and long overdue.
In recent years, both with its money and its reputation, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has endorsed the principles of Venezuela's El Sistema national music training program. The Phil set up a Los Angeles youth orchestra partially modeled on El Sistema, and hired the program's star graduate, Gustavo Dudamel, to be the orchestra's music director.
Now the L.A. Phil is following El Sistema's lead again.
On Tuesday, the orchestra announced that it is partnering with Bard College in upstate New York and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., to launch a joint musical education initiative that will aim to combine first-rate musical instruction with the broader goal of serving underserved community.
I suppose this is, officially speaking, the end of the tennis season. Djokovic and Nadal - a raging bull tamed by a matador of superhuman reflexes and speed - fought out their thunderous final in New York a month ago and our end-of-season party at the club took place not long afterwards. As far as I'm concerned, though, there is no end to the season; I was brought up to play in light snow and some of our most exhilarating battles have been joined on crisp winter evenings with the temperature close to zero.
Perhaps the best moments of my tennis year, so far, came just as the autumn leaves started to strew the courts, just before the nets and posts of the grass courts were taken up for the last time. There were some good late-season games - but even better than the games were flashes of insight, not just into technical aspects of the game but more particularly into the true nature of mentoring.
Our club is a place where people of different generations come regularly and naturally together, from the senior members, a little creaky in the limbs, to very young children just beginning to swing racquets (you hope not in the direction of their brothers and sisters), and that in itself is unusual in a world that is more and more stratified in terms of age - and not just age.
Don Severson, via email:
DATE: October 3, 2011PDF Version.
TO: MMSD Board of Education
FROM: Don Severson, President, 577-0851, firstname.lastname@example.org RE: Madison Preparatory Academy Hearing
Notes: For public appearance
The actions of the past few days are stunning, but not necessarily surprising ULGM (Madison Prep) and MTI have made working 'arrangements' regarding employment of teachers and staff and working conditions, the details of which have yet to be made public.
Major issue: 'negotiations/arrangements' have been made between MP & MTI without MMSD BOE nor administration at the table--both observed and verified by parties not involved.
In other words, MTI is the de facto negotiator for the Board and NOT the elected BOE, nor specified as its representative
ACE has publicly stated its support of MP. We must now withhold affirmation of that support until and unless major, systemic changes occur in how the proposal process and plans (both academic and business) play out.
By design, default, benign neglect or/and collusion the BOE has abdicated the authority vested in it by law and the electorate of the District with regards to its fiduciary irresponsibility and lack of control for policy-making.
Lest you are OK with your past and current operating methods; have forgotten how you are demonstrating your operating methods; or don't care, you have been elected to be the leader and be in charge of this District, not MTI.
By whatever BOE action or in-action has thus far been demonstrated, the proposed operational direction of MP has been reduced to appearing and acting in the mirror image of the District. This is inappropriate to say the least. The entire purpose of a charter school is to be different and to get different results.
How is forcing MP to operate in essentially the same fashion as the District and at a cost of more money....any different from....operating the District's nearly 30 current alternative/innovative programs and services for 800 students, at millions of dollars, taking away from other students in the District? And, you can't even produce data to show what differences, if any, are being made with these students.
This current Board, and past Boards of Education have proven over and over again that spending more money and doing essentially the same things, don't get different results (speaking here essentially about the 'achievement gap' issue)
Continuing to speak bluntly, the Board's financial and academic philosophies, policies and actions are inconsistent, phony and discriminatory.
Let us be clear...
The process for consideration of the Madison Prep charter school proposal must
- be open and public
- be under the leadership of the BOE
- be accountable to the BOE and the public
- have ALL stakeholders at the same table at ALL times
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Late last week the proposal cleared a major hurdle with the announcement that the Urban League had struck a deal with MTI to employ unionized teachers, nurses and clerical staff.
AFSMCE Local 60 President Tom Coiyer asked the district to use its own unionized custodial staff rather than allow them to be contracted. And Don Severson, president of a conservative district watchdog group, withdrew his previous support because of the deal struck between the Urban League and MTI, which didn't involve the School Board.
MTI executive director John Matthews, who attended but did not speak at the hearing, said the union would no longer oppose the proposal. However, he remains skeptical that Madison Prep would be more successful than the district's high schools at closing the achievement gap.
At this time of year there is always talk of education. The autumn term has started; some children are entering school for the first time; others are making the transition from primary to secondary; young adults are being driven, with bulging bags and cases, to halls of residence by parents who may be more traumatised than they are. And this year, at least in the UK, there is more talk than ever, because education is being "shaken up" by Michael Gove, a notably driven and idealistic, and ideological, education secretary; and also by a universities minister, David Willetts, of legendary intellectual firepower. A new class of "free schools" has been created; the whole system of university education has been rethought, or at least put on a different financial footing.
Of course the idea of free schools sounds grand - but free from what? Or, more importantly, free for what? Trying to get some perspective on what this idea of freedom might mean, I found myself looking back to two inspiring experiments in education, both of which were conducted in Madrid before the Spanish Civil War.
The more famous of the two was the Residencia de Estudiantes - the arty version of an Oxbridge college at which Lorca, Buñuel, Dalí, Falla and others spent time in the 1920s and 1930s, and which served as a seedbed for much of the burgeoning artistic creativity of that brilliant, short-lived time.
But the less well-known Institución Libre de Enseñanza, or Free Institute of Education, founded in 1876 by Francisco Giner de los Ríos, is possibly more relevant to my theme. In this case the word "free" meant very specifically free from the dead hand of state and religious control. The Spanish "Glorious Revolution" of 1868 had promised a more modern, secular, scientific model of education; but the Restoration of 1874 brought back not only the Bourbons but a repressive, state-controlled education system in which the minister dictated the choice of textbooks and curriculum, and forbade the teaching of non-Catholic religious doctrine or critical political ideas.
It would have been easy to predict an unpromising future for Maurice Thomas when he was born. His mother was single, 17 years old, and the product of a low-income, troubled Milwaukee home.
But Thomas had some big things going for him: His mother's dedication to education. Teachers who pushed him forward with care and skill. And his own commitment to making a difference.
"Trajectory" is a word used often by Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, the organization that over two decades has trained more than 20,000 high performing college graduates to be teachers and placed them in high-needs classrooms across the country for their first two years out of school.
Kopp is convinced that the trajectory of the lives of children - in fact, of entire communities - can be turned for the better, especially by education.
When Kopp published her book, "A Chance to Make History," last winter, Maurice Thomas, who was with Teach for America in Atlanta, was one of the people she wrote about in detail. She described his impact as a teacher and how he had become deeply involved in getting his students to succeed.
Tim Comer says when his son moved from a mostly black magnet school in Chicago to the Madison School District in 2006, "he went from sharp to dull."
Comer, 45, a black father and unemployed electronic engineer, said the difference was that Madison was "laid back" while the Chicago school pushed students to work extra hard to succeed.
"In Chicago he was always a frontrunner," Comer said. "But here, he's always on the back burner."
Comer's dissatisfaction is shared by many black parents in Madison where, despite decades of efforts, a significant gap persists between white and black students' academic performance and graduation rates.
Although the gap is closing among students completing algebra by the 10th grade, it has widened on 4th grade reading tests and in high school graduation rates since 2003. Those changes have come as the number of black students in the district has increased and the number of whites has declined.
"We know that we're not pushing the needle significantly," Superintendent Dan Nerad said about what he considers "the most significant social justice issue in America."
Kaleem Caire, via email:
October 3, 2011
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
As the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times newspapers reported over the weekend, the Urban League of Greater Madison, the new Board of Madison Preparatory Academy and Madison Teachers, Inc., the local teachers' union, achieved a major milestone last Friday in agreeing to collaborate on our proposed charter schools for young men and women.
After a two-hour meeting and four months of ongoing discussions, MTI agreed to work "aggressively and proactively" with Madison Prep, through the existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District, to ensure the school achieves its diversity hiring goals; educational mission and staff compensation priorities; and staff and student performance objectives.
Where we started.
In March 2011, we submitted a proposal to MMSD's Board of Education to start an all-boys public charter school that would serve 120 boys beginning in the 2012-13 school year: 60 boys in sixth grade and 60 boys in seventh grade. We proposed that the school would operate as a "non-instrumentality" charter school, which meant that Madison Prep would not employ teachers and other relevant support staff that were members of MTI's collective bargaining unit. We also proposed a budget of $14,471 per pupil, an amount informed by budgets numbers shared with us by MMSD's administration. MMSD's 2010-11 budget showed the projected to spend $14,800 per student.
Where we compromised.
A. Instrumentality: As part of the final proposal that the Urban League will submit to MMSD's Board of Education for approval next month, the Urban League will propose that Madison Prep operate as an instrumentality of MMSD, but have Madison Preparatory Academy retain the autonomy of governance and management of both the girls and boys charter schools. MTI has stated that they have no issue with this arrangement.
What this means is that Madison Prep's teachers, guidance counselor, clerical staff and nurse will be members of the MTI bargaining unit. As is required under the current CBA, each position will be appropriately compensated for working extra hours to accommodate Madison Prep's longer school day and year. These costs have been built into our budget. All other staff will employed by Madison Preparatory Academy, Inc. and the organization will contract out for some services, as appropriate.
B. Girls School Now: When we began this journey to establish Madison Prep, we shared that it was our vision to establish a similar girls school within 12-24 months of the boys school starting. To satisfy the concerns of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction about how Madison Prep complies with federal Title IX regulations, we offered to start the girls school at the same time. We have since accelerated the girls school in our planning and look forward to opening the girls and boys schools in August 2012 with 60 sixth grade boys and 60 sixth grade girls. We will add one grade per year in each school until we reach a full compliment of 6th - 12th grades and 840 students total.
C. Costs: Over the past six months, we have worked closely with MMSD's administration to identify an appropriate budget request for Madison Prep. Through an internal analysis of their spending at the secondary level, MMSD recently reported to us that they project to spend $13,207 per pupil on the actual education of children in their middle and high schools. To address school board members' concerns about the costs of Madison Prep, we worked hard to identify areas to trim spending without compromising our educational mission, student and staffing needs, and overall school effectiveness. We've since reduced our request to $11,478 per pupil in Madison Prep's first year of operation, 2012-13. By year five, our request decreases to $11,029 per pupil. Based on what we have learned about school spending in MMSD and the outstanding educational needs of students that we plan to address, we believe this is a reasonable request.
Why we compromised.
We have more information. After months of deliberation, negotiation and discussion with Board of Education members, school district administration, the teacher's union and community stakeholders, we've been able to identify what we believe is a clear path to getting Madison Prep approved; a path that we hope addresses the needs and interests of all involved without compromising the mission, objectives and needs of our future students.
We believe in innovation and systemic change. We are very serious about promoting change and opportunity within our public schools, and establishing innovative approaches - including new schools - to respond to the educational needs, interests and challenges of our children, schools and community. Today's children are tomorrow's workforce; tomorrow's leaders; tomorrow's innovators; and tomorrow's peacekeepers. We should have schools that prepare them accordingly. We are committed to doing our part to achieve this reality, including finding creative ways to break down boundaries rather than reinforce them.
The needs and desires of our children supersede all others. Children are the reward of life, and our children are our first priority. Our commitment is first and foremost to them. To this end, we will continue to seek ways to expand opportunities for them, advocate on their behalf and find ways to work with those with whom we have differences, even if it means we have to compromise to get there. It is our hope that other organizations and individuals will actively seek ways to do to the same.
We see the bigger picture. It would not serve the best interests of our community, our children, our schools or the people we serve to see parents of color and their children's teachers at odds with each other over how best to deliver a quality education to their children. That is not the image we want to portray of our city. We sincerely hope that our recent actions will serve as a example to areas businesses, labor unions, schools and other institutions who hold the keys to opportunity for the children and families we serve.
Even though we have made progress, we are not out of the woods yet. We hope that over the next several weeks, the Board of Education will respond to your advocacy and work with us to provide the resources and autonomy of governance and leadership that are exceedingly important to the success of Madison Prep.
We look forward to finding common ground on these important objectives and realizing our vision that Greater Madison truly becomes the best place in the Midwest for everyone to live, learn and work.
Thank you for your courage and continued support.
Madison Prep 2012!
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Big news over the weekend in the Madison Preparatory Academy saga. There has been significant and positive movement on four issues by the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM). First, they have changed their request from non-instrumentality to instrumentality, increasing control by and accountability to the district. Second, they have agreed to be staffed by teachers and other educators represented by Madison Teachers Incorporated (MTI) and follow the existing contract between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District (the memo on these two items and more is here). ULGM has also morphed their vision from a district-wide charter to a geographic/attendance area charter. Last, their current budget projections no longer require outrageous transfers of funds from other district schools. Many issues and questions remain but these move the proposal from an obvious red light to the "proceed with caution" yellow. It is far from being a green light.
Before identifying some of the remaining questions and issues, I think it is important to point out that this movement on the part on the Urban League came because people raised issues and asked questions. Throughout the controversies there has been a tendency to present Madison Prep as initially proposed as "THE PLAN" and dismiss any questioning of that proposal as evidence that the questioners don't care about the academic achievement of minorities and children of poverty. This has been absurd and offensive. Remember this started at $28,000 per/pupil. Well, ULGM has moved this far because people didn't treat their proposal as if it had been brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses; if the proposal is eventually approved, MMSD and likely Madison Prep will be better because these changes have been made. As this process enters the next phases, I hope everyone keeps that in mind.
Since January 2007, I've attempted repeatedly and in myriad ways to persuade Spokane Public Schools' leadership to provide teachers with good math materials so that our children will gain sufficient basic math skills. It's an effort you'd think would be welcome, respected, and relatively painless. Alas.
In 2008, after repeated failed efforts to get a conversation going with the district or with the daily newspaper, I decided to take that conversation public. Thus was born my blog, Betrayed. Shortly after that, I began writing my book, Betrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do about it. The book was published in January 2011, and shortly thereafter, I worked with two professionals to hold public forums in Spokane and talk directly with the people. The district leadership does not appear to appreciate my efforts to inform the people and try to get the children the mathematics they need.
A school district's activities should be an open book to the community that pays for them. My blog, book and advocacy all required thorough and accurate information. Therefore, over these nearly five years of effort, I've had to file public records requests with the district in order to obtain pertinent information that wasn't available in any other venue. For records other than internal district communications, my searches usually went like this:
In case you needed further proof of the American education system's failings, especially in poor and minority communities, consider the latest crime to spread across the country: educational theft. That's the charge that has landed several parents, such as Ohio's Kelley Williams-Bolar, in jail this year.
An African-American mother of two, Ms. Williams-Bolar last year used her father's address to enroll her two daughters in a better public school outside of their neighborhood. After spending nine days behind bars charged with grand theft, the single mother was convicted of two felony counts. Not only did this stain her spotless record, but it threatened her ability to earn the teacher's license she had been working on.
Ms. Williams-Bolar caught a break last month when Ohio Gov. John Kasich granted her clemency, reducing her charges to misdemeanors from felonies. His decision allows her to pursue her teacher's license, and it may provide hope to parents beyond the Buckeye State. In the last year, parents in Connecticut, Kentucky and Missouri have all been arrested--and await sentencing--for enrolling their children in better public schools outside of their districts.
Ed Hughes has a problem.
Like most of his fellow school board members and practically everyone else in Madison, he was bowled over by Urban League president Kaleem Caire's vision for Madison Prep, a charter school that would aggressively tackle the school district's entrenched minority achievement gap.
"The longer day, the instructional focus, and the 'no excuses' approach appealed to me," Hughes says.
But as he looked into the details, Hughes became more and more concerned about the cost of the school and "whether there is a good match between the problem we are trying to address and the solution that's being proposed."
Expressing those doubts in his blog has turned the soft-spoken Hughes into a heretic.
Caire is a superstar who has galvanized the community to get behind his charter school. At school board hearings, only a handful of speakers express any reservations about the idea, while an overwhelming number speak passionately about the need to break the school-to-prison pipeline, and about Madison's moral obligation to do something for the kids who are not being served.
Hughes listens respectfully. But, he says, "for Madison Prep to be the answer, we'd need to know that the students it was serving would otherwise fall through the cracks."
But Hughes' big problem with the Urban League's draft proposal, submitted to the district last February, is cost. The total cost to the school district of $27 million over five years is just too much, he says.
I don't know if the Urban League's plans for Madison Prep will come to fruition. If they do, I predict here and now that the school will have a higher graduation rate than the Madison school district as a whole for African-American students and probably for other groups of students as well. I also predict that all or nearly all of its graduates will apply to and be admitted to college. What is impossible to predict is what difference, if any, this will make in overall educational outcomes for Madison students.
Of course charter schools like Madison Prep will have higher graduation rates than their home school districts as a whole. Students enrolled in charter schools are privileged in one clear way over students not enrolled. Each student has a parent or other caregiver sufficiently involved in the child's education to successfully navigate the process to get the student into the charter school. Not all students in our traditional neighborhood schools have that advantage. Other things equal, students with more involved parents/caregivers will be more likely to graduate from high school. So, one would expect that charter schools will have higher graduation rates.
Several major impediments facing the proposed Madison Prep charter school appear closer to resolution after a series of meetings and communications Friday between Urban League CEO Kaleem Caire, district Superintendent Daniel Nerad and John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.Matthew DeFour and Gayle Worland:
The changes are just in time for a public hearing on the Urban League-backed school on Monday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building, 545 W. Dayton St.
In a major shift, the proposed charter school will now be what's called an "instrumentality" of the Madison Metropolitan School District. That means a significant portion of the school's staff will be covered by the contract the district has with the local teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc. The contract runs through the end of June 2013
On the eve of a public hearing for Madison Preparatory Academy -- a proposed charter school with single-sex classrooms focused on raising the academic performance of minority students -- backers of the school agreed to employ union staff, eliminating a potential hurdle to approval of the school.Fascinating. It will be interesting to see the substance of the arrangement, particularly its implications for the current MMSD schools and Madison Prep's curriculum and operating plans.
A budget plan for Madison Prep, proposed by the Urban League of Greater Madison, also was released late Friday. It estimates the Madison School District would spend $19.8 million over five years on the school, or about $2,000 less per student than it spends on other secondary-school students.
In lengthy meetings Friday, Urban League officials hammered out an agreement with Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents Madison school teachers. MTI executive director John Matthews said the union, which previously opposed creation of Madison Prep, will remain neutral on whether the school should be approved.
A friend notes that the change is "stunning" and that it will likely "cost more" and perhaps "gut" some of Madison Prep's essential components.
Ten Wisconsin senators, from both parties, have joined forces to propose legislation that would require any further expansion of voucher schools to receive a full public debate.
The state's voucher program provides taxpayer funds for families to send their children to private schools. It has served low-income students in Milwaukee for about 20 years, but was expanded by Gov. Scott Walker in the state budget passed in June without public debate or other legislative action.
Also included was language allowing automatic expansion of the voucher program in the future to any school district in Wisconsin that meets certain financial and demographic criteria.
That mechanism isn't sitting well with some senators, including Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah. He introduced SB 174, which ensures that any further expansion of the voucher program would include full public debate and legislative action.
"Sen. Ellis is not an enthusiastic advocate nor is he an opponent of voucher programs. But he's long argued that policy issues should not be added into the budget process and this legislation addresses concerns about automatic expansion without proper debate," says Michael Boerger, an aide to Ellis.
Why this area teacher chose the non-union option
If the teachers union is as wonderful as it claims, then it should have no problem attracting members, without the need to force teachers to join. How is this any different from any other professional organization that teachers, as professionals, may choose to join? It's a question I have been pondering since I became a public school teacher in Wisconsin.Union's efforts help all students, educators and schools
For years, I have chosen not to be a member of the union. However, this is a choice I didn't exactly have before Gov. Scott Walker's collective-bargaining bill became law. As a compulsory union state, where teachers are required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, the most I could hope for was a "fair share" membership, where the union refunded me a small portion of the money that was taken from my paycheck that lawyers have deemed "un-chargeable."
Every September, after lengthy, bureaucratic and unadvertised hurdles, I would file my certified letter to try to withdraw my union membership. Then, the union would proceed to drag its feet in issuing my small refund. I often wondered why this kind of burden would be put on an individual teacher like me. Shouldn't it be up to the organization to convince people and to sell its benefits to potential members afresh each year?
Why should I have to move mountains each fall to break ties with this group that I don't want to be a part of in the first place? Something seemed dreadfully wrong with that picture.
I became a Wisconsin teacher more than 30 years ago. I entered my classroom on the first day of school with my eyes and heart wide open, dedicated to the education of children and to the promise public schools offer. I was part of our state's longstanding education tradition.
Like many beginning teachers, I soon encountered the many challenges and opportunities educators face every day in schools. About 50% of new educators leave the profession within their first five years of teaching. New teachers need mentors, suggestions, support and encouragement to help them meet the individual needs of students (all learning at different speeds and in different ways) and teach life lessons that can't be learned from textbooks.
That's where the union comes in. In many ways, much of the work the Wisconsin Education Association Council does is behind the scenes: supporting new teachers through union-led mentoring programs and offering training and skill development to help teachers with their licenses and certification. Our union helps teachers achieve National Board Certification - the highest accomplishment in the profession - and provides hands-on training for support professionals to become certified in their fields. These are efforts that benefit all Wisconsin educators, not just a few, and no single educator could accomplish them all alone.
The Madison School District now has another justification for killing a charter school aimed at doing what the district hasn't: consistently educate minority students.TJ Mertz:
Last week, the state Department of Public Instruction said the first half of a planning grant for Madison Preparatory Academy would be released. Madison Prep would focus on low-income minority students and was originally just for boys but has since been revamped to include girls in separate classrooms.
But DPI had a catch: In order to get the rest of the grant, the school must provide scientific research that single-gender education is effective. If you're going to discriminate by gender, DPI is saying, at least have a good reason for it.
I can't help but wonder: Is this the best DPI can do?
I don't know much more than what I've read in this newspaper about how Madison Prep would organize itself, what kinds of educational approaches it would use or how capable its sponsor, the Urban League of Greater Madison, would be.
ewsletter (as of this writing PD has not taken a position on the Madison Prep proposal). I've only changed minimally for posting here; one thing I have added is some hyperlinks (but I did not link as thoroughly as I usually do), another is a small "For Further Reading" set of links at the end," and of course the song. This is intended to be a broad overview and introduction to what I think are some of the most important issues concerning the decision on the Madison Preparatory Academy presented in the context of related national issues. Issues raised in this post have been and will be treated in more depth -- and with hyperlinks -- in other posts]Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
For decades free market advocates such as the Bradley Foundation, the Walton Foundation and the Koch brothers have a waged a multi-front campaign against the public sector and the idea of the common good. Public education has been one of the key battlegrounds. In the coming weeks the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will decide whether to approve a proposal for the Madison Prep Charter School. This proposal and the chief advocate for it - Kaleem Caire of the Urban League of Greater Madison - have their roots in the Bradley/Walton/Koch movement, and like much of that movement they offer false promises of educational progress in order to obscure the damage being done to every child in our public schools.
A Public Hearing on the Madison Prep proposal has been scheduled for Monday October 3, at 6:00 PM in the Doyle Building Auditorium; The Madison Prep proposal is on the agenda of the PD General Membership Meeting (Wed , 9/28 , 6:00 p.m, Hawthorne Branch Library, guests welcome).
In the coming weeks, Madison police dogs will be able to sniff through the halls, bathrooms and parking lots of the city's middle and high schools if school principals suspect there may be illegal drugs there.
The School Board voted 5-1 Monday to allow the sweeps, which school officials say will help eliminate drug use and trafficking in schools and decrease violence. Annual evaluations will be conducted to assess the program's effectiveness.
Supporters, including Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, said it could be an effective and color-blind tool as part of a strategy to keep schools safe. The dogs would search for marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
Luis Yudice, coordinator of safety and security for the school district, said one statistic that led officials to consider these searches was the 60 percent increase in student code-of-conduct violations since 2007 occurring because of drugs.
The Global Report Card was developed by Jay P. Greene and Josh B. McGee as part of the George W. Bush Institute's Education Reform Initiative. The Bush Institute works to increase dramatically the number of American students who graduate high school ready for college or prepared for a good career by:The Best United States School Districts (2007 Math data) [PDF].
Driven by accountability and data, these initiatives challenge the status quo and lead a wide range of partners to share goals and use clear metrics tied to student achievement.
- cultivating a new generation of principals
- implementing cutting edge research
- advancing accountability
Summary of Methodology
The calculations begin by evaluating the distributions of student achievement at the state, national, and international level. To allow for direct comparisons across state and national borders, and thus testing instruments, we map all testing data to the standard normal curve using the appropriate student level mean and standard deviation. We then calculate at the lowest level of aggregation by estimating average district quality within each state. Each state's average quality is evaluated then using national testing data. And finally, the average national quality is determined using international testing data. Essentially, this re-centers our distribution of district quality based upon the relative performance of the individual state when compared to the nation as a whole as well as the relative performance of the nation when compared to our economic competitors.
For example, the average student in Scarsdale School District in Westchester County, New York scored nearly one standard deviation above the mean for New York on the state's math exam. The average student in New York scored six hundredths of a standard deviation above the national average of the NAEP exam given in the same year, and the average student in the United States scored about as far in the negative direction (-.055) from the international average on PISA. Our final index score for Scarsdale in 2007 is equal to the sum of the district, state, and national estimates (1+.06+ -.055 = 1.055). Since the final index score is expired in standard deviation units, it can easily be converted to a percentile for easy interpretation. In our example, Scarsdale would rank at the seventy seventh percentile internationally in math.
Public and private school teachers will explore the shifting line between "mainstream" students and special education students during a two-day special education summit at The Martin Institute that begins Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The session is for special education teachers. The Wednesday session is for teachers outside the specific special education area. Both are on the Presbyterian Day School campus in East Memphis.
The summit and an 18-month focus on special education that follows arose from a series of luncheons and discussions Institute director Clif Mims had last spring with special education teachers.
The teachers and school system administrators cited "inclusion teaching" as both a trend and a challenge for all teachers.
Bill Gates has donated more than $5 billion to improve U.S. schools. But he sees little bang for all those bucks. What do other philanthropists--and the school systems who've benefited from them--think they have to show for what's been spent?
Two months ago, Bill Gates told the Wall Street Journal that private money--including upwards of $5 billion in Gates foundation funding--"didn't move the needle much," in terms of substantial, measurable improvements in student achievement and graduation outcomes.
"It's hard to improve public education--that's clear," Gates said. "If you're picking stocks, you wouldn't pick this one."
A 3,000 plus word article by Bill Lueders in the Capital Times today questions the motives behind legislators that support the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). Specifically targeted is Rep. Howard Marklein, a freshman legislator from Spring Green who had the gall to not only support school choice in Milwaukee but also to introduce legislation to improve the program.David Blaska has more.
Lueders quotes Rep. Sandy Pope-Roberts as asking: "What's in this for Howard Marklein?...If it isn't for the campaign funds, why is he doing this?"
Perhaps he is doing it because it benefits taxpayers in the 51st Assembly district. As Marklein points out to Lueders, an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows the MPCP is a benefit to his constituents. Without the MPCP, the 15 school districts represented by Rep. Marklein would lose $1.3 million in state aid. The estimate assumes that 90% of students in the MPCP would have no choice but to return to the more expensive Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system if the MPCP was ended. The 90% figure is the number used by the official state evaluators of the MPCP and is based on evidence from choice programs around the country.
This is Take Two in a series. Take One, with a fuller introduction, can be found here. Briefly, the idea of the series is to counter anti-teacher and anti-teachers' union individuals and "reform" groups appropriation of the phrase "it is all about the kids" as a means to heap scorn and ridicule on public education and public education employees by investigating some of the actions of these individuals and groups in light of the question "is it all about the kids?" In each take, national developments are linked to local matters in relation to the Madison Prep charter school proposal.
Take Two: A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Public Lotteries and the Exploitation of Families and Children
Chicago's charter school advocates could have reason for unprecedented optimism, given that new Mayor Rahm Emanuel frequently praises their efforts - and that a prominent charter-school executive was Emanuel's election campaign co-chairman.
Yet, rather than assume that they will reap the benefits of firm political backing, charter advocates say they are organizing a show of support from parents to help convince the new mayor and other leaders that they deserve more funding.
A rally on Saturday, billed as the "Charter schools Day of Action," is among the first public displays of a new public-relations push. The New Schools for Chicago group, which is devoting tens of millions of dollars to scores of new charters, has entered into a $250,000 contract with the United Neighborhood Organization to organize public support, said Juan Rangel, UNO's chief executive officer.
WORTHINGTON, Minn. (AP) -- Perla Banegas arrived in Worthington a decade ago, on a Greyhound bus from Los Angeles. Her single mom had heard about a safe, quiet town in the upper Midwest and steady jobs at its meatpacking plant.
In sixth grade that year, Banegas quickly got a reputation as a painfully shy kid -- and a talking-to for taking too many bathroom breaks. She wasn't shy: She just didn't understand a word of English in class. In bathroom stalls, she'd have a good cry and then give herself a pep talk: "You have to go back and try."
She did. And she graduated.
Imagine what would happen to Milwaukee's most vulnerable children if it weren't for the services provided by their school district: Milwaukee Public Schools.
I know what some of you are thinking: Their parents should be providing for them. Or: MPS might get better results if the district focused more on education and less on being a social service agency.
I agree. Parents are responsible for their kids, and the district is responsible for education. I'm not here to defend the district against justifiable criticism.
But understand: Many of the kids who attend MPS come from homes so impoverished that even the most basic things - breakfast or a place to sleep - are missing. How can the district educate kids living in such circumstances?
The U.S. Census Bureau reported last week that nearly half of Milwaukee's kids live in poverty. More than 80% of MPS students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Does it surprise you to hear that is the percentage of Milwaukee Public Schools children who had adults in their lives attend parent-teacher conferences last spring?
Or that the figure for a year earlier was 47%, meaning the percentage dropped by half in one year?
I've often heard anecdotes from teachers or principals about how low involvement is in parent-teacher conferences. Five parents show up for conferences involving a class of 27 kids. Numbers like that. There are individual MPS schools where participation is high, but that underscores how low the figure is at many other schools.
Parent-teacher conference attendance is sometimes overemphasized. There are other things parents can and should do that are much more important. But conferences can be seen as a measure of parent involvement. I had never seen specific numbers for MPS as a whole until now. The School Board was given a report on parent involvement this month, including numbers produced by stepped-up efforts in MPS to monitor this.
My training as a historian has taught me that all knowledge is tentative and that this is especially true when it comes to assigning motives to people's actions. It has also taught me to not accept self-proclaimed motives at face value , to only state an opinion about the motives of others when there is a preponderance of evidence, and to look at actions and consequences as well as rhetoric when trying to make sense of things.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
With those caveats, I think it is worthwhile to investigate the motives, actions and the consequences of the actions of Kaleem Caire and some of others associated with the Madison Prep proposal and the Urban League of Greater Madison in relation to public education.
Enemies of teachers and teacher unions have seized upon the phrase "it is all about the kids" to ridicule and attack teachers and their representatives. With union and (almost all) others, of course it isn't "all about the kids." Interestingly, those who blame unions for some or all of the ills of public education -- like many of the proponents of Madison Prep -- often offer their own versions of "it is all about the kids." Examples include Michelle Rhee who named her group Students First (Valarie Strauss pointedly offered a column on Rhee's organization titled "Rhee's campaign is not about the kids.") and the anti-Union political bribery has been done in Illinois (and elsewhere) under the banner of Stand for Children ( a must-see video here).
While money does not work miracles (as the saying goes, any problem that money can solve is not a problem), it is a necessary ingredient of many solutions to our problems. Without money, many poor countries and rural communities simply cannot provide basic education to improve literacy and promote life skills, never mind consider the quality of education. Unesco, the UN cultural organisation, calls on all governments to invest in education, to provide "education for all".
Having said that, education should not be seen as just an investment business in the sense that we look for money indicators to measure performance - for example, if we invest so much in a law degree student, how much will he or she earn upon graduation - as if justice can be measured by earnings.
In a recent eduwonk post regarding NCLB's complex and controversial school restructuring options, Andrew Rotherham wrote, "When it comes to tackling these problems, we have a serious failure of creativity, imagination, and, of course, political will. That's not this law's fault, and it's not going to be solved by any future law. Rather, it's cultural, deep rooted and demands real leadership..."
He has a point. However, the restructuring project is pretty daunting and beset with real practical constraints. Take the staffing issue. Which staff would you replace if the achievement failure is limited to the Hispanic subgroup within the school, but two-thirds of the students are Hispanic? What do you do if you are having difficulties with second-language learners, but your school has kids who speak fifteen different languages? Would you really fire all of the special education staff, even if there is no hope of hiring more?
At its next general session, the Legislature will be considering a bold plan that would put a new face on public education in Utah and dramatically alter the relationships between school districts, individual schools and students.
The question being asked now: Will the plan propel individual student achievement or stunt it?
Legislation proposed by Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, would give each high school student in Utah an individual education savings account, sort of like a debit card, and that student could use that money any way he or she wanted toward earning a diploma.
The plan would be unique in the United States and, just like initiatives from the Utah Legislature on public employee pension reform and Medicaid reform, could become a model for other states, its supporters boast.
The state Department of Public Instruction is requiring backers of the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy to provide scientific research supporting the effectiveness of single-gender education to receive additional funding.I find this ironic, given the many other programs attempted within our public schools, such as English 10, small learning communities, connected math and a number of reading programs.
The hurdle comes as university researchers are raising questions about whether such evidence exists. In an article published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers also say single-gender education increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.
Efforts to justify single-gender education as innovative school reform "is deeply misguided, and often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence," according to the article by eight university professors associated with the American Council for CoEducational Schooling, including UW-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde.
The Urban League of Greater Madison originally proposed Madison Prep as an all-male charter school geared toward low-income minorities. But after a state planning grant was held up because of legal questions related to single-gender education, the Urban League announced it would open the school next year with single-gender classrooms in the same building.
A newly published article by child development experts and neuroscientists blasting the trend toward single-sex education as "pseudoscience" won't help the cause of the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy.
Neither will the continued opposition of the South Central Federation of Labor, which reiterated its opposition to the Urban League-sponsored proposal this week because teachers at the school would not be represented by a union. The Madison Metropolitan School District has a collective bargaining agreement with Madison Teachers Inc. that runs through June of 2013, and Madison Prep's plan envisions working conditions for its staff -- a longer school day and a longer school year, for example -- that differ substantially from the contract the district has with its employees.
With a public hearing on the charter school scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3, the debate surrounding Madison Prep is heating up on many fronts. The Madison School Board must take a final vote giving the charter school a go or no-go decision in November.
Kaleem Caire, CEO of the Urban League and a passionate proponent for the separate boys and girls academies aimed at helping boost minority youth academic performance, says he is unimpressed by an article published in the prestigious journal, Science, on Sept. 23, that says there is "no empirical evidence" supporting academic improvement through single-sex education.
Are other DPI funded initiatives held to the same "standard"?
The timing of these events is certainly interesting.
14mb mp3 audio. WORT-FM conducted an interview this evening with Janet Shibley Hyde, one of the authors. Unrelated, but interesting, Hyde's interview further debunked the "learning styles" rhetoric we hear from time to time.
UPDATE: The Paper in Question: The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling:
In attempting to improve schools, it is critical to remember that not all reforms lead to meaningful gains for students. We argue that one change in particular--sex-segregated education--is deeply misguided, and often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence. There is no well-designed research showing that single-sex (SS) education improves students' academic performance, but there is evidence that sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.
Single-sex education is ineffective, misguided and may actually increase gender stereotyping, a paper to be published Friday asserts.
The report, "The Pseudoscience of Single Sex Schooling," to be published in Science magazine by eight social scientists who are founders of the nonprofit American Council for CoEducational Schooling, is likely to ignite a new round of debate and legal wrangling about the effects of single-sex education.
It asserts that "sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence."
As more Chicago public schools cash in on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's longer-day financial incentives by adding 90 minutes to their school day, the previous votes by a dozen schools to add about a half hour to the day by bringing back recess are going unnoticed.
Restoring recess is part of a broader health push by parents, advocacy groups and some city officials to bring more exercise and better nutrition to both schoolchildren and preschoolers.
Beginning in November, the city's Department of Public Health will require children who attend preschool or day care centers in Chicago to spend less time in front of television or computer screens -- 60 minutes or less -- and more time, at least an hour a day, participating in physical activity. At snack or meal time, milk cannot have a fat content higher than 1 percent, unless a child has written consent from a doctor. Only 100 percent juice can be served.
In Chicago, 22 percent of children are overweight before they enter school, more than twice the national average, according to research compiled by the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, a group of organizations and health advocates.
"School choice" is a broad term that refers to a wide range of alternatives, including themed charter schools that are entirely under the control of their home school districts. Forty states and the District of Columbia have those in place, according to the American Federation for Children, a national school choice advocacy group.It would be interesting to compare special interest spending in support of the status quo, vs groups advocating change, as outlined in Bill Lueders' article. A few links:
But it is the voucher programs, in which public funds are used to send children to private schools, that are the focus of much of the energy around the choice movement. Seven states and the District of Columbia have those, and Milwaukee's voucher program is the first and largest of its kind in the country. That makes Wisconsin a key national battleground.
"Wisconsin has a high level of value to the movement as a whole," says Robert Enlow, president of the Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, a nonprofit group that advocates for school choice. The state, he says, is notable for "the high level of scholarship amounts that families can get."
Milwaukee's voucher program had 20,300 full-time equivalent voucher students at 102 private schools in 2010-11, compared to about 80,000 students at Milwaukee's public K-12 schools. The total cost, at $6,442 per voucher student, was $130.8 million, of which about $90 million came from the state and the rest from the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Critics see the school choice program as part of a larger strategy -- driven into high gear in Wisconsin by the fall election of Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans -- to eviscerate, for ideological and religious reasons, public schools and the unions that represent teachers.
How much do election-year firewalls cost to build? For the state's largest teachers union, $1.57 million.
That's how much the Wisconsin Education Association Council said last week it will spend trying to make sure four Democratic state senators are re-elected - enough, WEAC hopes, to keep a Democratic majority in the 33-member state body.
Although there are 15 Democratic candidates running for the state Senate, and 80 Democrats running for the state Assembly, the latest WEAC report shows that the teachers union is placing what amounts to an "all in" bet on saving just four Democratic senators who are finishing their first terms.
In an Oct. 25 report to the Government Accountability Board, the 98,000-member union reported that it will independently:
The statewide teachers union led in spending on lobbying state lawmakers even before this year's fight over collective bargaining rights.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council spent $2.5 million on lobbying in 2009 and 2010, years when Democrats were in control of all of state government, a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Board showed.
WEAC is always one of the top spending lobbyists in the Capitol and they took a central role this year fighting Gov. Scott Walker's plan curbing public employee union rights, including teachers.
Back in 2009, when Democrat Jim Doyle was governor and Democrats controlled the Senate and Assembly, WEAC wasn't helping to organize massive protests but it was a regular presence in the Capitol.
Spending in the summer's recall elections by special interest groups, candidates and political action committees shattered spending records set in previous elections, with $43.9 million doled out on nine elections, according to a study released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
Spending by six political action committees or special interest groups topped the $1 million mark. We Are Wisconsin was the top spender.
The union-backed group spent roughly $10.75 million, followed by the conservative-leaning Club for Growth at $9 million and $4 million in spending from the Greater Wisconsin Committee.
The struggling Kansas City, Missouri School District was stripped of its accreditation on Tuesday, raising the possibility of student departures and a state takeover. The action follows weeks of tumult that included another round of turnover of top leadership.Former Madison School District Superintendent Art Rainwater formerly worked for the Kansas City School District.
Though not entirely unexpected, the move was a painful return to reality for the city after a period of optimism that difficult choices were finally being made to confront longstanding problems in the school district, most notably the closing of nearly half the schools in response to a huge budget deficit.
The Missouri Board of Education cited the continued failure to improve academic performance and the continued instability in district leadership as driving its decision. The district has been provisionally accredited for nearly a decade after a two-year period during which it was unaccredited.
"We've given Kansas City more time than maybe we should have to address the problems," said Chris L. Nicastro, the state education commissioner, who had recommended the move. "Over a sustained period of time, student performance has not met state standards."
Money & School Performance is well worth a read.
It is a rare organization that can reinvent itself, rather than continuing to atrophy.
I have attended dozens of legislative hearings, community meetings, and board meetings where the problems related to public education are discussed. Not to mention the numerous one-on-one conversations I've had with adults who are usually middle or upper class, where the subject of parental involvement in children's education is raised as a major factor contributing to the ills of public education. Educators who work in urban areas are quick to point out how negligent their students' parents are and are eager to recite anecdotes to illustrate their case. What is not said, but clearly implied is this: if the parents of these children in low-performing schools would do their jobs as parents, these children would not be failing.
Every time I hear someone raise the issue of parental involvement, I can't help but think of the parents in the latest "education" movies: The Lottery and Waiting for Superman. What good did "parental involvement" do for their children that didn't get accepted into a charter school? If they were not lucky enough to have their number called, they were still stuck in bad schools with educators who, for the most part, had given up on them. What good did "parental involvement" do for them?
If people want a charter school to be an inspiration to other youngsters in the community, here's a better way to do it. Instead of building an entirely new school, which costs a ton and isolates the kids from the rest of their peers, why not go with the school within a school model, in which a charter is operated within an existing public school?Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school, here.
That's the only original idea I have. Now here is my two cents on the rest of the plan.
I believe Kaleem Caire knows what he is talking about though. It's frustrating to see a debate on the crisis facing minority students as polarized between the know-nothings on the right who believe the only issues facing blacks are self-inflicted cultural ones and the lefties who refuse to accept that anything besides racism and poverty are responsible for the poor performance of black males in America.
FROM Toronto to Wroclaw, London to Rome, pupils and teachers have been returning to the classroom after their summer break. But this September schools themselves are caught up in a global battle of ideas. In many countries education is at the forefront of political debate, and reformers desperate to improve their national performance are drawing examples of good practice from all over the world.Related: www.wisconsin2.org.
Why now? One answer is the sheer amount of data available on performance, not just within countries but between them. In 2000 the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) at the OECD, a rich-country club, began tracking academic attainment by the age of 15 in 32 countries. Many were shocked by where they came in the rankings. (PISA's latest figures appear in table 1.) Other outfits, too, have been measuring how good or bad schools are. McKinsey, a consultancy, has monitored which education systems have improved most in recent years.
"Come on Madison, we can do better than this!"
That's Kaleem Caire. He said it not recently but in 1998 in an op-ed questioning why his hometown wasn't paying more attention to the poor educational outcomes and high incarceration rates of black males.
"I'm asking Madison to be your best self and get this done!"
That's also Caire, in an interview this week about his proposal for a publicly funded charter school designed to improve educational outcomes of low-income minority students.
What hasn't changed, then to now, is Caire's conviction that Madison's public schools are failing minority students and his willingness to force issues that cause some distress to the city's white liberal establishment.
What has changed is Caire's clout. He returned to his hometown in 2010 after a decade long detour with his family to the East Coast. As president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, and public face for the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, his profile has skyrocketed. But with it has come criticism and skepticism over a plan that challenges Madison's longstanding commitment to inclusive learning.
Education remains the trickiest part of attempts to reform the public sector. But as ever more countries embark on it, some vital lessons are beginning to be learnedRelated: www.wisconsin2.org
FROM Toronto to Wroclaw, London to Rome, pupils and teachers have been returning to the classroom after their summer break. But this September schools themselves are caught up in a global battle of ideas. In many countries education is at the forefront of political debate, and reformers desperate to improve their national performance are drawing examples of good practice from all over the world.
Why now? One answer is the sheer amount of data available on performance, not just within countries but between them. In 2000 the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) at the OECD, a rich-country club, began tracking academic attainment by the age of 15 in 32 countries. Many were shocked by where they came in the rankings. (PISA's latest figures appear in table 1.) Other outfits, too, have been measuring how good or bad schools are. McKinsey, a consultancy, has monitored which education systems have improved most in recent years.
Peg Tyre is the author of "The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve."
THE school year is in full swing and, if you are the parent of a school-age child, you've probably figured out how to get your children up each weekday morning, dressed and out the door -- toast in hand -- in order to catch the school bus. Good for you.
If you've met and exchanged contact information with your child's homeroom teacher or gone the extra step and volunteered to become the class parent, give yourself a pat on the back. You're on your way to becoming an engaged parent -- the kind of adult, education researchers say, who helps children to be the best they can be in school.
Now, steady yourself. New legislation, called the parent trigger, which is being proposed in more than 20 states, including New York, is about to make your role as an engaged parent a lot more complicated.
Friday was graduation day for Brian Steven Hernandez, a goal that was never a sure thing growing up in his tough North Hollywood neighborhood.
At Jack B. Clarke High School, within the locked gates of a state youth correctional facility in Norwalk, Hernandez realized he could turn his life around.
But Hernandez and his 22 classmates, proudly wearing maroon caps and gowns, are the last graduates to receive diplomas at Clarke, which is closing at year's end due to state budget cuts.
"This is the place where I learned I could change if I wanted to," said Hernandez, 20, who has been in juvenile detention for 5 years after being convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. "It sucks for the other kids that have to go to other places that are much harder places to be in to learn."
Operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic will be the third such facility to close since 2009. Shuttering the facility will save the state about $44 million annually, officials said.
Milwaukee's private school voucher program, now in its twelfth year, is dwarfed by the 30-year-old voucher program in Chile, where almost half of all students attend private voucher schools. The Chilean program is therefore of significant interest to school reformers and researchers looking to make voucher and charter schools a success in the US.
The most recent research, published by the Cato Institute, finds that when the Chilean public school test scores are compared with those of independent private schools and with those of private schools that are part of multi-school networks or franchises, the students in the franchised private schools perform best. (The independent, mom-and-pop private schools do about the same as the public schools.) In addition, the Chilean research indicates the more schools there are in the franchised networks, the better they outperform the others.
The researchers note that in Chile, "The private voucher school sector is essentially a cottage industry. More than 70 percent of private voucher schools are independent schools that do not belong to a franchise." The franchised schools are either owned by for-profit school management companies; affiliated with non-profit, secular organizations; or part of the Catholic or Protestant school systems.
Do these findings reflect what we know about Milwaukee's program? Its hard to say, since only one year of comparative data on student performance in voucher schools is available and it does not differentiate between the various types of private schools. However, those data do indicate considerable variability in performance across Milwaukee's voucher schools--some are producing high scoring students and some are no better than the worst public schools. It would be nice to know if all the high performing private schools had something in common besides the fact they participate in the voucher program.
A litany of scandals in recent years have made the corruption of college sports constant front-page news. We profess outrage each time we learn that yet another student-athlete has been taking money under the table. But the real scandal is the very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves. Here, a leading civil-rights historian makes the case for paying college athletes--and reveals how a spate of lawsuits working their way through the courts could destroy the NCAA.
"I'm not hiding," Sonny Vaccaro told a closed hearing at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2001. "We want to put our materials on the bodies of your athletes, and the best way to do that is buy your school. Or buy your coach."
How to Fix College Sports Vaccaro's audience, the members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, bristled. These were eminent reformers--among them the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, two former heads of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and several university presidents and chancellors. The Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that takes an interest in college athletics as part of its concern with civic life, had tasked them with saving college sports from runaway commercialism as embodied by the likes of Vaccaro, who, since signing his pioneering shoe contract with Michael Jordan in 1984, had built sponsorship empires successively at Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. Not all the members could hide their scorn for the "sneaker pimp" of schoolyard hustle, who boasted of writing checks for millions to everybody in higher education.
The phone rang, and my stomach clenched when I heard her voice. "Daddy? I want to go home," said my 8-year-old daughter, Arden. Two hours earlier, I dropped Arden and her two siblings off at their new school in a squat building in a forest of Soviet-era apartment blocks on Krasnoarmeyskaya (Red Army) Street in Moscow. They hugged me goodbye, clinging a little too long, and as I rode the metro to my office, I said a kind of silent prayer to myself that they would get through the day without falling apart.
But Arden had just spent the minutes between class periods hiding in the bathroom so no one would see her crying. Finally, she composed herself, found her teacher and pantomimed that she needed to talk to me. "I don't understand . . . anything," she told me. I tried to respond with soothing words, but I had no idea what to do. You can tell your kid to tough it out when she transfers from one school to another in your hometown. This was different.
A dozen students in uniforms of white-collared shirts and blue slacks looked up attentively at their sixth-grade teachers at the Brennan Rogers School on the first day of school this year.
"We will never make you do something that doesn't guide you to a purpose, we're not here to waste your time," said second-year teacher Kimberlee Henry. Her students nodded. "Everything you will do this year will prepare you for something else, giving you the skills you need to go on to high school, college, and excel at life."
The school's focus wasn't always as sharp. Brennan Rogers, which has about 360 kindergarten through eighth-graders, spent decades failing its students. Parents commonly campaigned for transfers to other schools that weren't plagued with violence and lagging from inattention.
Now, the school serves as the centerpiece of a sweeping reform effort launched three years ago by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano to turn around this inner-city district, where one in four children drops out every year and test scores have languished for decades.
Using the elite private school where Mayor Rahm Emanuel now sends his kids as a starting point, Chicago Teachers Union officials have crafted a proposed schedule that adds 75 minutes to the typical public elementary school student's day.
The union's latest salvo in the battle over a longer school day uses as a comparison point the schedule of one third-grade classroom at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, union officials said Tuesday.
Just like at what U of C kids often call "the Lab School,'' the CTU proposal offers a well-rounded curriculum featuring far more art, music, physical education and other extras than most CPS kids now get and even includes the study of a second language.
Ultimately, the proposed CTU schedule would provide an even longer school day than the Lab School , where a third-grader's tuition is $21,876. And it does so without requiring Chicago Public School teachers to add any minutes to their work day.
During a recent discussion on Channel 10's "News Conference" about efforts to expand charter schools in Rhode Island, James Parisi, field representative and lobbyist for the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, challenged the notion that charter schools improve student performance.
"I think one of the studies that I pay most attention to," Parisi said, "indicated, on a nationwide basis, looking at two and a half thousand charter schools around the country, maybe 20 percent do better than the community public schools, 40 percent or so do worse and the rest are not having any significant difference."
Rhode Island has 16 charter schools, including a new one opening Sept. 7, and more are expected to open soon. The state has a three-year, $9.4-million federal grant to expand existing charter schools, open additional ones and build partnerships between charter and traditional public schools.
Thanks to Chan Stroman-Roll for sending the links.
Media ReleaseMuch more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school, here.
Madison Preparatory Academy today announced its inaugural Board of Directors. Board members represent a diverse cross-section of corporate and community leaders from the Greater Madison area who are all passionate about and dedicated to ensuring Madison Prep becomes a reality for young men and women. They are:
Tyler Beck, Undergraduate Student, UW-Madison
Dave Boyer, CEO, MCD, Inc.
David Cagigal, Vice Chair, Urban League of Greater Madison
Elizabeth Donley, CEO, Stemina Corporation
Rosa Frazier, Clinical Professor/Immigration Law, UW-Madison Law School
Dennis Haefer, Vice President of Commercial Banking, Johnson Bank
Donna Hurd, Executive Director, Boardman Law Firm
Torrey Jaeckle, Vice President, Jaeckle Distributors
Rev. Richard Jones, Pastor, Mount Zion Baptist Church
Gloria Ladson-Billings, Chair of Urban Education and Professor of Curriculum & Instruction and Education Policy Studies, UW-Madison
Maddy Niebauer, Managing Director of Strategy & Human Assets, Teach for America
J. Marshall Osborn, Retired Math Professor, UW-Madison
Fran Petonic, President, Meriter Foundation
John Roach, Owner & CEO, John Roach Projects
Mario Garcia Sierra, Director of Programs, Centro Hispano
Derrick Smith, Area Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation
Terrence Wall, President, T. Wall Properties
About Madison Preparatory Academy:
Madison Preparatory Academy (Madison Prep) is a tuition-free public charter school that will serve as a catalyst for change and opportunity, particularly for young people of color. Its mission is to prepare students for success at a four year college or university by instilling excellence, pride, leadership, and service. The school will open in the Fall of 2012 to students in the Madison Metropolitan School District, pending approval from the Board of Education in the Fall of 2011.
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche-Perez at 608-729-1230 or Lderoche@ulgm.org
It's no surprise Kaleem Caire, a black man and head of the Urban League of Greater Madison, took a lot of guff from pundits last week after he banned the media from a forum for parents of black school children.
Strike at our bread and butter -- access -- and we shall strike back.
I wrote Thursday that closing a meeting on a topic already so fraught with sidestepping -- race -- doesn't really move us toward honest talk.
After speaking with Caire on Friday, I still think that's true. But it also might be beside the point.
Caire and his proposed Madison Prep charter school are conundrums for those who control the city's levers of power, who are overwhelmingly liberal, middle class and white.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) released a much-anticipated opinion about the director's position of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
The opinion was requested after GOP lawmakers questioned the legality of Gov. Mike Beebe's recommendation that former State Sen. Shane Broadway (D) be appointed by the higher education board to the post. Broadway removed himself from consideration for the position on Friday (Sept. 9) citing his wife's health and the stress of travel related to the job.
McDaniel said in his opinion, "I cannot resolve the group of questions asking me to specifically decide the case of the proposed appointment of Shane Broadway." McDaniel cited the office's long-standing policy of not addressing hypothetical situations in opinion decisions.
The new school year begins in Seattle today, with the superintendent feeling "excited and hopeful that anything is possible" in the year ahead.
I'm not as confident, yet.
My daughter starts her junior year of high school. She's enthusiastic, optimistic and one of those students who always gets a "she's a delight to have in class" comment on her report cards. She has the school system figured out. Today she's on the team who will help incoming, possibly nervous, freshmen. Have a great day sweetie; I know you will.
This is not a routine day for my son. He's making the transition from elementary to middle school. No more bubbly fish tank in the school lobby, little kids' artwork on the walls and shock absorbing wood chips on the playground. Instead, he'll be surrounded by the echoing thud of steel locker doors slamming, the shuffle of grown up-sized tennis shoes tromping through the halls and concrete sidewalks with weeds growing through the gaps. Have a great day son; I don't know how your day will go. I can't wait to find out this afternoon.
Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that one cannot simultaneously measure the location of a particle while also measuring the momentum of that particle. When you apply this principle to schools, it's a little disheartening--if we attempt to measure where we are now, we are no longer certain how fast we're improving. If the environment in which the measurement is taking place is also moving (think of the vast legal and budgetary changes at the state level), the uncertainty is all but overwhelming.
Thus, this year's analysis of public school data in southeast Wisconsin heeds Heisenberg and emphasizes the use of the 2010-11 data as a baseline. Knowing that all Wisconsin school districts will be in a state of flux over the next few years due to changes in contractual bargaining legislation, the state budget, a slow economic recovery, a new standardized testing system, and new standards for curriculum, in the future we hope to measure their improvements over time as these various "new normals" kick in. For now, we emphasize where they've been and where they are currently.
For our Sept. 13 public affairs forum with Chicago schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard and teachers union leader Karen Lewis, we asked Trib Nation to write an essay on what makes public education succeed or fail.
Here are the contributions from winners Ray Salazar, G. A. Finch, Trevon Martin, Eva Delgado, Cassandra Eddings and Devyn Rigsby, along with two other noteworthy essays from Gary Lawson and Ron Barker:
G. A. Finch, parent:
I chair the LSC at Decatur Classical, an obscure selective enrollment school that the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Chicago Magazine have ranked the highest performing elementary school in Illinois. Despite its diversity in income, ethnicity, race and religion, it consistently exceeds state testing standards.
[Note from Laurie Rogers: Recently, results from the 2011 state standardized test scores came out, and the general impression given to the public -- for example from the state education agency (OSPI) and from media in Seattle and in Spokane -- was that improvements had been made. It's all in the definitions: How do you define "improvement"? Did some of the numbers go up? Assuredly. Did that mean that real improvments in real academic knowledge had been made? It's best to remain skeptical.
Most students in Spokane are as weak in math skill this year as they were last year. Given a proper math test that assesses for basic skills, many high schoolers still test into 4th or 5th-grade math. College remedial rates are still high. Parents are still frantic, and students are still stressed out about math. So ... what do those higher scores actually mean? I've been trying to find out. It's hard to say.
An annual report on Iowa public schools shows students in 30 districts aren't making the progress required by the federal No Child Left behind law, triggering required actions such as changing staff members.
The report released by state education officials Thursday showed that 415 schools weren't making adequate progress. That nearly 30 percent of all Iowa schools.
A group of business and philanthropic leaders appointed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy presented their education reform proposals to the state Board of Education Wednesday, pitching changes to teacher certification requirements, preparation programs and evaluations to help close Connecticut's dramatic achievement gap.
Members of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform said they considered the timing appropriate, coming as Malloy introduced his new education commissioner and reiterated that education will be a priority in next year's legislative session.
"We think next year could be the lynchpin," said Steve Simmons, vice chair of the council and CEO of Simmons/Patriot Media and Communications. "The governor has said that this first year was focused on the budget crisis and the second year was going to be education reform. I think we have a great chance here over this next nine or ten month period to really push for change."
Madison Preparatory Academy will receive the first half of a $225,000 state planning grant after the Madison School Board determined Thursday that the revised proposal for the charter school addresses legal concerns about gender equality.Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes
Madison Schools Superintendent Dan Nerad announced the decision following a closed School Board meeting.
Questions still remain about the cost of the proposal by the Urban League of Greater Madison, which calls for a school for 60 male and 60 female sixth-graders geared toward low-income minorities that would open next year.
"I understand the heartfelt needs for this program," Nerad said, but "there are other needs we need to address."
The school district does not have a lot of spare money lying around that it can devote to Madison Prep. Speaking for myself, I am not willing to cut educational opportunities for other students in order to fund Madison Prep. If it turns out that entering into a five-year contract with Madison Prep would impose a net cost of millions of dollars on the school district, then, for me, we'd have to be willing to raise property taxes by that same millions of dollars in order to cover the cost.TJ Mertz:
It is not at all clear that we'd be able to do this even if we wanted to. Like all school districts in the state, MMSD labors under the restrictions of the state-imposed revenue caps. The law places a limit on how much school districts can spend. The legislature determines how that limit changes from year to year. In the best of times, the increase in revenues that Wisconsin school districts have been allowed have tended to be less than their annual increases in costs. This has led to the budget-slashing exercises that the school districts endure annually.
In this environment, it is extremely difficult to see how we could justify taking on the kind of multi-million dollar obligation that entering into a five-year contract with Madison Prep would entail. Indeed, given the projected budget numbers and revenue limits, it seems inevitable that signing on to the Madison Prep proposal would obligate the school district to millions of dollars in cuts to the services we provide to our students who would not attend Madison Prep.
A sense of the magnitude of these cuts can be gleaned by taking one year as an example. Since Madison Prep would be adding classes for seven years, let's look at year four, the 2015-16 school year, which falls smack dab in the middle.
Last night I (TJ) was asked to leave the meeting on African American issues in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) advertised as being facilitated by the Department of Justice Community Relations Service (DOJ CRS) and hosted or convened by the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) with the consent and participation of MMSD. I was told that if I did not leave, the meeting would be canceled. The reason given was that I write a blog (see here for some background on the exclusion of the media and bloggers and here for Matt DeFour's report from outside the meeting).The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
I gave my word that I would not write about the meeting, but that did not alter the request. I argued that as a parent and as someone who has labored for years to address inequities in public education, I had both a legitimate interest in being there and the potential to contribute to the proceedings. This was acknowledged and I was still asked to leave and told again that the meeting would not proceed if I did not leave. I asked to speak to the DOJ CRS representatives in order to confirm that this was the case and this request was repeatedly refused by Kaleem Caire of the ULGM.
An idea hatched in Madison aims to give parents with boys in Wisconsin's second-largest city another positive option for their children. It's an idea that ought to be channeled to Milwaukee.Rebecca Kemble:
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men would feature the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, longer days, a longer school year and lofty expectations for dress and behavior for boys in sixth grade through high school. And while it would accept all comers, clearly it is designed to focus on low-income boys of color. Backers hope to open a year from now.
One of the primary movers behind Madison Prep is Kaleem Caire, the head of the Urban League of Madison, who grew up in the city and attended Madison West High School in 1980s, Alan J. Borsuk explained in a column last Sunday. Caire later worked in Washington, D.C., as an education advocate before returning to Madison.
Caire saw too many young black men wash out and end up either dead or in jail, reported Borsuk, a senior fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School. And Caire now is worried, as are we, about the atrocious statistics that place young black boys so far behind their white peers.
The Department of Justice official explained the shadowy, confidential nature of the Community Relations Service to the audience by describing the kinds of situations it intervenes in, mostly having to do with hate crimes and rioting. He said in no uncertain terms, "We are not here to do an investigation," and even asked for the audience members to repeat the sentence with him. He then went on to ask for people to respect the confidentiality of those raising issues, and laid out the structure of the meeting: 30 minutes for listing problems relating to the achievement gap and 45 minutes generating solutions.
I will respect the confidentiality of the content of the meeting by not repeating it. However, I will say that what was said in that room was no different that what has been said at countless other open, public meetings with the School District and in community groups on the same topic, the only difference being that there were far fewer parents in the room and few if any teachers.
It turned out that the Department of Justice secretive meeting was a convenient way to pack the house with a captive audience for yet another infomercial about Madison Prep. Kaleem Caire adjourned the one meeting and immediately convened an Urban League meeting where he gave his Madison Prep sales pitch yet again. About 1/3 of the audience left at that point.
very principal looks forward to the first day of school when students return with fresh minds eager to learn and ready to work. But as students prepare to hit the books in the next couple weeks, some of them won't have to take the bus to school, wander the halls looking for their classroom or search rows of desks to find their seat.
Virtual schooling with Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA) allows students to receive a top-notch public education online from the comfort of their homes. Virtual education is an increasingly popular alternative to the traditional brick and mortar classroom, but many parents still don't fully understand online learning and how it works.
Virtual public schooling is not homeschooling. In fact, the two are quite different. Virtual public schools deliver public education to a student's home at no cost that combines state-certified teachers and a rigorous curriculum that correlates to state standards. At WCA, students learn at home under the guidance of a Wisconsin certified teacher. A Learning Coach, typically a parent, assists the student in day-to-day activities. Our teachers work directly with both the student and Learning Coach to develop an individual learning plan, provide instruction and evaluate assignments.
Ohio Governor John Kasich said on Wednesday that an Akron-area mother convicted of felony charges for lying about where she lived to enroll her children in a suburban school district deserves a second chance.
Kelley Williams-Bolar, 41, attracted national attention and drew the support of school-choice advocates after she was convicted and jailed for using her father's address to enroll her two daughters in the higher performing Copley Fairlawn School District instead of the Akron Public Schools.
Kasich, a Republican, reduced Williams-Bolar's two felony convictions to misdemeanors, overruling the state's parole board, which last week rejected a pardon in the case.
The threat of possible litigation has roiled the already turbulent waters surrounding the proposal for a single-sex Urban League charter school.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school, here.
Madison school officials began feeling skittish over recommending a $225,000 planning grant for the Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men after the state Department of Public Instruction raised concerns recently that the school doesn't meet state and federal requirements to provide gender-equal education.
Now, a new legal threat has emerged, this one from Madison Teachers Inc. Together, the two issues could cause the board to pull back from supporting the planning grant, possibly as early as Thursday.
First, some background: After DPI put the planning grant on hold, the Urban League of Greater Madison last week submitted a new proposal to simultaneously establish a separate campus for girls. Kaleem Caire, Urban League president and a driving force behind Madison Prep, wants to see the schools open next year, initially with 60 sixth-grade girls and 60 sixth-grade boys. The proposal calls for adding 120 additional sixth-graders in each of the four subsequent years. Because the proposal now envisions 600 students rather 480 as originally planned, it would require more funding from the Madison Metropolitan School District than originally planned.
The English Schools Foundation (ESF) has angered parents by introducing a fast-track system for its private school in Discovery Bay, in which parents can get priority on the waiting list by agreeing to pay HK$400,000 if their child is accepted.
The ESF started the system for "nomination rights" on Thursday and said it had been introduced for parents seeking to enrol children at Discovery College from the next academic year.
A hundred and fifty years ago, adults were incensed about child labor. Low-wage kids were taking jobs away from hard-working adults.
Sure, there was some moral outrage at seven-year olds losing fingers and being abused at work, but the economic rationale was paramount. Factory owners insisted that losing child workers would be catastrophic to their industries and fought hard to keep the kids at work--they said they couldn't afford to hire adults. It wasn't until 1918 that nationwide compulsory education was in place.
Part of the rationale to sell this major transformation to industrialists was that educated kids would actually become more compliant and productive workers. Our current system of teaching kids to sit in straight rows and obey instructions isn't a coincidence--it was an investment in our economic future. The plan: trade short-term child labor wages for longer-term productivity by giving kids a head start in doing what they're told.
Large-scale education was never about teaching kids or creating scholars. It was invented to churn out adults who worked well within the system.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel focused on parents Tuesday in his quest for a longer school day, saying they should demand the extra hours teachers already approved outside the Chicago Teachers Union contract at STEM Magnet Academy and two other schools.
"Three schools took this step forward. We hope other schools will do the same," Emanuel said as he kicked off a new school year at STEM, a new magnet school in an old Chicago Public School building.
"Most important, the parents want this," said Emanuel, whose campaign promises included a longer school day. "Parents need to ask their schools, 'How can we get the same thing?'"
Meanwhile, CPS officials Tuesday invited all elementary schools to join the "Longer School Day Pioneers Program," which adds 90 minutes of daily instructional time this school year in exchange for pro-rated teacher raises of 2 percent. Plus, schools that join in September will net an extra $150,000; those that start in January will get $75,000, a CPS news release explained.
While attending a recent party on the shores of Lake Mendota, the use of drug-sniffing dogs in city high schools became a discussion topic. As parents and taxpayers, we concluded that the use of random sweeps is an excellent idea because Madison and Dane County have seen dramatic increases in drug use among younger people.
We thought it incredible that John Matthews, the teachers union boss, would utter such nonsense that there wouldn't be better control with drug-sniffing dogs and "why do we want to make kids go to school in that environment?"
Kaleem Caire, via email:
September 7, 2011Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
On Thursday, August 25, 2011, leadership of the Urban League of Greater Madison, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Madison Metropolitan School District met at DPI's Madison offices to discuss how the Urban League and MMSD would address DPI's concerns that a comparable option to Madison Prep's charter school for boys also be available to girls at the same time the boys' school would open in August 2012.
During that meeting, all three parties discussed ways "comparability" could be achieved. DPI suggested and the Urban League agreed that starting the girl's campus at the same time as the boy's campus would be the best way to achieve comparability and sufficiently comply with state law and federal Title IX regulations that address single-sex public schools.
Initially, the Urban League planned to wait 12-24 months to start the girls' campus of Madison Prep. However, given DPI's concerns, we saw this as the perfect opportunity and argument to serve girls right away, and subsequently adjusted our plans to include a girls' campus of Madison Prep last week. You can review a copy of the proposal we submitted last week to DPI and MMSD that explains how we'll adjust our plans and add the girls' campus in 2012 by clicking here. We have also attached the document to this email here.
Today, we were excited to learn from a DPI official, Mr. Bob Soldner, that our proposal for adding the girls' campus now satisfies DPI's concerns that a comparable option would be available for boys and girls at the same time. Mr. Soldner also said he was awaiting a response to our plan from the Madison Metropolitan School District before releasing our $225,000 charter school planning grant, which DPI put on hold two weeks ago.
I just learned 2 hours ago from MMSD Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Nerad, that the Board of Education decided today to hold an executive session tomorrow at 4:30pm at the Doyle Administration Building to "discuss the legal implications of Madison Prep and the potential for litigation." Dr. Nerad said that immediately following their executive session, the Board of Education would also hold a "special public meeting" to discuss Madison Prep.
Unfortunately, the Urban League of Greater Madison and the Board members of Madison Prep will not be able to attend the public meeting on Madison Prep tomorrow as we are attending a long-scheduled fundraiser for the school at the same time tomorrow - 5:30pm. This will be the first major fundraiser for the school, and is being hosted by four prominent leaders and advocates for children in Greater Madison.
We hope that those of you who support Madison Prep and are not attending our fundraiser tomorrow night will be available to attend the public meeting of the Board of Education tomorrow to express your support for our proposal to establish Madison Preparatory Academy campuses for boys and girls. We assume a critical decision regarding our charter school grant application will be decided tomorrow. You can find the agenda for the Board of Education's meeting by clicking here.
For more information about tomorrow's Board of Education meeting, please contact the Madison Metropolitan School District's Board of Education at email@example.com or 608-204-0341. For more information about our updated Madison Prep proposal, please contact Ms. Laura DeRoche Perez at Lderoche@ulgm.org or 608-729-1230.
We intend to host our own public forum on Madison Prep in the near future. More details and information will be shared with you soon.
Thank you so much. It's all about the future of our children.
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
A Madison charter school geared toward low-income, minority students would include single-gender classrooms for both boys and girls in 2012 under a revised proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy.
The new proposal from the Urban League of Greater Madison would nearly double the contribution required by the Madison School District in the fifth year -- from $4.8 million in the original plan to $9.4 million -- but the net cost to the district remains unclear.
The Urban League submitted the proposal to the school district and the state Department of Public Instruction on Friday, and it was made public by the district Wednesday. The revision came after DPI withheld support for a $225,000 planning grant for an all-boys charter school that the Urban League had discussed creating for more than a year. State officials said that such a school would discriminate against girls and that if they open an all-male school, they must open a similar school for girls at the same time.
The Madison School Board has scheduled two meetings for Thursday, one in closed session at 4:30 p.m. to discuss legal issues related to the new proposal and the second in open session at 5:30 p.m., Superintendent Dan Nerad said.
A meeting Wednesday to discuss the minority achievement gap in the Madison district will be closed to the media, even if that means kicking School Board members out, the organizer said Monday.
The Urban League of Greater Madison invited Madison School Board members to its meeting facilitated by an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, but if four board members attend, it would be considered a quorum of the school board and need to abide by the open meetings law.
Four of the seven school board members confirmed with the State Journal Monday that they plan to attend the meeting.
"We'll have to kick one of them out," said Urban League President Kaleem Caire, laughing. "I'm serious."
British science fiction author and futurist Arthur Clarke once said: "It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars."
He was referring to competing human space programmes, but the quote may be seen to have some relevance to the debate over the proposed "national education" of Hong Kong school pupils.
To many the question is simply whether Beijing-style propaganda should be introduced through the public education system in what has remained largely a free city in the 14 years since the handover of sovereignty from Britain in 1997.
Conflict has erupted in the Legislative Council, in public forums and on the street, with one faction accusing the government of sacrificing personal liberty and the other saying it has sacrificed national unity by not introducing the subject earlier. A public consultation ended on Wednesday.
A new school year is upon us. For a school superintendent, this is often the best time of year. Planning and hiring draw to a close, and we return to the work of educating our community's children.
A new school year also stimulates many emotions in our students, parents, guardians and staff: anticipation, excitement, a sense of being ready and for some, a sense of uncertainty. This uncertainty is why I write.
The dawn of a new school year causes us to look forward, especially knowing how difficult last year was. One year ago, we could not have predicted what would happen in our community from a social fabric point of view. It is more than clear how various legislative changes have affected staff morale.
At a time when we need our staff to feel as good as possible about their important work, they feel less valued and less hopeful than when the fray began. Our children need much from us as employees of this district, but our staff also needs much from this community. While there is room for differences of opinion about priorities, our new school year needs to start with a sense of optimism and hope about the work our great staff members are doing in the Madison School District.
Kaleem Caire knows what it is like to be a young black man growing up in Madison and going on to success. A troubled kid when he was a student at Madison West High School in the 1980s, he went on to become a nationally known Washington-based education advocate before returning in 2010 to head the Urban League of Greater Madison.
Kaleem Caire knows what it means to be a young black man growing up in Madison and going on to failure. He saw what happened to many childhood friends who ended up dead or in prison. He sees it now in the disturbing statistics on African-American education outcomes and unemployment.
And Kaleem Caire has an eye-catching idea he thinks will put more black and Latino youths on the path to success - enough to make a difference in the overall troubling picture of minority life in the state's second largest city.
The idea? An all-male charter school for sixth- through 12th-graders with longer days and longer school years than conventional schools, an International Baccalaureate program, and high expectations of students and teachers, including academic performance, the way they treat others, and the way they dress.
Notes and links on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.
Kaleem Caire says there's a simple fix for concerns that a proposal for an all-male charter school in Madison would discriminate against girls.The fate of Madison Preparatory Academy will be a defining moment for our school climate.
"If it's a problem, we'll introduce a single-sex charter school for girls at the same time we start the boys' school, in the fall of 2012-2013," Caire said in an interview Friday.
Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, first began talking a year ago about creating a rigorous, prep-style public charter school for boys aimed at improving minority student performance. With its single-sex approach, International Baccalaureate curriculum, emphasis on parent involvement and expanded hours and days, Madison Preparatory Academy would not only be unique in the Madison district, but also unique in the state.
This post is not going to promise dramatic learning gains from using a new technology. It's not one of those stories where at first a teacher was skeptical, but in the end, the classroom was like a sports movie where the technology scored the winning homerun. I feel skeptical when I read those stories. I don't doubt the success, but I wonder whether the learning gains, increased student interest/participation, or higher levels of reported satisfaction have less to do with the iPad, blog, twitter stream, or virtual environment and more to do with who is in the classroom.
Cathy Davidson recently described an idyllic experience of teaching a course in which she and the students shared in the discovery of new applications of technologies for learning. She describes the process of developing the course, the thrill when the students actually invited and facilitated a guest lecture, and the ways in which the students challenged her to really be collaborative, even in grading.
If we step back for a moment, though, and consider a class with Davidson and those same students without the new technologies, what would the learning experience be like? I imagine it would still be exceptional, because Davidson is an obviously engaged teacher and the students are obviously engaged learners. She employs teaching strategies that were effective before the new technologies she describes. In particular, she encourages students to take ownership of their learning experience and creates a flexible environment to support whatever direction they take. When developing assignments, Davidson incorporates research in motivation, particularly students' likelihood to put more effort into writing for an authentic audience. She also has deep experience with her topic and an obvious enthusiasm for both the content and the teaching. These factors are consistently linked to positive learning experiences in educational research. Additionally, the students clearly seem motivated to learn. She describes the class list as a diverse collection of disciplines, so the students appear to be choosing the course. They demonstrate active involvement with the assignments and content and even provide substantive feedback for future courses.
A new report on the academic performance of low-income students receiving Tax Credit Scholarships in Florida finds they are making modestly larger gains in reading and math than their counterparts in public school.
That conclusion from 2009-10 test data is encouraging for those of us who work to provide these learning options, which served 34,550 low-income students statewide last year. But the report, released today and written by respected Northwestern University researcher David Figlio, is also a reminder of the inherent complexities of judging whether these programs work.
By keeping charter operators out of the first round of applications to run new schools, the L.A. Unified board has scaled back its goal of making educational excellence the highest priority.
The Public School Choice initiative was a landmark reform for the Los Angeles Unified School District. By allowing alternative operators -- whether charter school organizations, the mayor or groups of teachers -- to apply to manage scores of new and low-performing schools, it set the standard for putting students first. The theory was that anyone could apply and the very best applications would win, ensuring that students attended the best-run schools the district could offer. Just as important, charter operators in the program would have to accept all students within each school's enrollment area rather than using the usual lottery system under which more-motivated families tend to apply to charter schools.
Of course, this is L.A. Unified, which means things didn't always work out. More than one management contract was awarded on the basis of political alliances. Charter schools were disappointingly unwilling to take on the tougher challenge of turning around failing schools; most of their applications were for the new, pretty campuses.
Toby Young is not nervous about publicity. I first met him at last year's Conservative party conference in Birmingham. The journalist and author approached me in a bar, pretended to punch me in the stomach several times, then looked up and asked: "Why haven't you written about my school yet?"
Young, 47, is chairman of the governors at the West London Free School, a new secondary school in Hammersmith, which will welcome its first pupils (120 children aged 11) next month. It is a high-profile project that has made Young a regular participant in debates about education in Britain.
The school is one of the first wave of "free schools", funded by the state but founded by private groups such as churches or community groups (in Young's case, local parents), intended to bring new providers into the education system.
What makes the West London Free School particularly unusual is the celebrity of its chairman. Young first attracted attention in the early 1990s as the bumptious co-founder and editor of the Modern Review magazine before moving to the US. In New York he worked as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine where he was not a success and fell out with Graydon Carter, its editor, though subsequently Young managed to convert the experience into a successful book, play and film, all called How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Education, along with health and taxes, is a principal public concern; politicians win elections because of it, and therefore it's vital that newspapers provide good coverage of it.
Both The Guardian and The New York Times have launched crowd-sourcing projects on their websites, which intend to provide readers with information relating to the quality of schools.
As it is GCSE results day in the UK, The Guardian has appealed to teachers on its website to fill in a simple online form, which will then allow them to map the exam results of schools across the country.
By day, the Balare Language Academy is an A-rated charter school, home to children in kindergarten through middle school.
But when the kids are tucked into bed, Balare apparently becomes a playground of a different kind.
Party fliers, printed and on the Web, indicate that the campus at 10875 Quail Roost Dr. has been hosting raunchy, booze-soaked bashes into the wee hours. One flier for an upcoming party features a voluptuous, scantily clad woman posing with champagne bottles. Another shows a woman in a string bikini bending over suggestively and a man with flashy jewelry sitting on a stack of currency in front of a gold sports car.
Asked if the school was hosting any parties, founder and principal Rocka Malik responded: "Not that I'm aware of."
In Canada the rise of the incubator choices is quite noticeable. The success of the Y-Combinator (YC) model is hard to ignore, it seems to be the accepted way to grow young tech companies at the moment. However, it isn't clear if the model works anywhere but YC and TechStars, these programs cost a lot of money to run so does the math hold up for everyone?
How many companies make it a big enough exit (assuming you need a $30 million exit per incubator) and in what time frame? In Canada there is a trend that shows some crazy growth in exits but how many are in that 'big enough' range or more that haven't been around for 5-10 years or more? I think one maybe two. It isn't just Canada though, how many exists are there in a year for any tech startup anywhere? Likely not enough to sustain the current number of incubators globally.
TEAM REAL is made up of students from your community that are in-the-know about drugs of abuse. The facts provided will raise awareness of the local drug trends, costs of illicit drugs, ways kids are getting high, and the use of over-the-counter and licit medications as drugs of abuse.A larger version of this image is available here.
Let me speak for all public school educators when I say unequivocally: We will. We say send us your poor, send us your homeless, the children of your afflicted and addicted. Send us your kids who don't speak English. Send us you special-needs children, we will not turn them away.
But I tell you today, public school teacher, you will fail to take the shattered children of poverty and turn them into the polished products of the private schools. You will be unacceptable, public school teacher. And I say that is your badge of honor. I stand before you today bearing proudly the label of unacceptable because I educate the children they will not educate.
Day after day I take children broken by the poverty our leaders are afraid to confront and I glue their pieces back together. And at the end of my life you can say those children were better for passing through my sphere of influence. I am unacceptable and proud of it.
The government faces mounting pressure to scale back its controversial plan to introduce national education to all schools within two years. Many teachers have raised objections during the four-month public consultation which ends today.
The plan to require all primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong to include national education as a study subject has triggered heated debate in the city. It is one of the key political objectives for Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who step downs as chief executive next year.
For years, the pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong have been critical of schools' lack of efforts to instil a sense of national identity in students, and feared it would alienate them from the rest of the country. The opposition worried compulsory national education would be used to rationalise autocratic rules on the mainland and become a "brain-washing" tool.
An arm of the U.S. Department of Justice that mediates racial tension in communities is intervening in the debate over the achievement of racial minorities in the Madison School District.Related: the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.
The Justice Department's Community Relations Service won't discuss its role.
But in an email announcement this week, the Urban League of Greater Madison said DOJ this summer "raised concerns about academic achievement disparities among students of color in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) to the District's administration."
DOJ officials will participate in a meeting Wednesday called by the Urban League to discuss minority achievement, graduation rates and expulsion rates in the Madison district, according to Urban League President Kaleem Caire.
The amount of funding available for K-12 education in Colorado has led to considerable debate. The Lobato case being heard before the state Supreme Court challenges the constitutionality of our school finance system, and Proposition 103 is a ballot initiative for raising additional state revenues for public schools. If either of these efforts is successful, hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues will flow to K-12 education. But if Colorado significantly increases funding for schools, can it reasonably expect dramatically better results?
It is true that studies examining the link between school funding levels and student outcomes, typically standardized test scores, have failed to find a strong relationship. These results have led some to conclude that money does not much matter.
However, this research may be misleading. Schools have many other responsibilities than teaching reading and math. Parents and policymakers expect schools to teach many other subjects such as social studies, science and the arts. We also expect schools to help socialize children. To the extent that schools dedicate resources to these ends, an aggregate fiscal measure such as total spending per student is not an appropriate metric when coupled with a narrowly defined outcome such as math or reading test scores.
After weeks of public feuding over teacher salaries and longer school days, Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard and the teachers union came together Tuesday to embrace a more rigorous curriculum for CPS students beginning the 2012-13 school year.
At a luncheon with civic leaders from the City Club of Chicago, Brizard announced plans to implement the Common Core State Standards curriculum, a national initiative to improve student performance in key subjects such as math and reading by favoring comprehension and analysis over rote memorization.
What started as a student demonstration has turned into the largest protest against the Chilean government since the return of democracy two decades ago, and has harmed the popularity of the current conservative government.
For more than three months, Chilean high school and university students have staged kiss-a-thons, hunger strikes, fake suicides and massive marches to demand the government provide access to free, quality education.
The Chilean Confederation of Students, a group that leads the student movement, agreed to meet with President Sebastian Pinera on Saturday, following his call for dialogue last week.
The grass isn't greener and the teachers aren't really keener at some other school.
If you are the parent of an elementary-age school kid, I'm going to offer you some unsolicited advice: the best school for your child is most likely your neighbourhood school.
Not the school across the city with the cool-sounding special program.
Not the school many blocks away where the provincial tests scores for Grade 3 and Grade 6 are higher than those in your own school.
No, the best choice is usually the community school, the one within walking distance, the school of your neighbours and their children, who will soon be your acquaintances and maybe even your very good friends, but only if your children attend that neighbourhood school.
A new reality is beginning to unfold. This other-reality is inhabited by fabulously wealthy people who want, indeed are compelled, to become even more wealthy, since having all but a tiny percentage of the real world's income is not quite enough - they apparently want it all.
The May 2011 edition of Vanity Fair reports that 1 percent of the U.S. population takes in 25 percent of all income and holds 40 percent of the nation's wealth. There is today, it seems, an epidemic of consummate greed by people who profit on everyone else's losses and who buy politicians with the same ease that normal people buy groceries.
To further their ends, the other-reality hosts pool-side gatherings at plush resorts for ambitious and eager other-reality wannabes to discuss how best to go about achieving their agendas. In these settings the wannabes rub shoulders with the other-reality folks and offer their services and willingness to assist the sponsors in their quest for an even greater slice of the National Pie.
III. The Sleeper Issue: A Collective Bargaining Agreement that Cannot Be Amended Even a Teeny, Tiny Bit
If this weren't enough, there seems to be another legal issue. This is one that has not attracted much attention, but it seems to me to be a serious problem, at least over the short term.
The school district and Madison Teachers Inc (MTI) have a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that governs terms and conditions of employment for teachers and other represented staff. The plans for Madison Prep calls for working conditions and terms of employment for the school's teachers that differ in significant ways from what the CBA calls for. For example, Madison Prep plans to offer an extended school day and school year and plans to structure its pay for teachers in a different way.
In more normal times, it would be theoretically possible for the school district and MTI to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by which the parties agree to modify the terms of the CBA in some regards in order to accommodate Madison Prep's plans.
Drawn by the desire to stay on the road and lower auto insurance costs, a growing number of older Americans are signing up for driving school. But some of the fastest-growing classes aren't behind the wheel. They're behind a keyboard.
That's right: Adults can now take driver's ed without ever sitting in a car labeled "student driver" or making a single three-point turn. Instead, online classes -- typically four to eight hours in total screen time -- have become the fastest way for adults to brush up before a driving test or secure a discount on auto insurance. The AARP's online driver safety course had more than 60,000 students nationwide in 2010, up 30% from a year earlier. By July of this year, another 40,000 had already enrolled. Participation in the American Automobile Association's national online senior driving course has also increased an average of 20% per year over the last three years. "There's been an increasing level of interest from seniors," says Wade Mezey, president of Professional Driving Associates, which runs an online defensive driving course.
But when it comes to actually being a better driver, experts and driving instructors say online courses might not help. "Research shows that classroom programs don't really impact positively on driving performance," says Normand Teasdale, a professor at the University Laval in Quebec, who studies driving patterns among seniors. "You need to practice and get feedback over and over again to improve performance."
Weeks after Indiana began the nation's broadest school voucher program, thousands of students have transferred from public to private schools, causing a spike in enrollment at some Catholic institutions that were only recently on the brink of closing for lack of pupils.
It's a scenario public school advocates have long feared: Students fleeing local districts in large numbers, taking with them vital tax dollars that often end up at parochial schools. Opponents say the practice violates the separation of church and state.
In at least one district, public school principals have been pleading with parents not to move their children.
"The bottom line from our perspective is, when you cut through all the chaff, nobody can deny that public money is going to be taken from public schools, and they're going to end up in private, mostly religious schools," said Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
If you saw Waiting for "Superman," Steven Brill's tale in Class Warfare will be familiar. The founder of Court TV offers another polemic against teacher unions and a paean to self-styled "education reformers." But even for those who follow education policy, he offers an eye-opening read that should not be missed. Where the movie evoked valiant underdogs waging an uphill battle against an ossified behemoth, Brill's briskly written book exposes what critics of the reformers have long suspected but could never before prove: just how insular, coordinated, well-connected, and well-financed the reformers are. Class Warfare reveals their single-minded efforts to suppress any evidence that might challenge their mission to undermine the esteem in which most Americans held their public schools and teachers. These crusaders now are the establishment, as arrogant as any that preceded them.
Brill's heroes make a high-profile gallery. They are public-school critics like former New York and Washington, D.C. schools chancellors Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee. They also include charter school operators David Levin (KIPP) and Eva Moskowitz (Harlem Success Academies), as well as alternative teacher and principal recruiters Wendy Kopp (Teach for America) and Jon Schnur (New Leaders for New Schools). Their ranks boast billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama himself. And they don't lack for savvy, richly endowed representation. Democrats for Education Reform, a lobbying, political action, and communications campaign rolled into one, has brought them all together. Lavishly supported by the newfound wealth of young Wall Street hedge fund managers answerable to no one, DFER's troops have been working overtime to radically transform American public education.
At first glance, the ongoing lawsuit between the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and Gannett Newspapers might seem like the Iran-Iraq War, or a Bears-Vikings game -- fans of neither side might wonder if both could lose.
The WIAA, the sanctioning body for Wisconsin high school athletics, sued Gannett after The Post~Crescent live-streamed several football playoff games in 2008. If a media organization wants to broadcast or stream postseason games, it must get the WIAA's permission, pay a fee, and adhere to various other rules:Internet blogs, forums, tweets and other text depictions or references are permitted and are not subject to rights fees unless they qualify as play-by-play (see definition below) or are not in compliance with the media policies of the WIAA. Play-by-play accounts of WIAA Tournament Series events via text are subject to text transmission rights fees.
While most adults agree with President Obama that a world-class education is the most important factor in the success of America's children and status in the world, most don't think U.S. public schools provide that level of education.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 61% agree with President Obama when he says "a world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world." Twenty-five percent (25%) disagree with that statement, while another 14% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
However, only 26% believe U.S. public schools provide a world-class education. A majority (62%) does not think American public schooling provides that level of education, while another 12% are not sure.
The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on August 20-21, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
The 2010 elections had many obvious effects, but one of the lesser-known is that they revived the school-choice movement in a big way. Although many education writers had assumed the movement was dead, there have been far more efforts to pass school-choice programs this year than ever and, more importantly, the success rate has gone up too.
This reflects the political nature of school choice, which has in modern times been promoted primarily by Republicans. Increasingly, however, Democrats, particularly minority Democrats, have begun bucking the wishes of the national teachers unions, which oppose school choice in any form.
School choice has even broken into the national consciousness with the success of such documentaries as "The Lottery" and "Waiting for 'Superman.'" These focused on parents' efforts to get their children into charter schools, which are public schools operated independently of their local school districts--and, not coincidentally, without teacher union involvement.
From the perspective of status quo supporters, charter schools are the least threatening form of school choice, because they remain public schools, meaning they cannot charge tuition and their admissions practices typically are controlled by lottery. This year has seen dramatic increases in interest in charter schools, as an alternative to regular public schools. Even the Obama administration got into the act, by making the removal of existing caps on the number of charter schools a component of states' applications for federal "Race to the Top" funds.
The number of arrests and citations for incidents at Madison's four main high schools dropped last year to the lowest level in more than a decade, according to police data.Related: Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006.
But arrests and citations at West and Memorial were twice the number at East and La Follette -- a reversal of the situation 10 years earlier when there were more than twice as many at the city's East Side high schools.
West was the only school with an increase from the previous year.
The Wisconsin State Journal obtained the data from the Madison Police Department amid a debate over whether the Madison School District should use drug-sniffing police dogs in random sweeps of high schools. The School Board was to consider the issue Monday but delayed a vote until late September -- in part to review the arrest and citation data.
District officials say an increase in drug-related disciplinary referrals in recent years, and the use of drug dogs in area school districts, support the use of police dogs. Community surveys also have showed strong support.
Luis Yudice, the School District's security coordinator, who introduced the drug-sniffing dog proposal with the support of Madison police, is concerned drugs in schools can lead to more gang activity, fights and weapons in schools as students arm themselves in self-defense. He views the police dog policy as a possible deterrent that could prevent a crisis.
Just a day after a New York court found that value-added ratings for public school teachers should be revealed and reported publicly -- something that Joel Klein's DOE succeeded in encouraging the press corps to ask for -- TFA founder Wendy Kopp shot back at the notion that her organization should reveal the value-added ratings for its teachers -- and in particular the charge of being "hilariously hypocritical" in Steve Brill's book. Brill claimed that, because it promotes accountability so fiercely, TFA should reveal its teachers' performance ratings. Kopp claims to have been outraged at the LA Times' decision to name names last year and she writes, "Is it really naive to think that we should not be printing the names of teachers and the results they get on standardized tests in newspapers? Or is the naivete the notion that this might be a good path forward?" I wish Kopp had been so clear back a year ago when this was all first being debated -- it would have been brave and right of her -- and I love to poke TFA in the eye for, well, whatever I can think of (it's not hard to find things). But she's right that publishing the names and ratings is dumb, that the LA Times shouldn't have done it, that there's nothing necessarily hypocritical about TFA's decision to use the scores internally, and that Brill was amusing but incorrect to slam TFA in his book. Full Kopp statement below.
Jeni Callan sits near the front of the school bus, listening and taking tidy notes on a legal pad.
It's new teacher orientation day in the Hamilton School District, and the yellow bus carrying nearly 30 new hires for the 2011-'12 school year is winding through Waukesha County as the district's spokeswoman shouts out the history of each passing school.
Callan, 26, is about to start her dream job as a language arts teacher at Templeton Middle School and knows that her good fortune is partially attributable to an unusually high number of retirements in Hamilton at the end of the school year.
But the job market has not been so kind to other young educators hunting for work, especially those lacking credentials to teach in specialty fields such as special education, math or physics.
"This is maybe the most unusual hiring climate for teachers that I've ever seen," said Bill Henk, dean of Marquette University's College of Education.
To enhance the quality of early childhood education, and provide better economic opportunities to early childhood educators themselves, states should create Charter Colleges of Early Childhood Education. These research-driven, flexible, and accountable institutions would help increase the supply of high-quality early childhood educators, provide those workers and their families with stable, well-paying jobs, and create a new model of higher education and credentialing that can be applied to other fields.
A growing body of research demonstrates that high-quality early childhood education has tremendous potential to improve children's and families' lives. Spurred by this research, as well as growing demand for childcare to enable parents to work, policymakers have seized on early childhood education as a strategy to improve student achievement and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Yet despite increasing public investment, only one-third of American preschoolers have access to publicly funded pre-K or the federal Head Start program, and preschool quality is often low.
Ok, I recognize that my previous post on this is pretty long, so here's a quick and dirty about what you need to know. In order to compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant, states will have to:
States will also have to address criteria related to promoting early learning and development outcomes, improving the quality of the early childhood workforce, and measuring early learning outcomes and programs--but they will have some flexibility and options in the specific activities/strategies they use/prioritize in these areas (a big change from draft criteria released earlier this summer).
- Commit to and set targets for improving school readiness of high-need children in their state.
- Demonstrate that they have in place a solid strategy and plans to improve early learning outcomes in the state, that they have a track record of progress on and investment in improving early childhood quality and access, and and that they have established coordination and alignment across state agencies to support early learning outcomes.
- Have a plan to develop and implement a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System that includes all publicly funded early childhood programs/providers in the state, and have plans to increase the percentage of early childhood programs earning top ratings in the QRIS, and of high-need children attending high-quality programs.
School districts in they future won't just receive report card ratings from the state, they will be ranked from best to worst in a new system.
The mandate in Gov. Kasich's $112 billion executive budget was handed to the Ohio Department of Education to devise the ranking procedure.
The listing may be ready for the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, according to ODE spokesperson Patrick Gallaway.
The ODE is now required to rank schools within comparable groupings on the basis of student results and cost effectiveness, according to the fifth book of the governor's budget containing selected reforms.
UW-Madison Professor Mark Seidenberg and I had an informative conversation with two elected officials at the Capitol recently.
I am thankful for Mark's time and the fact that both Luther Olsen and Steve Kestell along with staff members took the time to meet. I also met recently with Brett Hulsey and hope to meet with more elected officials, from both parties.
The topic du jour was education, specifically the Governor's Read to Lead task force.
Mark kindly shared this handout:
My name is Mark Seidenberg, Hilldale Professor and Donald O. Hebb Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://lcnl.wisc.edu. I have studied how reading works, how children learn to read, reading disabilities, and the brain bases of reading for over 30 years. I am a co-author of a forthcoming report from the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences) on low literacy among older adolescents and adults. I'm writing a general audience book about reading research and educational practices.I am cautiously optimistic that we may see an improvement in Wisconsin's K-12 curricular standards.
We have a literacy problem: about 30% of the US (and WI) population reads at a "basic" or "below basic" level. Literacy levels are particularly low among poor and minority individuals. The identification of this problem does not rest on any single test (e.g., NAEP, WKCE, OECD). Our literacy problem arises from many causes, some of which are not easy to address by legislative fiat. However, far more could be done in several important areas.
1. How teachers are taught. In Wisconsin as in much of the US, prospective teachers are not exposed to modern research on how children develop, learn, and think. Instead, they are immersed in the views of educational theorists such as Lev Vygotsky (d. 1934) and John Dewey (d. 1952). Talented, highly motivated prospective teachers are socialized into beliefs about children that are not informed by the past 50 years of basic research in cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience.
A vast amount is known about reading in particular, ranging from what your eyes do while reading to how people comprehend documents to what causes reading disabilities. However, there is a gulf between Education and Science, and so this research is largely ignored in teacher training and curriculum development.
2. How children are taught. There continue to be fruitless battles over how beginning readers should be taught, and how to insure that comprehension skills continue to develop through middle and high school. Teachers rely on outdated beliefs about how children learn, and how reading works. As a result, for many children, learning to read is harder than it should be. We lose many children because of how they are taught. This problem does NOT arise from "bad teachers"; there is a general, systematic problem related to teacher education and training in the US.
3. Identification of children at risk for reading failures. Some children are at risk for reading and school failure because of developmental conditions that interfere with learning to read. Such children can be identified at young ages (preschool, kindergarten) using relatively simple behavioral measures. They can also be helped by effective early interventions that target basic components of reading such as vocabulary and letter-sound knowledge. The 30% of the US population that cannot read adequately includes a large number of individuals whose reading/learning impairments were undiagnosed and untreated.
Recommendations: Improve teacher education. Mechanism: change the certification requirements for new teachers, as has been done in several other states. Certification exams must reflect the kinds of knowledge that teachers need, including relevant research findings from cognitive science and neuroscience. Instruction in these areas would then need to be provided by schools of education or via other channels. In-service training courses could be provided for current teachers (e.g., as on-line courses).
Children who are at risk for reading and schooling failures must be identified and supported at young ages. Although it is difficult to definitively confirm a reading/learning disability in children at young ages (e.g., 4-6) using behavioral, neuroimaging, or genetic measures, it is possible to identify children at risk, most of whom will develop reading difficulties unless intervention occurs, via screening that involves simple tests of pre-reading skills and spoken language plus other indicators. Few children just "grow out of" reading impairments; active intervention is required.
Kaleem Caire, via email
Dear Friends & Colleagues,IB interviewed Kaleem a few weeks ago.
In the last 48 hours, local media has been abuzz about the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's decision to put a hold on our charter school planning grant. The grant application was formally endorsed in March 2011 by the Board of Education of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Last week, DPI officials contacted us to request that our team and the leadership of the Madison Metropolitan School District meet with them to discuss how we intend to address issues related to (a) the 1972 Title IX Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and (b) new federal Title IX regulations on the establishment of single sex classes, extracurricular activities and schools that took effect in 2006. This meeting has been scheduled.
DPI has publicly stated that it is not uncommon for grant awards to be delayed for various reasons. In our case, DPI wants to ensure that all parties - MMSD, DPI and the Urban League of Greater Madison - are on the same page with regard to how Madison Prep will comply with federal and state statutes relative to single sex public schools. We welcome this conversation. MMSD and the Urban League have been working together on this issue since June.
Single Sex Public Schools are Growing in the U.S.
According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, there are presently 116 single sex public schools in the United States. The number of single sex public schools continues to grow each year. For example, the Houston (Texas) Independent School District's Board of Education recently approved an all boys and later an all girls college preparatory academy for students in grades 6 - 12. Both campuses opened this week.
There are also public charter schools such as Bluford Drew Jemison S.T.E.M Academy for boys in Baltimore, Maryland that was approved by the Board of Education of Baltimore City Public Schools without approving a similar school for girls at the same time. Bluford Drew Jameson is part of BCPS' bold and aggressive Charter, Innovative and Transformation Schools Plan to revitalize public education in the city. BCPS' efforts are being heralded nationally as they are seeing clear signs of turning around.
With Confidence, Precedent and Support, We Will Succeed
Given the successful growth of single sex public/charter schools across the country, along with our plans to comply with the new Title IX regulations and our publicly stated commitment to establish the 6-12 grade Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Women, we are confident that the issues raised by DPI will be resolved.
With your support and that of DPI and MMSD, Madison Prep will soon provide a long overdue solution to a deeply rooted pattern of academic failure and under-performance, particularly among African American and Latino boys in our community. It will also serve as a learning laboratory that informs the programs, strategies and practices of schools and educators across Greater Madison and the State of Wisconsin.
We look forward to Madison Prep producing hundreds of confident, excited and future-focused young men who are ready for college and committed to promoting the schools values - leadership, excellence, pride and service - in their community, homes, peer groups and daily lives.
Visit the website and sign our petition below.
Madison Prep 2012: Empowering Young Men for Life!
I was reminded of this story after reading about the lobbying some parents of Madison elementary school children do to get their kids assigned to teachers who match their "learning styles."
What a contrast between a parent who's more or less OK with a school official delivering not only a beating, but an undeserved beating, and parents who seek to intervene in the basic decisions of professional educators.
Such lobbying and the district's willingness to hear it have "been a common thing as long as I can remember," said district public information officer Marcia Standiford, a former teacher and audio/visual specialist who has been with the district for 15 years. Parents of Madison elementary students have long been asked to fill out questionnaires about their kids to help in assigning them to teachers.
In his rural district, which serves 249 students, the 2011-13 state budget has been nothing to celebrate. In fact, it has accelerated a difficult process of belt-tightening that's been going on for almost 20 years due to revenue controls that have limited the amount districts can increase taxes to keep up with rising costs. The revenue controls hit some schools especially hard, especially those with declining enrollment, high-needs students or high property values. The new state budget's huge reduction in overall aid for schools -- $793 million over the biennium -- accompanied by new limits on how much money districts can raise in property taxes to offset those losses -- has, for many school districts, made a bad situation worse.Related:
According to Quinton, Pepin parents are supportive of education, and he credits his School Board and staff for helping run "a tight financial ship." Nonetheless, many of the district's programs and services have been trimmed once again, from transportation to teaching staff, athletics to academic assistance for at-risk students. Paring back has been a way of life in Pepin for many years, Quinton says, but the newest round of losses caused by this budget cut to the bone.
Wisconsin's essential challenge is to grow the economy. We've been falling behind Minnesota for decades.
The U.S. economy will have another big budget deficit in fiscal 2011 and faces at least a couple more years of sluggish growth, as the effects of the recent recession persist, government forecasters said Wednesday.
The Congressional Budget Office projected a deficit of almost $1.3 trillion for fiscal 2011. Though that will mark the third straight year of deficits above $1 trillion, the deficit forecast was a slight improvement from the almost $1.4 trillion estimated in an April analysis and reflected higher-than-anticipated revenue from individual income taxes.
The outlook for the U.S. economy also remains challenging, with growth expected to remain too slow this year and next year to make a big dent in the unemployment rate. The jobless rate will fall to 8.9% by the end of calendar 2011 and 8.5% by the end of 2012, the forecast said, as the economy grows by 2.3% this year and 2.7% next year, measured from fourth quarter to fourth quarter.
The founder of The American Lawyer magazine and Court TV tells the story of a coalition of unlikely allies in the fight to change a school system that many parents believe is failing the nation's children. He debated education solutions with former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch.
Every year I tell students in a journalism seminar I teach about the junior reporter for The American Lawyer - the magazine I founded and edited -who committed a classic error when he submitted a draft of a profile about some lawyer in the news who had made it big. Midway through the article, the young reporter described a showcase this lawyer had in his office that displayed a bunch of combat medals. The reporter declared, matter-of-factly, that our legal hero had won the medals for his heroics in Vietnam, which was relevant, he added, because the lawyer made his war record and his lock-n-load approach to his work part of his pitch to potential clients.
In the margin next to the statement about the lawyer having won the medals I wrote, "Who says?" When the reporter came to ask me what I had meant, I told him to check with the Pentagon about the supposed medals. Which the reporter did, and which caused a mini-scandal after we reported in our otherwise positive profile that our hero hadn't won them.
The story has three points. First, that reporters should believe nothing told to them by a biased source, especially when what they are being told is a checkable fact. Second, that while opinions deserve balanced reporting of both sides' views, facts are facts. They are knowable. The guy either got medals or he didn't. Third, the best way to test facts that you think you know is to put them in front of the person with the greatest stake in refuting them. In this case when we confronted the lawyer with the Pentagon's records that he had not won any medals, he produced no evidence to the contrary and, in fact, ultimately confessed his deception. Case closed.
Groups planning new charter schools and established charter schools that want to replicate their success are sharing $6 million in federal charter school grants.
Planning grants total $4.5 million and will go for planning activities in 23 charter schools that have already been approved by their local school b