Higher bar for WKCE results paints different picture of student achievementSuperintendent Cheatham is to be commended for her informed, intelligent and honest reaction to the MMSD's results when compared to those of neighboring districts.
Wisconsin student test scores released Tuesday look very different than they did a year ago, though not because of any major shift in student performance.
Similar to recent years, the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam results show gains in math and reading over the past five years, a persistent and growing performance gap between black and white students, and Milwaukee and Racine public school students outperforming their peers in the private school voucher program.
But the biggest difference is the scores reflect a higher bar for what students in each grade level should know and be able to do.
Only 36.2 percent of students who took the reading test last October met the new proficiency bar. Fewer than half, 48.1 percent, of students were proficient in math. When 2011-12 results were released last spring, those figures were both closer to 80 percent.
The change doesn't reflect a precipitous drop in student test scores. The average scores in reading and math are about the same as last year for each grade level.
Instead, the change reflects a more rigorous standard for proficiency similar to what is used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAEP is administered to a sample of students in each state every other year and is referred to as "the nation's report card."
The state agreed to raise the proficiency benchmark in math and reading last year in order to qualify for a waiver from requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The benchmark did not rise for the language arts, science and social studies tests.
"Adjusting to higher expectations will take time and effort," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said. "But these are necessary changes that will ultimately help our schools better prepare all students to be college and career ready and link with work being done throughout the state to implement new standards."
Evers also called on the Legislature to include private voucher schools in the state's new accountability system.
He highlighted that test scores for all Milwaukee and Racine students need to improve. Among Milwaukee voucher students, 10.8 percent in reading and 11.9 percent in math scored proficient or better. Among Milwaukee public school students, it was 14.2 percent in reading and 19.7 percent in math.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed expanding the state's voucher program, including to such districts as Madison.
Changes in Dane County
The state previously announced how the changing bar would affect scores statewide and parents have seen their own students' results in recent weeks, but the new figures for the first time show the impact on entire schools and districts.
In Dane County school districts, the percentage of students scoring proficient or better on the test dropped on average by 42 percentage points in reading and 25 percentage points in math.
Madison schools had one of the smallest drops compared to its neighboring districts.
Madison superintendent Jennifer Cheatham noted schools with a higher number of students scoring in the "advanced" category experienced less of a drop. Madison's smaller drop could reflect a higher proportion of students scoring in the top tier.
At the same time, Madison didn't narrow the gap between minority and white student test results. Only 9 percent of black sixth-graders and only 2 percent of sixth-grade English language learners scored proficient in reading.
"It reinforces the importance of our work in the years ahead," Cheatham said. "We're going to work on accelerating student outcomes."
Middleton-Cross Plains School Board president Ellen Lindgren said she hasn't heard many complaints from parents whose students suddenly dropped a tier on the test. Like Madison and other districts across the state, Middleton-Cross Plains sent home letters bracing parents for the change.
But Lindgren fears the changing standards come at the worst time for public schools, which have faced tougher scrutiny and reduced state support.
"I'm glad that the standards have been raised by the state, because they were low, but this interim year, hopefully people won't panic too much," Lindgren said. "The public has been sold on the idea that we're failing in our education system, and I just don't believe that's true."
Next fall will be the last year students in grades 3-8 and 10 take the paper-and-pencil WKCE math and reading tests. Wisconsin is part of a coalition of states planning to administer a new computer-based test in the 2014-15 school year.
The proposed state budget also provides for students in grades 9-11 to take the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT college and career readiness tests in future years.
View a WKCE summary here (PDF).
Educators and researchers have long recognized the importance of mastering reading by the end of third grade. Students who fail to reach this critical milestone often falter in the later grades and drop out before earning a high school diploma. Now, researchers have confirmed this link in the first national study to calculate high school graduation rates for children at different reading skill levels and with different poverty rates. Results of a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students find that those who don't read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers. For the worst readers, those who couldn't master even the basic skills by third grade, the rate is nearly six times greater. While these struggling readers account for about a third of the students, they represent more than three fifths of those who eventually drop out or fail to graduate on time. What's more, the study shows that poverty has a powerful influence on graduation rates. The combined effect of reading poorly and living in poverty puts these children in double jeopardy.
The study relies on a unique national database of 3,975 students born between 1979 and 1989. The children's parents were surveyed every two years to determine the family's eco- nomic status and other factors, while the children's reading progress was tracked using the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT) Reading Recognition subtest. The database re- ports whether students have finished high school by age 19, but does not indicate whether they actually dropped out.
For purposes of this study, the researchers divided the children into three reading groups which correspond roughly to the skill levels used in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): proficient, basic and below basic. The children were also separated into three income categories: those who have never been poor, those who spent some time in poverty and those who have lived more than half the years surveyed in poverty.
The findings include:
-- One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
-- The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23 percent of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9 percent of children with basic reading skills and 4 percent of proficient readers.
-- Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor. This rises to 32 percent for students spending more than half of their childhood in poverty.
-- For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion that don't finish school rose to 26 percent. That's more than six times the rate for all proficient readers.
-- The rate was highest for poor Black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectively--or about eight times the rate for all proficient readers.
-- Even among poor children who were proficient readers in third grade, 11 percent still didn't finish high school. That compares to 9 percent of subpar third grade readers who have never been poor.
-- Among children who never lived in poverty, all but 2 percent of the best third- grade readers graduated from high school on time.
-- Graduation rates for Black and Hispanic students who were not proficient readers in third grade lagged far behind those for White students with the same reading skills.
The Cupcake Wars came to Public School 295 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, in October. The Parent-Teacher Association's decision to raise the price of a cupcake at its monthly bake sale -- to $1, from 50 cents -- was supposed to be a simple way to raise extra money in the face of city budget cuts. Instead, in a neighborhood whose median household income leaped to $60,184 in 2010 from $34,878 a decade before, the change generated unexpected ire, pitting cash-short parents against volunteer bakers, and dividing a flummoxed PTA executive board, where wealthier newcomers to the school serve alongside poorer immigrants who have called the area home for years.
"A lot of people felt like they really needed to be heard on this," recalled Dan Janzen, a mild-mannered freelance copywriter with children in first and third grades who leads the school's development committee and devised the price increase. One mother expressed dismay at being blindsided, while others said they were worried about those at the school without a dollar to spare. Ultimately, the PTA meeting at which the issue came to a head was adjourned without a resolution.
Such fracases are increasingly common at schools like P.S. 295, where changing demographics can cause culture clashes. PTA leaders are often caught between trying to get as much as possible from parents of means without alienating lower-income families. Sometimes, the battles are over who should lead the PTA itself: many of the gentrifiers bring professional skills and different ideas of how to get things done, while those who improved the school enough to attract them become guardians of its traditions.
So along with cross-cultural exchanges, international festivals and smorgasbords, school diversity can mean raw feelings about race and class bubbling to the surface. "It's never just about the cupcake," said Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, who has written extensively about this topic. "The cupcake is the spark."
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.
Listen carefully, and you can hear it everywhere:
Schoolgirls chattering about clothes and music and, of course, boys. Schoolboys rough-housing on the playground, boasting of touchdowns and soccer goals, and pretending not to notice the girls, who are pretending not to notice the boys.
As summer gives way to fall, the sweet sound of education is back.
From kindergarten classrooms with fears and tears always close, to middle school mixers where "tweens" finally begin to find themselves, to high school hallways where the minds get sharper and the humor gets darker, school is again in session.
For many it was a summer of discontent as recall elections were ripple-effect reminders of the political unrest from last spring, when K-12 educators and other public employees were at the center of a debate that featured much disagreement.
Parents, teachers and students have been in shock since the Seattle School District's interim Superintendent decided to fire a popular principal for little reason, they thought. They fought. They won.
This afternoon Superintendent Susan Enfield reversed her decision about dismissing Ingraham Principal Martin Floe, and sent the high school's staff this letter:When I was appointed Interim Superintendent, it was with the clear charge to strengthen opportunities for all students to learn. You asked me to bring high levels of transparency and accountability to this effort. The decision I made last Tuesday about the leadership of Ingraham High School Principal Martin Floe reflects my efforts to realize these commitments.
However, I also know that a good leader listens. After extensive conversations with Ingraham High School staff and the community, I have decided to renew Mr. Floe's contact for the 2011-12 school year, under the condition that he continue on a plan of improvement, which I, along with his Executive Director, will monitor throughout the year.
The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education and the Madison Teachers, Inc. ratified an expedited Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2011-2013. Several significant considerations were ignored for the negative impact and consequences on students, staff and taxpayers.
First and foremost, there was NO 'urgent' need (nor ANY need at all) to 'negotiate' a new contract. The current contract doesn't expire until June 30, 2011. Given the proposals regarding school finance and collective bargaining processes in the Budget Repair Bill before the legislature there were significant opportunities and expectations for educational, management and labor reforms. With such changes imminent, there was little value in 'locking in' the restrictive old provisions for conducting operations and relationships and shutting the door on different opportunities for increasing educational improvements and performances in the teaching and learning culture and costs of educating the students of the district.
A partial listing of the missed adjustments and opportunities with the ratification of the teacher collective bargaining agreement should be instructive.
For further information and discussion contact:
Don Severson President
Active Citizens for Education
If anyone has reason to overthrow the public school establishment, it's parents in the Compton Unified School District. Five of the district's 35 schools are listed among the worst 5% statewide. In July, an auditor reported that the schools were run to benefit adults more than students and that the district appeared incapable of fixing the problem. And the school board recently fired its superintendent for charging thousands of dollars of personal expenses to her district credit card.
So it's no great surprise that Compton Unified became the first school district targeted for the so-called parent trigger, which allows parents to force radical change at a particular school if 51% of them sign a petition. Among their options are replacing the school's management or most of its staff, or turning it into a charter school. Parents organized by the group Parent Revolution, the leading force behind the parent trigger movement, delivered their petition to district headquarters last week, demanding that McKinley Elementary School become part of the Celerity Education Group charter organization.
Parents can take their children's public schools to court to force educators to provide the minimum amount of physical education required by state law, the California Court of Appeal ruled in Sacramento on Tuesday, which could spell trouble for a lot of state schools.
California's education code requires elementary schools to offer 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days, an amount that rises to 400 minutes in middle or high schools, not including lunch or recess. A small-scale survey of state schools a few years ago found more than half failed to provide the required minutes of physical activity.
When Emily Cooper headed off to first grade in Moody, Ala., last week, she was prepared with all the stuff on her elementary school's must-bring list: two double rolls of paper towels, three packages of Clorox wipes, three boxes of baby wipes, two boxes of garbage bags, liquid soap, Kleenex and Ziplocs.
"The first time I saw it, my mouth hit the floor," Emily's mother, Kristin Cooper, said of the list, which also included perennials like glue sticks, scissors and crayons.
Schools across the country are beginning the new school year with shrinking budgets and outsize demands for basic supplies. And while many parents are wincing at picking up the bill, retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding the back-to-school category like never before.
Nia Lozano, a middle school parent, tells us about a new group that's building support for Oakland High School.
An interesting new group has formed in the Crocker and Glenview neighborhoods of Oakland. It was formed by some parents from Edna Brewer who would like other neighborhood parents to consider Oakland High.
This is truly the first time I have ever heard families musing about Oakland High, even among the die-hard, Edna Brewer, go public, local school advocates. The communities of Crocker and Glenview have been relatively silent about Oakland High, which is interesting given that the last time I checked their scores were only marginally lower than Oakland Tech and Skyline (and may have been better in some areas of math, I can't recall right now.)
What I gather is that the new principal is well regarded and that may have sparked the interest, besides the fact that if parents could raise the community profile of Edna Brewer, they should be able to do the same with O High.
Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier has eliminated the position of manager of magnet programs. That means Dottie Bonner, who held the job since March 2002, is out. She submitted her letter of resignation effective Aug. 31, according to the district.
Grier instead has created a higher-level position, an assistant superintendent over school choice. Lupita Hinojosa, the former executive principal over the Wheatley High School feeder pattern, has been named to the post.
We know that changing anything related to magnets puts parents on edge, especially after former HISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra's failed attempt to reduce busing to the specialty schools. A quick Internet search shows that magnet transportation also was a hot topic in Grier's former district, San Diego Unified. The school board there voted in spring 2009 to eliminate busing to magnets to save money but reversed the decision after parent outcry, according to Voice of San Diego.
I talked to Grier this morning about what happened in San Diego, and he said the decision to end busing to magnet schools was the school board's, not his. "(Deputy Superintendent) Chuck Morris and I counseled and advised and recommended that they not do this -- that it would destroy the magnet program -- but they did anyway."
It takes a lot to organize a classroom of 20 children. It can take even more to organize the kids' busy parents--and that often means turning to technology to get everyone on the same page.
Over the past nine months, my first-grader's school has seen that in spades. Like many elementary schools, ours relies on parent volunteers to help out with one-on-one reading with students and math exercises. In my 6-year-old's class, at least two parent volunteers are needed a day. In the past, volunteers were organized the old-fashioned way on paper, with parents signing up for their preferred time slots for the month on a calendar sent home with their children.
But in recent years as more schools and families have gone digital, parents are opting for an online solution to organizing volunteer class time. And a host of volunteering and calendar services have popped up on the Web to oblige them. When I asked our school's room parent which online sites people were using to organize volunteering, he blasted out an email to poll his network of room parents. The informal survey yielded one conclusion: Each classroom was using different services, each with their own perks and drawbacks. Among the hodge-podge of choices were well-known applications such as Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo Groups and Google Inc.'s Calendar, as well as less familiar names including VolunteerSpot Inc.'s VolunteerSpot and Doodle AG's Doodle.com.
I was asked recently, by a leader up the food chain, what I would do to improve community engagement. Here's what I would do but do let us know what you would like to see.
- I would go with the George Costanza method. Do the opposite of what you are currently doing.
- Shorter but more specific presentations.
- Take ALL questions from the general audience. (I do believe there is a place for small group discussions but not on every subject.)
- As long as it is within the topic, lead but don't tell people what they can and can't discuss .
- Have the meetings not all in one week but over a series of weeks.
Two recent New York Times articles have described opposition to the thriving charter school movement in Harlem. An influential state senator, Bill Perkins, whose district has nearly 20 charter schools, is trying to block their expansion. Some public schools in the neighborhood are also fighting back, marketing themselves to compete with the charters.
This is a New York battle, but charter schools -- a cornerstone of the Obama administration's education strategy -- are facing resistance across the country, as they become more popular and as traditional public schools compete for money. The education scholar Diane Ravitch, once a booster of the movement, is now an outspoken critic.
What is causing the push-back on charter schools, beyond the local issues involved ? Critics say they are skimming off the best students, leaving the regular schools to deal with the rest? Is that a fair point?
The Kansas City Board of Education voted Wednesday night to close almost half of the city's public schools, accepting a sweeping and contentious plan to shrink the system in the face of dwindling enrollment, budget cuts and a $50 million deficit.
In a 5-to-4 vote, the members endorsed the Right-Size plan, proposed by the schools superintendent, John Covington, to close 28 of the city's 61 schools and cut 700 of 3,000 jobs, including those of 285 teachers. The closings are expected to save $50 million, erasing the deficit from the $300 million budget.
"We must make sacrifices," said board member Joel Pelofsky, speaking in favor of the plan before the vote. "Unite in favor of our children."
I attended Harium's Community meeting and the 43rd Dems meeting (partial) yesterday. Here are some updates (add on if you attended either or Michael DeBell's meeting).
We covered a fair amount of ground with Harium but a lot on the math ruling/outcomes. Here's what he said:
- the Board will decide what will happen from the math ruling. I asked Harium about who would be doing what because of how the phrasing the district used in their press release - "In addition to any action the School Board may take, the district expects to appeal this decision." It made it sound like the district (1) might do something different from the Board and (2) the district had already decided what they would do. Harium said they misspoke and it was probably the heat of the moment.
- He seems to feel the judge erred. He said they did follow the WAC rules which is what she should have been ruling on but didn't. I probably should go back and look at the complete ruling but it seems like not going by the WAC would open her decision up to be reversed so why would she have done it? He said the issue was that there are statewide consequences to this ruling and that Issaquah and Bellevue (or Lake Washington?) are doing math adoptions and this ruling is troubling. I gently let Harium know that the Board needs to follow the law, needs to be transparent in their decision-making and the district needs to have balanced adoption committees or else this could happen again. No matter how the district or the Board feel, the judge did not throw out the case, did not rule against the plaintiffs but found for them. The ball is in the Board's court and they need to consider this going forward with other decisions.
More minority students need to be lured into the sciences. One program has been a resounding success.
At most universities, freshman chemistry, a class I've taught for nearly 40 years, is the first course students take on the road to a career in the health professions or the biological or physical sciences. It's a tough course, and for many students it's the obstacle that keeps them from majoring in science. This is particularly true for minority students.
In 2005, more than two-thirds of the American scientific workforce was composed of white males. But by 2050, white males will make up less than one-fourth of the population. If the pipeline fails to produce qualified nonwhite scientists, we will, in effect, be competing against the rest of the world with one hand tied behind our backs.
We've been able to survive for the last several decades in large measure because of the "brain drain" -- the fact that the most able students from other countries, particularly China and India, have come here to study science at our best universities and, in many cases, have stayed to become key players in our scientific endeavors.
What wouldn't California do for $700 million right now? That's not a rhetorical question. With U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan parceling out more than $4 billion to states that conform to his vision of school reform, California's Legislature is just one of dozens that are frantically revamping their states' education systems for some of that cash. Should California succeed, its share would be somewhere between $350 million and $700 million.Related: Joe Williams DFER blog. Mike Antonucci looks at the California Teachers Association lobbying.
To obtain the money, Sacramento must pass legislation that would serve as the basis for an application. This has given Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a perfect opportunity to push for more parent choice and fewer restrictions on charter schools, while the teachers unions have pushed an agenda that would handcuff the charter movement. There is some merit to both sides' proposals -- charter schools should be more accountable, and parents should have more say in the education process -- but they have been poorly executed in ways that could have negative repercussions. Applications for Duncan's "Race to the Top" grants are due in January, so who has time for a thoughtful debate?
via a kind reader's email, who notes that Verona's video archives include very helpful topic based navigation!
At the most recent meeting on Dec. 7, the school board heard a final presentation from New Century School's site council. Developments with New Century's charter renewal are reaching a critical point, since we need approval from the school board by early January to participate in kindergarten recruitment. New Century is one of Wisconsin's oldest charter schools (established in May 1995), and our school community is fighting for the charter's continued existence. It's been a challenging journey.Click "video" for the December 7, 2009 meeting and look for "D", the New Century Presentation. Interestingly, "E" is a presentation on a proposed Chinese immersion charter school.
Unfortunately, Madison lacks significant charter activity, something which, in my view, would be very beneficial to the community, students and parents.
ducation reform advocates have been cheered by the election of Chris Christie as New Jersey's next governor. A key plank of his education plan is creating more high-quality public charter schools -- a goal shared with the administration of President Obama.
Since the first charter school law was passed in 1991, the movement has enjoyed bipartisan support at the federal and state levels. Now, in part because of the emphasis on charters in the administration's "Race to the Top" competition, we're seeing a firestorm of renewed interest in many states.
As Carlos Lejnieks, chairman of the a, rightly says, we need to move charters "from mediocre to good; from good to great; and from great to growth." The good news is that New Jersey has assets to build from and is already doing some things right.
From Ryan Hill and Steve Adubato in Newark to Gloria Bonilla-Santiago in Camden, some of the nation's leading charter leaders are in New Jersey. In terms of policy, there is no statewide "cap" on the number of charter schools that can be created; the New Jersey Department of Education has created a reasonably rigorous process for approving new charters while adding greater numbers of new schools in recent years; and the statewide public school-finance reforms enacted in 2008 helped establish a more level playing field for charters that had suffered huge disadvantages under the previous funding program.
Parents at two largely Latino, bilingual schools - one on Milwaukee's south side and one in Waukesha - are waging battles to save their schools.
Although Kagel and White Rock elementary schools stand 18 miles apart in separate counties, the debates at both fit into the larger, national philosophical issues about bilingualism, small schools vs. large schools, economic pressures on school districts and changing demographics.
At Kagel, a neighborhood school in the heart of Milwaukee's Latino community, more than 200 parents filled the school's small gymnasium last month when word leaked out that Kagel was on the list of schools that Superintendent William Andrekopoulos identified for possible closure because of dropping enrollment or performance issues.
Parents reacted with signs that read: "Small school - Ideal scenario" and "Our children's education is important to us."
At the meeting, Andrekopoulos assured parents that Kagel, which is 76% Latino, won't be shut down. But because of low enrollment - 334 students - and increasing district costs, some changes might be in store, such as converting it into an early child education center, he said.
Zuleika Reza, a parent and member of the school's governance council, said parents don't want that.
"We want to make it clear that we want to keep it as a small school that's within walking distance for many families," she said.
Minnesotans deserve to have the funds they provide for education used in the most effective way possible.
The story in the Nov. 29 Star Tribune, "Charter program is 'out of control'," raised issues that should concern everyone who cares about high quality public education and careful use of tax dollars.
As a citizen, taxpayer, educator and executive director of the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools, I am saddened and disappointed that some people look for ways around both the letter and the spirit of the law, some companies charge exorbitant fees, and some individuals use their offices to personally profit from transactions involving public funds.
Thankfully, such conduct is not the norm -- but an examination is needed into the policies and practices that allow these aberrations to occur.
So what is the larger reality in charter schools?
Michelle Lukacs grew up in Mequon and worked as a teacher in Milwaukee. Then she was a teacher and guidance counselor in Jefferson. She got a school principal's license through a program at Edgewood College in Madison.
She moved back to Milwaukee and decided to open a school as part of the publicly funded private school voucher program. She called it Atlas Preparatory Academy because she liked the image of Atlas holding the whole world up and because it was the name of a refrigeration company her husband owns.
On the first day of classes in September 2001, Atlas had 23 students in leased space in an old school building at 2911 S. 32nd St.
This September, Atlas had 814 students, a growth of 3,439% over eight years. It now uses three buildings on the south side and has grown, grade by grade, to be a full kindergarten through 12th-grade program.
Atlas' growth is explosive, even within the continually growing, nationally significant voucher program. Voucher enrollment over the same period has roughly doubled from 10,882 in September 2001 to 21,062 this fall.
The Atlas story underscores an interesting trend: The number of voucher schools in recent years has leveled off, and this year, fell significantly. But the total number of students using vouchers to attend private schools in the city has gone up, and a few schools have become particular powerhouses, at least when it comes to enrollment.
In the category of "it makes you wonder," the student newspaper at Montgomery Blair High School reports that bathrooms on the second and third floors are now being locked during lunch.
Why? The school has a security shortage and couldn't figure out a better way to deal with it.
The story, in silverchips.online says that the Alex Bae, president of the Student Government Association met with Principal Darryl Williams on Monday, and that the principal said he hopes the situation can be fixed soon.
Apparently, the story says, the bathrooms were closed during lunch because students abuse their bathroom privileges. Acts of vandalism occur during lunch and kids hide out in the bathroom to avoid going to class.
Milwaukee Public Schools will spend some $4 million in federal stimulus money over two years to support a major parental involvement program in 35 schools
First of four parts
Lennise Crampton, a 40-year-old Milwaukee mother of eight, sometimes wonders how her children would have performed in school if she'd known how to be a better parent from the start.
A single mother until she married this year, Crampton usually managed decent meals and clothing and getting her kids to class. It was up to the school, she thought, to handle the education part.
Then in December of 2005, a representative from Lloyd Street School marched up to Crampton's door and asked her to participate in a program that improves relationships between teachers, schools and families.
Crampton started coming to weekly meetings at Lloyd, where her two youngest attended. She learned about training she could get as a low-income parent. She learned how to engage in her children's academics at home and how to advocate for their needs at school.
"These little ones get the best of the best now," she said. "If it applies to my children's academics, I'm on it."
Superintendent Dan Nerad [1.5MB PDF]:
Included in the 2009/10 budget is $324,123 for the implementation of activities specifically related to the approved Strategic Plan.More:
Strategic Plan: Objectives organized by Priority 1 Action Steps
Strategic Objectives: Action Steps, Priority 1 Recommended Budget.
The total identified in the Priority 1 Recommended Budget is $284,925.
We are continuing to plan in the areas of:
Budget recommendations for these areas will come to the Board at a later date.
- implementing Individual Learning Plans,
- using ACT Standards as part of assessments,
- supporting technology,
- program evaluation, and
- a possible expulsion abeyance options pilot for second semester.
The electronic based ILP (Individual Learning Plan) developed in collaboration with University of Wisconsin staff to meet the unique needs ofthe MMSD. The ILP will be based off of the WisCareers platform which will interface with Infinite Campus, the District's information management system.Related: Proposed Madison School District Strategic Plan Performance Measures.
Identify a subgroup of the ILP Action Team to create an ILP implementation plan that includes a mechanism for feedback and evaluation (e.g., Survey instruments, external evaluation conducted by the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research).
Curriculum Action Plan Focus Areas
- Accelerated Learning
- Civic Engagement
- Cultural Relevance
- Flexible Instruction
One of my favorite events of the year is the annual Principal for a Day event organized by the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools and sponsored by CUNA. For one thing, it's an opportunity for me to use phrases like, "Hey, hey, no running in the halls!" and, "sure, it's funny until somebody loses an eye."The southwest part of Madison, including Toki Middle School has had its share of challenges over the past few years.
This year I chose to be the shadow principal at Toki Middle School. It's no secret that Toki is at the center of a neighborhood that has been in the news in recent years in part because of some changing demographics. Those changes are apparent at the school where kids eligible for free and reduced lunches have increased from about a third to about half of the school population in just a few years.
But what I saw on a typical day where most of the kids didn't know or care much who I was (just like a normal day around City Hall) was a school where a lot of learning was taking place. I visited Rhonda Chalone's Student Leadership class, Vern Laufenberg's Technology Class and Scott Mullee's Science Class. I also spent some time with Principal Nicole Schaefer and her staff. What I witnessed was dedicated teachers and engaged students in a friendly and orderly atmosphere. And the diversity that is there is a big advantage, setting those kids up for success in a world that is, if anything, even more diverse than the student body at Toki.
Every school has some challenges, but anyone that doesn't think Madison schools are doing a great job teaching our kids, should spend a day in one.
FAMILIES chafe at the Seattle Public Schools' wild variability on student assignments. Proposed new school boundaries and a simplified assignment plan offer promising change. [Complete Assignment/Boundary Plan - 358K PDF]Seattle Schools Strategic Plan
A complex maze that used to determine what school students attended has been streamlined into an uncomplicated rule: students' addresses determine their school.
Students entering kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade in the 2010-11 year will be assigned to a school near their home. Students in other grades will remain at their current schools, an appropriate grandfathering that minimizes disruptions.
Many families won't notice a difference. For others, this plan is a huge change. Families living on Queen Anne and in Magnolia have long asked for a neighborhood high school so students weren't bused across the city. They're being assigned to one of the best: Ballard High School.
This shift is the correct route forward. After the district ended bussing for integration purposes, it veered into an expensive and convoluted open choice system. Families could choose any school they wanted but the result was a lack of predictability and stability. Most troubling, the system weighed heavily against less savvy families who were unable to navigate the application process.
The back-to-school packets sent to all 7,800 students here in this hamlet on Long Island's North Shore grew thicker each year with dozens of pages of notices, fliers and forms -- adding up to more than $12,000 in postage alone last year.
Students at Commack High School on Long Island. The Commack School District has limited mailings and put back-to-school packets on its Web site.
But this year, amid a lingering recession and increasing online activity, school officials decided to stop the madness. Teachers and principals were given strict instructions: Limit mailings to a single, first-class envelope per student -- and post the overflow on the district's Web site, in a newly created back-to-school section. The savings: $9,000 in stamps plus $12,000 in salaries for clerks who used to spend up to two weeks assembling the packets.
And, for parents like Debra Miller, a shrinking pile of paperwork to keep up with.
"Since the kids have been in school, there's never been a pile less than 12 inches high on my kitchen counter," said Mrs. Miller, a mother of two, who shoves the unsightly pile into a cabinet when she has company. "I can never get out from under the pile, and I'm not alone. We all talk about it."
Madison school district parents dissatisfied with local schools got a boost after a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision which trumped state law and made it easier for students living in the district to attend schools in other districts, a practice known as open enrollment.The Private/Parochial, Open Enrollment Leave, Open Enrollment Enter, Home Based Parent Survey, including School Board discussion, can be found here. David Blask comments.
The case was brought by Seattle parents who challenged the use of race in assigning students to schools, arguing it violated the Constitution's right of equal protection. The ruling was celebrated by those who favor color-blind policies, but criticized by civil rights groups as a further erosion of Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 case that outlawed school segregation.
Last year it became easier in Madison, and in school districts across the country, for white students to transfer even if it meant increasing the district's racial imbalance.
After a flood of local students left the district last year, Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad decided to investigate why.
"We had an interest in knowing ideas from people that had made the decision for open enrollment," Nerad says. "We are attempting to learn from those experiences to see if there are some things as a school district that we can constructively do to address those concerns."
To that end, the district surveyed households of district residents who left Madison schools and transferred to another district for the 2008-09 school year to find out why the families left. The majority of parents who took their kids out of the Madison school district last year under open enrollment said they did so for what the district classifies as "environmental reasons": violence, gangs, drugs and negative peer pressure. Other reasons were all over the map. Many cited crowded classrooms and curriculum that wasn't challenging enough.
Only a few responses pointed directly to white flight.
Madison Board of Education President Arlene Silveira, via email:
TO: MMSD Strategic Planning CommitteeMuch more on the Strategic Planning Process here.
I am writing to provide you with a Board update on the MMSD strategic plan. Before getting into details, I again want to thank you for all of the time and effort you put into development of the plan. It is appreciated.
On July 21, the Board of Education held our second meeting to review the strategic planning document that you, our community-based strategic planning committee, submitted. The Board unanimously approved the following components of the new strategic plan. The mission, beliefs and parameters were approved with no changes to the plan you submitted. Some language in the strategic objectives was modified for clarity and completeness.
We have not yet approved any of the action plans.
- Mission (see below)
- Beliefs (http://drupal.madison.k12.wi.us/files/strategic%20plan%20complete%20doc%20REV%20june%209.pdf Page 4)
- Parameters (http://drupal.madison.k12.wi.us/files/strategic%20plan%20complete%20doc%20REV%20june%209.pdfPage 4)
- Strategic Objectives (see below)
The Madison School District's strategic planning group will meet next week and review the work to date, summarized in these documents:
It is important to note that this work must be approved (and perhaps modified) by the school board, then, of course, implemented by the Administration.
Author, publisher, entrepreneur and good guy Will Fitzhugh recently visited Madison. Listen to the 90 minute event via this 41MB mp3 audio file [CTRL-Click to Download]. (Please note that the audio level varies a bit during the talk - sorry). Video version is available here.
A Chicago suburb beats out thousands of other communities around the U.S. as the best, most affordable place to raise kids.Other cities mentioned include: Euless, TX, Murfreesboro, TN, Huntsville, AL and Eau Claire, WI.
Mount Prospect, Ill., is a quiet Chicago suburb with a population of just over 56,000. It is a tight-knit town where over the past eight years Prospect High School's football team won three state championships, its Marching Knights picked up their 26th straight grand champion title at the annual state marching band festival, and just last month the school itself ranked 12th among all state high schools. Now the town is also the winner of Businessweek's second annual roundup of the Best Places in America to Raise Kids.
Founded by German immigrants and incorporated in 1917, Mount Prospect hasn't strayed far from its values of fiscal conservatism and community involvement, even as it has expanded to include new immigrants from Poland, Mexico, Korea, and India. It is a middle-class community with low crime, affordable homes, award-winning schools, ethnic restaurants, a major regional mall, and a small-town charm that makes the big city less than an hour away seem much farther away.
Everyone, it seems, has a complaint about the schools. Indifferent bureaucracy, change-averse unions, faddish curricula, soaring school taxes matched with mediocre student performance -- the list is long and seemingly unchanging.
At the start of yet another school year, it's time for some radical change in your local schools -- a specific change that only parents can bring about. It's a thing already being done in some far-off countries but that remains strangely rare here in America. It's something I've tried -- and, despite the skepticism of friends and neighbors, it seems to work.
What is this miracle that lies within the reach of nearly every family? It's simple. All you have to do is to start insisting that your children fully apply themselves to their studies -- and commit yourself to doing your part. That means making sure they do all the work expected of them as well as their abilities allow. It also means making sure everything at home stands behind these principles and supports the idea of learning.
These will sound like obvious ideas. In fact, given all the distractions of modern life, it is a radical departure from the normal order of things. Let's face it: More than budgets or bureaucrats, more than textbooks or teachers, parents are the reason that kids perform as they do in school.
Decades of white flight transformed America's cities. That era is drawing to a close.Related: a look at local K-12 enrollment changes.
In Washington, a historically black church is trying to attract white members to survive. Atlanta's next mayoral race is expected to feature the first competitive white candidate since the 1980s. San Francisco has lost so many African-Americans that Mayor Gavin Newsom created an "African-American Out-Migration Task Force and Advisory Committee" to help retain black residents.
"The city is experiencing growth, yet we're losing African-American families disproportionately," Mr. Newsom says. When that happens, "we lose part of our soul."
For much of the 20th century, the proportion of whites shrank in most U.S. cities. In recent years the decline has slowed considerably -- and in some significant cases has reversed. Between 2000 and 2006, eight of the 50 largest cities, including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, saw the proportion of whites increase, according to Census figures. The previous decade, only three cities saw increases.
The changing racial mix is stirring up quarrels over class and culture. Beloved institutions in traditionally black communities -- minority-owned restaurants, book stores -- are losing the customers who supported them for decades. As neighborhoods grow more multicultural, conflicts over home prices, taxes and education are opening a new chapter in American race relations.
High schools receiving $80 million in annual federal funding to support “smaller learning communities” can document that they are taking steps to establish learning environments more intimate than found in the typical comprehensive high school.Related:
But, according to a federal study, such smaller schools can’t answer the most significant question: Is student achievement improving in the smaller settings?
The evaluation of the 8-year-old program found that schools participating in it show signs of success. In the schools, the proportion of students being promoted from 9th to 10th grade increases, participation in extracurricular activities rises, and the rate of violent incidents declines.
But the evaluation found “no significant trends” in achievement on state tests or college-entrance exams, says the report, which was prepared by a private contractor and released by the U.S. Department of Education last week.
At 27, Deanna Singh is determined to change the dismal statistic that only 5% of African-American adults in Milwaukee have a four-year college degree.
So determined that she has launched her own charter school, where her inaugural sixth-grade students already identify their class by the year they will graduate from college.
She aims to build a culture that refuses to accept what she witnessed years ago as a volunteer in Washington, D.C., schools - 11th- and 12th-graders who could barely read or write.
Both students and staff at her Milwaukee Renaissance Academy, 2212 N. 12th St., follow the succinct dictum of a mural in the school's stairwell: "No excuses!"
High expectations propelled Singh from her father's north side gas station - where she spent much of the first five years of her life - through Elmbrook Schools and on to the top-notch East Coast universities where she received her college and law degrees.
From ergonomic strollers, to sleep consultants, to professional potty training, child rearing has become a very big business. Author Pamela Paul discusses her new book, Parenting, Inc. and the aggressive marketing aimed at new moms and dads.
"Sometimes, spending a lot on children isn't just unnecessary; it's counterproductive," Paul writes. "Every parent I know is struggling to figure out how to afford a family without succumbing to the spiral of consumption that characterizes modern parenthood."
Paul says she was determined not to fill her house with baby junk. Then she had her baby.
First it was the doors to the classroom that swung open for kids in wheelchairs. Now it's access to the playground, especially at Elvehjem Elementary School, where there's boundless enthusiasm for the Boundless Playground project.www.playgroundsupport.com
The project aims to get students with disabilities playing side by side with the rest of the kids, Shelly Trowbridge, one of the parent organizers of LVM Dreams Big said in a recent interview.
On Friday, local supporters of the project held a chili dinner at the school. It included ceramic bowls made by students and a silent auction with artwork by students and community members. It was the latest in an ambitious series of family-oriented fundraisers that are aimed at building a community as well as a playground.
The nonprofit group (www.playgroundsupport.com) has raised over $81,000 in cash and in-kind contributions toward a goal of $200,000 to build the state's first barrier-free Boundless Playground next summer on the Elvehjem School grounds. There are about 100 such play structures nationwide, but none in Wisconsin.
It's time to call attention to a key issue plaguing Seattle Public Schools — class size. Despite public comments from district officials challenging the relevance of class size to academic achievement, every teacher I've spoken with has cited large class size as one of the biggest impediments to effective pedagogy.
In 2000, voters approved Initiative 728 by nearly 72 percent. This measure provided state funding to reduce class sizes. But, our state's piecemeal approach to education funding has proved ineffective. Seven years later, class sizes in Seattle remain high.
The district's response to underfunded schools has been larger classes and leaner services. Frustrated by inadequate state funding and district allocation of these limited funds, parents who "believe" in public schools are put in the difficult position of having to subsidize them.
Though we're supposed to pay for enhancements, PTAs routinely "buy down" class size by supporting volunteer and paid-tutor programs so that the adult-student ratio in the classroom can be reduced and teachers are able to work with smaller groups, thus meeting the needs of students at both ends of the spectrum and in-between. At our school, "academic support" makes up roughly 50 percent of our PTA budget.
“I'm afraid the game is over. In our American academia, the arts must be satisfied with the leftovers.”
Morning Edition, NPR
A few weeks ago, I offered up the thoughts of Gary Walters, the distinguished athletic director at Princeton, that sport should be held in the same high regard as art.
I thought it was a rather interesting and cogent opinion for someone to posit, but in the fabled words of the longtime football announcer, Keith Jackson: "Whoa, Nellie!" Never have I suffered such a battering. I think the nicest thing I was called in the responses that poured in, dripping with blood, was "apologist dingbat."
But then, after I withdrew the slings and arrows from my person and assessed the reaction, I realized how almost all the responses didn't really bother to address the question posed: Whether, in fact, sport might be an art. No, they were just mad, full of rage and fury. But it did serve to inform me all the more how much antipathy there does exist toward the American system of school sports.
Here are just a few of the more restrained comments:
"Spare me please! Primary and secondary art and music programs are going the way of the passenger pigeon while college coaching staffs ... are compensated like CEOs."
"When was the last time we heard a news report about the band or orchestra at some ... powerhouse involved in a scandal where students did not take the tests themselves?"
"High school building and renovation plans always include gymnasiums and weight rooms, but auditoriums are more viewed as unnecessary expenditures."
And on and on. I think what exasperates so many people is that the situation only grows more lopsided, that sports in our schools and colleges are not only ascendant, but greedier and more invulnerable than ever.
For prime example, The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported that donations to athletic departments have increased dramatically. College stadiums only become more opulent, so-called student-athletes more outrageous.
I'm afraid the game is over. In our American academia, the arts must be satisfied with the leftovers. Just consider the frank words of surrender spoken recently by John V. Lombardi, the president of the Louisiana State University System: "Mega college athletics ... prospers because for the most part we (our faculty, our staff, our alumni, our trustees) want it. We could easily change it, if most of us wanted to change it. All protestations to the contrary, we ... do not want to change it."
But Mr. Lombardi is only echoing what a certain Groucho Marx said in the movie Horse Feathers, when as President Quincy Adams Wagstaff, he asked the faculty: "Have we got a stadium? ... Have we got a college? ... Well, we can't support both. Tomorrow, we start tearing down the college."
That was 75 years ago. It hasn't changed, and, I'm sorry, but good people of the arts: it won't.
The West High School PTSO met on January 8, 2007 with featured guest West teacher Heather Lott,
coordinator for the Small Learning Community grant implementation. The video below only includes Heather Lott's presentation and questions that followed. It does not include other portions of the meeting such as Dr. Holmes report of the West Principal, nor reports from West PTSO officers.
The video of the meeting is 117MB, and 1 hour and 27 minutes long. Click on the image at left to watch the video. The video contains chapter headings which allow quick navigation to sections of the meeting. The video will play immediately, while the file continues to download.
Lott presented an overview of the three-year Federal SLC grant (Year 1, 2003-2004; Year 2, 2004-2005; Year 3, 2005-2006), what changes were begun in the year prior and the changes and goals for the 2006-2007 school year, post-SLC grant. She emphasized that the SLC plan would take 7 years to "complete" and that the remaining 4 years would need to be funded. The 3 year federal grant paid her salary and for professional development only. Budget cuts for the 2006-2007 year and continuing fiscal problems in the district will hamper making the desired progress.
When asked how much, minimally, West would need make acceptable progress in the implementation of the SLC plan, Dr. Holmes suggested $20,000.
She also presented data showing discipline improvements and academic achievement improvements over the SLC years.
Discussions also included the topics of differentiation and heterogeneity, and general discussions from parents of incoming West students on the social aspects of the small learning communities.
Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater's recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.
The Madison School District's two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by "throwing money at their schools", according to Paul Ciotti:
In 1985 a federal district judge took partial control over the troubled Kansas City, Missouri, School District (KCMSD) on the grounds that it was an unconstitutionally segregated district with dilapidated facilities and students who performed poorly. In an effort to bring the district into compliance with his liberal interpretation of federal law, the judge ordered the state and district to spend nearly $2 billion over the next 12 years to build new schools, integrate classrooms, and bring student test scores up to national norms.
It didn't work. When the judge, in March 1997, finally agreed to let the state stop making desegregation payments to the district after 1999, there was little to show for all the money spent. Although the students enjoyed perhaps the best school facilities in the country, the percentage of black students in the largely black district had continued to increase, black students' achievement hadn't improved at all, and the black-white achievement gap was unchanged.(1)
The situation in Kansas City was both a major embarrassment and an ideological setback for supporters of increased funding for public schools. From the beginning, the designers of the district's desegregation and education plan openly touted it as a controlled experiment that, once and for all, would test two radically different philosophies of education. For decades critics of public schools had been saying, "You can't solve educational problems by throwing money at them." Educators and advocates of public schools, on the other hand, had always responded by saying, "No one's ever tried."
Cheryl Wilhoyte was hired, with the support of the two local dailies (Wisconsin State Journal, 9/30/1992: Search No Further & Cap Times Editorial, 9/21/1992: Wilhoyte Fits Madison) by a school board 4-3 vote. The District's budget in 1992-1993 was $180,400,000 with local property taxes generating $151,200,00 of that amount. 14 years later, despite the 1993 imposition of state imposed annual school spending increase limits ("Revenue Caps"), the 2006 budget is $331,000,000. Dehli's article mentions that the 1992-1993 School Board approved a 12.9% school property tax increase for that budget. An August, 1996 Capital Times editorial expressed puzzlement over terms of Cheryl Wilhoyte's contract extension.
Art, the only applicant, was promoted from Acting Superintendent to Superintendent in January, 1999. Chris Murphy's January, 1999 article includes this:
Since Wilhoyte's departure, Rainwater has emerged as a popular interim successor. Late last year, School Board members received a set of surveys revealing broad support for a local superintendent as opposed to one hired from outside the district. More than 100 of the 661 respondents recommended hiring Rainwater.Art was hired on a 7-0 vote but his contract was not as popular - approved on a 5-2 vote (Carol Carstensen, Calvin Williams, Deb Lawson, Joanne Elder and Juan Jose Lopez voted for it while Ray Allen and Ruth Robarts voted no). The contract was and is controversial, as Ruth Robarts wrote in September, 2004.
A February, 2004 Doug Erickson summary of Madison School Board member views of Art Rainwater's tenure to date.
Quickly reading through a few of these articles, I found that the more things change, the more they stay the same:
Hanson said the shortfall is partly due to about $1 million in underestimated expenditures. The largest of these are health, dental and othertypes of insurance costs that came in $300,000 over estimates; extended employment and extra duty costs, $300,000; and teacher salaries, $250,000.
In addition, the district did not receive as much as expected in areas suchas disabled tuition, Chapter I aid, food service income and interest income.
School board President Nan Brien also said the board and district are in a tough spot because so many programs have been cut to bring the budget proposal ($149M) under the cap.
``The cuts he made are going to give the board some real difficult times,''Brien said.
Brien said she was satisfied that Travis appeared to make his cuts across the board rather than in one area of the budget.
Travis cut $2.3 million in staff requests. Cuts include a phasing out of the birth to age 2 program for children with special needs and $86,000 in funding to the Bootstrap program for students at risk of not graduating.
Other cuts include 11 regular teachers and seven special education teachers, four positions in health services and about 10 custodial positions. Reductions also include $157,000 for a new child care program that would have helped students in the district's School-Age Parenting Program, more than $35,000 for staff training and professional improvement, and $33,000 for an after-school program (AIMS) for minority students.
The Advanced Placement government assignment over the summer was to read and analyze political commentator Chris Matthews' book ``Hardball.'' So four friends at American High School in Fremont did what they say everyone else was doing: divvied up the 13 questions about the book and exchanged answers via e-mail. They each altered the text slightly, then handed in their individual papers.Maria Glod posts a related article: "Students Rebel Against Database Designed to Thwart Plagiarists".
The students call it collaboration. The teachers call it cheating.
As technology makes it easier than ever to cheat, educators are combating the intractable problem on at least three fronts: setting clear standards, using technology to fight back, and talking with students and parents about ethics and pressure.
Many students use e-mail to share work and program iPods and cell phones to cheat in class in new ways. On the flip side, schools can hire services that use computers to scan essays for plagiarism; one leading service claims its business is doubling every year.
Throughout the South Bay and across the Peninsula, schools are banning electronic devices and stiffening penalties. Turning around attitudes is more challenging.
Some 70 parents were in attendance at Monday evening's PTSO meeting to hear about West High School's plans for 10th grade English. This was the largest turnout for a PTSO meeting in recent history. Approximately one-third of those there were parents of elementary and middle school students who will be attending West at some point in the future.
The consensus from parents was that they want more discussion of these planned changes, and given the school's timeline for formalizing next year's course offerings, these meeetings have to happen soon.
Parents heard from Principal Ed Holmes, English department chair Keesia Hyzer, and from teacher Mark Nepper. What follows is a brief summary of the presentation.
Mr. Holmes explained that the impetus for restructuring 10th grade English was the Small Learning Communities (SLC) grant that West High received two years ago. (West is currently in the second year of a three year grant). This grant has as its goals the improved achievement of all students and the simultaneous reduction of the achievement gap. That grant called for a core curriculum in both 9th and 10th grade. Last year the school implemented a core curriculum for 9th graders wherein students would take their core classes (math, English, social studies, and science) within their SLC. The English department began approaching the challenge of creating a 10th grade core this past January.
Ms. Hyzer reported that, as the English department approached this task, they had 3 areas of focus: their writing program, helping struggling students, and managing the department's workload. By creating a unified core 10th grade English, there is now an opportunity for teachers and students to spend an entire year together, a unified curriculum means that students won't be able to circumvent academic rigor in their course selection, and the common experience will provide a springboard for courses in the 11th and 12th grades.
The redesigned curriculum combines aspects of Fundamental and Intermediate Writers Workshop classes, Modern Literature, Writers in Their Times, and Justice.
The school firmly believes that heterogeneously grouped classes is the best way to meet the needs of all students, addressing the wide range of abilities through curriculum differentiation. Keesia Hyzer told parents that the English department will study differentiation over the summer and work to implement it in the classroom.
For students who want more challenge or a more rigorous English experience, West intends to offer the opportunity for an Honors designation. Students would be required to do extra work outside of class and would meet with the Honors coordinator twice a week during lunch for additional discussion/study sessions.
Many parents were skeptical that students would volunteer to do additional work and regularly give up portions of their lunch periods and the opportunities to participate in clubs and other activities for this designation. They questioned why students couldn't do this work in their daily English classes, and suggested that the school offer an honors section of English 10 within each SLC. They pointed out that students who enjoy literature and want more challenge in English are being punished by having to go outside the regular classroom to get their educational needs met, a situation that doesn't exist in math or science where academically advanced students can get their needs met in the classroom. While a number of parents were complimentary of the goal of integrating literature and writing within one course and the books that were on the proposed reading list, it was noted that the inclusion of challenging reading material does not automatically make a course rigourous. The speed at which the class moves through the material and the level of discussion can vary widely, depending on who is in the classroom. Also, as a 10th grader reminded us, there is no guarantee that all classes will read all of the books on the reading list.
Several parents also pointed out that no students get their needs met in a heterogenous classroom: Struggling students get discouraged when they compare themselves to high performing students, high end students report boredom and frustration as the class moves slowly so as not to leave students behind, and middle range students get ignored as teachers spend the majority of their time attending to either the high or low achieving students. Differentiation of curriculum has its limits, even for the most skilled teacher.
Mr. Holmes and Ms. Hyzer took questions for about 20 minutes and then left. Parents weren't ready to end the discussion and continued to talk about the presentation and raise questions for some 40 or so minutes afterwards. One of the biggest questions was "What can we do to get them to listen to us and genuinely take our concerns into consideration?" One answer is to contact the following district staff with your concerns and suggestions: SuperintendentArt Rainwater, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Pam Nash, West Principal Ed Holmes, English department chair Keesia Hyzer, Director of Teaching and Learning Mary Ramberg, Language Arts and Reading Coordinator Mary Watson Peterson, the Instructional Resource Teachers for Language Arts and Reading in the Middle and High Schools - Sharyn Stumpf and Doug Buehl, District Talented and Gifted Coordinator Welda Simousek, and the Board of Education. Parents can also keep informed by subscribing to the West High PTSO mailing list.
Others who were in attendance are encouraged to add to this report.
Madison East High School parents, staff, and community members have been working since the beginning of 2005 to create an advocacy and support organization for this key East side school. The group was named at the June 2 meeting:
EAST HIGH UNITED
A parent-teacher-staff-student-community organization
The organization meets as a whole in the East High School cafeteria on the second Thursday of each month. (There is no July meeting, the next meeting is August 11).
In addition, working groups focussed on specific initiatives meet at a time agreed upon by members of those groups. A list of existing and emerging working groups is contained in this report from the June 2 meeting.
OUTCOMES - JUNE 2 MEETING
(NOTE: Several important announcements that are included at the end of this message along with names of people who have stepped forward to serve as contacts for several working groups that are being formed around specific initiatives.)
1. WE HAVE A NAME!!!
The lack of a name has been challenging for people trying to promote our fledgling organization, in efforts to build visibility with district administration and board members, etc. After some discussion, participants in the June 2 meeting decided to name the organization:
EAST HIGH UNITED
A parent-teacher-staff-student-community organization
The short version will be "East High United," but we will use the tag line to affirm our commitment to have membership open to anyone with a commitment to advocating for and supporting East High School.
2. NEXT MEETING
Thursday, August 11, 7 PM, East High Cafeteria
That meeting will focus on:
1) opportunities for visibility for East High United and its working groups during Freshman Orientation and during Registration Week in August, and
2) How might the issues identified by parents and staff in the March and April meetings be addressed in an East School Improvement Plan? How can our working groups contribute to development and implementation of a successful plan?
3. UPCOMING LISTENING SESSIONS WITH OUR NEW PRINCIPAL
Alan Harris, our new principal, will be holding listening sessions for parents and community members over the summer. The times and places of those sessions are being determined. At this time, there are two listening sessions scheduled in June for Latino/a parents and Hmong parents.
6/15 - 7:00 - Latino/a parents
6/22 - 7:30 - Hmong parents
There will be another session for African American parents, and sessions for any member of the East High community. The dates, times, places of those sessions will be announced when they are available.
4. SHERMAN MIDDLE SCHOOL STRINGS and BAND PROGRAMS
There was quite a bit of discussion about the announced changes in the Sherman Middle strings and band programs and larger questions regarding the future of fine arts in the East attendance area and the Madison school district at large.
Several parents were absent in order to attend a meeting at Sherman School regarding the changes there, and two parents came over to report in on the discussion at Sherman.
Additional information is available in the Wisconsin State Journal on-line archives at:
In addition, several people have posted comments on the http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/ site (scroll down the page to find) regarding announced changes and the process through which the decision was made and communicated.
If you want to share questions or concerns with district administration and/or the school board on this issue, you are encouraged to attend the monthly Madison school board meeting (June 6, 7 PM, Doyle Building, McDaniel Auditorium) and/or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. EXISTING OR EMERGING WORKING GROUPS
In addition to resolving the name question, we identified several existing or emerging working groups around specific initiatives. NOTE: These groups meet at times and places that are MOST convenient to and agreed to by working group members. To form a working group around a change or issue that you would like to see addressed, please contact Lucy Mathiak at email@example.com regarding your interests. Please contact the people listed to get involved with one or more of these new projects. This turned out to be a LONG list, so please read to the end to see what is happening!
To ask for volunteer assistance or help connecting with volunteer opportunities at East, please contact:
David Mandehr, 257-1497, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
POSITIVE NEWS ABOUT EAST
This group formed earlier in the academic year and has been worrking to find and promot positive stories about East in the local media, from community news papers to the Madison dailies. To get involved contact:
BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE ORGANIZATION - AFRICAN AMERICAN FOCUS
This group has been meeting on Sunday afternoons once a month to develop and use strategies to include members of the African American community in East High United. To date, efforts have included inviting the new principal to hold community listening sessions in neighborhood centers, connecting with members of the Sherman Middle School parents group who will be coming to East next year, and preliminary plans for a parent to parent potluck and welcome session at the beginning of the school year. To get involved, contact:
Angie Crawford 204-1609 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brenda Robinson 661-8157 email@example.com
Lucy Mathiak 255-0939 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Jokela 241-2545 email@example.com
Abha Thakkar 661-0060 firstname.lastname@example.org
BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE ORGANIZATION - LATINO/A FOCUS
This is a very new initiative that is emerging from ESL staff at East. There will be a meeting at 3:30 on Wed., June 8, at East High School to talk about strategies and actions to include Latino/a families, particularly those for whom English is a second language, in East High United and its activities. To get involved, contact:
STAFF LIAISON TO EAST HIGH UNITED
Theresa Calderon email@example.com
This group is just being formed and will work on goals, strategies, and actions, to address concerns regarding school climate. To get involved contact:
Jeff Leverich 241-3222 firstname.lastname@example.org
This group is just being formed and will work on goals, strategies, and actions to ensure high academic standards and diversity in academic achievement at East. To get involved contact:
EAST HIGH UNITED GOVERNANCE AND STRUCTURE
This group met between the March and April meetings, and developed a proposed mission statement and structure for East High United, using ideas and input from parents, teachers and staff, from the March meeting. East High United has agreed to hold off on formalizing its structure and governance until the organization is more inclusive of all East communities, but we might expect to come back to governance and structure questions at some point in 2005-2006. To get involved, contact:
In general: we started out in March with about 50 names on our e-mail list. The summaries and materials now go out to c. 150 e-mail addresses on the parent/community member list, 10 community organizations and neighborhood newsletters, everyone on the Parent Network e-mail list, some 200 members of the Booster Club, and over 260 faculty/staff at East High School.
ON-LINE INFORMATION ON EAST HIGH UNITED
Please check the Madison East High School Web site, including the calendar (Thanks Katie Johsnson!!!).
Updates and information will be posted on the School Information System site at http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/ (there is a menu pick on the left side of the page for PTO/A issues) as well.
EAST TO CELEBRATE 10 YEARS OF CERTIFIED NURSING ASSISTANT PROGRAM ON JUNE 9
NOTE: CNA program needs our advocacy and support
Dorothy Winger, who heads the CNA program, wrote:
I have an event occuring on June 9, 2:30-4pm in the LMC.
This is the ten year anniversary of the Certified Nursing Assistant
(CNA) program which is a part of the Family and Consumer Education
Department at East High.
The CNA program is an important step for
students interested in a career in health care. It is excellent
preparation for any student planning to go into a hands-on health care
career, but it is also now a requirement for entry into nursing schools
in Wisconsin. Our students are able to obtain their CNA while still in
high school, allowing them to decide if this is the right career path
for them before they invest in the college courses and allowing students
more immediate entry into the nursing programs.
Unlike those students trained at MATC, the East High CNA program is offered for free with
students only paying their $100 testing and certification fee to the
state. In the last ten years we have certified 160 CNA students.
On June 9 at 2:30-4pm will be holding the pinning ceremony for this semester's CNA students as well as welcoming back CNA graduates and instructors from the past ten years of the CNA program. We also invite others the attend the ceremony and show their support for the CNA program.
Milt McPike supported the program at its start in 1995-96 and has continued to advocate for CNA as a line-item in the budget since his retirement, but this is not yet a reality - we exist on only donations and grants which have become scarce. Funding for this program has been a struggle with the budget crunch faced by both schools and health care
institutions. Many nursing homes and hospitals have closed their CNA training programs with the recent changes in the certification and testing process and have stopped providing the lab and clinical nurse instructors for our program due to budget cuts.
Our demand for this program at East High has been strong. CNAs are constantly being hired in Madison as caregivers in nursing homes, hopitals, homecare, elder
care, and hospice care. Students obtaining certification are immediately employable at age 16 for $9 /hr jobs and their wages increase with experience and age to as much as $16 /hr.
This is a living wage that has helped our graduates pay their way through college and support their families. We are hoping that increased awareness of the program and its benefit to students and the community will encourage funding. Please help support our program through media attention or whatever means you feel are appropriate - and we'd love to have any of you attend!
Questions can be directed to:
Dottie Winger, CNA teacher
East High, Room 32 (and come check out our CNA lab!)
204-1666 classroom phone (8:15am-2:45pm)
770-0509 cell phone (2:45pm to evening)
833-9037 home phone (till 9:30pm and accepts messages)
E-MAIL FROM JEAN NOTHNAGEL RE. "SERVICE E" INVOLVEMENT
Jean could not attend the June 2 meeting, but sent some thoughts about Service E at East. Please contact Jean at email@example.com if you have feedback/would like to work on this issue. Jean wrote:
I attended the Service E presentation last month, and I was very disappointed in seeing the decline in the number of students being recognized for their service work. In years past about 25% of all students were Service E recipients -- this year it I think it was barely over 10%.
Service E is the only non-academic pin that is worn on gowns at graduation, and I know students who really value that. Truly a recognition available to all students. And it is unique to East, which
should continue to be a source of pride.
I think some connection between PTO efforts could align with (what I see as a need for) invigoration of the Service E activity at school. I think it overlaps the "positive news" we would like to get out there, plus it partners us with students, teachers and staff.
Please share this information with others who may be interested in helping to
create a revitalized PTO at East.
March 30, 2005
UPDATE ON EFFORTS TO BUILD AN EAST HIGH SCHOOL PTO
Thursday, April 14
Thursday, May 12
All meetings are held at East High School and begin at 7 p.m., with time for
informal conversation from 6:30 to 7:00.
Upcoming East Events:
Strings festival, Saturday April 2
Taste of East (yum) International Night, Friday April 15
East High School
All That Jazz Dinner and Dance (and silent auction), Friday April 22
Madison Masonic Temple
Fund raiser for Madison East Bands
CONGRATULATIONS TO KIAH HOWARD:
(from Capital Times March 30, 2005)
Madison East's Kiah Howard has been awarded a National Achievement Scholarship
for academic excellence.
The program rewards 700 black high school seniors with a $2,500 grant; another
100 students will receive a renewable corporate-sponsored scholarship that can
range from $500 to $2,000 annually. Howard received an award sponsored by the
Howard, the daughter of Kate and James Howard, was one of seven Wisconsin
students to receive an award.
Summary of first organizational meeting held Monday, March 7, 2005:
Results: Agreement to set standing meetings the second Thursday of the month,
Jeff Leverich and others to work on proposals for a mission and governance
structure to be presented/discussed at the April meeting.
Welcomes and introductions:
Interim Principal Loren Rathert gave an update on the principal search, which
was re-opened after the first search did not produce enough qualified
applicants to move forward.
Welcomes from Teresa Calderon, School Improvement Coordinator, Kathie Nichols,
Parent Network Coordinator, and Lucy Mathiak, East High parent.
Lawrie Kobza, president of the Sherman Middle School PTO and David Cohen,
president of the Blackhawk Middle School PTO were welcomed to the meeting.
Over 50 people attended the meeting. After the introductions and welcomes, we
divided into small groups to exchange ideas about: 1) Issues that we would like
to address through a PTO, and 2) goals that a PTO might work toward in the
We then shared the small group lists with the group as a whole. The ideas,
which are summarized below, will be used to shape the mission statement for the
organization and identify action items for future meetings. In some areas,
notably public relations, people announced existing informal groups that
already are working on projects and welcome others who want to help. The
preliminary themes that emerged from this process (presented in random order)
Constituent relations: who can we build partnerships with to support and
strengthen East as a school and as a school community? (E.g. distinct groups
of parents in the East community; East teachers, staff, and students; other
high school PTOs and PTOs in the East attendance area; volunteers and potential
volunteers; alumni; existing East organizations such as Band Parents and the
Booster Club; area businesses; community centers and organizations in the East
attendance area; UW-Madison and MATC)
Communications: how can we improve communications between East and parents,
among members of the East community, and East and the larger Madison community
(e.g. how can we improve basic information sharing, announcements, etc. through
the newsletter, e-mail, the Web, and other tools? How can we disseminate
information about pressing issues facing East, and advocate for East with the
school board, the press, and other community institutions?)
Media Relations: how can we improve East?s presence and image in the Madison
media? How can we improve and enhance Purgolder pride among students, staff,
Parent concerns: What are the issues facing the East community (e.g. the
principal search and transition to a new principal, student alcohol and other
substance abuse, safety, gangs, policing)? What do we need to know? What can we
do as parents and as a PTO to create more positive outcomes for all members of
Finances: how can we make sure that East has the resources that it needs to
have the highest level of academic and extracurricular programs? (e.g. what do
we need to know about state and district budgets, and how can we advocate for
East?s interests in school funding debates? How can we help develop resources
for East through fund raising events, through the Foundation for Madison
Schools, through grant proposals to the Madison Community Foundation, Madison
organizations, and other funding sources, and through fund raising events? What
are specific areas ? sports, theatre renovation, music programs - for which
East groups are raising funds?)
East Academic Programs: How can we ensure high standards and diversity in
academic achievement at East? (e.g. building a diverse staff, fostering parent
and community volunteer opportunities, strategies for closing the achievement
gap and diversifying upper level courses, engaging parents in the School
Improvement Process, and building strong parent and community support for the
staff and principals)
The Cherokee PTO recently forwarded their top 5 Madison School District Priorities:
We've started to ask local PTO/A organizations for a list of their view of the Madison School District Priorities. Here's two from John Muir Elementary:
I would encourage the PTO to invite school board members to attend a meeting, and to have them explain what has been cut or changed, and what is yet to come. Because we have a budget crisis in Wisconsin, we are losing staff, programs are being cut, teachers are being overloaded by more responsibilities. This is not going to end. We still have millions of dollars more to cut next year, and the next and the next.
The point of the meeting, besides voicing concerns about these cuts, is to have the school board talk about what the public can and should do. I believe this should be our chief priority.