The Madison Metropolitan School District has an image problem with teachers of color, says a consultant who recommends using the district’s mission of creating an environment where all students thrive to recruit a more diverse workforce.
The number of minority teachers in the district, while growing, is not keeping pace with the growing proportion of minority students, consultant Monica Rosen told Madison School Board members Monday.
“You’ll never catch up at the rate you’re going. I think there needs to be something more aggressive,” said Rosen, a partner in the national firm Cross & Joftus.
The gap between the number of students of color and the number of teachers of color has been brought into sharp focus as the school district works to close a persistent academic achievement gap between students of color and their white classmates.
A leader in the African-American community in November filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, charging that the district was discriminating against people of color in its hiring.
And nearly all the school district personnel interviewed as part of Cross & Joftus’ review mentioned their own concerns about the lack of diversity among school district staff, Rosen reported.
“When a teacher tells me they want to opt out of using technology because of their lack of comfort, it means students are not getting access to tools that have become an essential part of life, certainly of work life,” Cheatham told school board members Monday. “I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s okay. We need to demand that all students have access to technology they will be expected to use when they go on to college and career.”
Cheatham’s remarks came at the end of a meeting where school board members heard an outline of her district technology plan, which calls for a one-to-one ratio of devices to students and teachers by the 2018-2019 school year.
“It’s scary. We’re asking people to think differently about the profession,” Cheatham said, recalling resistance to the daily use of email by some teachers when that technology emerged. “But an adult’s comfort level shouldn’t be something that stops us from doing the right thing for kids.”
It may well be time to simply let teachers buy their own equipment via a stipend.
The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.
Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.
Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.
In the literary world, forests have often been the symbol of menace.
Think of how many times someone has uttered “we’re not out of the woods yet.”
But a forest is a great place to begin one’s outdoors education and apply science, math, reading and writing.
And the Madison Metropolitan School District is playing a role.
Several retired MMSD teachers recently spoke of alerting newer teachers to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce children to the Madison School Forest, a 307-acre woods the district owns southwest of Verona in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. It is also known as the Jackson School Forest after naturalist Joseph “Bud” Jackson.
The school forest is a gem.
Capital Times: What’s the most important issue facing the Madison Metropolitan School District today?
TJ Mertz: Trust. There’s a lot of distrust in the community on all sides — between community and the school district, within the school district between administration and classroom staff, between the board of education and the administration. If we’re going to have effective initiatives on the achievement gap, it requires trust.
CT: What can be done about that lack of trust?
TM: The district should be honest about what it can and can’t do, what is working and what isn’t working. It needs to be more open in decision-making and should be more transparent, welcoming and inclusive. There’s some collaborative work going on that’s good, but community leaders need to be more honest, too. If you are bringing in John Legend and Howard Fuller and Geoffrey Canada and say they have the answer, you’re lying to the audience. Look at how they are achieving their “success.” It’s being achieved largely through attrition, and even with that the test scores aren’t that good. Let’s talk about state school finance reform. Let’s not talk about firing teachers — every bit of research shows that as a tool for school improvement, it doesn’t work. People should stop looking for miracles. Hard work, incrementalism — it isn’t sexy — but that is what works.
CT: It was the Urban League of Greater Madison that brought Legend, Fuller and Canada to town recently for a fundraiser and education conference. You were strongly opposed to Urban League CEO Kaleem Caire’s Madison Prep proposal for a charter school aimed at students of color. Why?
TM: The proposed programs of that school did not target the kids who are being failed by the district. Ask anyone who knows curriculum if the international baccalaureate is a way to address students who are grades behind, and they’ll laugh. But that was what he was selling — so who was he targeting? Students below proficiency were the ones used in the PR campaign, which made it harder for them and a lot of other people to work with the school district. It was a bait-and-switch.
The Madison School District is considering ways to increase school security in response to the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last week, though arming more school officials is not among them.
In the wake of the massacre, parents, teachers and members of the public have offered dozens of safety suggestions to the district, security coordinator Luis Yudice said Friday.
They include making it easier for teachers to secure their classrooms, training principals to deal with an armed intruder and reviewing the policy of having schools serve as polling places.
Related, via a kind reader’s email:
From: Sara Paton
Date: December 19, 2012 3:20:35 PM CST
Subject: Important Message from Principal Holmes
Reply-To: Sara Paton
Madison Metropolitan School District
The following letter was sent as an email to all students during 8th hour today. Please read:
December 19, 2012
Dear West Students,
There have been several concerns raised about safety and security at West High School over the past few days as it relates to 12/21/12. Safety concerns have included rumors about:
-School closings on 12/21/12
-Comments made by West High students
Administration, security, and police have spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week speaking with students, staff, and parents regarding the concerns that have been raised. All of the information collected has been thoroughly investigated, and we as an administrative team, security staff and police are confident that the concerns raised do not pose a safety risk for the students and staff of West High.
In light of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, tensions are high across the country and threats are more likely to be viewed as potentially dangerous. We want you to be aware that we are taking the concerns very seriously and are taking the necessary precautions to be sure we are safe. Unfortunately, information has been misinterpreted and taken out of context through multiple social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This has created a great deal of anxiety and fear in our school community. Again, we have found no substance to the rumors and no threat to school safety.
In conclusion, we know some students are frightened and some students have been blamed. It is critical at this time that we as the West High community work together to dispel rumors, ensure school safety and create a positive school culture.
Below are some suggestions on steps to take in the event important information comes to your attention:
-Continue to let trusted adults know when you are concerned about safety or someone else’s behavior.
-Be kind and patient with each other. This is a tough time for our school and our country.
-Make healthy decisions for yourself with your parents guidance.
It is up to all of us to be good stewards of our school and work together to protect one another.
Ed Holmes, Principal
Randall Elementary School has one of the lowest poverty rates and some of the highest test scores in Madison. It also has the most experienced teaching staff in the district.
By contrast, Sandburg Elementary has one of the higher poverty rates and some of the lowest test scores. It also has the least experienced teaching staff.
Across the district, schools with higher concentrations of poverty are more likely to have teachers with less experience, according to a State Journal analysis of Madison School District data.
Experts say that while more experience doesn’t guarantee higher quality, teachers often need five to 10 years to reach their peak effectiveness.
“To consistently and disproportionately give the kids who need the most help people who aren’t at their best yet just disadvantages them,” said Sarah Almy, director of teacher quality for the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.,-based group that advocates for raising student achievement.
I quickly compiled the following charts (PDF version) from the 2011-2012 Madison School District’s MAP (Measurement of Academic Progress) math and reading results for Randall and Sandburg Elementary along with the District-wide results.
I added Randall, Sandburg’s and the Madison school district’s 3rd Friday, 2011 enrollment to the charts via the green rectangles. For example, the report states that 30 Sandburg 3rd grader’s took the MAP assessment while the District’s enrollment counts report 44 students in that class.
Howard, who supported Madison Prep, also favors launching pilots to test new approaches to helping struggling students.
“The assumption is that everything is working,” he said, “and it’s not.”
The district should boost efforts to involve more parents in their children’s educations, though that’s not easy.
At the same time, the district needs to pay for a backlog of school maintenance projects without balancing the district budget on the backs of struggling homeowners. Madison is already a high-spending district, so more and more money isn’t the solution.
The school administration’s plan has some merit but mostly stays the course. And more of the same won’t cut it.
The best path now is to recruit more black teachers, try even harder to engage parents, and seek innovation.
MTI President Kerry Motoviloff addressed the Board of Education at its May 21 general meeting. At issue is the District’s plan to introduce more new programs into elementary teachers’ literacy curriculum, including Mondo and 3 new assessments. At the same time, elementary teachers are being told that they will be losing release days for the administration of K-2 testing.
Motoviloff listed more than 13 current K-5 assessments, explaining to Board members that each assessment comes with a set of non-comparable data or scores. She noted that the District has introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009.
Motoviloff stressed that all teachers are concerned about the achievement gap, and that the District needs to walk its own talk relative to ensuring fidelity in the curriculum process. She challenged the District to prioritize essentials, instead of swamping teachers with initiatives while reducing teachers’ time to implement the curriculum with fidelity, and emphasized the need to include time not only for assessments, but also time for teachers to analyze and plan. She also urged the District to stop pitting professional development against planning/prep time.
- Standards based report cards
- 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use
- MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) 90 coming to Wisconsin
I’ve long suggested that the District should get out of the curriculum/program creation business and focus on hiring the best teachers. Like it or not, Oconomowoc is changing the game by focusing efforts and increasing teacher pay. Madison, given our high per student spending and incredible community and academic resources, should be delivering world class results for all students.
I don’t see how more than 18 programs and initiatives can be implemented successfully in just a few years. I’m glad MTI President Kerry Motoviloff raised this important issue. Will the proposed “achievement gap plan” add, replace or eliminate programs and spending?
Meanwhile, Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Madison tenure, which began in 2008, appears to be quickly coming to an end.
Teachers in the Madison School District said the Board of Education there violated the law by imposing a 10% pay cut last week that is retroactive to the beginning of the current school year.
Bobby Robinson, president of the Madison Education Association, which represents 77 teachers and other professional employees, said the union plans to file a lawsuit Monday.
He cited a May ruling in a case that said employers can’t apply a pay cut retroactively.
Robinson said he raised those issues with the district administration after the board took action Monday, but paychecks teachers received Friday reflected the deduction. District and board leaders could not be reached Friday.
“They ignored it,” Robinson said.
A Madison Teachers Inc. endorsement hasn’t always guaranteed victory for Madison School Board candidates.
But this year, with union members mobilized by Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining changes, the upcoming recall elections, a divisive debate over a charter school proposal the union opposed and a looming rewrite of employee work rules, the endorsement could be influential.
“It will be very hard for someone not endorsed by the teachers union to win,” said former School Board member Ruth Robarts, who won re-election in 2004 despite MTI labeling her “Public Enemy No. 1.”
Robarts is one of four candidates in 13 contested races over the past decade who defeated MTI-backed candidates.
This year the union endorsed incumbent Arlene Silveira over Nichelle Nichols, an executive at the Urban League of Greater Madison, which proposed the charter school plan.
The union also endorsed Michael Flores, who gained attention during Capitol protests last year, over Mary Burke for an open seat being vacated by Lucy Mathiak.
Teacher union influence can extend far beyond local school board elections. The influence process can be quite sophisticated and encompasses local and state elections along with the legal system. Teachers are certainly not the only groups to pull different levers, but a complete understanding of the K-12 governance model requires an awareness of the players (it is also useful to consider the “schwerpunkt“, that is “creating a result around a central theme”). The following links are well worth reading:
- WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators
- Arbitrator Rules in Favor of MTI vs WEAC over legal fees
- Sparks fly over Wisconsin budget’s labor-related provisions:
To make matters more dire, the long-term legislative proposal specifically exempts school district arbitrations from the requirement that arbitrators consider and give the greatest weight to revenue limits and local economic conditions. While arbitrators would continue to give these two factors paramount consideration when deciding cases for all other local governments, the importance of fiscal limits and local economic conditions would be specifically diminished for school district arbitration.
- Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman in a 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:
“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).
Matt DeFour’s article failed to include a critical quote: “The school district election is just one piece in the larger chess match”.
Teachers union seniority rules, though, appear less benign.
Joshua Cowen, a University of Kentucky assistant professor of public policy and administration, said there’s “indirect evidence” on “whether unions’ emphasis on seniority hinders academic achievement.”
Specifically, teachers don’t appear to get any better after three years on the job or after getting a master’s degree.
“What this means is that school districts are spending a good deal of money to reward teachers for characteristics that are not really related to student success,” he said.
Matthews, however, said MTI opposes the types of changes Madison Prep would seek, such as eliminating a provision that grants senior teachers priority for new job openings in the district.
“Those are rights people have,” Matthews said. “It gets us right back to why there was so much reaction to what Gov. Walker did last year.”
Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:
Given Act 10’s negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?
Both Silveira and Flores answered Yes.
The Madison School District has agreed to terms for releasing more than 1,000 sick notes submitted by teachers who missed work in February during mass protests over collective bargaining.
The district will remove the teachers’ names and other identifying information from the notes, under an agreement reached Monday with the Wisconsin State Journal, which requested the records under the state’s Open Records Law.
“It’s essentially what we asked for in May,” State Journal Editor John Smalley said Tuesday. “It was never our intention to publish any names or individual situations, but to look at the collective situation of all of these sick notes and how the district as an institution handled it.”
School Board President James Howard said the agreement protects teachers while complying with the newspaper’s needs and a Nov. 21 court ruling ordering the district to turn over the notes. The newspaper sued the district for the records after the district denied requests for them.
Many friends of mine are upset with the legal battle the Wisconsin State Journal waged to obtain the 1,000 sick notes Madison teachers used to get off work during the union protests in February. My own radio host and boss, Kurt Baron, referred to the paper as the “Wisconsin State Urinal” in describing his decision to no longer have the paper as his home page online. Some called into the show and promised to cancel their subscriptions.
Teachers should have a right to individual privacy over their medical records. We shouldn’t know whether John Q. cited herpes or hemorrhoids on his doctor’s note.
I am less sympathetic, however, to the teachers’ right to collective privacy. As long as their names are redacted, the public has the right to know if 273 teachers cited malaria and 345 claimed to suffer from ebola.
Unfortunately the recent ruling will violate individual privacy by allowing the State Journal to see the names of the teachers on the sick notes.
A new analysis (PDF) by the Madison school district shows that the budget submitted by the Urban League of Greater Madison for a pair of sex-segregated charter schools could potentially cost the district an additional $13 million over the schools’ first five years.
The new numbers came as a shock to Urban League president Kaleem Caire, who says that Madison Prep may pull out of a tentative agreement with Madison Teachers, Inc., that would require Madison Prep to hire mostly union staff.
“It’s become clear to us that the most reasonable path to ensure the success of these kids is as a non-instrumentality,” says Caire. “Others on our board want to look at a couple of other options, so we’re looking at those before we make that final determination.”
One of those options would be to scale back the program, including the proposed longer school days and extended school year.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
The Madison School District has reached an agreement with its teachers union over changes to planning time — a resolution Superintendent Dan Nerad said fits within the bounds of the state’s new collective bargaining law.
An earlier proposal prompted hundreds of teachers to protest at a School Board meeting in May and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews to threaten a job action if the matter wasn’t resolved.
The issue relates to changes in the district’s 2011-13 collective bargaining agreement with MTI, which was approved in March before the state’s collective bargaining law took effect.
In the past, disagreements over contract language were often resolved through memorandums of understanding (MOUs). But once the collective bargaining law took effect June 29, districts that approved contracts after Feb. 1 couldn’t modify them through MOUs, or else they would be
Read more: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/article_82b5f386-b25e-11e0-873a-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1SblqTZYo
The Madison School District failed to follow state law when it denied the Wisconsin State Journal access to more than 1,000 sick notes submitted by teachers who didn’t show up for work in February, according to a lawsuit filed by the newspaper Thursday.
The lawsuit, filed in Dane County District Court, asks the court to force the district to release the notes under the state’s open records law, which requires government agencies to release public documents in most circumstances.
The lawsuit says the sick notes are public records because the public has a special interest in knowing how governments discipline employees, who are ultimately responsible to the public.
“We can’t know if things were dealt with appropriately if we can’t see the underlying documents on which decisions were made,” said April Rockstead Barker, the newspaper’s lawyer.
Dylan Pauly, a School District lawyer, declined comment until she had a chance to review the lawsuit.
A group of Madison teachers, dressed in black, shared a message with the district’s school board Wednesday: Let’s get this contract dispute settled.
It’s been 10 months since the bargaining agreement expired for the Madison Local Schools Education Association, a union representing teachers.
The union and the district have locked horns on terms of a new contract. The school board rejected a fact finder’s report in March, which the teachers union voted to accept, and the process continues to stall.
The Madison School District has reached a tentative agreement with all of its unions for an extension of their collective bargaining agreement through mid-2013.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said the agreement includes a 50 percent employee contribution to the pension plan. It also includes a five percentage point increase in employees’ health insurance premiums, and the elimination of a more expensive health insurance option in the second year.
Salaries would be frozen at current levels, though employees could still receive raises for longevity and educational credits.
The district said the deal results in savings of about $23 million for the district over the two-year contract.
The agreement includes no amnesty or pay for teachers who missed four days last month protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employee collective bargaining rights. Walker’s signing of the bill Friday prompted the district and MTI to reach an agreement quickly
A two-year tentative contract agreement has been reached between the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Madison Teachers Union for five bargaining units: teachers, substitute teachers, educational and special educational assistants, supportive educational employees and school security assistants.
District administrators, with the guidance of the Board of Education, and Madison Teacher Inc. reps negotiated from 9 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday when the tentative agreements were completed.
Under details of the contract, workers would contribute 50 percent of the total money that’s being contribution to pension plans. That figure according to district officials, is believed to be very close to the 12 percent overall contribution that the budget repair bill was calling for. The overall savings to the district would be $11 million.
I present Blaska’s Red Badge of Courage award to the Madison Area Technical College Board. Its part-time teachers union would rather sue than settle until Gov. Scott Walker acted. Then it withdrew the lawsuit and asked the board for terms. No dice. “Times have changed,” said MATC’s attorney.
The Madison school board showed a rudimentary backbone when it settled a contract, rather hastily, with a newly nervous Madison teachers union.
The school board got $23 million of concessions over the next two years. Wages are frozen at current levels. Of course, the automatic pay track system remains, which rewards longevity.
The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers, Inc. have reached tentative contract agreements for five bargaining units: teachers, substitute teachers, educational and special educational assistants, supportive educational employees, and school security assistants.
District administrators, with the guidance of the Board of Education, and MTI reps negotiated from 9:00 a.m. Friday until 3:00 a.m. Saturday when the tentative agreements were completed.
The Board of Education held a Special Meeting today at 2:00 p.m. and ratified the five collective bargaining agreements. The five MTI units must also ratify before the contracts take effect.
Summary of the agreements:
Madison School District superintendent Dan Nerad called on teachers late Thursday to end their protest and return to the classroom.
“These job actions need to end,” Nerad said in an e-mail to families of students. “I want to assure you that we continue to examine our options to more quickly move back to normal school days.”
Madison schools are closed Friday for a third straight day. Nerad also apologized for the closures.
On Thursday, state and Madison teachers union leaders urged their members to report to the Capitol on Friday and Saturday for continued protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining proposal.
“Even though the Madison School District can only react to the group decisions of our teachers, I apologize to you for not being able to provide learning for the last three days to your students,” Nerad said.
Mike Lipp is athletic director at Madison’s West High School. Previously, he was a science teacher at the school for 20 years, and coached swimming, soccer and baseball. He also was a science teacher in DeForest for 15 years.
Lipp, 59, this month began a one-year term as president of the teacher unit of Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents teachers, related professionals and school support personnel. His grandmother and father-in-law were union members and he was in the United Auto Workers during a summer when he was a graduate student.
In your personal finances, what would you do if your expenses exceeded your revenue?
That happens in several levels, when you get a mortgage or when you get a car loan. I have never bought a car with cash. … Personally, you can operate in the red but governments have to operate in the black. It’s a funny system.
Madison has never had many black teachers, and now it faces another challenge in providing diverse role models for its students: a wave of black baby boomers nearing retirement.
Nearly 27 percent of the public school district’s African-American teachers, social workers, counselors and other front-line classroom professionals are at or over the district’s minimum retirement age of 55.
Henry Hawkins, an art teacher at Jefferson Middle School, has no plans to retire soon, but the 66-year-old who began teaching in the late 1960s sees the problem: As he’s watched his students become more and more diverse, the diversity among his colleagues has lagged.
“Part of the cycle is for students to be able to identify. It’s important in a sense to see oneself,” Hawkins said.
It’s absurd to believe anyone wants ineffective teachers in any classroom.
So when President Barack Obama, in a speech last fall at Madison’s Wright Middle School, called for “moving bad teachers out of the classroom, once they’ve been given an opportunity to do it right,” the remark drew enormous applause. Such a pledge is integral to the president’s commitment to strengthen public education.
But this part of Obama’s Race to the Top agenda for schools has occasioned much nervousness. Educators and policymakers, school boards and school communities have questions and genuine concern about what it means. What, exactly, is a bad teacher, and how, specifically, do you go about removing him or her from a classroom?
Many other questions follow. Do we have a “bad teacher” problem in Madison? Does the current evaluation system allow Madison to employ teachers who don’t make the grade? Is our system broken and does it need Obama’s fix?
A look into the issue reveals a system that is far from perfect or transparent. But Madison school board President Arlene Silveira agrees it’s an issue that must be addressed.
The national mathematics conference on Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) had a strong Madison School District presence, with teachers there as presenters and attendees.
MMSD teachers involved with the Expanding Math Knowledge grant had the opportunity to attend the conference this summer in San Diego. EMK was a two-year grant funded by the WI Dept. of Public Instruction. The MMSD Dept. of Teaching and Learning collaborated with the UW-Madison College of Education to provide continued and expanded math education for approximately 40 teachers in grades 3-5.
A veteran fourth-grade teacher at Marquette Elementary School was named one of two Wisconsin elementary school teachers of the year today.
State officials surprised Maureen McGilligan-Bentin, who has been teaching 37 years, with the award in a cafeteria full of cheering and clapping students and colleagues.
She will receive $3,000 from U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s education foundation and will be competing for a national teaching award throughout the year.
McGilligan-Bentin, 60, lives in Madison, holds an education degree from UW-Madison and was a former professional dancer.
Madison teachers who participate in the Schools of Hope tutoring program were recognized Tuesday for their role in narrowing the racial achievement gap among students over the last 10 years.
“That’s what school districts around the country are trying to do, and Madison is accomplishing it,” First Lady Jessica Doyle told more than 50 elementary school teachers treated to the first outdoor reception of the season at the governor’s residence overlooking Lake Mendota on National Teacher Appreciation Day.
“Because of you and that extra energy you put in,” Doyle said, “more students can succeed and this whole community can be living with hope.”
But while Matthews laments the failures of government to improve teaching and learning, he glosses over his own pivotal role in local educational leadership. That role includes standing in the way of programs like 4-year-old kindergarten that could help the district meet its educational objectives.
Beginning in the next few weeks, a school board made up mostly of rookies will begin to address the challenges ahead. A new superintendent starting July 1 — Daniel Nerad, formerly top dog in Green Bay — inspires hope of new solutions to nagging problems. But the third pillar of power is John Matthews. He’s been around the longest and arguably knows the most.
Already, Matthews has cemented his legacy from building a strong, tough union. But now, some are wondering if Matthews will also leave behind a legacy of obstructing key educational change.
Clusty Search: John Matthews.
Researcher: Sadhana Puntambekar
Phone: (608) 262-0829
Link to site: www.compassproject.net/info
Science Magazine: The World of Undergraduate Education
Previous participants include:
Kelly Francour: email@example.com
Dana Gnesdilow: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hands-on science lab activities provide students with engaging ways to learn. But sometimes students don’t fully learn the concepts behind what they’re doing.
A hypertext computer environment being developed and field tested gives students graphical ways to practice learning and relating science concepts like ‘force’ and ‘energy,’ for example.
The program, called CoMPASS, helps ensure that hands-on construction activities leads to student understanding of the underlying deep science principles and phenomena.
UW-Madison education professor Sadhana Puntambekar points out that reading, writing, and communicating are an essential part of science instruction.
Research has pointed out the important role of language in science. Yet informational text is seldom used to complement hands-on activities in science classrooms.
This CoMPASS computer environment gives students a graphical, interactive, hypertext ‘concept map’ to help students visualize concepts and their relations. Navigating these ‘concept maps’ helps student make connections between abstract concepts, and to select text resources based on the relatedness of the documents to each other.
Eighth-grade students using the CoMPASS ‘concept maps’ performed better on essay question requiring depth. On a concept mapping test, students using CoMPASS made richer connections between concepts in their own maps (6th and 8th grades)
The CoMPASS environment helps teachers, too. It gives them another way to observe how well students learn.
The system is being used in inquiry-based curriculum units in sixth and eighth grade science classes. To date, CoMPASS has been used by over 1000 students in sixth and eighth grades in Wisconsin and Connecticut.
2.1MB PDF First, a disclaimer. I am far from an expert on most of the topics which will be illustrated by questions. One of my aims in giving this talk is to let others know about a serious problem which exists beyond the problem of mathematical knowledge of teachers. I have written about the problem […]
Most of the $37M that the Madison school district will spend this year for employee health insurance goes to the cost for covering our teachers and their families. That’s about 10% of the total annual budget. I support high quality health insurance for all of our employees. As a school board member, I also have […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: In the Seat 4 race, candidate David Blaska has said there should be a drive-through window at the Doyle Administration Building to approve more charter schools. His opponent, Ali Muldrow — who was endorsed by the influential Madison Teachers Inc. before the Feb. 19 primary — has two children who attend Isthmus Montessori […]
Alan Borsuk: There are other items in Evers’ proposal that certainly appeal to teachers. Here’s one that has gotten little attention: “The Governor recommends requiring that teachers are provided the greater of 45 minutes or a single class period for preparation time each day.” Where did that come from? It was an idea pushed by […]
The Economist: “I LIKE CATS, unicorns and peace, but I love my teacher!” declares one sign, with two rainbows, held by a young pupil at Crocker Highlands Elementary School in Oakland on a weekday morning. She should have been at school, but instead she joined her mother and thousands of Oakland’s teachers outside City Hall. […]
ABC 7: The Albany Teachers Association is currently in negotiations with its district. Their contract expires in the fall. They feel the real battle though is with the state and plan on addressing school funding with Governor Gavin Newsom. “Because the districts can do what they can do, but the state has a lot more […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: In an open letter to the community released Thursday morning, Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham acknowledged that the district “cannot be silent” on issues of racial justice. The letter comes eight days after media reports surfaced regarding an alleged assault at Whitehorse Middle School. In that incident, which is still being investigated […]
Logan Wroge: Throughout the public comment period, board members faced accusations of racism and white supremacy for not doing enough to improve the school environment for students of color. Brandi Grayson, co-founder of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, said black children act out in school because they are “dehumanized every day, all day.” “Because […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: “We initially started as a way to create a safe space for black educators, whether it’s teachers, staff, anyone who has contact with children,” said Rachelle Stone, a fourth-grade teacher at Huegel Elementary School. “We first pushed the district to make sure the curriculum was culturally relevant. It wasn’t until this year that […]
Chris Rickert: What is the most pressing issue facing the Madison School District and how would you address it? Blaska: The overly bureaucratic Behavior Education Plan is both symptom and cause. After four years and $15 million, suspensions have declined 15 percent but “behavior incidents” have nearly doubled and the racial disparity remains unmoved. Worse, […]
Amos Roe: What defines a good school? Nearly every report, comparison or analysis on education labors under the assumption that this can be found in some form of test scores. Ever since No Child Left Behind made its debut in 2001, top-down government-funded education has proceeded from one failed experiment to another. Testing is now […]
Logan Wroge: What is the most pressing issue facing the Madison School District and how would you address it? Mertz: Trust and accountability. Providing our students with the education they deserve requires repairing the collapses of trust within our schools, and between our families and our schools. We need to exercise respect for one another, […]
Chris Rickert: Endorsements in this month’s School Board primary from the influential Madison teachers union include one for a candidate who sends her two children to the kind of charter school strongly opposed by the union. Madison Teachers Inc. this week endorsed Ali Muldrow over David Blaska, Laila Borokhim and Albert Bryan for Seat 4; […]
David Blaska: The occasion was a school board candidate forum. An organization named GRUMPS sponsored it. It stands for GRandparents United for Madison Public Schools. Its major domos are former school board members Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, Arlene Silviera, and Carol Carstensen. We also encountered former board guys Bill Keyes, Bill Clingan, and […]
I’ve added the following audio recordings to the 2019 Madison School Board Candidate page. WORT FM Candidate discussion 2.5.2019 Cris Carusi and Kaleem Caire [mp3 audio] Mr. Caire: “If we don’t reach our benchmarks in five years, they can shut us down”. There is no public school in Madison that has closed because only 7 […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement. “Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said. Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early […]
Chris Rickert: According to emails released to the State Journal under the state’s open records law, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham on Sept. 10 asked her chief of staff, Ricardo Jara, and other front-office officials whether Arbor was “worth trying to stop? Or change somehow? If so, how?” Cheatham expressed the district’s opposition to the school in […]
Christopher Osher: But districts are free to use their READ Act per-pupil funds on whatever curriculum they want, even on interventions researchers have found ineffective. “Typically, as with any education policy, we’re only given so much authority on what we can tell districts to do and what we monitor for,” Colsman said in an interview […]
Chris Reed: In August 2009, at a seminar in Sacramento sponsored by the Public Retirement Journal, the chief actuary of the California Public Employees’ Retirement system — who thought he was at a closed event with no media present — made a grim, startling pronouncement that was unlike anything ever said publicly by his bosses […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: With the Madison School Board primary election less than a month away, a crowded field of nine candidates will make their case to voters in the coming weeks, starting with a forum on Feb. 5. Here’s a closer look at how candidates are making their case to voters. Seat 3 Kaleem Caire, an […]
Laurie Frost and Heff Henriques: Children who are not proficient readers by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Additionally, two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare. Though these dismal trajectories are well known, Madison School District’s reading scores for minority students remain unconscionably low and […]
Negassi Tesfamichael m: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? The answer lies in state law. Tucked into a section of state statutes about how school boards and districts are organized is a requirement that applies directly to MMSD. The requirement says that unified school districts — such as MMSD — “that […]
Neil Heinen: There is so much to like about One City’s structure and operation, starting with founder, President and CEO Kaleem Caire. Caire’s bedrock passion for education has always been part of what hasn’t always been a straight-line career path. But all of the elements of his business, civic, nonprofit and activist education ventures have […]
The Grade: There are two main reasons why Eliza Shapiro’s New York Times piece, Why Black Parents Are Turning to Afrocentric Schools, is this week’s best. The first is that it’s a really well-written piece of journalism. The second is that it addresses an important and previously under-covered topic: parents of color interested in alternatives […]
Chris Rickert: In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.” Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: Madison School Board candidate Skylar Croy said in an interview with the Cap Times Friday that he would suspend his campaign and withdraw from the Seat 3 race, citing personal reasons. Because Croy turned in his verified nomination signatures on Wednesday to the city clerk’s office, the third-year University of Wisconsin law student’s […]
Merrilee Pickett: I attended a Madison City Council police oversight committee meeting and was surprised that I was one of only a handful of citizens in attendance. The others in attendance were the usual people who are quoted in the local media, and who evidently have great influence over members of the City Council. Was […]
Seat 3 Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison Seat 4 David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison Seat 5 TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., […]
Chris Rickert: Some Madison schools will participate next year in a Black Lives Matter event that features a call to “fund counselors, not cops” — despite the School Board’s decision this week to keep police officers in the Madison School District’s four main high schools. Hamilton Middle School said in an email to community members […]
Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques: Dear Editor: We read “The new math: how data is changing the way teachers teach” with great interest. We learned that for freshmen at East High School, coming to school 90 percent of the time, having a 3.0 grade point average, and having no more than two failing grades is […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: The Madison School Board’s general election is still nearly five months away, but candidates have been jumping into the race the past few weeks at a rapid pace. Three seats on the seven-person School Board will be on the ballot this spring, and each seat will be contested. Here’s what you need to […]
Gary L. Kriewald: It appears we are headed toward a School Board election that promises something new: a candidate whose voice will do more than add sound and fury to the liberal echo chamber that is Madison politics. David Blaska has the background, experience and most importantly the courage to expose the abuses and neglect […]
Chris Rickert: Meanwhile, in a sign of how the Madison district is responding to subsequent charter applications, former Madison School Board member Ed Hughes said he went before the Goodman Community Center’s board on the district’s behalf on Sept. 24 to express the district’s opposition to another proposed non-district charter school, Arbor Community School, which […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: Mertz said he will look to highlight his record during the campaign, and also talk about building trust and accountability in the Madison Metropolitan School District. “In order for us to provide our students the education they deserve, we need to work to repair the breakdowns of trust we see manifested in the […]
Chris Rickert: Caire, 47, is a Madison native who in 2011 mounted a contentious and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get the School Board to approve what was initially conceived as an all-male public charter school serving those who have long struggled in Madison’s traditional public schools: poor children and children of color. In an interview, […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: “I’ve been working in the field ever since,” Caire said in an interview with the Cap Times. “The number one thing is that I’ve been really frustrated about how little attention is focused on young people in our city and country.” One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early Learning Center, is […]
Points and figures Have you heard of Bill Easterly? He is an economics professor at NYU. He wrote a book, The Tyranny of Experts. I’d suggest that you read it. It seems as though everyone is quoting from Hillbilly Elegy these days and I think I’d rather see them pick up the ethos of this […]
Chris Rickert: It starts with safety and discipline,” said Blaska, who on his blog has been sharply critical of the district’s deliberations over whether to continue stationing Madison police officers in the high schools. Despite raucous protests by the activist group Freedom Inc., a committee of the board recommended on Sept. 26 that the police […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: Carusi, who has been a district parent for more than a decade and was an active parent-teacher organization member, will seek to unseat incumbent School Board member Dean Loumos, who currently holds Seat 3. Carusi ran in the 2017 primary for Seat 6, which opened up after current mayoral candidate Michael Flores decided […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: A second candidate has announced that she will run for a seat on the Madison School Board this spring. Ananda Mirilli, who first ran for School Board in 2013, filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office Wednesday announcing she will run for Seat 5, which is currently held by TJ Mertz. Mirilli finished third in […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: Students at Memorial got a chance to reflect on their immigration experiences for about a month prior to the recordings this week. They then will work with teachers to turn their stories into personalized essays that eventually make it into the books, whose proceeds go entirely toward funding the next set of books. […]
Max Diamond Phelps reflects a national trend in which high schools across the country have both high absenteeism and high graduation rates. A recent national study by the U.S. Department of Education showed that about one in sevenstudents missed 15 days or more during the 2013-14 school year – the year before the national high school graduation […]
Lisa Speckhard Pasque: “Many of our students came to us and said, ‘We really want to go to Madison College, but we need this skill first, and mostly it’s English language skills,” Burkhart said. “It’s feeling more confident, it’s feeling better about your ability to succeed at the college.” On Thursday, the Literacy Network announced […]
Emily Hanford: Our children aren’t being taught to read in ways that line up with what scientists have discovered about how people actually learn. It’s a problem that has been hiding in plain sight for decades. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, more than six in 10 fourth graders aren’t proficient readers. It […]
Michael Crawford: Among the 29 countries and economies of the East Asia and Pacific region, one finds some of the world’s most successful education systems. Seven out of the top 10 highest average scorers on internationally comparable tests such as PISA and TIMSS are from the region, with Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Hong […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: Principals at O’Keeffe Middle and Marquette Elementary schools are facing criticism after a Code Red drill — a procedure designed to help students and staff prepare for threats such as a school shooting — was not conducted in accordance with Madison School District guidelines. At both O’Keeffe and Marquette, teachers and students did […]
Jenny Peek: Just three months ago, the school community was roiling over a blog post penned by teacher Karen Vieth about Sherman and its former principal, Kristin Foreman. “I am leaving this district, because I cannot serve the children I love in the current climate,” Vieth wrote. “I have never seen a building as deeply […]
Scoot Milfred and Phil Hands: Usual mumbo-jumbo, we do on this podcast. Why don’t we invite in today some experts to talk about our topic which is around school. Which Madison is finally going to give a try this fall to experts. I know very well we have all hands on deck here. We have […]
Tom Still: In fact, there are solid reasons why Wisconsin schools might not offer computer science courses. In addition to money, schools wonder where they can find instructors and what courses they might teach in a world where technology changes rapidly. Other local districts aren’t keen on state requirements of any type. Still others think […]
Amber Walker: Critics were also concerned about Madison Prep’s operating costs — totaling $11,000 per student — and its reliance on non-union staff in the wake of Wisconsin’s Act 10, a state law that severely limited collective bargaining rights of teachers and other state employees which passed early in 2011. Caire said despite the challenges, […]
Alan Borsuk: But consider a couple other things that happened in Massachusetts: Despite opposition, state officials stuck to the requirement. Teacher training programs adjusted curriculum and the percentage of students passing the test rose. A test for teachers In short, in Wisconsin, regulators and leaders of higher education teacher-prep programs are not so enthused about […]
Mark Sommerhauser: Wisconsin school districts ratcheted up health care costs on teachers and other employees after the state’s Act 10 collective bargaining changes, with the average district now requiring teachers to pay about 12 percent of their health insurance premiums, newly released data show. Madison schools are near the low end of what districts now […]
Madison School District Administration (4.7MB PDF): Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham: In the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), we have a common vision. We want every school to be a thriving school that ensures every student graduates ready for college, career, and community. Thanks to our community’s support, we are in a sound financial position to make […]
Chris Rickert: Foreman, who did not respond to requests for comment, says in a letter to Sherman staff earlier this week that she will be making “some key changes in my leadership approach” in the coming school year, which she coins the “year of renewal.” Among them are meeting with teachers union officials to discuss […]
Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Wisconsin Reading Coalition has alerted you over the past 6 months to DPI’s intentions to change PI-34, the administrative rule that governs teacher licensing in Wisconsin. We consider those changes to allow overly-broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test for new teachers. The revised PI-34 has […]
Greta Kaul: Nearly half of U.S. states have not seen education spending recover to pre-recession levels, but Minnesota’s has recovered at a faster clip than districts average nationally. Before the recession, in 2008, Minnesota districts spent $11,864 per student. In 2015, the most recent data available, they spent $12,666. Note: Data shown in 2018 dollars, […]
Erin K. Washburn, Candace A. Mulcahy, Gail Musante and R. Malatesha Joshi: Current understandings about the nature of persistent reading problems have been influenced by researchers in numerous fields. Researchers have noted that a current and accurate understanding of reading disabilities, such as dyslexia, can be helpful in assessing, teaching and supporting indi- viduals with […]
Alan Borsuk: There was not much reaction and certainly no surge of commitment and effort. Jump ahead to now. Everything that was true in 2004 remains true. NAEP scores come out generally every two years and a new round was released a few days ago. The scores for Wisconsin stayed generally flat and were unimpressive. […]
Michael Petrilli: It’s easy for us armchair-quarterbacks of education to cast stones at teachers and principals who give diplomas to students who didn’t earn them. But a more constructive conversation would start with a mea culpa: We have made a complete hash of the policies governing high schools and what’s expected of young people seeking […]
Matt Barnum: Others say the issue is one of priorities, pointing to big increases in nonteaching school staff, like aides, custodians, and counselors, and greater teacher retirement costs. Higher pay means teachers are more likely to stay in the classroom. That’s linked to increased student achievement. There’s a lot of variation in how much teachers […]
Andrew Waity, Karen Vieth, Andrew Mayhall, Cari Falk, Kira Fobbs, Jessica Hotz, Michael Jones, Kerry Motoviloff, and Peter Opps: Superintendent Cheatham, We saw the article in the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday, March 26th and found the tone of your quotes in the article disturbing and provocative. We have heard similar concerns from MTI membership. […]
Amber Walker: In December 2017, Madison deputy mayor Gloria Reyes announced her candidacy for Madison School Board seat one. Incumbent Anna Moffit was elected to the seat in 2015 after running unopposed in her first election. In February, Moffit and Reyes participated in their first candidate forum. The candidates discussed the state of arts education […]
Jay Greene:: A 7-year veteran teacher teaching in Arizona’s Paradise Valley Unified School District has created a social media firestorm by posting her pay stub on social media- $35,621. Before writing anything else, I like anyone else want to pay dedicated teachers much better than this. Teacher compensation decisions however are made at the district/campus […]
2018 – Kansas City Star Editorial: Taylor was blunt in linking educational attainment with dollars spent. “The analysis finds a strong, positive relationship between educational outcomes and educational costs,” Taylor concluded. She also said a 1 percentage point increase in graduation rates is associated with a 1.2 percent increase in costs in lower grades and […]
WORT-FM: On a day when students across Madison and across the nation are walking out of their schools for National Walkout Day, we’re talking about guns in schools. If teachers have guns — who will get shot? Substitute host Harry Hawkins tackles gun violence in schools with Sherry Lucille, Retired School Counselor and Jalateefa Joe-Meyers, […]
Lisa Speckhard Pasque: In an often passionate debate that can become a battle between extremes, Robert Butler, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, doesn’t think there’s a top-down, one-size-fits-all solution. On an episode of the Sunday political talk show “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Butler suggested asking local police, liability carriers and […]
Amber Walker: Madison School Board member Kate Toews had a suggestion for the district at Monday night’s board meeting: an interior lock on every classroom door. Toews’ idea came towards the end of a board discussion about the 2018-2019 school district budget. Toews said the Madison Metropolitan School District should install locks on all classrooms […]
Pamela Cotant: The certification came with a 4.5 percent increase in pay and the satisfaction that she is doing more than “delivering some kind of curriculum you’ve been handed,” Folberg said. She said that is especially important because as a teacher of English language learners she is working with families who have to rely on […]
Amber Walker: To determine where the most experienced teachers work in the Madison School District, the Cap Times analyzed staff data from the 2016-2017 school year collected by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. DPI’s all-staff report catalogs salary, position, experience level and demographic data of all faculty and staff in the state’s public schools. […]
Molly Beck: Six years after Gov. Scott Walker and state Republicans made labor unions’ ability to retain members much more difficult, fewer than half of the state’s 422 school districts have certified unions. In the latest certification election — held in November and required by Walker’s signature 2011 legislation known as Act 10 — staff […]
Transcript (via a machine learning app – apologies for errors): I am currently the reading interventionist teacher at West High School. I’ve been there for 4 years. Previous to that I’ve been in the school district as a regular ed teacher for about 20 years. I started in the early 90s. I have (a) question […]
Amber Walker: Students also suggested that schools develop a system for students to share feedback about their teachers’ performance. Kayvion James-Ragland, a junior at La Follette High School who is a member of the African-American Youth Council, said that feedback is usually top down, with teachers being able to express how they feel about students, […]
Karen Rivedal: “Kids aren’t going to be able to take risks and push themselves academically, without having a trusting support network there,” said Lindsay Maglio, principal of Lindbergh Elementary School, where some teachers improved on traditional get-to-know-you exercises in the first few weeks of school by adding more searching questions, and where all school staff […]