Wisconsin’s Budget Deficit Grows to $652,000,000

Jason Stein:

The state’s projected two-year budget shortfall has doubled to a hefty $652.3 million, the Legislature’s budget office reported today.
The potential deficit, up from last month’s estimates of $300 million to $400 million, represents a much greater challenge for lawmakers and Gov. Jim Doyle as they attempt to balance the state’s books in the face of a looming national recession and falling state tax revenues.
The red splashed across the state’s books also increases the chance that officials might have to cut programs, raise taxes or raid other state funds to cover the shortfall.
The state’s January 2008 report on tax collections — which includes key sales from the holiday retail season — and the forecasts for this month point to “further weakness” in tax revenues, the report from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau found.
That means a $586.5 million projected decrease in state collections and a $34.9 million decrease in interest income and other revenue to state agencies, the report found.

2008_02_13_Revenue estimates.pdf 84K

These deficits, along with a number of other issues, make it unlikely that we’ll see meaningful new state redistributed tax dollars for the Madison School District. Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s website.
Greg Bump has more.

Case Studies of Higher-Performing Middle Schools


Case studies are produced as part of a larger study of middle schools conducted during the 2006-07 school year. Research teams investigated ten consistently higher-performing and six consistently average-performing middle schools based on student performance on New York State Assessments of 8th-grade English Language Arts and Mathematics.
Research teams used site-based interviews of teachers and administrators, as well as analysis of supportive documentation, to determine differences in practices between higher- and average-performing schools in the sample.

The Early Bird Gets the Bad Grade

Via a reader’s email: Nancy Kalish:

IT’S Monday morning, and you’re having trouble waking your teenagers. You’re not alone. Indeed, each morning, few of the country’s 17 million high school students are awake enough to get much out of their first class, particularly if it starts before 8 a.m. Sure, many of them stayed up too late the night before, but not because they wanted to.
Research shows that teenagers’ body clocks are set to a schedule that is different from that of younger children or adults. This prevents adolescents from dropping off until around 11 p.m., when they produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and waking up much before 8 a.m. when their bodies stop producing melatonin. The result is that the first class of the morning is often a waste, with as many as 28 percent of students falling asleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. Some are so sleepy they don’t even show up, contributing to failure and dropout rates.
Many of our presidential candidates have been relatively silent on how they plan to save our troubled education system. For those still searching for a policy that might have a positive impact, here’s an idea: stop focusing on testing and instead support changing the hours of the school day, starting it later for teenagers and ending it later for all children.

Quality Counts State K-12 Survey: Wisconsin = C+

Editorial Projects in Education Research Center [1.2MB PDF]:

The 12th annual edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts continues the cradle-to-career framework launched in last year’s report. But it also reintroduces some of the categories in which we have graded states in the past, though some of the indicators and the grading have changed. The cradle-to-career perspective emphasizes the connections between K-12 education and other systems with which it intersects: preschool education, other social and economic institutions, and further education and training.
To emphasize this approach, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center last year created two new state-performance measures: the Chance-for-Success Index and the K-12 Achievement Index. These indicators, respectively, capture key learning foundations and outcomes at various stages in a person’s life and the performance of the states’ public schools. Coupled with that heightened attention to outcomes, the 2007 edition of Quality Counts examined a series of policies that states could pursue to better align public education from preschool to postsecondary education and into the workplace.

Inspired by networking sites, teens creating more online content

Ellen Lee:

More and more teenagers are publishing their photos, diaries, videos and art online, fueled in part by social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, according to a report released Wednesday.
Almost two-thirds of online teens have created something online, whether it’s a personal Web page or a remixed video, according to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Sites such as Facebook and MySpace have opened the doors, giving them many of the necessary tools.
“Social networking is this fabulous opportunity to share content,” said Amanda Lenhart, co-author of report. “You’re not just posting it in a vacuum. You’re also getting feedback from people.”
The report found that 39 percent of online teens have shared their personal art, photos, stories or videos on the Internet, up from 33 percent in 2004. Almost 30 percent have penned their own online journal or blog, up from 19 percent in 2004. And 26 percent, up from 19 percent, have remixed content – often known as mashups – using the content they find online and turning it into their own creations, the study said.
“I think it’s becoming a cultural norm for younger people to share and produce information and content for their peers online,” said Fred Stuzman, co-founder of ClaimID.com and a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

More on Wisconsin 4 Year Old Kindergarden

Amy Hetzner:

On the heels of news that better than two-thirds of the state’s school districts now offer 4-year-old kindergarten, an apparent backlash has turned the tide in several southeastern Wisconsin school districts.
First, there was the Elmbrook School Board narrowly rejecting administrators’ proposal to extend a 4K pilot that’s several years old. Then, on Monday, the Muskego-Norway School Board unanimously shot down a proposal to start junior kindgarten.
Last night, the Plymouth School Board held an hours-long hearing into whether to continue a 4K program that was started just last year. One of the guests was Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman, a vocal opponent of 4K who has previously compared the publicly funded preschool program to communist schemes.

Related – Marc Eisen: Missed Opportunity for 4K and High School Redesign.

High school biowizards break new ground in winning competition

Bernadette Tansey:

When Robert Ovadia got his invitation, he couldn’t believe it.
He and four other students from his biotechnology class at Abraham Lincoln High School not only had an offer of paid summer lab jobs, they also would have a chance to square off against the world’s powerhouse science universities.
In their Sunset District classroom, biotech teacher George Cachianes told the seniors they could be part of a team that would compete at iGEM, the international Genetically Engineered Machine competition. The contest founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focuses on synthetic biology, one of the most far-out of new scientific fields. It treats the building blocks of life – proteins and other molecules created by cells under instructions from DNA – as engineering parts that can be cobbled together to make anything from a new microorganism to a computer component. With luck, the Lincoln kids might help break new ground in science.
“I’m like, ‘It’s too good to be true,’ ” Ovadia remembers thinking.
The invitation came from UCSF Professor Wendell Lim, whose lab explores how cells process information and send signals. Lim knew his teenage proteges would face fierce competition from college teams at Harvard, Princeton and dozens of other elite universities around the globe.

iGEM website.

The HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) Coalition

The HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) Coalition is a grassroots group of concerned parents, educators, and community members who believe creating and sustaining new educational options would strengthen MMSD. New options in public schools would benefit students, families, teachers, and our community. Options are needed because “one size does not fit all”! The diversity … Continue reading The HOPE (Having Options in Public Education) Coalition

Preparing STEM Teachers: The Key to Global Competitiveness

Sean Cavanaugh 884K PDF: The document, produced by the Washington-based American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, provides descriptions of 50 teacher-education programs around the country. Although the report does not identify any single program or approach as most effective in swelling the ranks of math and science teachers, it says that more institutions are … Continue reading Preparing STEM Teachers: The Key to Global Competitiveness

Wisconsin “Languishing” on Policies Affecting Teachers

National Council on Teacher Quality: [864K PDF Report] Area 1 – Meeting NCLB Teacher Quality Objectives: Grade C Wisconsin has better data policies than many states, which can help it ameliorate inequities in teacher assignments. The state’s subject matter preparation policies for future elementary teachers need improvement. Its requirements for future high school teachers are … Continue reading Wisconsin “Languishing” on Policies Affecting Teachers

Letters Regarding “In Search of the Master Teacher”

NYT Letters to the Editor regarding Kristoff’s recent column on teachers: To the Editor: I retired to South Carolina in 2004 after 35 years as a teacher, administrator and superintendent in New York. I have permanent New York certification in secondary English, special education and as a school district administrator. Thinking I might teach in … Continue reading Letters Regarding “In Search of the Master Teacher”

Spring 2007 Madison School Board Election Update: Vote April 3!

Christine & Trent Sveom kindly forwarded candidate responses to additional questions not contained within the previously posted Video from the March 5, 2007 West High Forum. The questions: Please explain your views on additional charter schools given the success of Nuestro Mundo here in Madison and several offerings in Appleton just to name a few? … Continue reading Spring 2007 Madison School Board Election Update: Vote April 3!

New Orleans’ Schools: Reading, Writing, Resurrection

Amy Waldman: The storm ravaged the city’s architecture and infrastructure, took hundreds of lives, exiled hundreds of thousands of residents. But it also destroyed, or enabled the destruction of, the city’s public-school system—an outcome many New Orleanians saw as deliverance. That system had begun with great promise, in 1841, as one of the first in … Continue reading New Orleans’ Schools: Reading, Writing, Resurrection

Whole-language Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Louisa Moats 324K PDF: How to Tell When “Scientifically-Based Reading Instruction” Isn’t. In this practitioners’ guide, renowned reading expert Louisa Moats (author of the American Federation of Teachers’ Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science and an earlier Thomas B. Fordham Foundation report, Whole Language Lives On: The Illusion of “Balanced” Reading Instruction) explains how educators, parents, … Continue reading Whole-language Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Madison Student SAT Results Released

Madison Metropolitan School District [SAT Wisconsin Report – 244K PDF]: Madison students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scored significantly above their state and local peers, continuing a trend of more than a decade. Madison students’ composite score was 1251, well above Wisconsin students’ composite score of 1188 and the national composite of 1021. (See … Continue reading Madison Student SAT Results Released

Best Practices Studies

National Center for Educational Accountability: This report explores the possibility of reaching higher standards for all students in all schools and suggests the principles and practices for doing so. Of course, moving any school system from knowing what high-performing systems do, to doing what high-performing systems do is a complex process. Strong agreement about what … Continue reading Best Practices Studies

DPI News

Wisconsin DPI announced the formation of an advisory council on Charter Schools (PDF) and High Schools – via wispolitics Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, WEAC plans to spend $358K to support incumbent Libby Burmaster, more than the $313K (Burmaster = 250K, Underheim = 64K) both candidates have raised to date – via Alan Borsuk! Mary … Continue reading DPI News

FOIA, Blogshine Sunday & Madison School Board Election

Freeculture.org sponsored blogshine Sunday, a day when news organizations run stories and editorials in support of public access to government information. The internet has substantially improved citizen’s ability to see who is funding elected officials directly and indirectly. The Madison City Clerk conveniently posts campaign finance information on their website. I took a quick look … Continue reading FOIA, Blogshine Sunday & Madison School Board Election

Retention Rates & Comparative Performance – ACE White Paper

Don Severson: Active Citizens for Education’s Retention Rate White Paper: [64K PDF] The Madison Metropolitan School District has one of the highest costs per pupil of any school district in the state ($12,500, 2004-05). Madison District officials state that the high cost per student is needed in order to achieve success in many of the … Continue reading Retention Rates & Comparative Performance – ACE White Paper

ACE Fund 80 White Paper

Don Severson forwarded the most recent Active Citizens for Education White Paper on the MMSD’s Community Service Fund (Fund 80) [64K PDF]: The Community Service Fund is used as an administrative and accountingmechanism for activities such as adult education; community recreation programs, such as evening swimming pool operation and softball leagues; elderly food service programs,non-special … Continue reading ACE Fund 80 White Paper