One City: New School, New Look, Great Progress

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email: We’ve been quiet because we’ve been building. We have some exciting updates to share with you as we move forward to establish One City Early Learning Centers on Madison’s South Side. Since August, we have: Established a 15-member Board of Directors Filed for nonprofit recognition with the IRS Identified … Continue reading One City: New School, New Look, Great Progress

OneCity Early Learning Centers: A New Plan for South Madison Child Development Incorporated (DRAFT)

OneCity Early Learning Centers by Kaleem Caire and Vivek Ramakrishnan (PDF), via a kind reader In the fall of the 2013-14 school year, public school children across Wisconsin completed the state’s Knowledge and Concepts Exam, an annual test that measures their knowledge, ability and skills in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and … Continue reading OneCity Early Learning Centers: A New Plan for South Madison Child Development Incorporated (DRAFT)

The First Two Years

Stephen Buzrucha: The life-course perspective in particular is out of the public eye. Looking more deeply into research on the effects of early life, it is possible to estimate that roughly half of our health as adults is programmed from the time of conception to around two years of age. The importance of these “first … Continue reading The First Two Years

Empowering the Future through our kids: South Madison Child Development

Kaleem Caire, South Madison Child Development: We are embracing the future and the need to change to ensure that more of Greater Madison’s children are ready to read, compute and succeed educationally by the time they begin first grade. Please join us on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 5:30pm at South Madison Child Development Incorporated … Continue reading Empowering the Future through our kids: South Madison Child Development

Illinois: Different standards for different students

Diane Rado: Under a dramatic new approach to rating public schools, Illinois students of different backgrounds no longer will be held to the same standards — with Latinos and blacks, low-income children and other groups having lower targets than whites for passing state exams, the Tribune has found. In reading, for example, 85 percent of … Continue reading Illinois: Different standards for different students

A few links on the April, 2014 Madison School Board Election & Climate, 1 contested seat, 1 uncontested

Interview with MMSD School Board candidate Wayne Strong Safe schools and high academic achievement: High academic achievement, for Strong, means that all of our MMSD students are achieving to the fullest extent of their abilities. “Whether you are a TAG [Talented and Gifted] or a special-needs student or whether you are a middleof- the-road student, … Continue reading A few links on the April, 2014 Madison School Board Election & Climate, 1 contested seat, 1 uncontested

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Public Purse Media Spending Oversight, or note…. Bread & Circuses

Compare: Three reporters assigned to the Urban League’s governance transition: 1. Steven Elbow: Madison Urban League chair: Kaleem Caire’s credit card use an ‘internal’ issue. 2. Dee Hall: Urban League head: Kaleem Caire’s ‘integrity intact’. 3. Dean Mosiman: Kaleem Caire’s departure followed concerns about credit card use, overwork. 2005 a reporter follows a story with … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Public Purse Media Spending Oversight, or note…. Bread & Circuses

Madison Prep and Urban League to seek new vote on Madison Prep

For immediate release: January 12, 2012
Contact: Laura DeRoche-Perez
Director of School Development
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 S. Park St., Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
608-729-1230 (office)
608-556-2066 (cell)
Urban League and Madison Prep Boards to Hold Press Conference
Will announce their plans to seek a new vote on authorizing the opening of Madison Prep for 2013
WHAT: Madison Preparatory Academy and the Urban League of Greater Madison will announce their intentions to seek a February 2012 vote by the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education to authorize Madison Prep to open in the fall of 2013. Three MMSD Board of Education members have already shared their support of the motion.
WHEN: 3:30 pm CST, Friday, January 13
WHERE: Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St., Madison, WI 53713
WHO: Madison Preparatory Academy Board of Directors
Urban League of Greater Madison
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche-Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at or 608-729-1230.

Impact of Poverty on Families

I received this e-mail from Kaleem Caire, Executive Director of Fight for Children based in Washington D.C. Mr. Caire is a former Madison resident who although ran unsuccessfully for Madison School Board in 1998 brought up many key issues regarding Minority Student Achievement. Kaleem Caire wrote: A short, important slide presentation: Enough said. Kaleem … Continue reading Impact of Poverty on Families

“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, … Continue reading “And I am going to call it Madison Prep.”

A somewhat connected (one end of the class spectrum) view of the State of Madison’s $395M Public School District

Mary Erpenbach (and This story was made possible by supp​ort from Madison Gas & Electric, Summit Credit Union, CUNA Mutual Foundation and Aldo Leopold Nature Center.):

Today, Caire’s tone has moderated. Somewhat.
“Teachers are not to blame for the problems kids bring into the classroom,” he says. “But teachers have to teach the kids in front of them. And Madison teachers are not prepared to do that. Now we have two choices: Make excuses why these kids can’t make it and just know that they won’t. Or move beyond and see a brighter future for kids.”
Many parents back him up. And many parents of students of color say that their experience with Madison’s public schools–both as students here, themselves, and now as parents–is simply much different and much worse than what they see white students and parents experiencing.
“I just always felt like I was on as a parent, like every time I walked through the door of that school I would have to go to bat for my son,” says Sabrina Madison, mother of a West High graduate who is now a freshman at UW-Milwaukee. “Do you know how many times I was asked if I wanted to apply for this [assistance] program or that program? I would always say, ‘No, we’re good.’ And at the same time, there is not the same ACT prep or things like that for my child. I was never asked ‘Is your son prepared for college?’ I never had that conversation with his guidance counselor.”
Hedi Rudd, whose two daughters graduated from East and son from West, says it has been her experience that the schools are informally segregated by assistance programs and that students of color are more likely to be treated with disrespect by school personnel. “Walk into the cafeteria and you’ll see the kids [of color] getting free food and the white students eating in the hall. I walked into the school office one day,” she recalls. “I look young and the secretary thought I was a student. She yelled, ‘What are you doing here?’ I just looked at her and said, ‘Do you talk to your students like that?'”
Dawn Crim, the mother of a daughter in elementary school and a son in middle school, says lowered expectations for students of color regardless of family income is an ongoing problem. “When we moved to Madison in 1996, we heard that MMSD was a great school district … and for the most part it has been good for our kids and family: strong teachers, good administrators, a supportive learning environment, and we’ve been able to be very involved.”
“Regarding lower expectations for kids of color, not just disadvantaged kids, we, too, have experienced the lower expectations for our kids; overall there is a feeling and a sense of lower expectations,” Crim says. “And that should not come into play. All of our kids should be respected, pushed, have high expectations and should get the best education this district says it gives.”
In the meantime, the school district has been running programs in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Madison, UW-Madison, United Way of Dane County, the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, and other organizations–all designed to lift scholastic achievement, close the gap, and get more kids graduated and on to college.
The Advancement Via Individual Determination program known as AVID (or AVID/TOPS, when coordinated with the Teens Of Promise program) is run by the district and the Boys and Girls Club here, and is a standout in a slew of public/private efforts to change the fate of students of color in Madison.
At the end of the last school year, a total of four hundred forty-two students did not graduate on time from high school in Madison. One hundred nine were white, eighty-six were Hispanic, thirty-three were Asian and one hundred ninety-one were African American. If the graduation rate for African American students had been comparable to the eighty-eight percent graduation rate of white students, one hundred forty more African American students would have graduated from Madison high schools.
But they did not. While it’s true that the district actively searches out students who did not graduate on time, and works with them so that as many as possible do ultimately graduate, the black-and-white dividing line of fifty-five/eighty-eight remains for now the achievement gap’s stark, frightening, final face. What can be said is that many more Madisonians are paying attention to it, and many people in a position to make a difference are doing their level best to do something about it.
“One of the reasons we haven’t been as successful as we could be is because we’ve lacked focus and jumped from initiative to initiative,” she (Cheatham) says of the Madison schools.

Related: notes and links on Mary Erpanbach, Jennifer Cheatham and Madison’s long term disastrous reading scores.
Background articles:
Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before (2005).
Notes and Links on the Madison K-12 Climate and Superintendent Hires Since 1992.
My Life and Times With the Madison Public Schools
Latest Madison Schools’ 2013-2014 $391,834,829 Budget.

Education forum shows divide persists over Madison’s achievement gap strategy

Pat Schneider:

But divisions over strategy, wrapped in ideology, loom as large as ever. The mere mention that the education forum and summit were on tap drew online comments about the connection of school reformers to the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that generates model legislation for conservative causes.
Conspiracy theorists, opponents retorted.
Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey walked out early from the fundraising luncheon because he didn’t like what Canada and Legend were saying about the possibility of reform hinging on the ability to fire ineffective teachers.
Thomas J. Mertz, a parent and college instructor who blogs on education issues, expressed in a phone interview Friday his indignation over “flying in outside agitators who have spent no time in our schools and telling us what our problems are.”
Mertz said he also was concerned by the involvement of the Madison School District with events delivering anti-union, anti-public education, pro-charter school messages. The school district, for its part, took pains to say that the $5,000 it donated in staff time was for a Friday workshop session and that it had no involvement with the appearances by Canada and Legend.
Madison doesn’t need a summit to whip up excitement over the achievement gap issue, Mertz said when I asked if the Urban League events didn’t at least accomplish that. “It’s at the point where there’s more heat than light,” he said. “There’s all this agitation, but the work is being neglected.”
That’s a charge that School Board President James Howard, who says that the district might decide to mimic some of the practices presented at the summit, flatly denies. “We’re moving full speed ahead,” he said.
Caire told me that the school district and teachers union aren’t ready to give up their control over the school system. “The teachers union should be the entity that embraces change. The resources they get from the public should be used for the children’s advantage. What we’re saying is, ‘Be flexible, look at that contract and see how you can do what works.'”
Madison Teachers Inc. head John Matthews responded in an email to me that MTI contracts often include proposals aimed at improving education, in the best interests of students. “What Mr. Caire apparently objects to is that the contract provides those whom MTI represents due process and social justice, workplace justice that all employees deserve.”
If Caire has his way, Madison — and the state — are up for another round of debate over how radically to change education infrastructure to boost achievement of students of color.

More here and here.

Madison Urban League and high-profile guests discuss achievement gap at education summit opener

Mario Koran:

But, Caire said, the biggest misperception about the achievement gap is that the same disparities exist across the county and that the problems are insurmountable.
“You guys, that’s just not true,” he said.
“People are doing this all over the country, proving it’s not the kids,” he added. “It’s the structure, and it is the adults that have to be changed. There’s some personal responsibility that has to be taken: we’re not going to allow the same thing that’s been going on to [keep] going on.”
Canada challenged school districts to rethink their approaches to education by engaging students; “to prove something can work, then scale that up.”
“We’re not saying privatize education, we’re saying let’s try some innovation, hold some people accountable, this is moderate stuff, but because the climate has been so resistant to change it sounds revolutionary,” he said.
Legend recognized that nationally, school districts face limited budgets but said countries with fewer resources are doing a better job of educating their students.

Average Milwaukee Public Schools Teacher Salary Plus Benefits Tops $100,000; Ramifications

MacIver Institute:

For the first time in history, the average annual compensation for a teacher in the Milwaukee Public School system will exceed $100,000.
That staggering figure was revealed last night at a meeting of the MPS School Board.
The average salary for an MPS teacher is $56,500. When fringe benefits are factored in, the annual compensation will be $100,005 in 2011.
MacIver’s Bill Osmulski has more in this video report.

Related Links:

Finally, the economic and political issue in a nutshell: Wisconsin’s taxbase is not keeping up with other states:

Schools: The Disaster Movie A debate has been raging over why our education system is failing. A new documentary by the director of An Inconvenient Truth throws fuel on the fire.

John Heilemann:

The Harlem-based educator and activist Geoffrey Canada first met the filmmaker Davis Guggenheim in 2008, when Canada was in Los Angeles raising money for the Children’s Defense Fund, which he chairs. Guggenheim told Canada that he was making a documentary about the crisis in America’s schools and implored him to be in it. Canada had heard this pitch before, more times than he could count, from a stream of camera-toting do-gooders whose movies were destined to be seen by audiences smaller than the crowd on a rainy night at a Brooklyn Cyclones game. Canada replied to Guggenheim as he had to all the others: with a smile, a nod, and a distracted “Call my office,” which translated to “Buzz off.”
Then Guggenheim mentioned another film he’d made–An Inconvenient Truth–and Canada snapped to attention. “I had absolutely seen it,” Canada recalls, “and I was stunned because it was so powerful that my wife told me we couldn’t burn incandescent bulbs anymore. She didn’t become a zealot; she just realized that [climate change] was serious and we have to do something.” Canada agreed to be interviewed by Guggenheim, but still had his doubts. “I honestly didn’t think you could make a movie to get people to care about the kids who are most at risk.”
Two years later, Guggenheim’s new film, Waiting for “Superman,” is set to open in New York and Los Angeles on September 24, with a national release soon to follow. It arrives after a triumphal debut at Sundance and months of buzz-building screenings around the country, all designed to foster the impression that Guggenheim has uncorked a kind of sequel: the Inconvenient Truth of education, an eye-opening, debate-defining, socially catalytic cultural artifact.

Related: An increased emphasis on adult employment – Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s recent speech to the Madison Rotary Club and growing expenditures on adult to adultprofessional development“.
Everyone should see this film; Waiting for Superman. Madison’s new Urban League President, Kaleem Caire hosted a screening of The Lottery last spring. (Thanks to Chan Stroman for correcting me on the movie name!)
Caire is driving the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy International Baccalaureate charter school initiative.

Urban League president proposes Madison International Baccalaureate charter school geared toward minority boys

Susan Troller:

“In Madison, I can point to a long history of failure when it comes to educating African-American boys,” says Caire, a Madison native and a graduate of West High School. He is blunt about the problems of many black students in Madison.
“We have one of the worst achievement gaps in the entire country. I’m not seeing a concrete plan to address that fact, even in a district that prides itself on innovative education. Well, here’s a plan that’s innovative, and that has elements that have been very successful elsewhere. I’d like to see it have a chance to change kids’ lives here,” says Caire, who is African-American and has extensive experience working on alternative educational models, particularly in Washington, D.C.
One of the most vexing problems in American education is the difference in how well minority students, especially African-American children, perform academically in comparison to their white peers. With standardized test scores for black children in Wisconsin trailing those from almost every other state in the nation, addressing the achievement gap is a top priority for educators in the Badger State. Although black students in Madison do slightly better academically than their counterparts in, say, Milwaukee, the comparison to their white peers locally creates a Madison achievement gap that is, as Caire points out, at the bottom of national rankings.
He’s become a fan of same-sex education because it “eliminates a lot of distractions” and he says a supportive environment of high expectations has proven to be especially helpful for improving the academic performance of African-American boys.
Caire intends to bring the proposal for the boys-only charter prep school before the Madison School Board in October or November, then will seek a planning grant for the school from the state Department of Public Instruction in April, and if all goes according to the ambitious business plan, Madison Prep would open its doors in 2012 with 80 boys in grades 6 and 7.
Forty more sixth-graders would be accepted at the school in each subsequent year until all grades through senior high school are filled, with a total proposed enrollment of 280 students. A similar, same-sex school for girls would promptly follow, Caire says, opening in 2013.
Five things would make Madison Prep unique, Caire says, and he believes these options will intrigue parents and motivate students.

It will be interesting to see how independent (from a governance and staffing perspective) this proposal is from the current Madison charter models. The more the better.
Clusty Search: Madison Preparatory Academy.