WIBA’s Mitch Henck Discusses the Madison School District’s Budget with Don Severson

24MB mp3 audio file. Mitch and Don discuss the Madison School District’s $12M budget deficit, caused by a decline in redistributed tax dollars from the State of Wisconsin and generally flat enrollment. Topics include: Fund 80, health care costs, four year old kindergarten, staffing, property taxes (which may increase to make up for the reduced state tax dollar funding).
Madison School District Board President Arlene Silveira sent this message to local Alders Saturday:

Good afternoon,
Below is an update of the MMSD budget situation.
As you know, the biennial budget was signed into law at the end of June. The budget had numerous provisions that will effect the future of public education that include:

  • Repeal of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO)
  • Decrease in funding for public education by the state of approximately $14720million
  • Decrease in the per pupil increase associated with revenue limits

The repeal of the QEO will potentially impact future settlements for salries and benefits. The decrease in funding for public education by the state creates the need for a tax increase conversation in order to sustain current programs. The decrease in the revenue limit formula will cause MMSD to face more reductions in programs and services for the next 2 years at a minimum.
EFFECT OF STATE BUDGET ON MMSD

  • Decrease in state aid: $9.2 million
  • Reduction in revenue: $2.8 million (decrease in the per pupil increase from $275 to $200/pupil)

Total decrease: projected to to be $12 million
Last May, the Madison Board of Education passed a preliminary 2009-10 budget that maintained programs and services with a modest property tax increase. The groundwork for our budget was laid last fall when the Board pledged our commitment to community partnership and the community responded by supporting a referendum that allowed us to exceed revenue caps to stabilize funding for our schools. Two months later, with programs and staff in place for next year, we find ourselves faced with State funding cuts far exceeding our worst fears.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
We are in this position in part because Wisconsin’s school funding formulas are so complicated that the legislature and supporting agencies did not accurately predict the budget’s impact on school districts. State aid to Madison and many other districts was cut by 15%. In practical terms, coupled with additional State cuts of $2.8 million, MMSD is saddled with State budget reductions of $12 million this year.
This grim situation is a result of a poor economy, outdated information used by the legislature, and a Department of Public Instruction policy that penalizes the district for receiving one-time income (TIF closing in Madison). Federal stimulus funds will, at best, delay cuts for one year. We are left with a gaping budget deficit when many fiscal decisions for the upcoming school year cannot be reversed.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?
We are working on strategies and options and are looking carefully at the numbers to ensure our solutions do not create new problems. We will evaluate options for dealing with the budget in early August.
To repair our budget, we are working with legislators and the DPI to appeal decisions that have placed us in this position. We continue to look for changes in resource management to find additional cost reductions. We are seeking ways to offset the impact of school property tax increases if we need to increase our levy.
At the same time, we pledge that we will not pass the full cost of the cuts along as increased property taxes. We will not resort to massive layoffs of teachers and support staff, t he deadline having passed to legally reduce our staff under union contracts.
I will be back in touch after our August meeting when we have made decisions on our path forward.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Arlene Silveira
Madison Board of Education
608-516-8981

Related: Sparks fly over Wisconsin Budget’s Labor Related Provisions.

Bout with cancer gave Evers the drive to become Wisconsin schools chief

Alan Borsuk:

When the surgery was over, the worst of the aftermath survived, and the tumor gone, Tony Evers met with his oncologist, Linn Khuu.
“You know, you’ve been given a second chance,” she told him. “Go do something great.”
Evers felt a bit insulted at first. He thought he had worked hard and done good things for years. For one thing, he had been deputy state superintendent of public instruction for almost seven years at that point.
Then he decided she was right.
Now, Evers said, he would tell people who went through what he went through, “If you do get a second chance, make the most of it.”
At 11 a.m. Monday, Evers, 57, will show what he is doing to make the most of it. He will be sworn in as Wisconsin’s 26th superintendent of public instruction – and almost surely the first without an esophagus.
Within months of being told he had a form of cancer that generally has low survival rates, Evers decided to undertake a race for statewide office.
“Once you get over a hurdle, it does make you a bit more fearless,” he said in an interview last week.

Tony Evers Evokes Change as He Enters Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Office

WisPolitics:

“Education is all about continued improvement, and the status quo is not satisfactory,” Evers told the audience at a WisPolitics.com luncheon Tuesday at the Madison Club.



In addition to guiding local schools as they navigate state cuts and an influx of federal stimulus funding, Evers is promoting a single federal test and an overhaul of accountability and assessment standards for public education. Under the new system, which Evers said would be formed quickly over the next few months, the state will be able to consistently measure other educational categories aside from test scores.



The test score measurement mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind law drew criticism from Evers for their incomplete picture of education, but he said the federal standard has done educators “a tremendous favor” by showing disparities between performance of white and non-white students.



He also called for a national standard of testing and curriculum, which he said 46 states had backed. He said that Wisconsin isn’t able to truly compare its educational growth to other districts and states because 50 different tests are being administered annually. He also called the current system “economically irrational.”
“Public education, even though it’s a state responsibility, is a national endeavor, and we have to view it as such,” Evers said. “By doing this, we’re going to make our system more transparent.”



Perhaps nothing will test the new state accountability system as much as Milwaukee. Evers went to great lengths to discuss the “magic” that teachers work with many less fortunate students in the state’s largest school district, but recognized a graduation rate that, despite increasing to about 70 percent, lags well behind the state average.

Severson on McKenna

Jim, thank you for posting the link to this fascinating set of rants on the MMSD school board. I STRONGLY suggest that people watch the committee meeting video that is available at: http://mediaprodweb.madison.k12.wi.us/Board+Meetings
Simply put, many of the critiques that Severson complains are not happening are in fact very much alive in school board debate, whether it comes to what needs to happen to improve the math curriculum to the reviews and changes in fiscal practice that are making it possible to close the spending gap without further trashing programs. I guess that Don was napping during the three meetings when the discussions were underway?
Or, I may be wrong. This may not be a manipulation of the truth for political purposes. You be the judge – watch the video – and see whether nothing is being done on significant issues as Severson asserts.

Don Severson Talks with Vicki McKenna on the Madison Public Schools

25.3MB mp3 audio file. The discussion begins about four minutes into the audio clip. Topics include: spending, program/curriculum assessment, reading results, the District’s strategic planning process, the QEO and possible state budget changes that could raise local property taxes.

Evers Wins Wisconsin Education Post

Amy Hetzner:

Staving off a spirited run by a political newcomer, Tony Evers went from understudy to Wisconsin’s next schools chief Tuesday with the backing of the state’s largest teachers union and other professional educators throughout the state.



In doing so, he beat back a challenge from Rose Fernandez, a parent advocate and former pediatric trauma nurse who tried to capitalize on discontent with the educational status quo.



Evers won with the significant help of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and its affiliates throughout the state, which contributed nearly $700,000 toward his campaign.



Evers credited his victory to people’s trust in his ability to help improve state schools.



“People recognize that in order to make the changes necessary, we need a candidate with a broad base of support behind him, and we need a candidate with experience behind him,” he said.



Evers, 57, was considered the front-runner in the race ever since he declared his candidacy in October.

Third Party Group Leafletting for Wisconsin DPI Candidate Tony Evers

Advancing Wisconsin is leafletting (and profiling voters with handheld devices) for Wisconsin DPI Candidate Tony Evers (opposed by Ruth Fernandez) (watch a recent debate), Supreme Court Candidate Shirley Abrahamson (opposed by Randy Koschnick) and Dane County Incumbent Executive Kathleen Falk (opposed by Nancy Mistele).

2009 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Debate Tony Evers and Rose Fernandez



Via Wisconsin Public Television. CTRL Click here to download the 382MB 60 minute event video, or this 26MB mp3 audio file.
Candidate websites: Tony Evers & Rose Fernandez
Amy Hetzner:

Rose Fernandez regularly refers to herself as an outsider in the race to become the state’s next schools chief.
The implication is that her April 7 opponent, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, is an insider who is unlikely to change what is happening with education in the state.
The outsider candidate who can change things and shake up the status quo has long been a popular thrust in political campaigns. President Barack Obama, although a U.S. senator at the time, used aspects of the tactic in his campaign last fall.
But some wonder whether it will have the same impact in what is likely to be a low-turnout election April 7.
“The advantage to the insider is being able to draw off of established, organizational support,” said Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The outsider’s goal is to try to become visible enough that people unhappy with the status quo can voice their outsider outrage.”
From her Web site address – www.changedpi.com – to frequently tying her opponent to the state’s largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Fernandez appears to be trying to capitalize on one of her many differences with her opponent.
“There are perils with entrenchment,” said Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and past president of the Wisconsin Coalition for Virtual School Families. “With that there comes an inability to see the problems as they really are.”
But being an outsider also has some disadvantages, which Evers is trying to play up as well.
At a recent appearance before the Public Policy Forum, Evers puzzled about Fernandez’s stance against a provision in Gov. Jim Doyle’s bill that he said was supported by voucher school proponents while she expressed support for voucher schools.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Tony Evers Advocates Charter Schools

Tony Evers campaign, via email:

Tony Evers today pledged to continue his long commitment to Wisconsin’s charter schools, which provide innovative educational strategies. Dr. Evers has played a major educational leadership role in making Wisconsin 6th in the nation, out of all 50 states, in both the number of charter schools and the number of students enrolled in charter schools.
“We are a national leader in charter schools and I will continue my work for strong charter schools in Wisconsin,” Evers said. “As State Superintendent, I will continue to promote our charter schools and the innovative, successful learning strategies they pursue as we work to increase achievement for all students no matter where they live.”
Evers, as Deputy State Superintendent, has been directly responsible for overseeing two successful competitive federal charter school grants that brought over $90 million to Wisconsin. From these successful applications, Evers has recommended the approval of over 700 separate planning, implementation, implementation renewal, and dissemination grants to charter schools around the state since 2001.
During the past eight years, the number of charter schools in Wisconsin has risen from 92 to 221 – an increase of almost 150%. The number of students enrolled in charter schools has increased from 12,000 students in 2001 to nearly 36,000 today.
Evers has also represented the Department of Public Instruction on State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster’s Charter School Advisory Council. The council was created to provide charter school representatives, parents, and others with the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and provide recommendations to the State Superintendent.

Notes on the Evers / Fernandez Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Race

John Nichols:

Fernandez cleaned up in traditionally Republican (but trending Democratic) Waukesha County, where she won 52 percent of the vote, to just 23 percent for Evers. It was roughly the same split in Washington County. Fernandez even beat Mobley in the other conservative’s home county of Ozaukee. Even in more Democratic Racine County, Fernandez won 40 percent to just 26 percent for Evers.
Where did Evers do well? Dane County, where the deputy superintendent won more than 50 percent to a mere 20 percent for Fernandez. Of Evers’ 9,905 vote lead statewide, 7,351 votes came from Madison and surrounding communities. Evers won very big in the city of Madison, where Progressive Dane-backed candidate Price actually beat Fernandez (and came close to the frontrunner) in some isthmus wards.
What’s the bottom line: Fernandez has proven herself. She is going to be a serious contender, and if she gets some national conservative money — perhaps shifting from the Supreme Court race — she could beat Evers.
Of course, in a higher-turnout, bigger-spending race, a lot can change. And Evers will have plenty of union backing. But this is going to be a hot contest right up until April 7. And that could have consequences for the court race; if Fernandez turns out conservatives in big numbers, that could help Koschnick.

Readers may find the 2005 DPI race worth revisiting. Audio & video here.

Fernandez & Evers Advance in the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Race

AP:

Evers won the endorsement of the 98,000-member state teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which paid for TV ads on his behalf. Evers was the only one of the five to pay for his own ads.
“I believe that my message of experience has played well so far,”
Evers said. “I won the primary and I anticipate that we’ll just work hard to get the message out. I believe that people do believe experience matters.”
Fernandez, who has often been at odds with the state education department over virtual schools, reveled in the fact that she didn’t get the WEAC endorsement, touting it as another sign of her being outside the state education bureaucracy.
Fernandez was the only one of the five candidates without any professional education experience. A former nurse, she recently stepped down as president of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families.
“Some people have dismissed me as just a mom on a mission, but that’s a label I’ll be wearing as a badge of honor,” Fernandez said. She pledged to overcome WEAC’s financial backing of Evers with a broad base of support that taps into teachers, parents and students across the state.
“We’re hearing that there’s a great hunger out there for our message that higher standards without higher taxes is what they want,” she said.
Her campaign called for reforming the state education department, enacting changes to allow for teacher merit pay and protecting alternative education options such as virtual schools, home schooling and Milwaukee’s school choice voucher program.
Evers, the deputy under retiring Superintendent Libby Burmaster for the past eight years, emphasized his 34 years of education experience during the campaign. Opponents criticized him as a status-quo insider candidate, while Evers countered he was the best-grounded to initiate reforms, particularly in the Milwaukee schools.

Burmaster Won’t Seek 3rd Term as Wisconsin Education Superintendent, Tony Evers Announces Run

Tamira Madsen:

There had been some speculation Burmaster was interested in running for governor if Gov. Jim Doyle didn’t seek re-election in 2010, but she said that type of campaign is not in her plans.
She would not elaborate on her future career endeavors except to say, “I’m an education leader and I want to continue to serve in that capacity.” She also said she will get back to working in community schools with students in a “hands-on” role.

Interviews with 2005 Candidates for the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent position can be seen here.
WisPolitics interview with Burmaster.

Referendum Discussion: Vicki McKenna & Don Severson

Download or listen to this 15MB mp3 audio file.
Related:

  • $367M+ Budget notes and links
  • Don Severson’s memo to the Madison School Board on the current financial situation.
  • Marj Passman and Don Severson discuss school finance with Mitch Henck.
  • Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s budget and recommendations memorandum to the School board (1MB PDF):

    In 1993, three pieces of legislation were enacted by the State of Wisconsin directly affecting school districts throughout the state. These pieces of legislation created revenue limits, created the state’s commitment to two·thirds funding, and created the qualified economic offer (QEO) in Wisconsin. Since 1993 revenue limits in Wisconsin have allowed the Madison Metropolitan School District to increase revenues annually by 2.2% on average. Conversely the QEO requires school boards to offer a comprehensive salary and benefit package to certified teaching staff of not less than 3.8% annually to avoid binding arbitration. Recognizing that the Madison Metropolitan School District’s budget is comprised of 84% salary and benefits, it must be recognized that while our revenues increase annually by 2.2%, the largest portion of our budget is mandated to minimally increase by 3.8%. Due to these competing pieces of legislation, the Board of Education since 1993 has reduced program and services by over $60 million to comply with state mandated revenue limits, of which $35 million has occurred within the past five years.
    Since the 1992·93 School Year the Madison Metropolitan School District has increased the total tax levy by $74,944,431 through the projected 2008·09 property tax levy. This amounts to an average annual increase of 2.56% since the 1992·93 School Year (see Attachment A). During that same time frame from 1992·93 through the projections for the 2008·09 property tax rate, the Madison Metropolitan School District has decreased the total tax rate from $20.69 to a projected rate of $9.92 for the 2008·09 School Year (see Attachment B).

    Nerad also posted a 3 year financial forecast (250K PDF)

  • City of Madison Assessor: 2008 Madison Property Tax base (PDF)
  • A look at the growth in Madison’s tax base: In 1990, the City of Madison included 40,069 parcels, a number that grew to 64,976 in 2005. Assessment and parcel growth mitigates tax levy increases, or allows it to decline (though this of course, depends on the real estate market along with tax policies).

Don Severson & Marj Passman on School Spending & The Proposed November Madison School Referendum

Chart via Global Education Spending data via UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Mitch Henck @ WIBA: 15MB mp3 audio file. Marj discussed her views on US taxes vis a vis education spending versus other countries.
Much more on the Madison School District’s $367M 2008-2009 budget along with the referendum.

Black-White Gap Widens for High Achievers

Debra Viadero:

New research into what is commonly called the black-white “achievement gap” suggests that the students who lose the most ground academically in U.S. public schools may be the brightest African-American children.
As black students move through elementary and middle school, these studies show, the test-score gaps that separate them from their better-performing white counterparts grow fastest among the most able students and the most slowly for those who start out with below-average academic skills.
“We care about achievement gaps because of their implications for labor-market and socioeconomic-status issues down the line,” said Lindsay C. Page, a Harvard University researcher, commenting on the studies. “It’s disconcerting if the gap is growing particularly high among high-achieving black and white students.”
Disconcerting, but not surprising, said researchers who have studied achievement gaps. Studies have long shown, for instance, that African-American students are underrepresented among the top scorers on standardized tests, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Fewer studies, though, have traced the growth of those gaps among high and low achievers.
The reasons why achievement gaps are wider at the upper end of the achievement scale are still unclear. But some experts believe the patterns have something to do with the fact that African-American children tend to be taught in predominantly black schools, where test scores are lower on average, teachers are less experienced, and high-achieving peers are harder to find.

Thanks to Jenny Root for emailing this article.

Severson / McKenna on Negative Aid, Local Media Coverage of Schools and the Referendum

There were some interesting items in today’s conversation between Don Severson and Vicki Mckenna [13.7MB mp3 audio file]: A caller (29 minutes): “Why does the rest of the media have such complacency with the Schools?” Don noted the lack of negative aids discussion in Monday’s “very long” Wisconsin State Journal article. The caller raised a … Continue reading Severson / McKenna on Negative Aid, Local Media Coverage of Schools and the Referendum

Don Severson / Vicki McKenna Discussion on Local School Climate, the School District Budget and the Fall Referendum

WIBA’s Vicki McKenna and Active Citizens for Education’s Don Severson discussed a variety of topics today, including Judy Newman’s series on Madison’s changing economic landscape, the Madison School District’s budget process and the planned November referendum for a new far west side school, Leopold Elementary school expansion and debt consolidation. 17MB MP3 audio.

Fragile Futures: Risk and Vulnerability Among Latino High Achievers

Patricia Gándara Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service December 2005 The achievement gap usually refers to the chasm between low- and higher-performing students. But, as this study makes clear, disparities are just as pronounced among separate groups of high-achieving students. For example, in 2002 the top fifth of Latino test-takers scored means of 598 and … Continue reading Fragile Futures: Risk and Vulnerability Among Latino High Achievers

The New Reverse Class Struggle

Jay Matthews: The idea seems odd to many. But some scholars and administrators say raising class sizes and teacher pay might improve achievement It was 9:45 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. Jane Reiser’s mathematics class in Room 18 was stuffed with sixth- and seventh-graders. There were 32 of them, way above the national class size … Continue reading The New Reverse Class Struggle

Isthmus: Talking out of School: Don Severson’s Letter to the Editor

Don Severson has written a letter to the Isthmus editor regarding Jason Shephard’s 2/10/2005 article: Talking out of School (Shephard looks at the upcoming school board races in this article). Here’s Severson’s letter to the editor: Madison School Board member Carol Carstensen complains that critics of the Board aren’t really interested in seeking solutions to … Continue reading Isthmus: Talking out of School: Don Severson’s Letter to the Editor

Madison teachers union faces lawsuit over planned illegal “sick out”

WILL: Attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center and Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) are warning Madison Teachers Inc. that they face legal repercussions if they move forward with an illegal sick out on Monday. “Madison Teachers, Inc. leaders are asking their members to falsely call-in sick in order to shut down in-person learning,” said Daniel Suhr, … Continue reading Madison teachers union faces lawsuit over planned illegal “sick out”

Madison’s Taxpayer Funded K-12 Governence Commentary; 2021 Edition

Scott Girard: Superintendent Carlton Jenkins shared the data from the family survey that went out Feb. 17 with the School Board this week. He said about 65% of families — or about 7,790 families — with a student in those grades, which will be among the first to return in a phased reopening process, had … Continue reading Madison’s Taxpayer Funded K-12 Governence Commentary; 2021 Edition

Dane County Madison Public Health drops complaint against dance studio, will incorporate allegations into counterclaim in related lawsuit

Ed Treleven: Attorneys representing Public Health Madison and Dane County have asked to withdraw the health agency’s 119-count complaint against an Oregon dance studio over alleged COVID-19 public health order violations, but only to allow consolidation of the alleged violations into a related lawsuit. In a court filing Tuesday, Madison Assistant City Attorney Marci Paulsen wrote … Continue reading Dane County Madison Public Health drops complaint against dance studio, will incorporate allegations into counterclaim in related lawsuit

Wisconsin’s Emergency Powers Laws in Urgent Need of Reform

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty: New study examines Wisconsin’s emergency powers laws, provides recommendations for reform The News: A new study from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) makes the case that Wisconsin’s antiquated emergency powers statutes are in urgent need of reform. The report, titled More Than “A Little Danger:” Reforming Wisconsin’s … Continue reading Wisconsin’s Emergency Powers Laws in Urgent Need of Reform

Reported COVID-19 Incidence in Wisconsin High School Athletes During Fall 2020

Phillip Sasser, MD, MS, Timothy McGuine, PhD, LAT, Kristin Haraldsdottir, PhD, Kevin Biese, MA, LAT, Leslie Goodavish, PA, Bethany Stevens, Andrew M. Watson, MD: The purpose of this study was to describe the reported incidence of COVID-19 in Wisconsin high school athletes in September 2020, and to investigate the relationship of COVID-19 incidence with sport … Continue reading Reported COVID-19 Incidence in Wisconsin High School Athletes During Fall 2020

Oakland teacher points finger at ‘rich white parents’ in reopening debate

Amy Graff: An Oakland special education teacher who also serves as the secretary of the Oakland Education Association added fire to the growing school reopening debate with a pointed Tweet criticizing parent concern that distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their children’s mental health. Bethany Meyer tweeted on Feb. 17, “All the rich … Continue reading Oakland teacher points finger at ‘rich white parents’ in reopening debate

Effort launched to recall three S.F. school board members

Lizzie Johnson: A San Francisco family has officially launched an effort to recall three school board members, filing the paperwork with county and state election officials, with more than 1,200 city residents already saying they are ready to sign the petitions. Organizers Autumn Looijen and Siva Raj, who are parents to five children, said they … Continue reading Effort launched to recall three S.F. school board members

West Coast States’ Failure to Reopen Schools Is a Disaster

Sasha Abramsky: Up and down the West Coast, millions of children in some of the country’s largest cities have had no in-person education since last March. In Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and myriad other cities, there is precious little evidence the public schools will be reopening for most kids before the summer … Continue reading West Coast States’ Failure to Reopen Schools Is a Disaster

Opinion: Affluent professionals and unions: Can this marriage last?

Megan McArdle: Rereading Teixeira and Abramowitz today, one is struck by their eerie prescience, but also by the fundamental difficulty of holding together a Democratic Party where highly educated and affluent adults are the ascending faction but are not numerous enough to carry an election by themselves. This past year, that difficulty has come into … Continue reading Opinion: Affluent professionals and unions: Can this marriage last?

San Francisco has the lowest coronavirus case rate of major U.S. cities. But its schools are among the last to reopen

Susie Nielsen: San Francisco’s public schools have been virtual-only for nearly a year, despite increasing pressure from parents and politicians to reopen for in-person instruction. Even the city attorney has called on the school district to “immediately” reopen elementary schools. The school district is set to vote on a plan Tuesday that would allow schools … Continue reading San Francisco has the lowest coronavirus case rate of major U.S. cities. But its schools are among the last to reopen

Teachers to get priority for COVID-19 vaccine, Dane County Madison public health department says

Chris Rickert: While many public schools in Dane County began reopening in recent months to some in-person learning, and many private schools have been in-person since September, Madison public school students won’t begin returning to the classroom until March 9, when kindergartners go back. First- and second-graders are set to return March 16 and 4-year-old … Continue reading Teachers to get priority for COVID-19 vaccine, Dane County Madison public health department says

These California politicians have taken the most money from the state’s biggest teacher’s union

Eric Ting: California’s various teachers unions are coming under increased scrutiny over their reluctance to return to in-person learning, especially in the wake of the state legislature’s apprehension towards Gov. Gavin Newsom’s school reopening plan. The state’s most powerful teachers union — the California Teachers Association, which has more than 300,000 members and is affiliated with … Continue reading These California politicians have taken the most money from the state’s biggest teacher’s union

Biden Says He’s Pro-Science. Why Is His Schools Plan Based on Fear?

Timothy Carney: Will Mr. Biden listen to the science when it says, “Reopen schools”? Last spring it was reasonable and responsible to close schools, because of what we knew and what we didn’t know. We knew that other viruses, such as the norovirus and influenza, thrived in schools. We didn’t know how similar the coronavirus … Continue reading Biden Says He’s Pro-Science. Why Is His Schools Plan Based on Fear?

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on What She Learned From Battling the Teachers’ Union

Dana Goldstein: After a bitter fight, the Chicago Public Schools reached a deal with its teachers’ union last week to reopen elementary and middle schools amid the pandemic. By early March, students who have been learning remotely for 10 months will be back in the classrooms. The agreement speeds up vaccinations for teachers, provides expanded … Continue reading Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on What She Learned From Battling the Teachers’ Union

Failing grades. Rising depression. Bay Area children are suffering from shuttered schools

Jill Tucker: Viola Buitoni tried to help her son as he grew increasingly detached, the high school junior’s anger flaring, tears flowing as she begged him to do his schoolwork. Before the pandemic, her son was thriving at San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, where he was in the vocal music program and … Continue reading Failing grades. Rising depression. Bay Area children are suffering from shuttered schools

Mulligans for “Act 10”?

Patrick Marley and Molly Beck: Republican legislative leaders immediately rejected the full proposal because of provisions within it that would roll back policies they enacted under a Republican governor. “He’s not serious about governing, he’s serious about politics,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters after the budget address. Vos said the budget proposal was … Continue reading Mulligans for “Act 10”?

The effects of school closures on SARS-CoV-2 among parents and teachers

Jonas Vlachos, Edvin Hertegård, and Helena B. Svaleryd: To reduce the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), most countries closed schools, despite uncertainty if school closures are an effective containment measure. At the onset of the pandemic, Swedish upper-secondary schools moved to online instruction, while lower-secondary schools remained open. This allows for … Continue reading The effects of school closures on SARS-CoV-2 among parents and teachers

L.A. Unified is officially out of excuses for keeping elementary schools closed

Los Angeles Times: Schools have been reopening across the country for months now, illustrating that students can return to classrooms with little risk if the proper precautions have been taken. This is especially true of elementary schools, as younger children have been far less likely to be sickened with COVID-19 or to infect others. Reopened … Continue reading L.A. Unified is officially out of excuses for keeping elementary schools closed

“Protestants came to believe that both boys and girls had to study the Bible for themselves to better know their God.”

Joseph Henrich: In the wake of the spread of Protestantism, the literacy rates in the newly reforming populations in Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands surged past more cosmopolitan places like Italy and France. Motivated by eternal salvation, parents and leaders made sure the children learned to read. The sharpest test of this idea comes from … Continue reading “Protestants came to believe that both boys and girls had to study the Bible for themselves to better know their God.”

A progressive parent’s rant about the politics surrounding school reopening

Rebecca Bodenheimer, PhD: I think we’re at a crucial point in this debate on school reopening right now. Case rates are dropping quickly, the surge is over, and people are starting to get vaccinated — though way too slowly of course. The public health community, including the CDC, have reached consensus that reopening schools is … Continue reading A progressive parent’s rant about the politics surrounding school reopening

Where Schools are Open: The big education story of the week

Alexander Russo: While some districts remain shuttered, a notable number have been reopened for weeks or even months, though sometimes the kids are learning from teachers who aren’t in the building and other schools have experienced high numbers of quarantine days: 🏆 What Can We Learn From Where the Schools Stayed Open? (New York Times) 🏆 Low attendance, … Continue reading Where Schools are Open: The big education story of the week

Ann Arbor trustee comments rile physicians urging in-person learning

Beth LeBlanc: An Ann Arbor public schools trustee has suggested area physicians pushing for in-person learning options in the district were pushing teachers into risky environments that doctors wouldn’t subject themselves to.  Area doctors — more than 350 of whom had signed a letter urging the school board to reopen in-person learning — were “positioning themselves as experts … Continue reading Ann Arbor trustee comments rile physicians urging in-person learning

To What Extent Does In-Person Schooling Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19? Evidence from Michigan and Washington

Dan Goldhaber, Scott A. Imberman, Katharine O. Strunk, Bryant Hopkins, Nate Brown, Erica Harbartkin & Tara Kilbride: The decision about how and when to open schools to in-person instruction has been a key question for policymakers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The instructional modality of schools has implications not only for the health and safety of … Continue reading To What Extent Does In-Person Schooling Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19? Evidence from Michigan and Washington

COVID-19 Testing in K-12 Schools Insights from Early Adopters

by Laura J. Faherty, Benjamin K. Master, Elizabeth D. Steiner, Julia H. Kaufman, Zachary Predmore, Laura Stelitano, Jennifer T. Leschitz, Brian Phillips, Heather L. Schwartz, Rebecca Wolfe: In this report, we share insights from a national scan and more than 80 interviews with early adopters of COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools as of December 2020. … Continue reading COVID-19 Testing in K-12 Schools Insights from Early Adopters

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Forum: What’s at Stake for Black and Brown Communities?

wiseye. Does the DPI structure and spending practice address our long term, disastrous reading results? Wisconsin students now lag Alabama, a state that spends less and has fewer teachers per student. The primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, 16 February 2021. The top two candidates will advance to the April, 2021 election. Seven Candidates vie … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Forum: What’s at Stake for Black and Brown Communities?

Wisconsin school closures to cost children $7B over lifetime: Study

Benjamin Yount: The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is releasing a new study that puts the cost for keeping schools closed last spring at over $7 billion.  Will Flanders, research director at WILL, said the number comes from study after study that shows less time in the classroom as well as a widening achievement … Continue reading Wisconsin school closures to cost children $7B over lifetime: Study

K-12 Governance, Politics and Government School Teacher Unions

Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes: The mixed messaging underscores the tricky politics Biden faces as elected officials clash with teachers unions in Democratic strongholds over how quickly to reopen classrooms.                                                                                                  Some public health experts are chiding the White House for downplaying analysis from CDC leaders, warning that the apparent tension could undermine the agency’s authority … Continue reading K-12 Governance, Politics and Government School Teacher Unions

“Worse, societal ignorance has bred contempt and it’s seen as the worst kind of boomer conservatism to glorify the education of the past. I concede, I do.”

Riva Tez: The icky nature of the current moment comes from it falling under the disgracefully false pretense of democracy. Hysteria for more justice conveniently ignores what powers an oligarchy has amassed against any kind of accountability. As our ancestors paid off the Church to repent for their sins, we elect flagrant sinners who strike … Continue reading “Worse, societal ignorance has bred contempt and it’s seen as the worst kind of boomer conservatism to glorify the education of the past. I concede, I do.”

“Yet what we see at times is people with a Bernie Sanders sign and a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign in their window, but they’re opposing an affordable housing project or an apartment complex down the street.”

Ezra Klein: San Francisco is about 48 percent white, but that falls to 15 percent for children enrolled in its public schools. For all the city’s vaunted progressivism, it has some of the highest private school enrollment numbers in the country — and many of those private schools have remained open. It looks, finally, like … Continue reading “Yet what we see at times is people with a Bernie Sanders sign and a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign in their window, but they’re opposing an affordable housing project or an apartment complex down the street.”

The War on Disinformation Is a War on Dissent. “Disinformation” and “misinformation” are used to excuse incompetence and punish opposition.

Ash Staub: The terms “misinformation” and “disinformation” have dominated the political lexicon in recent years. Whereas misinformation merely refers to inaccurate or misleading information, the label of disinformation implies an intent to deceive. Both have served as the source of much consternation and hand-wringing from media figures and politicians alike, with countless articles, press segments, academic papers, and political … Continue reading The War on Disinformation Is a War on Dissent. “Disinformation” and “misinformation” are used to excuse incompetence and punish opposition.

Biden Airlifts the Goalposts on School Reopening: 1 Day a Week!

Matt Welch: “Biden vows to reopen most schools after 1st 100 days on the job,” ran the Associated Press headline on December 8. Advocates of reopening who follow the issue closely could see the potential wiggle room—it’s not the federal government’s call, the full statement was shot through with hedges and conditions, “most” just means 50 percent … Continue reading Biden Airlifts the Goalposts on School Reopening: 1 Day a Week!

$700M in additional federal taxpayer dollars sent to Wisconsin government K-12 schools

Patrick Marley: While the committee has a say in how about $69 million in federal assistance can be spent, far more — $617.5 million — will automatically flow to Wisconsin school districts regardless of whether they are holding in-person education, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as … Continue reading $700M in additional federal taxpayer dollars sent to Wisconsin government K-12 schools

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “The worst-governed state — Illinois had triple the population loss of the state with the second-highest out-migration between 2010 and 2020 — is contemplating another incentive for flight”

George Will: On Feb. 16, a joint committee of the state legislature will decide whether to turn into a legal requirement the State Board of Education’s recommendation that — until a slight rewording — would mandate that all public-school teachers “embrace and encourage progressive viewpoints and perspectives.” If the board’s policy is ratified, Illinois will … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “The worst-governed state — Illinois had triple the population loss of the state with the second-highest out-migration between 2010 and 2020 — is contemplating another incentive for flight”

Unspent Federal COVID Education Relief Funds Exceed $50 Billion

Dan Lips: President Biden has proposed $130 billion in new federal funding to help the nation’s schools reopen as part of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Congressional leaders have committed to quickly consider the administration’s proposal. But will billions of additional federal funds actually help public schools reopen? State departments of education currently already have between $53 and … Continue reading Unspent Federal COVID Education Relief Funds Exceed $50 Billion

The cruel reality of online ‘school’ in a 12th floor flat

Conservativewoman.co.uk: Simon has anxiety issues and finds it embarrassing to have to admit on the group chat, in full view of the rest of the class, that he doesn’t understand. After half an hour, the test finishes; Simon has managed to answer four of the 20 questions. The other 16 he’s left blank.  The teacher … Continue reading The cruel reality of online ‘school’ in a 12th floor flat

Why Is Biden Trying to Punish Charter Schools for Their Success?

Greg Ashman: As yet, it remains to be seen exactly what President Biden has in store for America’s network of charter schools. Following the Democratic Party primaries, the Biden-Sanders Unity Taskforce called for accountability for charter schools and a ban on federal funding of for-profit charters—approximately 12 percent of the total. Increasing accountability does not … Continue reading Why Is Biden Trying to Punish Charter Schools for Their Success?

How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools

Isaac Chotiner: Last month, San Francisco’s Board of Education voted, 6–1, to change the names of forty-four schools, including schools named after Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. A committee formed by the board in 2018, in the wake of the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, had determined that any figures who “engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human … Continue reading How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools

K-12 Politics & Governance commentary

This week we have seen the Biden administration and the CDC back away from opening schools. Why? — nathan (@wyattsheepie) February 7, 2021 Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees). Molly Beck and Madeline Heim: which pushed Dane County this … Continue reading K-12 Politics & Governance commentary

“They said their kids are being sacrificed. Which is 100% true.”

John Hindraker: The thing I will tell you: However bad/sad/depressing I thought it would be, it was worse Let me start by saying, this is a wealthy district. Maybe one of the top 5 in the state. The parents are almost all white professionals. To be honest, I almost discounted it. I thought, They’re fine! … Continue reading “They said their kids are being sacrificed. Which is 100% true.”

Philly teachers’ union says it’s ‘not safe’ to reopen schools, city to appoint mediator. Will teachers return?

Kristen A. Graham and Maddie Hanna: The Philadelphia School District and its teachers’ union on Thursday moved toward a possible showdown over plans to reopen schools next week, with teachers questioning whether it’s safe to return to buildings and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. saying he expected them to do so. Days after criticism erupted over … Continue reading Philly teachers’ union says it’s ‘not safe’ to reopen schools, city to appoint mediator. Will teachers return?

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Wisconsin Expected a Bad Year for Tax Revenue. It Was Wrong; challenging lockdown orders

Heather Gillers and Joe Barrett: Wisconsin businesses benefited from generally looser restrictions on business than in neighbors Illinois and Minnesota after a number of court reversals and legislative challenges to restrictions imposed by Gov. Evers, a Democrat. That has helped bars and restaurants outside the urban centers like Madison and Milwaukee, where restrictions are tighter, … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Wisconsin Expected a Bad Year for Tax Revenue. It Was Wrong; challenging lockdown orders

Good morning. Why aren’t progressive leaders doing a better job at mass vaccination?

David Leonhardt: But over the last few weeks, as vaccination has become a top priority, the pattern has changed. Progressive leaders in much of the world are now struggling to distribute coronavirus vaccines quickly and efficiently: • Europe’s vaccination rollout “has descended into chaos,” as Sylvie Kauffmann of Le Monde, the French newspaper, has written. … Continue reading Good morning. Why aren’t progressive leaders doing a better job at mass vaccination?

Who is running Madison’s schools? Chicken Little?

David Blaska: What are we missing here? Madison’s public schools refuse to reopen its 52 school buildings for in-classroom teaching. They’ve been largely shuttered since last March. What teaching remains is conducted on-line, via computer. Madison is expecting four inches of snow today 02-04-21, so classes have been cancelled.  Huh?! You heard right. MMSD is canceling … Continue reading Who is running Madison’s schools? Chicken Little?

Idaho college runner says it’s ‘frustrating’ to compete against biological males

Nikolas Lanum: On March 30 of last year, Gov. Brad Little of Idaho signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which made Idaho the first state to ban transgender athletes in women’s sports. The act, which was supported by Kenyon and her teammate Mary Marshall, was heavily criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union who … Continue reading Idaho college runner says it’s ‘frustrating’ to compete against biological males

What Does Freedom, Inc. Believe And Why Won’t The Mainstream Media Talk About Their Radical Beliefs?

Brett Healy: Freedom, Inc. wants to totally eliminate police departments and free almost everyone from prison Programming by Freedom, Inc. “politicizes” kids, teaches them to use intimidation tactics and to vandalize public property The radical non-profit received over $500,000 in grants in 2020 from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Freedom, Inc., a Madison-based … Continue reading What Does Freedom, Inc. Believe And Why Won’t The Mainstream Media Talk About Their Radical Beliefs?

Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 Schools Cancel Virtual Learning on 4 February 2020

Virtual Learning is canceled for Thursday, February 4, and all MMSD facilities will be closed Thursday due to winter weather. — Madison Schools (WI) (@MMSDschools) February 4, 2021 Here’s a story on the explanation from @MMSDschools on why today was a snow day but last week was not. This quote more or less sums it … Continue reading Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 Schools Cancel Virtual Learning on 4 February 2020

San Francisco sues its own school district, board over reopening: ‘They have earned an F’

Heather Knight: The fight over reopening San Francisco’s public schools will take a dramatic, heated turn on Wednesday as the city becomes the first in the state — and possibly the entire country — to sue its own school district to force classroom doors open. City Attorney Dennis Herrera, with the blessing of Mayor London … Continue reading San Francisco sues its own school district, board over reopening: ‘They have earned an F’

Civics: Advocating a “Ministry of Truth”

Kevin Roose: The experts agreed that before the Biden administration can tackle disinformation and extremism, it needs to understand the scope of the problem. “It’s really important that we have a holistic understanding of what the spectrum of violent extremism looks like in the United States, and then allocate resources accordingly,” said William Braniff, a … Continue reading Civics: Advocating a “Ministry of Truth”

Dance studio cited for its ‘Nutcracker’ performance joins lawsuit against 140+ employee Dane County Madison public health department

Ed Treleven: An Oregon dance studio that last week drew a 119-count complaint from the joint Madison and Dane County public health department for alleged COVID-19 health order violations is suing the department, joining a lawsuit that challenges Dane County’s indoor gathering limits. A Leap Above Dance, which faces nearly $24,000 in fines for alleged … Continue reading Dance studio cited for its ‘Nutcracker’ performance joins lawsuit against 140+ employee Dane County Madison public health department

How personal experiences shaped one journalist’s perceptions

Amber Walker: I sometimes wonder where I would be today if my kindergarten teacher hadn’t encouraged my mother to have me take the admissions exam for Chicago’s selective elementary schools. That one test result earned me a coveted spot at Edward W. Beasley Academic Center, one of the city’s gifted and talented elementary programs, where … Continue reading How personal experiences shaped one journalist’s perceptions

Removing barriers to school choice would help more low-income kids learn in person

Cori Petersen: This past fall, many public schools made the decision to go virtual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this wasn’t the case for most private schools. In fact, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, only 5% of private schools went virtual as of October. This is driving demand for … Continue reading Removing barriers to school choice would help more low-income kids learn in person

“What happens when the most respected authorities get it wrong and ruin lives and economies?”

David Mamet: “We are all, in a sense, fools, since no one person can know everything. We all have to trust others for their expertise, and we all make mistakes,” says Mamet. “The horror of a command economy is not that officials will make mistakes, but that those mistakes will never be acknowledged or corrected.” … Continue reading “What happens when the most respected authorities get it wrong and ruin lives and economies?”

Fear and Loathing in the Classroom: Why Does Teacher Quality Matter?

Mike Insler, Alexander F. McQuoid, Ahmed Rahman and Katherine A. Smith This work disentangles aspects of teacher quality that impact student learning and performance. We exploit detailed data from post-secondary education that links students from randomly assigned instructors in introductory-level courses to the students’ performances in follow-on courses for a wide variety of subjects. For … Continue reading Fear and Loathing in the Classroom: Why Does Teacher Quality Matter?

65 percent of Denver parents say kids are learning less in online school, survey finds

Tiney Ricciardi: While online education has become a necessity of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey found most Denver parents feel their children are learning less when seated in front of a computer versus in the classroom. The survey of 647 Denver parents with school-age kids found 65% said their students were learning less online. … Continue reading 65 percent of Denver parents say kids are learning less in online school, survey finds

Removing barriers to school choice would help more low-income kids learn in person

Cori Petersen: This past fall, many public schools made the decision to go virtual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this wasn’t the case for most private schools. In fact, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, only 5% of private schools went virtual as of October. This is driving demand for … Continue reading Removing barriers to school choice would help more low-income kids learn in person

Three staff members vying to become next Madison Teachers Inc. president

Scott Girard: Three Madison Metropolitan School District staff members are vying to be the next Madison Teachers Inc. president. One week after the most contentious presidential transition in generations, a much friendlier race is playing out with millions fewer voters. “It is actually a very healthy part of our union to have these sorts of … Continue reading Three staff members vying to become next Madison Teachers Inc. president

States Can Reject Critical Race Theory

Max Eden: On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rescinded the Trump administration’s executive order prohibiting critical race theory (CRT) training for federal agencies and federal contractors. This is a sad reversal for Americans committed to colorblindness in public life. But while the president’s order is binding at the federal level, state legislators … Continue reading States Can Reject Critical Race Theory

Civics: They were right about his character, but his defects were obvious to almost everyone. They were wrong about virtually all else.

Barton Swaim: The Trump years had something for almost everyone. Progressives had the satisfaction of righteousness and a justification for daily outrage. What they didn’t have were policy victories, although they might have had a few if they could have refrained, even for a few days, from treating the president as illegitimate. For conservatives, the … Continue reading Civics: They were right about his character, but his defects were obvious to almost everyone. They were wrong about virtually all else.

For schoolchildren struggling to read, COVID-19 has been a wrecking ball

Sarah Carr: Kia Leger’s 10-year-old daughter received one-on-one reading tutoring two or three days a week in the Athol Royalston Regional School District, until schools went remote in mid-March. The child’s hours of reading instruction diminished dramatically in the spring, with no more one-on-one time. “She was regressing from the very get-go,” Leger says. The … Continue reading For schoolchildren struggling to read, COVID-19 has been a wrecking ball

CDC publishes Wisconsin doctor’s study showing schools can be COVID-19 safe with masks, precautions

Keith Uhlig: The findings show that schools can teach kids without worsening the pandemic rates, Falk said, and “it’s just been so bolstering. We are carrying on, but it’s not causing significant problems at all.” The study, produced by Falk and a team of colleagues, “COVID-19 Cases and Transmission in 17 K-12 Schools — Wood County, Wisconsin, … Continue reading CDC publishes Wisconsin doctor’s study showing schools can be COVID-19 safe with masks, precautions

St. Paul, Minnesota begins teacher vaccinations…. Madison?

Roy Wlikins Auditorium is set up to vaccinate 15,000 teachers and child care workers over a 5-day period. Vaccinations begin tomorrow. #wcco pic.twitter.com/EYaEXTwVik — John Lauritsen (@JDLauritsen) January 27, 2021 Meanwhile, Fairfax County, VA: We are pleased to share that more than 22,000 Fairfax County Public Schools teachers and employees have already been able to … Continue reading St. Paul, Minnesota begins teacher vaccinations…. Madison?

Dane County Madison health department files 119-count complaint against studio over ‘Nutcracker’ performance

Chris Rickert: It does not include specific regulations for art or dance studios, and Nemeckay said her business was among about 20 studios that collectively tried to get answers from Public Health Madison and Dane County about what they were allowed to do, but that the agency either gave them conflicting information or refused to … Continue reading Dane County Madison health department files 119-count complaint against studio over ‘Nutcracker’ performance