Reed Schneider emails on recent posts regarding a School Board’s role in curriculum policy:
I agree that the school board should be responsible for the district’s curriculum. In fact, it is the most important thing they are charged with. 10 or more years ago, before widespread internet availability, the non-edu-estab person on a board would have the excuse that it would be impossible for them to know which curricula works. All decisions would be deferred to the so-called experts. That excuse doesn’t work any more. Any board member can now go to www.nrrf.org and discover opinion and independent research showing programs like Reading Recovery and balanced Literacy have serious flaws. They can go to www.mathematicallycorrect.com and discover that math programs recommended by the NCTM like Everyday Math fail our children.
Even if the board becomes involved, it will take board members willing to do this. Just because they become involved with curriculum will not automatically mean they will critically evaluate administrators recommendations. Far too often they simply rubber stamp what the curriculum specialist puts in front of them.
The parents and tax payers are the only ones with the power to change this. A good question at a board candidate’s forum would be: “What is your opinion of reading or math programs based on constructivist theory?” If they don’t understand the question, can’t answer, hem and haw, or embrace it, don’t vote for them. It’s really that simple.
I’ve updated the candidate election page with information from the January, 2006 campaign finance filings and a link to the first podcast.
Anne Wallace Allen:
Stephanie Rose walked into the lunchroom of the Idaho Falls High School with a homemade chart and tallied what she found: Canisters of potato chips. Heaps of candy. Cellophane-wrapped cakes. High-caffeine sports drinks.
Twelve percent of the foods offered by the district a la carte program were granola or cereal bars, fruits, vegetables, or low-fat chips or pretzels. The other 88 percent included nachos, corn dogs, chips and cookies.
“For 25 cents you can buy 310 calories,” said Rose, a nurse and diabetes educator who attended Idaho Falls High in the 1980s, when she had to take a helping of beans on her plate whether she wanted them or not.
These days, the school promotes “Corn dogs: two for a dollar,” she says. “Good Lord, what are you trying to do here?”
UW Health Nutritionist Marcy Braun participated in a recent Forum on Nutrition and Schools audio / video
Fitchburg’s Swan Creek subdivision petitioned recently to leave the Madison School District. [Map] A reader emails that Swan Creek currently has 21 students in the MMSD. Links:
5 pages from the petition [1.1mb pdf] Wisconsin Statutes: [106K PDF]
UPDATE: A reader wondered recently what the mileage differences might be between Swan Creek and schools in the MMSD or Oregon*.
- High Schools: Madison West 7 miles [map] or Oregon High School 7 miles [map]
- Middle Schools: Cherokee 7.2 miles [map], Oregon’s Rome Corner’s Intermediate 7.7 miles [map] or Oregon Middle School 8.3 miles [map]
- Elementary Schools: Leopold 3.5 miles [map], Lincoln 4 miles [map], Midvale 8.2 miles [map]. Oregon: Prairie View Elementary 6.7 miles [map] Netherwood Elementary 6.7 miles [map] Brooklyn Elementary School 13 miles [map]
* Obviously, the pickup route and traffic conditions determine the actual travel time, given similar distances.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development):
The relationship with student performance in mathematics is striking. Students who have used computers for several years mostly perform better than average. By contrast, those who don’t have access to computers or who have been using computers for only a short time tend to lag behind their class year.
According to the OECD study, students who had been using computers for less than one year (10% of the total sample) scored well below the OECD average. By contrast, students who had been using computers for more than five years (37% of the total sample) scored well above the OECD average.
Via the Economist. My view on this, fwiw, is that we need to get the curriculum right first, then apply technology where it makes sense.
Seat 1 Madison School Board Candidate Maya Cole:
This election is about change. I want to see a Board that embraces change as a way to focus our limited resources on quality education for all kids.
I, for one, would like to see our Board work out of the box and get to a point where they are governing instead of bounding from issue to issue. We have an annual budget cycle. We need to look at a budget cycle of three to five years. The budget comes up every year and every year we talk about cuts to strings, cuts to janitorial services, cuts to art and physical education.
Let’s revisit a commentary by Peter Hutchinson, president of the Public Strategies Group Inc. of St. Paul, Minnesota in Education Week in 1997.
I’m actively supporting Maya Cole’s Candidacy.
Jeffrey Selingo, via reader Wade Waege:
THE subjects were typical for a seventh-grade classroom: a summary of a mealworm’s metamorphosis, strategies on improving memory and making studying easier and a story about a classroom candy thief.
But the discussions last fall at Longfellow Middle School in La Crosse, Wis., were not taking place only for their classroom to hear. They were recorded as part of a series of podcasts the students produced and syndicated over Apple’s iTunes music store.
“Their audience has moved to the entire world,” said Jeanne Halderson, one of two seventh-grade teachers at Longfellow who supervise the podcasts. “The students find that exciting. It’s a lot more motivating to write something that the whole world can hear, rather than just something for a teacher to put a grade on.”
Podcasting – posting an audio recording online that can be heard through a computer or downloaded to a mobile device like an iPod – is following blogs and online classes as yet another interactive technology catching on as a teaching tool. Currently, iTunes lists more than 400 podcasts from kindergarten through 12th-grade classes, while Yahoo has nearly 900 education-related podcasts. Some are produced by teachers wanting to reach other educators with teaching tips, while many are created by students, like the La Crosse seventh graders with their podcast, at lacrosseschools.com/longfellow/sc/ck/index.htm.
Wade mentioned that Apple is holding a free seminar on February 14 in Brookfield, 2006 on Education and Podcasting.
WisPolitics.com is hosting a lunch for Republican Gubernatorial candidates Mark Green and Scott Walker who are facing off to run against incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle this fall.
Cost is $15 for Madison Club members and $19 for non-members. Call Loretta to RSVP at the Madison Club, 608-255-4861.
This is perhaps one of the best local opportunities to question the candidates regarding their views of K-12 public financing, the achievement gap, the QEO and our state’s economy which supports our education system. Governor Doyle created a school finance task force several years ago, but did not implement any changes to the current regime.
Since the program’s inception in 1961, UW-Madison has produced thousands of volunteers. And today, for the 20th consecutive year, UW-Madison takes the top spot, with 104 volunteers currently serving in the field.
UW-Madison also ranks as the institution with the second highest number of volunteers with advanced degrees, with 18 alumni. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor earned the number spot in this category, with 22 volunteers.
The UW’s new website has an RSS feed.
Alan Borsuk on Phil McDade’s report for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute: [250K pdf]
“The growing performance gap is largely influenced by socioeconomic factors beyond the influence of schools,” McDade said. “Property wealth, poverty and race were found to affect student performance.”
The per-student spending difference was much smaller than the difference in test scores and actually was smaller in 2003-’04 than it was seven years earlier, leading McDade to conclude that increased spending would not be a key to closing the gap.
Even though the roots of the gap are in matters such as poverty, McDade suggested that policy makers consider steps to increase academic performance of high school students, including stronger graduation requirements, tougher admissions standards to University of Wisconsin campuses and increased emphasis on sending more high school graduates to college.
According to the report, Madison High Schools (along with Verona, Middleton-Cross Plains, Wisconsin Heights, Monticello, Monona Grove and Waunakee) were in the top 10% based on 1996-1997 WKCE results in. However, they (Madison) were no longer present in the top 10% based on 2003/2004 results (Deerfield, Dodgeville, Middleton-Cross Plains, McFarland, Waunakee and Verona were in the top 10% based on the 2003/2004 data).
Reader Troy Dassler emailed this photo, taken a few hours ago, at Leopold’s Math Night event.
National Center for Education Statistics:
Status and Trends in the Education of Blacks draws on the many statistics published by NCES in a variety of reports and synthesizes these data in one compact volume. In addition to indicators drawn from existing government reports, some indicators were developed specifically for this report. The objective of this report is to make statistical information about the educational status of Blacks easily accessible to a variety of audiences.
NYC Department of Education:
Supported by a $15 million four-year grant from the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, the Partnership will address New York City’s need for highly qualified, well-trained teachers who will immediately be able to excel in the City’s public schools.
Through an unprecedented collaboration among K-12 educators and higher education faculty in education and the arts and sciences, the Partnership plans innovations in how pre-service teachers–students who are receiving formal education but have not yet become full-time teachers–are taught and by whom; how they first learn the craft of teaching, and how they continue to develop teaching skill throughout their careers. The Partnership will demonstrate how teacher education can be responsive to the City’s most pressing needs, how learning what to teach and learning how to teach can better come together, and how beginning teachers can be ready from the start to work effectively in urban classrooms.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush:
This year, Florida will introduce the largest reform package since the sweeping changes we made in 1999.
These reforms include differentiated pay and performance-based pay for teachers to attract and retain talented educators in critical subject areas, encourage them to teach in economically challenged schools and reward them for improving student performance.
Our proposed reforms will bring rigor and relevance to middle schools by requiring students in grades six through eight to earn 12 credits in math, science, language, arts and social studies for promotion to high school, and requiring those who cannot read at grade level to get reading instruction.
We’re also looking to revamp high schools to better prepare students for the future and for postsecondary education by creating career academies, where students can major or minor in math and science, or fine arts, or on career and vocational skills, depending on their goals and interests. The goal is for students to graduate knowing what they want to do with their lives, so they leave school armed with college credits toward their goal or, if they choose a vocational route, with certified skills for a specific industry.
Expanding on its efforts to increase the reading skills of elementary school students, the Schools of Hope project led by the United Way of Dane County also is focusing on helping middle school students develop the math skills needed to be successful in high school, college, employment and daily life.
Since the Madison School Board adopted the goal that all students would complete algebra by the end of ninth grade and geometry by the end of 10th grade, the option of taking less rigorous classes, such as general or consumer math, has disappeared.
All high school students are now required to take algebra and geometry – or two credits of integrated mathematics, combining algebra, statistics and probability, geometry and trigonometry – in order to graduate.
“These are really gate-keeping courses and skills,” said Mary Ramberg, the district’s director of teaching and learning. She added that without them, students “will have a lot of options closed.”
Rafael Gomez is organizing a Forum on Math Curriculum Wednesday evening, February 22, 2006 at McDaniels Auditorium. Look for more information soon.
A reader emailed this interesting MMSD budget item. The land and buildings around East Towne Mall are not in the MMSD, according to the district’s map.
Fitchburg contributed $10,030,120 or 5% [Fitchburg City Budget PDF] to the MMSD’s $200,363,255 total Tax Levy (total MMSD 2005/2006 budget is $321+M [includes funds redistributed via other means such as income, gas and other taxes/fees from state and federal organizations]); see the 2005-2006 Budget Amendments and Tax Levy Adoption [PDF].
On a September day 4 1/2 years ago, nearly 1,100 ninth-graders — a little giddy, a little scared — arrived at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys. They were fifth-generation Americans and new arrivals, straight arrows and gangbangers, scholars and class clowns.
On a radiant evening last June, 521 billowing figures in royal blue robes and yellow-tasseled mortarboards walked proudly across Birmingham’s football field, practically floating on a carpet of whoops and shouts and blaring air horns, to accept their diplomas.
It doesn’t take a valedictorian to do the math: Somewhere along the way, Birmingham High lost more than half of the students who should have graduated.
It is a crucial question, not just for Birmingham but for all American schools.
High school dropouts lead much harder lives, earn far less money and demand vastly more public assistance than their peers who graduate.
Lucy Mathiak posted MMSD dropout data, including those who showed high achievement during their elementary years.
Parent Group Presidents:
The district’s contract settlement with MTI for this year and next are 3.98% and 3.97% package increases. This is below the state average (about 4.5%), below the average for large districts and below the average for Dane County districts.
Jan 23rd Meetings:
5 p.m. Special Board Meeting:
The Board discussed the status of contracts for administrators but took no action. The administration has already proposed reducing 4 administrative positions next year.
6 p.m. Long Range Planning Committee Meeting (Bill Keys, chair):
The Committee received the reports and final recommendations from the East Area and the Memorial/West Areas Task Forces. The recommendations are as follows: East Area recommendations:
Do not close schools
2. Move Affiliated Alternatives to Marquette/O’Keeffe
3. Move MSCR to Emerson
4. Change the middle school feeder pattern to move either Emerson or Hawthorne students to O’Keeffe.
5. Move the undeveloped land near the intersection of Milwaukee St. and Fair Oaks to the East Area.
6. Possible boundary changes affecting the 4 schools on the north side (Gompers, Lakeview, Lindbergh and Mendota).
1. Build an addition onto Leopold and build a new school on the far west side.
Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Weekly Update
Madison Alder and MMSD employee Larry Palm attended a $100 budget session. Palm posts his thoughts here. Anita Martin, writing in the Madison Times also reviews the $100 budget.
The key architect behind that transformation was the tough young executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., John Matthews, who had come to Madison eight years earlier from Montana.
Thirty years later, Matthews is still tough and, more than ever, still casts a powerful shadow across the public education landscape of Madison as a tireless and relentless advocate for teachers. With Matthews at the helm, MTI has remained a dominant force in education and labor.
Former Madison Mayor (currently with Epic Systems – Verona) Paul Soglin weighs in as well.
Isthmus has posted week 1 of their Take-Home Test:
weekly question-and-answer quiz of the five candidates vying for two seats on the Madison Board of Education.
Every week, we’ll ask them a set of questions, one dealing with school board dynamics or the issues facing the 24,000-student-district, and the other more personal, aimed at revealing their experiences and attitudes.
“We have the critical mass to get serious about this sector of our economy,” Jim Leonhart, a biotech executive said Tuesday at a Wisconsin Innovation Network luncheon.
“We don’t have any option but to promote life science technologies, including stem cell research here in this state,” added Leonhart, who heads the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association.
Obiviously, our young people will need to tools (curriculum) to play in this era.
Madison Teachers Inc’s PAC, MTI Voters endorsed [pdf] Juan Jose Lopez (Seat 2 vs. Lucy Mathiak) and Arlene Silveira (Seat 1 vs Maya Cole or Michael Kelly) for Madison School Board. Learn more about the candidates here. Cole and Mathiak have posted their responses to MTI’s candidate questions.
These endorsements have historically included a significant amount of PAC campaign support. Prior election campaign finance reports are available on the City Clerk’s website (scroll to the bottom).
Wednesday, 1.25.2006; 7:30 – 9:00a.m. @ US Bank Plaza [map / directions] Lower Level Conference Room:
A discussion of issues facing our school district and community such as: high costs and low achievement; the budget; revenue caps; referenda; reading and math curricula; health care costs; dministrative costs; contract negotiations; boundary changes and school closings/new buildings; violence in schools; Fund 80; and more. Primary election for seat one is Feb. 21. Final elections in April. Who will earn your support?
The author Kurt Vonnegut has been looking to the future through his writing ever since the publication of his first novel, Player Piano. The story tells of a time when men are displaced by machines in the workplace. Society is reduced to a managing class and a consuming class. His books have often included an element of science fiction, including his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five.
Vonnegut’s short story, Harisson Bergeron is a must read:
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
||Madison United for Academic Excellence [www site] held a Madison School Board candidate forum Tuesday evening, January 17, 2006. Maya Cole, Michael Kelly, Lucy Mathiak and Arlene Silveira participated (election website). Candidate statements and questions appear below:
Continue reading MAUE School Board Candidate Forum
The report is available here: 4MB PDF. Long Range Planning Committee website.
Channel3000 has more.
There’s been no shortage of budget discussions on this site, particularly attempts to make the process and results transparent (this year, the MMSD is offering a $100 Budget process which focuses on reductions in a budget that grows annually). These questions are not unique to Madison. Reform advocate Winslow Wheeler publishes a useful attempt to help us all understand the actual size of the Defense Department budget. I like their objectives:
The project considers both the fiscal and strategic implications of defense programs and promotes informed oversight of Pentagon activities. The Straus Military Reform Project provides analysis and fosters debate on the uses, strategy, doctrine and forces of the U.S. military and its role in the wider national security structure. It provides a forum for discussion and encourages the free expression of all views.
Locally, an open, easily understood budget process is essential to taxpayer support for public education. Dictionary.com: obfuscation.
States now spend more on health care for the poor than they do on elementary and secondary education, a policy group said Thursday in its annual review of efforts to deal with the growing problem of the uninsured.
The states spent 21.9 percent of their revenue on Medicaid in fiscal year 2004. Elementary and second education consumed about 21.5 percent of states’ budgets. Higher education came in at a distant third, 10.5 percent.
Learn more at www.statecoverage.net. The report (pdf) is available here.
The previously discussed “Geezer Wars” are clearly underway. This is one of many reasons why I don’t believe we’ll see significant changes to school funding – beyond the current annual moderate increases. In Madison’s case, school spending has increased from $200M in 1994/1995 to $329M in 05/06.
Thirty-eight percent of Arkansas’ public school children are overweight or at risk of being overweight, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences said in a report issued Thursday.
The finding was the same as last year’s when UAMS also studied the effects of a 2003 state law that called for mandatory and voluntary changes in the schools to address health issues among Arkansas’ children.
Health officials said Thursday they hope to see obesity numbers decline as more schools offer healthier food choices.
Learn more about this issue here and by watching the recent Nutrition and Schools Forum.
MAFAAC’s recent meeting notes are now online. Topics include: working with the Madison School District, school climate and recent data on school arrests.
Madison District 15 Alder (and MMSD Affiliated Alternatives Employee) Larry Palm:
Tonight I attended the Public Forum at O’Keefe Middle School to discuss a potential move of the Affiliated Alternatives into the building shared with Marquette Elementary School.
I appreciated the high level of questions asked of Steve Hartley, the District’s Director of Alternative Programs. A large majority of questions revolved around the anticipated interactions between students at what would essentially be a K-12 campus (minus the students that attend certain grades at Lapham Elementary School– which is also another option on the East Side Task Force for either the Affiliated Alternatives or the administrative offices of MSCR).
Palm also notes that it is budget time again and suggests that the District “take this year off from a referendum”.
Anne K. Walters writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Public colleges in states that spend a lot of money on higher education aren’t necessarily better than colleges in states that provide them with meager support, according to a report that ranks states based on an analysis of their higher-education budgets and the performance of their colleges. The report, which was prepared by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, attempts to answer the age-old question in debates over state financing of higher education: Does more money equal better quality? The report, A New Look at the Institutional Component of Higher Education Finance: A Guide for Evaluating Performance Relative to Financial Resources [by Patrick J. Kelly & Dennis P. Jones] compares state funds for higher education in each state with colleges’ performance in a variety of areas, including graduation and participation rates. The report concludes that education can succeed even when state support falls.
Wisconsin ranks #4 in “Performance relative to funding” for public research institutions.
A number of local organizations use Yahoo Groups for their inter-group communications. James McMurry notes that Yahoo is now tracking your usage per MACHINE via web beacons:
The following message was sent to me by the moderator of another group that I’m in. Everyone needs to be aware of it as Yahoo is tracking people now, even when they are not on the Yahoo site.
If you belong to ANY Yahoo Groups – be aware that Yahoo is now using “Web Beacons” to track every Yahoo Group user. It’s similar to cookies, but allows Yahoo to record every website and every group you visit, even when you’re not connected to Yahoo.
Look at their updated privacy statement at: http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy. About half-way down the page, in the section on cookies, you will see a link that says WEB BEACONS.
Ray Everett-Church posts a counterpoint to this matter.
In my view a blog is a far more effective, and safe tool to use for group activities. We’re happy to help set one up for you. Just email zellmer at mailbag_dot_com Safe computing – think, be aware and practice it 🙂 The EFF has more on privacy and other electronic rights topics.
UPDATE: Another approach via Apple’s iTunes: ask permission.
Doing some traveling and want to speak the local language? Then you need Rambler – language phrase books designed for the iPod and made for the real world. Rambler is here to help make travel everything you want it to be. With over 900 words and phrases per language at your fingertips, mixing with the locals will be something you can look forward to.
Looks interesting, though I’ve not given it a try just yet.
Reader Jonathan Gramling emails in response to this article:
In reference to Ed Blume’s and Barb Schrank’s comments about the Juan José López fundraising letter, if the shoe fits, wear it. The difference between being critical and being negative is just partisan semanntics like the difference between insurgent and freedom fighter. It’s not the high road. It just reflects your partisan leanings and who you support in an election. So don’t be so condescending!
The irony is that public educators in Milwaukee believe choice has helped improve all the city’s schools. “No longer is MPS a monopoly,” says Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent William Andrekopoulos. “That competitive nature has raised the bar for educators in Milwaukee to provide a good product or they know that parents will walk.” The city’s public schools have made dramatic changes that educators elsewhere can only dream of. Public schools now share many buildings with their private counterparts, which helps alleviate the shortage of classrooms. Teachers, once assigned strictly by seniority, are now often hired by school selection committees. And 95% of district operating funds now go directly to schools, instead of being parceled out by a central office. That puts power in the hands of teachers who work directly with students.
Milwaukee schools are still struggling, but progress is obvious. Students have improved their performance on 13 out of 15 standardized tests. The annual dropout rate has fallen to 10% from 16% since the choice program started. Far from draining resources from public schools, spending has gone up in real terms by 27% since choice began as taxpayers and legislators encouraged by better results pony up more money.
Rich Eggleston says that TABOR would subvert Democracy:
In Wisconsin, the ‘Taxpayers Bill of Rights’ is being billed as a tool of democracy, but it’s actually a tool to subvert the representative democracy that to reasonable people has worked pretty well. When Milwaukee-area resident Orville Seymeyer e-mailed me and suggested I “get on the TABOR bandwagon,” this is what I told him:
And while many people say, “We need to spend more money on our schools,” there actually isn’t a link between spending and student achievement.
Jay Greene, author of “Education Myths,” points out that “If money were the solution, the problem would already be solved … We’ve doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, over the last 30 years, and yet schools aren’t better.”
He’s absolutely right. National graduation rates and achievement scores are flat, while spending on education has increased more than 100 percent since 1971. More money hasn’t helped American kids.
Ben Chavis is a former public school principal who now runs an alternative charter school in Oakland, Calif., that spends thousands of dollars less per student than the surrounding public schools. He laughs at the public schools’ complaints about money.
I’m impressed ABC devoted so much effort to education. The article includes full text and video.
Stossel also touches on Kansas City’s effort to turn around (1980’s and 1990’s) by spending more per student than any other district in the country. Madison School District Superintendent Art Rainwater implemented the largest court-ordered desegregation settlement in the nation’s history in Kansas City, Mo
Kurt Gutknecht, writing in the Fitchburg Star:
Residents of Swan Creek have launched a spirited campaign against plans to bus students from the area to Midvale/Lincoln elementary schools.
A few days after Christmas, 185 households signed a letter [500K PDF] opposing the plan, which a task force had proposed to address overcrowding at several schools in the western part of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Students from Swan Creek now attend Leopold Elementary School.
The letter was presented at the Jan. 5 meeting of the task force. Another task force is preparing plans for the east side of the district where under enrollment is a greater concern.
According to the letter, said the plan being considered meant the “subdivision is used selfishly by the Madison school district” to “plug holes in a plan that has very little merit” and contradicts an agreement the district made when it exchanged land with the Oregon School District. During the negotiations prior to the land swap, the Madison district said children from Swan Creek would attend Leopold.
The letter cited behavioral and safety issues associated with long bus rides, the negative effects on parent involvement and neighborhood cohesion, and criticized the attempt to use children from the subdivision to achieve balanced income at the schools.
Prasanna Raman, a member of the task force who presented the letter, said busing students from Swan Creek could be a case of reverse discrimination.
UPDATE: Midvale parent Jerry Eykholt sent this letter [pdf] to the Task Force and Swan Creek residents.
Continue reading Swan Creek Residents Organize to Stay at Leopold
Marcia and Gray at MMSD TV have been rather busy lately, posting interviews and a BOE meeting online and distributing some of them via podcasts and vidcasts. Links and feeds are available here. I hope we see all BOE meetings available in this manner soon. Great job.
Active Citizens for Education’s Don Severson appeared on Vicki McKenna’s radio show recently. [10mb mp3 – about 30 minutes]
Join West Madison and Middleton Neighbors: Make a Difference in Our Community
Sunday, January 22, 2006, 1:30–3:30 p.m.
Middleton Public Library, 7426 Hubbard Avenue [map]
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Are you concerned about:
- Reductions in public support for education, health care, housing and food assistance?
- The growing disparity between the rich and the poor?
- The long term impact of these trends on children and the future of our society?
- The need for positive new approaches to address our community’s needs?
- Do you feel that you don’t have the power to change things?
Continue reading Via Email: What’s at Stake – Investing in Our Children and Our Future
Summary of a West Attendance Area Task Force Discussion at the Thoreau PTO:
MMSD Chief of Staff Mary Gulbrandsen participated in a well attended Thoreau PTO meeting recently to discuss the options that the West Attendance Area Task force is currently evaluating. I thought the conversation was quite interesting and have summarized several of the points discussed below:
- The May, 2005 referenda failed due to poor communication. What will the District due to improve that? There was some additional discussion on this topic regarding whether a referendum could pass.
- Why don’t the developers (and therefore the homeowners in these new subdivisions) pay for the costs of a new school? Discussion followed that included much larger building permit fees, a referenda question that asked whether the homeowners in these emerging subdivisions should pay for a facility and changes in the way that we fund public education. Some also suggested that people purchased homes in these areas knowing that there was not a school nearby and therefore should not be surprised that a bus ride is required. Mary mentioned her experiences growing up an a farm where a 45 minute bus ride was no big deal. Obviously, there are different perspectives on this – I rode the bus daily for several years.
- Can’t the District sell some of their buildings (excess schools, Hoyt, Doyle – next to the Kohl Center) to pay for this? That would be a strong statement that might support the passage of a referendum.
Continue reading West Attendance Area Task Force Discussion at a PTO Meeting
Independent Commission on Education:
The mission of the ICE is to provide a wholly independent, fresh and informed perspective on the District’s finances and operations to ensure the right resources are available and aligned to help the District achieve its academic plan.
Commission Report [pdf] | Deloitte Report [pdf]
Memorial High School sophomore Christopher Tate didn’t want to study the “regular” foreign languages such as Spanish or French.
“I wanted to take something new and different,” said Christopher, 15. So, like a growing number of people nationwide, he is learning Mandarin Chinese instead.
“China is poised to become the world’s other superpower,” said Natasha Pierce, who is teaching Mandarin to about 70 students at Memorial, the only Madison school where the language is offered. “We need to be culturally and linguistically competent in Chinese.”
Beginning in 2007, an Advanced Placement exam in Mandarin will be offered, providing students the added incentive of receiving college credit if they pass the test, she said.
This “choice” or elective approach is an interesting contrast to the English elective reductions underway at West.
High-tech gadgets have become some of the biggest nuisances at schools in recent years, especially right after winter break. But slowly, surely, instead of shunning such devices, some teachers are finding ways to use them in the classroom.
They’re part of a small but growing movement where educators strive to use the language and media of today’s tech- and Web-savvy kids to teach.
Here are three of the most popular new technologies teachers are testing in their classrooms.
Some useful ideas in this story, including teacher training. Stanford is podcasting, among othes.
Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater:
School districts across Wisconsin are preparing to begin the yearly ritual of reducing services to their students. Under the current revenue caps there really is no choice for most of us. For most districts the easy choices were made long ago. After twelve years of revenue caps there are only choices left that harm our children.
At the same time that educational research is showing us more effective ways to ensure that all children learn, inadequate school finance systems are ensuring that we do not have the resources to implement what we know.
Or, the choice this year for some may be the reduction of the advanced courses (emphasis added) that allow our state’s students to be competitive with students globally, thus limiting the availability of the highly educated work force that our state needs to be competitive.
There are many budget posts on this site, including those that discuss health care costs, reading recovery, business services, state funding, local property taxes and a different point of view on school funding. Personally, for many reasons, I don’t see the current situation, modest annual budget growth, changing much. The more we yearn for additional state and federal dollars, the more we become dependent upon the political spaghetti associated with that type of funding. Having said all that, I do agree that the current model is a mess. I just don’t see it getting any better. We simply need to spend our annual $329M in the most effective, productive way possible.
I’m glad that Art is putting his words on the web! I look forward to more such publications.
These words were written by a middle school special education assistant (SEA) who prefers to remain anonymous:
As adults, we head off to work everyday expecting each day to be similar to the others. Nothing out of the ordinary, just, pretty much, the same old, same old. But one day a difference occurs. A pounding against a wall starts somewhere down the hallway. It gets louder and more frequent. Then, the yelling begins. At first, one considers the possibilities for such commotion and none of them are pleasant. A fight amongst workers? A disgruntled customer or client? The yelling turns to screaming and it unnerves everyone around. The explanation is that there is a problem and to keep on working, to simply ignore the disruption. It eventually stops. The next day and after that, several days a week the same incident happens. The length of the disturbance can last from 10 to 45 minutes. It is obvious that whoever is in this situation is in severe emotional distress. Still, all those working on that same floor are told to ignore it, even if it is making one physically uncomfortable to listen to these episodes.
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