This past week on the board I have moved in varied circles, hopefully which may lead our district in a new and better direction as we improve our connections with the broader community.
Early in the week the Madison Board of Education approved the submission of two resolutions for the state school board association’s annual meeting. I was happy to be an author of one and to get assistance from the Middleton/Cross Plains board on the second.
One meeting that I’m always happy to attend is with community organizers and childcare providers working to bring quality early childhood education to all students in Madison. We met at a local business, Ground Zero coffee shop, and enjoyed much in the way of conversation and goal-setting. If you would like to learn how to get involved in this effort feel free to contact me and I will put you in touch with some great people working on behalf of young children and through an investment in our future.
In addition, I may start holding listening sessions at local businesses to better communicate with the community.
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I will periodically provide updates for the community so that you can read what the Board of Education (BOE) is working on during the year. I also do so when I have particular interest in, or concerns regarding, decisions made on behalf of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).
One area that I believe is of utmost importance and may be on the mind of the public is high school reform.
I am particularly interested in answering two questions as they relate to this issue.
First, what are the problem(s) we are trying to address as a district in our high schools?
Second, how does the current high school framework align with the skills and knowledge required by colleges and employers and in the overall reform movement of standards and accountability?
To address this issue as a board member, I look for specific timelines, benchmarks and periodic updates.
I think it would well serve the community and the entire board to know exactly where we are in the process. Originally, high school reform in MMSD was presented to the community in a BOE Special Meeting and referred to as a “blank slate.”
Recently, the district submitted an application for a Small Learning Communities (SLC) federal grant. It was not awarded. It was at this time that I had requested that the BOE review the process of high school reform in MMSD at a BOE Special Meeting. I have also raised concerns that the administration has decided to apply for the grant again. The board has been told that we have a good chance that we will get the grant on the second round. I have again requested that the board meet as soon as possible.
However, as a board member of seven – there must be four BOE members willing to submit such a request to put this topic on the agenda. So far, I am the only member requesting this motion.
I raise this issue because of my firmly held belief that my role as a BOE member is to represent the community and provide, to the best of my ability, an accessible, open process when major decisions are made on behalf of the community.
It appears that as of today, the grant will be resubmitted before the only scheduled BOE meeting on high school reform on the 19th of November.
A little history. The high school reform process should be transparent and accessible to the entire community. I am trying to get a handle on this process myself. Here is a look at what has transpired so far:
Continue reading Involving the Community (in High School Reform)
In an effort to keep people informed of my activities on the Madison School Board, and to encourage people to participate in school-related activities, I have started a podcast, which I am calling the Maya Cole Schoolcast. You can find it at www.coleschoolcast.org. You can also subscribe to the podcast with iTunes or any other podcast software. You can find it by searching the podcast directory for Maya Cole.
Please feel free to give me your comments and suggestions. This edition includes a discussion with several Madison Alders regarding safe walk to school among other topics.
There has been bitterness, surprise and resentment over my vote with respect to the Lapham/Marquette consolidation. I would like to let people know why I voted to move the alternative programs to Marquette. I have a mix of emotions several days after the storm and hope you find it helpful to understand the process from my perspective.
I made this decision in the most thoughtful and respectful manner possible. Unfortunately, the process of getting to this vote is more complicated than the moment in time when the board makes a single vote. I hope those of you most affected by this can see how this transpired.
In the past three weeks, Beth Moss and I, as newly elected members of the Board of Education, have met with the staff of MMSD to get up to speed with our current programs. This process takes many, many hours. We have also spoken with teachers, visited schools, gone to public forums, taken calls, studied data, looked at programs with a critical eye and visited with many constituents.
Continue reading Lapham Marquette Statement