Jason Shepherd writing in the December 29, 2005 Isthmus:
- Superintendent Art Rainwater: says the “most frustrating” part of his job is knowing there are ways to boost achievement with more resources, but not being able to allocate them. Instead, the district must each year try to find ways to minimize the hurt.
- Board member Lawrie Kobza wants the board to review its strategic plan to ensure all students are being challenged with a rigorous curriculum.
- Carol Carstensen, the current Board President says the “heterogenous” groupings, central to the West controversy (English 10, 1 curriculum for all), will be among the most important curriculum issues for 2006.
- Ruth Robarts is closely watching an upcoming review of the district’s health insurance plans and pushing to ensure that performance goals for Rainwater include targeted gains for student achievement.
- Johnny Winston says he’ll continue to seek additional revenue streams, including selling district land.
Read the full article here.
With respect to funding and new programs, the district spends a great deal on the controversial Reading Recovery program. The district also turned down millions in federal funds last year for the Reading First Program. Perhaps there are some opportunities to think differently with respect to curriculum and dollars in the district’s $329M+ budget, which increases annually.
Teacher Barb Williams offers her perspective on the expensive Reading Recovery program and the district’s language curriculum.
Board Candidate Maya Cole offers her thoughts on Transparency and the Budget
Now they need to offer specific ideas for helping the district meet its many difficult challenges, such as:
The projected $6 million to $8 million gap in the 2006-2007 budget. How will the candidates keep educa tion levels high and costs low? What will be their priorities?
Shifting demographics. Many schools on the West and South sides, and some on the East Side, are crowded. Do the candidates agree with a task force’s preliminary options, including expanding Leopold and Chavez elementary schools and constructing a school on the far West Side?
More on the candidates here.
I wonder where these priorities came from?
The WSJ’s editorial is rather light on what I see as the most important issue for the Board: curriculum. The District’s curriculum strategy should drive all decisions, including budget, staffing, schedule, training and technology. It appears that I am not alone in this view as this site’s curriculum links are among the 10 most popular articles for 2005.
Two timely and useful essays:
- Paul Graham: Good and Bad Procrastination:
The most dangerous form of procrastination is unacknowledged type-B procrastination, because it doesn’t feel like procrastination. You’re “getting things done.” Just the wrong things.
Any advice about procrastination that concentrates on crossing things off your to-do list is not only incomplete, but positively misleading, if it doesn’t consider the possibility that the to-do list is itself a form of type-B procrastination. In fact, possibility is too weak a word. Nearly everyone’s is. Unless you’re working on the biggest things you could be working on, you’re type-B procrastinating, no matter how much you’re getting done.
- Richard Hamming: You and Your Research:
- What are the most important problems in your field?
- Are you working on one of them?
- Why not?
The Online NewsHour:
The second report in a series by education correspondent John Merrow tracks one principal’s efforts to reform a troubled inner-city school in Richmond, Virginia on the state’s warning list.
More NewsHour education stories.
Evan George writing in LA Alternative:
But on November 15th, Jefferson saw a new kind of disruption: a march organized by the students and parents of Small Schools Alliance, to protest what they see as indifference to the inadequate learning environment at Jefferson. More than 500 marchers converged on LAUSD headquarters with a petition of 10,000 signatures calling for the district to relinquish control of Jefferson High School and transform it into six independent charter schools to be operated by Green Dot Public Schools, a local, non-profit charter school developer, created by former Democratic party activist—and Rock the Vote founder—Steve Barr.
Green Dot, which currently operates five high schools in the Los Angeles area, has vied for control of Jefferson High School for nearly a year and a half. Charter school critics—and there are many—have long decried Romer’s own association with the Charter School Movement. As reported in this paper back in February of 2003, Romer then supported a contentious bill aimed at resurrecting the controversial Belmont Learning Center as a risky charter school program.
“I think the Left, which I’m a member of, has to pull our heads out of our xxxxx and come up with some solutions, and stop defending failed systems. Especially un-democratic, centralized bureaucracies that are not effective,” says Barr in an interview with L.A. Alternative. “We have no answers for the education issue. Our answer is to give more money to a failed centralized system?”
Here is an eduprediction: One way or another, things are going to change at Jefferson, Barr has let the genie out of the bottle and it’s not going back in. And that is his endgame anyway, improving things. Those parents want fresh ground now that they know it’s out there.
Barr has this old fashioned notion that the public schools are supposed to be a way up the economic ladder a few rungs — for the kids not the adults.
Eduwonk posts a variety of responses to Susan Goodkin’s OP-ED on gifted children and No Child Left Behind:
Not surprisingly, with the entire curriculum geared to ensuring that every last child reaches grade-level proficiency, there is precious little attention paid to the many children who master the standards early in the year and are ready to move on to more challenging work. What are these children supposed to do while their teachers struggle to help the lowest-performing students? Rather than acknowledging the need to provide a more advanced curriculum for high-ability children, some schools mask the problem by dishonestly grading students as below proficiency until the final report card, regardless of their actual performance.
As a matter of pure politics, how can you expect to retain public support for a school reform regime that short-changes high-achieving students, whose parents, whether rich or poor, are likely to be more politically engaged and influential than the parents of low-performing students?
Eduwonk rounds up a number of interesting comments on Milwaukee’s voucher program, including this:
Update: Concerning public accountability, one reader writes:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m not defending these voucher schools, or any schools that hide from legitimate public oversight. But I’ve spent years now working on projects that required interviews with school personnel, site visits, documentation from the central office, etc., etc. And if you think that refusing to submit to outside evaluation is specifically or even primarily a problem of private/voucher schools, you’re nuts. There’s no stonewaller like the public school stonewaller. Administrative assistants are the worst. And don’t give me all that FERPA xxxx, either; they just don’t want people snooping around.
That’s a fair enough point, it’s not just a voucher school problem (though not every public school stonewalls either).
Two slots on the Madison School Board will be up for grabs in spring elections in which one incumbent will face a challenger while other candidates vie for an open seat.
Board member Juan Jose Lopez announced Tuesday that he will seek a fifth three-year term. He is facing a challenge by Lucy Mathiak, a parent and organizer of the advocacy group East High United.
Parents Arlene Silvera and Maya Cole, both active PTO members at different West Side schools, have declared their candidacy for the seat being vacated by Bill Keys.
Websites: Maya Cole | Juan Jose Lopez | Lucy Mathiak | Arlene Silveira (Arlene told me her site would be up soon).
Tim Olsen’s email to Madison Board of Education Member Ruth Robarts:
And below are the specifics you requested re calculating an estimated value for the Doyle site. You are welcome to share this email with anyone interested. And thanks for the opportunity to speak to the Board, for your comments, and for including Lucy Mathiak’s blog-article. Someone told me about her article and I’m happy to receive a copy.
Continue reading Tim Olsen on Generating Cash from the Doyle Administration Land/Building
With this spring’s elections to the Madison School Board, the balance of power on the seven-member body hinges on the outcome of what surely will be two hotly competitive races.
Much more on the candidates and the election here.
We live in a world instantly connected via satellites, computers, and other electronic technology. Our children embrace the technology that makes those connections possible, but need the educational background through cultural and linguistic experiences that will prepare them for the global world of today and their international future.
Burmaster raises some useful points. Clearly, it is no longer sufficient to compare Madison’s curriculum and achievement with Racine, Green Bay or Kenosha. Rather, the question should include Bangalore, Helsinki, Shanghai, Taipei and Osaka, among others.
Jacob E. Adams, Jr. & Michael A. Copland [PDF]:
This report asks two fundamental questions: do the licenses that states require of school principals encompass the knowledge and skills those principals need to promote student learning? If not, what kind of policy framework would help decisionmakers, educators, and others rethink principal licenses and the school leadership they support? To find the answers, we examined licensure content for principals in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Based on that in-depth investigation, we reached the following conclusions.
Licenses don’t reflect a learning focus. No state has crafted licensing policies that reflect a coherent learning-focused school leadership agenda. On the contrary, licenses run between two extremes: a reliance on individual characteristics, such as background checks or academic degrees, that signal nothing about the purposes or practice of the principalship, and lists of knowledge and skill requirements whose scope and depth don’t clearly sum to a meaningful definition of the job. Neither approach represents a set of qualifications on which the public may rely or the profession may depend. In an era of standards and accountability, this omission stands out.
Licensing requirements are unbalanced across states and misaligned with today’s ambitions for school leaders.
You can tell something’s different at East High School this year without even going inside.
Gone is the “smoking wall,” where for generations, students gathered to hang out and smoke cigarettes before and during the school day.
“It was intimidating,” said parent Lucy Mathiak, who admits she was uncomfortable walking past the large group of students who would gather along the wall on Fourth Street. “It smelled terrible and it was really annoying,” added Mathiak’s son Andrew Stabler, 16, a junior at East.
It was also one of the first things to change this fall after Alan Harris stepped in as the school’s new principal.
Background on East High’s recent principal position turnover. More on Allen Harris, including his appearance at the recent Gangs and School Violence Forum
Thoreau Art Teacher Andy Mayhall:
Thoreau Elementary School was given a donation by a retired art teacher to have an artist-in-residency. We had artists submit proposals to the school, which were reviewed by the Cultural Arts Committee. Local artist, Susan Tierney, was selected to work with me, and Thoreau students to create self-portrait paintings. Susan worked with students in the classroom on and off for about a month. The students made sketches and then final drawings onto hardboard. Students could create realistic or non-realistic, some were cartoon like, self-portraits. They used colored pencil and acrylic paint to color the portraits. The finished portraits were put together to form 22 murals. The murals are on display in the hallway between the LMC (library) and classrooms on the upper floor. These murals will be a permanent display at Thoreau.
Check out the murals via these photos.
The Education Trust:
The Education Trust’s two newest reports highlight the practices of high schools that are getting the job done and improving student achievement, especially for the poor and minority children traditionally underserved by the American high school.
(Press Release) (Gaining Traction; Gaining Ground) (The Power to Change)
This April, 2006 event would be a fabulous class trip for any K-12 student. McCormick Place.
There’s a one day primer on biotechnology (Saturday) that looks useful.
Ironically, during the mid-1990’s, the Madison School District declined an offer of free land in Fitchburg for a school and a partnership with Promega.
Robin J. Lake and Paul T. Hill, Editors:
The report is in two parts. In the first, the National Charter School Research Project (NCSRP) provides new data that inform questions such as: Is the charter school movement growing or slowing down? Do charter schools serve more or fewer disadvantaged children than regular public schools? Are charter schools innovative? It also identifies several important questions on which state and local record keeping needs to be improved.
The second part of this report takes up issues and controversies that have characterized the discussion of charter schools in the past year. NCSRP’s goal is to provide essays that examine these controversies in a broad context and assemble evidence in as balanced and informative way as possible. The essays are unlikely to settle any of these issues definitively, but they may establish a more constructive basis for continued discussion.
Parent Group Presidents:
The Qualified Economic Offer (Q.E.O.) law provides that a district which offers its teachers a combined salary and benefit package of at least 3.8% can avoid going to binding arbitration. The practical impact is that a district must offer at least 3.8%. Over the 12 years of revenue caps, the Madison district has settled at about 4.2% with MTI that means the total increase of salary and benefits (including health insurance) has been about 4.2%. This year the settlement was 3.98%.
Continue reading Weekly Email From Board President Carol Carstensen
Zinie Chen Sampson:
Joyce Burges, of the Baton Rouge, La., area, says she and other black home schoolers have been likened to traitors by people who think they’ve turned their backs on the struggle to gain equal access to public education. But she feels that when schools don’t teach children to read, or fail to provide a safe place to learn, children should come first.
“You do what you have to do that your children get an excellent education,” she said. “Don’t leave it up to the system.”
(Michael) Apple, the Wisconsin professor, said improving public education for the greatest number of students depends on mass mobilization by concerned parents, but he raises a cautionary note.
A homeschooling mother of one blog National Black Home Educators Resource Association.
Milt Freudenheim and Mary Williams Walsh:
The pressure is greatest in places like Detroit, Flint and Lansing, where school systems offered especially rich benefits during the heyday of the auto plants, aiming to keep teachers from going to work in them. Away from those cities, retiree costs may be easier to manage. In the city of Cadillac, 100 miles north of Grand Rapids, government officials said they felt no urgent need to cut benefits because they promised very little to begin with. Instead, Cadillac has started putting money aside to take care of future retirement benefits for its 85 employees, said Dale M. Walker, the city finance director.
Ohio is one of a few states to set aside significant amounts. Its public employee retirement system has been building a health care trust fund for years, so it has money today to cover at least part of its promises. With active workers contributing 4 percent of their salary, the trust fund has $12 billion. Investment income from the fund pays most current retiree health costs, said Scott Streator, health care director of the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System. “It doesn’t mean we can just rest,” he said. “It is our belief that almost every state across the country is underfunded.” He said his system plans to begin increasing the employee contributions next year.
The Madison School District’s Health insurance costs have been getting some attention recently:
- WPS Insurance proves Costly – Jason Shepherd
- “Important Facts, Text and Resources in Consideration of Issues Relevant to Reducing Health Care Costs in the Madison Metropolitan School District In Order to Save Direct Instruction and Other Staffing and Programs for the 2005-06 School Year” – Parent KJ Jakobson
- MMSD/MTI Joint Insurance Committee is holding the first in a series of meetings to discuss healthcare costs at MTI’s office on January 11, 2006 @ 1:00p.m. via the BOE Calendar
- Many more health care related blog posts are available here
Cartons of whole milk would be considered junk food, but baked Cheetos would not, under new rules proposed Friday by Illinois education officials
Read the proposed rules: [pdf]
During its 10 years, the project has been making a difference to local children, WISC-TV reported.
Since then, the achievement gap has narrowed between students of color and white students who complete algebra by the 10th grade.
At Friday’s Schools of Hope Annual Meeting, the group declared their first goal of closing the gap in third grade reading scores closed. This is something that hasn’t been achieved anywhere else in the country.
Ruth Robarts posts a different perspective and notes that while there has been real progress, the gap has not in fact been closed: “For example, African American third graders scoring proficient or advance has risen from 41% in 1998 to 69% in 2004. Nonetheless, there are significant differences between the percentages of students in subgroups who score proficient or advanced and those who score basic or minimal.” Joanne Jacobs links to two Education Trust reports that describe a “culture of excellence” for high school curriculum.
UPDATE: Sandy Cullen has more on Schools of Hope
Perhaps we’ll see something like this for local officials, including our own Board of Education. Very impressive use of RSS.
Ideally, the district would publish a page with votes along with items that Board members requested be placed on an agenda. This information would provide the public with easily accessible voter data and illuminate issues that were prevented from being discussed by the then current President. What is RSS?
Kurt Gutknect writing in the Fitchburg Star:
Satellite View of Fitchurg | Madison School District Map | Oregon School District Map | Verona School District Map
You don’t have to travel very far to hear snide remarks about Fitchburg. It’s a sprawling suburb. Unchecked growth. An enclave for white folks and their McMansions.
Of course, there’s an element of truth in all of these barbs, and I frequently indulge my doubts that this appendage of Madison is a manifestation of our most noble civilizing instincts.
But I confess to getting rather fond of Fitchburg, and occasionally entertain notions that its sprawling, disjointed character is normal. The city might be evolving toward something that resembles, well, a city.
My main reservations about Fitchburg have more to do with doubts that 21st century American culture is really creating a better world for the next generation. For better or worse, Fitchburg is a product of the times. It’s unrealistic to expect us to evolve into an enclave against virulent consumerism or to stanch the flow of SUVs.
All things considered, Fitchburg does about as well as can be expected, and maybe better than many other burbs.
Continue reading Time for Our Own District (Fitchburg)
Some interesting tools online at the OED:
via reader Rebecca Cole: Michael Janofsky:
The report, released Wednesday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, suggests that the focus on reading and math as required subjects for testing under the federal law, No Child Left Behind, has turned attention away from science, contributing to a failure of American children to stay competitive in science with their counterparts abroad.
The report also appears to support concerns raised by a growing number of university officials and corporate executives, who say that the failure to produce students well-prepared in science is undermining the country’s production of scientists and engineers and putting the nation’s economic future in jeopardy.
The full report is available here.
Wisconsin’s results are available in a one page PDF file:
The Wisconsin Model Academic Standards announce confidently that they “set clear and specific goals for teaching and learning.” That was not the judgment of our review. They are, in fact, generally vague and nonspecific, very heavy in process, and so light in science discipline content as to render them nearly useless at least as a response to problems for which state learning standards are supposed to be a remedy.
Continue reading Report Says States Aim Low in Science (Wisconsin’s Grade = “F”)
Word travels quickly in 2005: Northwestern Adjunct Professor James Carlini:
This question becomes very critical given the fact that jobs are being outsourced to other countries by the thousands and many leaders of public schools have lost touch with what’s important. Educators better get with the program and start teaching real skills along with the ability to learn and compete.
Where is the quality control in public schools? Political correctness and slanted ideology should be replaced with political accuracy and strong, fundamental and objective learning skills. Schools should also concentrate on developing skill sets to compete globally. A focus on creativity, flexibility and adaptability – rather than rote, repetition and routine – should be the critical objective of today’s school goals for educating tomorrow’s work force
More about Carlini. There are, of course, no shortage of opinions on this matter.
American Institutes for Research:
Of the 22 reform models examined, Direct Instruction (Full Immersion Model), based in Eugene, Ore., and Success for All, located in Baltimore, Md., received a “moderately strong” rating in “Category 1: Evidence of Positive Effects on Student Achievement.”
Five models met the standards for the “moderate” rating in Category 1: Accelerated Schools PLUS, in Storrs, Conn.; America’s Choice School Design, based in Washington, D.C.; Core Knowledge, located in Charlottesville, Va.; School Renaissance in Madison, Wis.; and the School Development Project, based in New Haven, Conn. Models receiving a “moderate” rating may still show notable evidence of positive outcomes, but this evidence is not as strong as those models receiving a “moderately strong” or “very strong” rating.
The Complete report is available here [Elementary | Middle and High School] Via Joanne.
American Institutes for Research:
U.S. students consistently performed below average, ranking 8th or 9th out of twelve at all three grade levels. These findings suggest that U.S. reform proposals to strengthen mathematics instruction in the upper grades should be expanded to include improving U.S. mathematics instruction beginning in the primary grades.
“The conventional wisdom is that U.S. students perform above average in grades 4 and 8, and then decline sharply in high school,” says Steven Leinwand, principal research analyst at AIR and one of the report’s authors. “But this study proves the conventional wisdom is dead wrong.”
Previous studies compared U.S. performance with substantially more countries, whose characteristics vary widely. A total of 24 countries participated in TIMSS-grade 4, 45 countries in TIMSS-grade 8, and 40 countries in PISA.
Seat 1 Madison Board of Education Candidates:
Continue reading Tuesday Links
Steve Rosenblum, writing to Carol Carstensen:
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005 15:07:45 -0600
To: Carol Carstensen ,”Laurie A. Frost” From: Steven Rosenblum Subject: Re: West English
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for the response. I am somewhat confused however regarding your statement concerning the Board’s role. Maybe you could define what is included under ‘set policy’ and what is excluded. I am aware of the situations you reference regarding the BOE and what some may consider poor decisions on subject matter and censorship. I also believe the public was able to vote boards out when the decisions made do not reflect community opinion. I thought our BOE was responsible to control the Administration’s decisions regarding just these type of issues.
With a child entering West next year, I am personally very concerned with what I perceive is a reduction in education quality at West. We see this in English, in the elimination of Advanced Placement Courses, through the homogenization of class make-up which ignores student achievement and motivation. In addition, I really do not feel we can allow much time to resolve these issues, especially when decisions can be made in closed door sessions and without supporting data.
Continue reading Steve Rosenblum on West’s Planned English 10: Same Curriculum for All
Letters to the NY Times Magazine regarding “The Prodigy Puzzle“:
It is easier to be a genius when you don’t have to pay the rent. We live in a world that values dependability over brilliance and where jobs that reward curiosity may not support a family. The time to explore and take bold risks is a luxury few of us, genius or not, can afford once we leave school. Measuring programs for gifted children by the success of their adult graduates overlooks the significant hurdles that lie just after graduation.
I have found that there is often an inverse relationship between what I perceive to be a genuinely innovative thinker in my third-grade classroom and the attitude of the parents. The most intellectually curious and imaginative problem solvers have parents who are supportive of rather than ambitious for their child. And each year I am struck by how some of the most perceptive children come from families whose parents have no time to advocate for them and no “gifted” agenda to pursue.
Barbara Yost Williams
The Madison School Board heard presentations this past Monday from The District’s HR Director, Bob Nadler and Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Roger Price. Both described the functions that their organizations provide to the District.
|Bob Nadler’s Presentation: Video
||Roger Price’s Presentation: Video
The District’s Budget increases annually ($329M this year for 24,490 students). The arguments begin over how that increase is spent. Ideally, the District’s curriculum strategy should drive the budget. Second, perhaps it would be useful to apply the same % increase to all budgets, leading to a balanced budget, within the revenue caps. Savings can be directed so that the Board can apply their strategy to the budget by elminating, reducing or growing programs. In all cases, the children should come first. It is possible to operate this way, as Loehrke notes below.
Learn more about the budget, including extensive historical data.
Steve Loehrke, President of the Weywauga-Fremont School District speaks to budget, governance and leadership issues in these two articles:
Rafael Gomez and volunteers from this site organized a Schools and Nutrition Forum Wednesday evening, November 30, 2005.
Continue reading Nutrition and Schools Forum Audio, Video and Links
Lita Johnson quotes Leonard Pitts:
Consider the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal study released last month. It found that, despite some improvement, American kids remain academically underwhelming. Only 31 percent of fourth-graders, for instance, were rated ”proficient” or better in reading. Just 30 percent of eighth-graders managed to hit that mark in math.
In recent years, I’ve taught writing at an elite public high school and three universities. I’ve been appalled at how often I’ve encountered students who could not put a sentence together and had no conception of grammar and punctuation. They tell me I’m a tough grader, and the funny thing is, I think of myself as a soft touch. ”I’ve always gotten A’s before,” sniffed one girl to whom I thought I was being generous in awarding a C-plus.
It occurs to me that this is the fruit of our dumbing down education in the name of ”self-esteem.” This is what we get for making the work easier instead of demanding the students work harder — and the parents be more involved.
So this new white flight is less a surprise than a fresh disappointment. And I’ve got news for those white parents:
They should be running in the opposite direction.
Fifty years after Milton Friedman first proposed the idea of education vouchers, school choice proposals come in all shapes and sizes. We asked a dozen experts what reforms they think are most necessary and promising to improve American education. We also asked them to identify the biggest obstacles to positive change. Here are their answers. Comments should be sent to email@example.com.
Via Joanne Jacobs who has more on Math Curriculum in China.
I’ve attended a couple of the East / West Task Force Meetings (props to the many volunteers, administrators and board members who’ve spent countless hours on this) and believe that Wright Middle School’s facilities should be part of the discussion, given its proximity to Leopold Elementary (2.2 miles [map], while Thoreau is 2.8 miles away [map])
Carol Carstensen’s weekly message (posted below) mentions that Wright’s Charter is on the Board’s Agenda Monday Night. Perhaps this might be a useful time to consider this question? Carol’s message appears below:
Continue reading Wright Middle School Charter Renewal – Leopold?
Reader Helen Hartman emailed this article: Michael Winerip:
SARAH JACOBS’ son Jed, 9, has a learning disability. He’s easily distracted and, if asked to do too many things at once, panics. At his former school, a private academy that cost $20,000 a year, his mother says Jed got into trouble daily (“kicking and even some biting”) and stopped learning. “He was reading ‘Captain Underpants’ in kindergarten and he was in third grade and still reading ‘Captain Underpants,'” she says.
So in September she switched him to a nearby public school, P.S. 75 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Jed was a new boy. His fourth grade had two full-time teachers and the class was so well-organized, Jed moved smoothly from one task to the next. When Ms. Jacobs asked how he liked it, Jed said he thought his teachers must have a disability too, because they made it so easy to understand the work.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been talking tough in his bid to take control of the huge, but troubled Los Angeles Unified School District. Such a takeover could put Villaraigosa at odds with the teachers’ union, a group he once served as a labor organizer
More on similar efforts in New York and Chicago.
Wisconsin Public Radio:
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 6:00 AM
What our kids are eat at school can send the wrong message about health and nutrition. So says Joy Cardin’s guest, today after six. Guest: Marcy Braun (“brown”), nutritionist with the UW Health – Pediatric Fitness Clinic. She is a panelist at tonight’s Nutrition and Schools Forum in Madison. www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2005/11/11302005_nutrit.php
UPDATE: MP3 Audio of this broadcast
Wall Street Journal Review and Outlook:
The Texas Supreme Court did the expected last week and struck down the statewide property tax for funding public schools. But what was surprising and welcome was the Court’s unanimous ruling that the Texas school system, which spends nearly $10,000 per student, satisfies the funding “adequacy” requirements of the state constitution. Most remarkable of all was the court’s declaration that “more money does not guarantee better schools or more educated students.”
In one of the most notorious cases, in Kansas City, Missouri in the 1980s, a judge issued an edict requiring a $1 billion tax hike to help the failing inner-city schools. This raised expenditures to about $14,000 per student, or double the national average, but test scores continued to decline. Even the judge later admitted that he had blundered.
LA education writer Paul Ciotti wrote in 1998 about the Kansas City Experiment:
In fact, the supposedly straightforward correspondence between student achievement and money spent, which educators had been insisting on for decades, didn’t seem to exist in the KCMSD. At the peak of spending in 1991-92, Kansas City was shelling out over $11,700 per student per year.(123) For the 1996-97 school year, the district’s cost per student was $9,407, an amount larger, on a cost-of-living-adjusted basis, than any of the country’s 280 largest school districts spent.(124) Missouri’s average cost per pupil, in contrast, was about $5,132 (excluding transportation and construction), and the per pupil cost in the Kansas City parochial system was a mere $2,884.(125)
The lack of correspondence between achievement and money was hardly unique to Kansas City. Eric Hanushek, a University of Rochester economist who testified as a witness regarding the relationship between funding and achievement before Judge Clark in January 1997, looked at 400 separate studies of the effects of resources on student achievement. What he found was that a few studies showed that increased spending helped achievement; a few studies showed that increased spending hurt achievement; but most showed that funding increases had no effect one way or the other.(126)
Between 1965 and 1990, said Hanushek, real spending in this country per student in grades K-12 more than doubled (from $2,402 to $5,582 in 1992 dollars), but student achievement either didn’t change or actually fell. And that was true, Hanushek found, in spite of the fact that during the same period class size dropped from 24.1 students per teacher to 17.3, the number of teachers with master’s degrees doubled, and so did the average teacher’s number of years of experience.(127)
More on Ciotti
Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater “implemented the largest court-ordered desegregation settlement in the nation’s history in Kansas City, Mo” Google search | Clusty Search
New York Times Editorial:
A federal judge in Michigan took exactly the right action last week when he dismissed a transparent attempt by the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, to sabotage the No Child Left Behind education act. The ruling validates Congress’s right to require the states to administer tests and improve students’ performance in exchange for federal education aid. Unfortunately, it will not put an end to the ongoing campaign to undermine the law, which seeks to hold teachers and administrators more closely accountable for how their schools perform.
Conversations with current Board of Education members in mp3 format can be found here. Art Rainwater’s September and October messages are posted (in mp3 format) here. Both can be used with itunes automated podcast subscription tools.
Erin Weiss and Gina Hodgson (Thoreau PTO) engage in some impressive grassroots work:
November 28, 2005
Dear Thoreau Families, Staff, Teachers and Friends,
Now is the time for you to get involved in the MMSD redistricting process! This Thursday, December 1 at 6:30pm, a Public Forum will be held at Cherokee Middle School. This forum is being sponsored by the Board of Education in conjunction with the District’s Long Range Planning Committee and Redistricting Task Force. Please come to this forum to hear about the progress of the Redistricting Task Force, but more importantly, to share your opinions and ideas.
On the following pages is a brief description of the current Task Force ideas (as of November 28). Please bear with us if all the information presented below is not completely accurate. These ideas are changing rapidly and we are doing our best to summarize them for you with the information that is currently available. Please know that Al Parker, our Thoreau Task Force Representative, has been working hard for Thoreau school at Task Force meetings. He is a strong supporter of our school as it exists today.
Continue reading Thoreau Boundary Change Grassroots Work
But issues facing MPS, including budget constraints, school closings and a recent decision by an arbitrator on a teacher contract that was widely unpopular among teachers, have subjected Andrekopoulos to increased heat.
The issues have underscored the way the board is frequently divided into two factions, with five members consistently supporting Andrekopoulos and the other four ranging from mild support to general opposition.
On the recent high-profile votes to close Juneau High School, the board repeatedly split 5-4, including six votes of 5-4 in one meeting.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel argues that Andrekopoul should have more time:
The reasons for supporting Andrekopoulos are as clear now as they were in 2004. The superintendent may have the toughest job in Milwaukee. No one in the country, as far as we know, has been completely successful at turning around a big-city school district. But Andrekopoulos has a vision for reform and a plan to make that vision a reality. He was hired to carry out that vision – which includes a move toward smaller high schools and cutting the district’s central bureaucracy – and has had some success in moving it forward. But much more needs to be done.
At Seven Hills Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hartman finds a cafeteria renowned for its great-tasting, healthy school lunches.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine awarded the cafeteria for overhauling the way they prepare food. Translation: they tossed out the deep fryer.
One worker was asked how the foods are fried and replied, “We don’t fry. We bake.”
And you know what that means: the food has less fat, of course, and there’s less salt and sugar, and everything’s cooked from scratch using organic meats, vegetables and whole grains.
“Some of the things we have here, I can’t even pronounce,” says one kitchen worker.
Rafael Gomez and volunteers from www.schoolinfosystem.org are hosting a Nutrition and Schools Forum Wednesday night, from 7 to 8 in the McDaniels Auditorium. Participants, topics and directions are available here.
University of Wisconsin School of Education:
Sessions each Saturday are 9:30 am – 12:00 pm; 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm, or 9:30 am – 3:00 pm. Students may participate in either a half day or full day experience. Students who choose to participate in a full day session should bring a sack lunch.
As parents wring their hands about Internet predators, many teens are worried about a different kind of online intruder: the school principal.
Students are blogging about schoolyard crushes and feuds, posting gossip about classmates on social-networking sites like MySpace.com and Facebook.com, and sharing their party snapshots on public Web pages. Increasingly, their readers include school administrators, who are doling out punishments for online writings that they say cross the line.
Kevin Delaney finds that parents are also watching what their children write online:
The spying started two years ago. Karen Lippe’s daughter told her she was going to a school football game with friends. The next day, Ms. Lippe found out the truth: Her daughter, then 14 years old, had skipped out on the game with a friend, got in the car of a boy Ms. Lippe didn’t know and headed to an ice-cream shop without permission. Ms. Lippe sat her daughter down after dinner to warn her not to let it happen again.
Ms. Lippe, a marketing consultant in Irvine, Calif., didn’t divulge how she had found out. But her daughter figured it out anyway. The daughter’s friend had recounted the transgression on her Web log, or blog, which Ms. Lippe had read online.
Madison Board of Education President Carol Carstensen:
Subject: Nov. 21 Update
Parent Group Presidents:
The school district has been under revenue caps since 1993 when all school district budgets were frozen and then permitted to increase only by an amount per pupil each year (this year it is $250). That amount approximates a budget increase of 2.5% (the city and county are both struggling with cuts to keep their budgets close to a 4% increase).
Board meetings on Monday, November 21:
The Board looked at a comparison of the school district policy on arresting a child at school and the Police Department’s guidelines there are some significant differences, mostly in the area of informing the parent/guardian before the child is questioned and in making sure the child fully understands his/her rights at the time of questioning. The Board took no action but did ask the administration to continue working with the Police Department to try to bring their procedures more in line with school district policy.
Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Message to PTO Presidents