Madison School District proposes using screening test to predict teachers’ impact on student success

Molly Beck: The Madison School Board is considering spending $273,000 on a screening program its creators say can better predict whether prospective teachers will improve student achievement. The proposed three-year contract with Chicago-based TeacherMatch would provide the district with a system to track and recruit applicants, ask teacher candidates a timed series of questions and […]

Consultant: Madison schools should use its mission to recruit minority teachers

Pat Schneider:

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.

Madison Superintendent: Teachers Must Get on Board with Tech Plan

Pat Schneider:

“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.

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

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.

Terry Flores

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”.

Madison School Forest a teachers’ educational tool

Jeffrey Davis:

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.

Madison School Board Candidate & advocate TJ Mertz talks about Madison Prep, teachers and school ‘reform’

Pat Schneider:

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.

Parents, teachers, public offer ideas for ways to increase security at Madison schools

Matthew DeFour:

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:
-Bomb Threats
-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
Madison West

In Madison, poorer schools get less-experienced teachers; A Comparison of Randall & Sandburgs MAP Results

Matthew DeFour:

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.

Recruiting More Black Teachers Should be a Madison School District Goal

The Wisconsin State Journal:

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.

Related: Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009” and the Madison School District’s strategic plan update.

Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”

Solidarity Newsletter by Madison Teachers, Inc. (PDF):

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.


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.

Madison (MI) School District teachers call 10% pay cut illegal, threaten lawsuit

Lori Higgins:

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.

Teachers Union & (Madison) School Board Elections

Matthew DeFour:

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”.

(Madison) Teachers’ seniority rules not related to students’ success

Chris Rickert:

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.

Related: Madison Prep supporters revamping proposal to overcome district objections; Seniority Changes

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.”

Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

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.

Madison School District agrees to release teachers’ sick notes

Steve Verburg:

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.

Jack Craver:

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.

Cost for union teachers could be game changer for Madison Prep deal

Nathan Comp:

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.

Madison schools resolves planning time dispute with teachers union

Matthew DeFour:

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:

Newspaper’s lawsuit seeks sick notes for Madison school teachers during protest

Matthew DeFour:

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.

Madison (OH) teachers wear black to show frustration over negotiations

Bryan Bullock:

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.

Madison School District reaches tentative contract agreement with teachers’ union

Matthew DeFour:

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.

David Blaska

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.

NBC 15

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 Superintendent Nerad calls on teachers to return to classroom

Gena Kittner:

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.

Related: Judge denies Madison School District request to stop teacher sick-out and “Who Runs the Madison Schools?

Know Your Madisonian: Mike Lipp on the teachers’ union, educating and coaching sports in Madison

Ken Singletary:

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 Area schools face a big task in hiring and keeping minority teachers

Gayle Worland:

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.

What happens to Madison’s bad teachers?

Lynn Welch:

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.

Latest issue of MMSD Today: Madison School District teachers experts in system of math instruction

Dawn Stiegert @ The Madison Metropolitan School District:

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.

Madison Marquette Elementary teacher named one of two Wisconsin elementary school teachers of the year

Patricia Simms:

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.


Schools of Hope teachers recognized for narrowing racial achievement gap among Madison students

Sandy Cullen:

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.”

John Matthews has run Madison’s teachers union for 40 years. Is it time for a change?

Jason Shephard:

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.

A UW-Madison education prof seeks middle school science teachers to participate in a professional development project.
Improving science teaching with hypertext support

Researcher: Sadhana Puntambekar
Phone: (608) 262-0829
Link to site:
News context:
Science Magazine: The World of Undergraduate Education
Previous participants include:
Kelly Francour:
Dana Gnesdilow:
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.

Commentary on the taxpayer supported Madison K-12 climate

David Blaska: Would that there have been a few more courageous citizens. These names come to mind for lack of courage: Dave Cieslewicz. The former mayor has condemned identity politics on his Isthmus column; he could have spoken up. The Madison police union considered endorsing Blaska because he is the only candidate on the local […]

Weekly Update Shared to Madison School Board Members

Curiously, this document is NOT shared as part of the Madison School Board public documents. Chan Stroman obtained the April 4, 2019 70 page package via an open records request (!). The April 4, 2019 document contains a number of interesting links and shares, including a summary of Governor Ever’s (Former long time Wisconsin DPI […]

2019 Madison School Board Election Result Commentary

David Blaska: I met many people throughout the city (and reconnected with sister Jane). Gratified at the many educators, teaching support staff, and mainstream Democrats who said they voted for me. Another shout-out to liberal downtown Madison blogger Greg Humphrey. That took courage. We started a long overdue conversation in this community. That will continue. […]

2019 Madison School Board election Commentary

Seat 3: Caire vs. Carusi Logan Wroge: “There’s no one in the history of Madison schools that has my professional record,” he said. Carusi has reviewed budgets and policies during 12 years of attending School Board meetings and has actively served in parent leadership roles, which puts her in a “unique position of someone who’s […]

Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction “DPI”, lead for many years by new Governor Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results. Chan Stroman tracks the frequent Foundations of Reading (FoRT) mulligans: Yet the statutory FoRT requirement is now deemed satisfied by “attempts” […]

K-12 Governance Diversity: Madison Commentary

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 […]

Madison schools superintendent pens open letter following Whitehorse incident, calls for action

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 […]

Rhetoric and Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

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 […]

2019 Candidate Q&A: Madison School Board, Seat 4

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, […]

2019 Madison School Board Election: Seat 5 Q&A from the WiSJ

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, […]

K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results

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; […]

Commentary on a 2019 Madison School Board Candidate Forum

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 […]

Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance

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 […]

UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

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 […]

“One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”

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 […]

deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

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 […]

Re-thinking integration, Parents and the Madison Experience

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 […]

2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!

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., […]

Organization vs Mission: Madison’s legacy K-12 Governance model vs Parent and Student choice; 2018

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 […]

Cris Carusi announces run for Madison School Board 2019

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 […]

Ananda Mirilli is running for Madison School Board (2019)

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 […]

Missing the Lead: “We’re trying to build a pipeline:’ Largest-ever gift to Literacy Network will help send students to Madison College”

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 […]

Two Madison schools held an active shooter drill and students and staff didn’t know it was a drill

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 […]

“And I am going to call it Madison Prep.”

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, […]

Wisconsin Act 10 Commentary: Madison schools are near the low end of what districts now require for teacher health insurance premium contributions, at 3 percent,

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 Spending June 25, 2018 Update

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 […]

Novice Teachers’ Knowledge of Reading-related Disabilities and Dyslexia

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 […]