All posts by Nancy Donahue

Invitation to HOPE/SIS Forum on Educational Equity – April 3

You are all enthusiastically invited to attend a public forum on Educational Equity on April 3, 2008 at 6:30pm at Centro Hispano of Dane County [Map] organized by HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) and SIS (School Info System). Rafael Gomez will be leading a panel discussion on the topic of Equity in Public Education followed by an audience Q & A that will focus on the following questions:

  1. Are equal programs the same as equitable programs?
  2. How do recent Board decisions (e.g., attendance boundaries and high school design) ensure equity and/or address the achievement gap?
  3. Have other recent decisions/changes been made that will positively impact closing the achievement gaps?
  4. How are we addressing the issue of ensuring equity in education in a diverse urban population?

Other panelists will include a member of the MMSD Board of Education, a representative from the Urban League, a representative from Centro Hispano, and a former member of the MMSD Equity Task Force. (The Equity Task Force’s final report from March 2007 is attached.)
Thank you for your commitment to quality in our public schools and we sincerely hope you will be able to join us for this interesting and informative conversation.
Nancy Donahue, HOPE Organizer

An Update

The Studio School Charter School:
In a couple of years I hope to take another try at leading a charter school initiative. I continue to read so much educational research and literature that strongly supports The Studio School concepts. As you know, we spent some time looking into ways to create TSS as a private school but just couldn’t see how it could be affordable to everyone and be sustainable. Even as a sliding-scale-tuition cooperative, there would have to be some tuition paid and that leaves out so many children. It still looks as though a charter school is the best alternative. So maybe there will be some changes in our school district and administrators/ board members will become more actively supportive of charter schools, innovation, and the Studio School concept. Am I overly optimistic?
Programs in my home:
Currently, I’m working with some people to piece together a rather eclectic “menu” of educational programs (art, Spanish, yoga, tutoring, early childhood, etc.) in my home that is licensed for child care for ages 4 – 17. The programs being offered are philosophically aligned with the Reggio Approach – experiential, child-centered, multi-modal learning. I don’t have a final name for this yet but the concept is that of a “learning studio” that offers a variety of enriching programs that will provide children with a variety of “languages” for learning and expressing their ideas. (This summer I am offering an Art & Architecture program for 5-8 year old children on Wednesday mornings and we will be working with recycled materials.) If the “eclectic” studio concept is successful, the plan is to move the program out of my house into a public space in the next year or so. I recently met with someone involved in the Hilldale Mall redevelopment project and a location there might be a possibility down the road. And/or it could be offered through community centers or other neighborhood organizations. It’s also my hope that if I could somehow provide real life examples of the Reggio Approach to teaching and learning, people might be better able to envision the amazing positive impact it could have in an elementary school.
Community Partnerships:
I intend to continue meeting with people who are interested in new educational initiatives and who might want to work together to create programs and schools that include the arts & technology for all Madison children. So I want to keep reaching out to neighborhood groups and community members. Please let me know if you run into any folks who might be interested in talking with me about this and I will be happy to contact them. Thanks
Nancy Donahue

“Do you want innovative public school options in Madison?

If you do, then your support of The Studio School charter school proposal is critical. Please let the school board know. Write letters. Email them []. Call them. Attend the meeting on January 22nd! I have heard from a board member that if the “pressure” to vote for opening this school in the fall isn’t strong enough, board members will not vote in favor of this proposal January 29th.
The opportunity to offer this innovative educational option with the possibility of up to $450,000.00 of federal funding over the next two years will not be available to MMSD again.
For more information to find out how to help, community members are invited to join us for our planning group’s general meeting on January 17th (this Wednesday) at 6:30 PM at the Sequoya Branch of the Public Library [Map]. You can also go to our website for more information.

Madison Studio Charter School: A Final Push – You can Help

Dear Supporters of The Studio School:
As you probably know, we met with the MMSD Board members last Wednesday and are satisfied with how the Board meeting went. Many individuals took the opportunity to speak at the meeting and each of them did a fantastic job! THE OUTCOME OF THE MEETING IS THAT WE NEED TO PREPARE A RESPONSE TO THEIR QUESTIONS and have very limited time to accomplish this since they need to have it by January 18th. So here’s our plan:
We need to put together three short-term task forces:

  1. “money team” to work on the budget and financing
    • Determine what an accurate and detailed representation of costs and revenues would look like and fill in the numbers.
    • Consider creative ways to finance the school with the implementation grant Help! We need more school finance expertise for this one.
    • We still need money to file for tax exempt status ($750) Help! If we could get a/some contributions to cover this cost, we have found an attorney who will file it pro bono…
    • So if we could get a sizable donation to get this school started since the district’s finances are in such a bad state, the Board would be more favorably disposed to our proposal. (This would be added to federal grant funds of $340,000.)
  2. “people team” to reach out to a more diverse population (Kristin Forde is going to organize this.)
    Meet with or provide information to people we haven’t had an opportunity to connect with so we can share information about the school and encourage them to attend the January 22nd meeting to express support and interest in The Studio School Help! We could use some marketing expertise.

  3. “plan team” to develop a clearer description of the school and how it would actually work, including the technology
    Develop a more detailed implementation plan and a clearer representation of how it will operate and look. Help! I can work on this but I would like some people (parents, educators, interested parties) to collaborate with me in order to figure out how to communicate it more clearly.

If you or anyone you know can help out over the next few weeks, please have them contact me. This is our last opportunity to pull it all together and make The Studio School a choice for Madison children – this means that we need to start the new year ready to get it done.
We have made it to this point because of the dedication and hard work of our core planning group and the assistance and support from people like you. We are almost there! A “final push” kickoff meeting is scheduled for January 3rd at 6:00…location to be determined. After that, we have two weeks to get it all done. So please let me know ASAP if you, or someone you know, can lend us a hand.
Thank you for your continued support. We are looking forward to celebrating and sharing our success in February after the final vote on January 29th!
Nancy Donahue
The Studio School, Inc.