I was asked to post the following letter from Robert Rickman, MMSD instrument teacher, to Rita Applebaum, MMSD Interim Fine Arts Coordinator:
Dear Ms. Applebaum,
I was recently informed that you spoke to Mark Messer, Memorial High School orchestra teacher, about the 4th and 5th grade Strings classes. I am shocked to hear that you have moved to eliminate fourth grade Strings classes based upon a conversation with him, and a hurried and undiscussed vote from Strings teachers that you solicited by e-mail the day before school was out.
Continue reading Dear MMSD Interim Fine Arts Coordinator –
Music education in Madison’s public schools has been on the chopping block for the past four years, beginning with the Superintendent’s proposed cut to Grade 4 strings. All the proposed cuts were made without any planning for changes, and the harshest cuts came this year, again without any planning for change among the key stakeholders and those most affected by the change – our children. This past year, in the absence of a fine arts coordinator, a team of teachers was to be put into place to oversee fine arts education – this did not happen but an interim fine arts coordinator was hired in the spring. Perhaps it’s time for the community to form a task force to collaborate on future directions and an educational framework for music education in our public schools?
This spring 60% of the elementary string staff was cut – 4 FTEs will teach nearly 2,000 children in 27 schools next year, 10% of the elementary music staff was cut and instrumental and vocal music were proposed for afterschool at Sherman Middle School.
Continue reading Music Education in MMSD Needs Help from the Madison Community
Well-reported story on the realities of school choice in Milwaukee. Vouchers are the lifeblood of religious schools in Milwaukee and religion permeates instruction.
Continue reading Vouchers underwriting religious schools in Milwaukee
A new worldwide chain of for-profit colleges started to go public with its plans last month for Whitney International University, which will offer a range of programs in numerous countries. At the time, Best Associates, the Dallas-based merchant bank that is creating Whitney, said it also had plans for teacher education in the United States.
Those plans are now starting to emerge — and the American College of Education, as this effort will be called, represents a new model for training teachers. In fact, organizers of the teacher education program make no effort to hide their disdain for most programs that exist today.
Ruth Robarts wonders what the future is for advertising & the Madison Schools. Reader Troy Dassler, seeing an opportunity, quickly created a mockup for Ruth. Click on the image above for more “details” 🙂
HOW LAPHAM ELEMENTARY ACHIEVED SUCCESS BY BUCKING THE DISTRICT’S FAVORED APPROACH
By Katherine Esposito
“At Marquette Elementary, Lapham’s 3rd through 5th grade sister school, skillful use of Direct Instruction has resulted in reading scores for Marquette third-graders that are virtually unsurpassed district-wide. Scores for black students particularly stand out.
In 1998, just 9% of Marquette black third graders were considered “advanced” readers, as measured on the third-grade state reading comprehension test; by 2003, 38% were “advanced.” District-wide, only 9% of black children scored as “advanced” in 2003.”
Read the full article here.
Johnny Winston Jr., chair of the Finance and Operations Committee of the Madison School Board, kicked off a new discussion of the possible role of business ads to raise money for our schools at the June 13 meeting of his committee. Committee member Lawrie Kobza asked the administration to bring back information about what other districts are doing beyond the advertisements in yearbooks, school newspapers and the like. Good ideas, both.
However, why stop there? Maybe there are products looking for School Board member endorsements.
Continue reading What’s the Future for Ads in the Madison Schools?
Madison School Board Vice President Johnny Winston, Jr. held a Finance & Operations Committee meeting this evening. Winston discussed and sought feedback on new methods that the Board and District might use to interact with the public. Notes and links are available on the Finance & Operations Committee Blog.
The Madison School District has a useful summary of current and completed grants. The page includes the type of grant, amount and Project Director.
I put the vote totals on the Leopold referendum for a few wards into an
Exel file. Here’s what the numbers show:
68.2% Eastside (Tenny-Lapham neighborhood, Marquette, Lowell)
48.2% Leopold area (Wards 67,68,69, 84, 85, 86)
30.4% Northeast side (North Sherman Avenue area)
Please check my figures with the official tally. I want to be certain the numbers are correct.
I’d also like to break down the vote by high school attendance area, but that will take a little time. Anyone else willing to do it?
Colin Benedict also explained the voting trends on Channel 3 on “election night.”
Suzy Grindrod writes that Madison school bureaucrats’ decisions are short-sighted and are Stringing the kids along
So they make the arts unworkable in early elementary school, they gut the incredibly successful elementary strings program, they remove band and orchestra from core curriculum in middle school … and then they are going to complain that there is no diversity in the high school bands and orchestras and — CHOP.
There is something fundamentally wrong with what is happening in Wisconsin’s Capitol city — a community that just built a $200 million arts district downtown, as these short-sighted and creatively stunted bureaucrats make it unlikely that many Madison kids will end up on Overture’s stage in the future unless they have the money to buy private lessons.
Can Madison turn this disgraceful situation around before the existing cost-effective MMSD music education curriculum implodes and vanishes from public school and performance music education is only for those who can pay?
Continue reading There is Something Seriously Wrong with Music Education in MMSD
Doug Erickson, WI State Journal reporter, writes about Nuesstro Mundo, MMSD’s bi-lingual charter school – Two-language school is seen as muy bueno
Alan Borsuk & Sarah Carr visit many Milwaukee voucher schools. Here’s their story.
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial Page (this link will go away soon as the WSJ takes them down…):
State lawmakers once again faced a tough job with few easy answers when Gov. Jim Doyle handed them his state budget request four months ago.
Credit the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee for resisting a borrowing binge and for slapping Doyle’s hand when he reached for pots of money he shouldn’t touch.
The committee, led by Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R- Juneau, reversed about half of Doyle’s raid of highway dollars and stopped him from looting an account that pays for medical malpractice claims. Money for those programs comes from fees and taxes that users pay with the understanding those dollars won’t be diverted.
The committee also stopped Doyle from borrowing money based on the future collection of excise taxes. Instead, the committee paid for medical care for the poor, elderly and disabled with real dollars.
That’s the good part, along with the committee’s empathy for the beleaguered property taxpayer.
But let’s remember how the state’s finances got screwed up to begin with. State leaders patched gaping holes in past budgets using one-time money that’s now gone. They also backloaded past budgets to push higher costs – both for expensive new programs and tax cuts – into the future.
The Cap Times published two articles today on East High:
- Lee Sensenbrenner interviews new Principal Alan Harris
- Pat Scheider writes about East High United, a new parents advocacy group.
Rock Springs, WY Teacher Jennifer Wilmetti writes:
While the intent of the No Child Left Behind Act was praiseworthy, the means put in place to achieve the goals are flawed in several ways.
Madison Teachers, Inc., the Madison teachers’ union, has recently ratified its collective bargaining agreement with the Madison school district for 2005-06 and 2006-07. Later this month, the Board of Education will have its chance to ratify the agreement, although the board gave preliminary assent on June 6.
On June 10, Isthmus writer Jason Shepard provided an excellent analysis of the ways that providing Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS) to the teachers drives up the cost of each contract. The article also questions the relative quality of the WPS coverage. See “District ties to WPS prove costly”, available at many locations in Dane County.
The following graphs, based on data from MMSD, illustrate the impact of high cost WPS coverage on the cost of the two-year contract and the extent to which access to WPS coverage for roughly half of the teachers receiving health insurance through MMSD erodes wage gains.
Continue reading Teacher Health Insurance Costs: Why They Matter
Patrick Marley, Steve Walters and Stacy Forster:
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee adopted a budget early today that tightly limits property taxes, cuts the gas tax by a penny and phases out taxes on Social Security benefits.
The budget includes $458 million more for schools, less than half what Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle proposed in his version of the budget. The state is spending about $5.3 billion on schools this year.
The Republican-controlled committee passed the budget on an 11-5 vote at 6:15 a.m., after all-night deliberations. Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) joined the four Democrats on the committee in voting against the budget, which he said included too much spending and borrowing.
Republicans said schools would flourish under their spending plan, and warned Doyle not to veto their school budget or their property tax limits. If Doyle did so, schools could raise much more cash, but it would come from local property taxes instead of state income and sales taxes.
Governor Doyle referred to this as a “cut”, while, in fact, state aid to local schools will evidently continue to go up – more than twice as much as the current budget. It would be great if the politicians would be truthful… on both sides.
UPDATE: Phil Brinkman adds more details: evidently the Republicans (read this carefully) reduced the allowed increase in per pupil spending from $248 in 2005/2006 and $252 in 2006/2007 to 120 and 100. So, if I read all this correctly, spending continues to grow, just at a lower rate. The Republicans claim that the 248 and 258 increase from the current per pupil spending amounts would lead to large local property tax jumps over the next two years.
UPDATE2: More from JR Ross. Via Wispolitics. Ross points out a great example of the doubletalk: the Republicans bill cuts the gas tax by .01 BUT, the tax is indexed to inflation so it actually increases annually anyway.
UPDATE3: Here’s the Bill AB100
Lisa Snell, writing in Reason Magazine:
But while federal and state legislators congratulate themselves for their newfound focus on school accountability, scant attention is being paid to the quality of the data they’re using. Whether the topic is violence, test scores, or dropout rates, school officials have found myriad methods to paint a prettier picture of their performance. These distortions hide the extent of schools’ failures, deceive taxpayers about what our ever-increasing education budgets are buying, and keep kids locked in failing institutions. Meanwhile, Washington—which has set national standards requiring 100 percent of school children to reach proficiency in math and reading by 2014—has been complicit in letting states avoid sanctions by fiddling with their definitions of proficiency.
The federal government is spending billions to improve student achievement while simultaneously granting states license to game the system. As a result, schools have learned to lie with statistics.
The agenda of the Finance and Operations committee meeting for Monday, June 13 contains these items:
4. Communication to the Public about the Proposed 2005-06 Budget
6. Nontraditional Communication Strategies to Speak to Community Stakeholders.
Mark Twain once remarked: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug.”
For me, “communication to” and “speak to” is vastly different than “communication with” and “speak with” — like the difference between “lightening” and “lightening bug”.
I can hear the failed referenda supporters and the supporting press editorials: Just needed a little better PR.
“With” has this strong flavor of team work, working together, listening: dialog!. “To?” Well, that has been the legacy of the Administration and Board.
But, no, folks. “With” is not a four-letter word. It needs to be used, again and again, until it becomes part of the Administration’s and Board’s culture.
A reader forwarded this article: Jay Mathews, writing in the Washington Post:
So when I found a new attack on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the nation’s leading association for math teachers, by a group of smart advocates, I saw a chance to bring some clarity to what we call the Math Wars. For several years, loosely allied groups of activist teachers and parents with math backgrounds have argued that we are teaching math all wrong. We should make sure that children know their math facts — can multiply quickly in their heads and do long division without calculators, among other things — or algebra is going to kill them, they say. They blame the NCTM, based in Reston, Va., for encouraging loose teaching that leaves students to try to discover principles themselves and relies too much on calculators.
Continue reading More on Math
JFC budget for public schools even worse than expected
Contact your legislators about anti-public education budget
Opportunities to fight against Finance Committee’s budget
Help WAES spread the school-finance reform message
School-funding reform calendar
The Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) is a statewide network of educators, school board members, parents, community leaders, and researchers. Its Wisconsin Adequacy Plan — a proposal for school-finance reform — is the result of research into the cost of educating children to meet state proficiency standards.
JFC budget for public schools even worse than expected
Just when public school advocates thought funding problems couldn’t get any worse, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) proved them wrong.
Early Friday, the panel adopted motions that not only reduced the Governor’s public school budget by over $300 million, but also slashed the public school revenues local school boards anticipated in their budgets for the 2005-06 school year. In addition, the committee drastically reduced Governor Jim Doyle’s categorical aid package.
Continue reading Joint Finance Committee Republicans Bail on Funding Education
UW’s Dick Askey emailed links to two of his papers on Elementary Math Curriculum:
- Good Intentions Are Not Enough (PDF)
While there was a need to do something to improve school mathematics education, NCTM did not face up to the most critical problem, the lack of firm content knowledge of far too many teachers. There were other lacks in their program. NCTM did not look seriously at mathematics education in other countries. Mathematicians were not involved in the development of the Standards. The NCTM authors of their Standards had the strange notion that it is possible to teach conceptual understanding without developing technical skill at the same time. Instances of all of these failures and what came from them will be given below.
- Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics (PDF)
Elementary school mathematics, it turns out, is not so elementary. This means that teaching it well requires much deeper mathematical knowledge than almost everyone has thought. There will be no math reform unless we provide teachers with the training, textbooks, time, and support needed to develop this knowledge.
The NYTimes’ Tom Friedman has a nice piece on the importance of good teachers in our children’s education. As the mother of a graduating senior, I wish there was space here to list the terrific teachers (as well as TAG and guidance staff) both our children had while attending Franklin/Randall, Wingra, Hamilton and West. Our deepest gratitude to those who helped our kids love to learn.
Continue reading Behind every grad
Why is the MMSD annexing more students on the West side when there’s such a concern about space? What attendance areas include the annexed land? I wonder too about the fiscal impact of adding more students. Will more students lead to more program cuts, so that the additions really become a fiscal drain rather than a fiscal benefit?
I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m genuinely asking why adding students is a good idea. It may be a perfectly good approach, but it just seems odd given the controversy about West side enrollment and overcrowding.
I’ve actually been wondering whether the MMSD shouldn’t give up some kids to other school districts on the West side. In particular, I wonder about the penninsula that feeds into Leopold. Or by contrast, annexing the land and kids who lie between the penninsula and Chavez and building an elementary school in that annexed territory to relieve the overcrowding at Leopold.
I’m not advocating anything, so don’t “bust my chops.” I’m just thinking out loud.
Have you ever seen the television show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things” hosted by Bill Cosby? Since becoming elected to the Madison school board, I have had students say all kinds of the “darndest” things to me. Here are a few examples…
Continue reading Out Of The Mouths Of Babes
Jason Shephard emailed a copy of his article on Madison Schools’ Healthcare costs. This article first appeared in the June 10, 2005 issue of Isthmus. The Isthmus version includes several rather useful charts & graphs that illustrate how the Madison School District’s health care costs compare with the City and County. Pick it up.
Continue reading Shephard: Madison Schools WPS Insurance Proves Costly
From Milwaukee Magazine:
On the day Dante Hamilton came to Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary School on Milwaukee’s North Side, he was like most African-American children who enroll in urban school districts in the United States. He was already behind. . . .
Fortunately for Dante, he had what the Chinese call the luck of time and place when his mother enrolled him at Hawthorne. Today, at age 10, he is a fourth-grader who reads at a sixth-grade level.
The article continues for several pages and insightfully covers a wide range of relevant topics on schools.
Christina Daglas article in the Cap Times on 6/8/05 refers to John Matthews, head of MTI, and his position on the board of WPS the insurance company that provides policies to the Madison school teachers as not having a conflict of interest. I have no information that Mr. Matthews has done anything wrong however, I strongly dispute the fact that this is not a conflict of interest. This is the first I have heard of his position on the board of WPS. I have asked the board many times why teachers are under such an expensive health care contract when many families in the community of Madison are well served by U.W. providers under a less expensive program, mine included. I was told many times the cost savings would be small to switch to a different carrier but this newly revealed information makes me question whether that is true or not. Per the Capital Times, Mr. Matthews fails to see a conflict of interest…..he fails to see a conflict of interest. I guess I keep repeating this statement and wondering how he can not see a conflict of interest. Anyone else see a conflict of interest?
Thank you to Troy Dassler, Marisue Horton, and others who commented on my report on the meeting of the Long Range Planning Committee on Monday, June 6.
Several people objected to my characterization of the some of the presentations as nasty and bitter. I know that it’s hard to perceive Leopold leaders and supporters as anything but polite, but I was shocked when they launched into immediate denunciations of Ruth Robarts and Lawrie Kobza, blaming them for the defeat of the referendum.
Continue reading Who will invite me to talk with them?
This information was given to Madison school board members via Joe Quick, Legislative Liaison.
Editorial on closing schools
Continue reading Information From School Districts Across The State
Q: How many board members does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: “WHAT!!?!?! CHANGE?” they gasp in horror
No one is going to win as long as there is a divide between the board and the community. It would be great if it were as easy as “we need to educate people,” or, “we need to reach more people,” to pass a referendum as Carol Carstensen has suggested. But that does not appear to be the case.
The issue is not educating, it is persuading people that the board’s strategies are the best options. That cannot be done until all options are on the table with accurate, verifiable, comparative costs and impacts presented so that people can join the board and the administration in supporting its strategies.
This has not happened and, based on the last school board election and the referendum votes, more mailings and radio ads with the same positions is not likely to get more support for the board or its choices.
Using committee meetings to denounce members of the board and citizens who care enough to come to meetings as enemies of public education is not a step forward, either. Particularly when the bashing is based on assumptions rather than fact, as in Juan Lopez’s decision to bash Barb Schrank. Apparently Mr. Lopez was unaware that Barb voted yes on all three questions AND openly urged others to do so. Just how does attacking her publicly win him support for his stated cause?
Continue reading Yes, Change IS Hard
Joint committee to examine health care changes
Union and district officials announced today a tentative teaching contract settlement for the period beginning July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2007. The contract was given preliminary approval by the Board of Education Monday night, and the union membership will vote this Thursday.
Terms of the contract include:
Base Salary Raise – .75%
Benefits – 3.32%
Total – 3.98%
Base salary raise – .90 %
Benefits – 3.07%
Total – 3.97%
Continue reading MMSD-MTI reach tentative agreement on contract
Following are remarks and attachments distributed to the MMSD Board of Education electronically and hard copy on Monday, June 6, 2005, by KJ Jakobson, who is a researcher working with Active Citizens for Education in matters related to health care benefits for school district employees. Discussion and questions may be directed to KJ Jakobson directly and/or to Don Severson.:
Dear School Board,
In light of the referenda failures its time for the district to drive a hard bargain with the union concerning its intransigence with respect to health insurance carriers.
My research indicates there is a win/win solution for teachers, the district and students but WPS has a lot to lose (~8% of its group health business) and won’t give up easily. It is unclear whether, at this point in time, John Matthews is serving the teachers or serving WPS. In any case, I am certain WPS will not give up its favored and special access position at the bargaining table without a big fight. However it is time to face that battle head-on on behalf of teachers, students, taxpayers and most of all the children who are adversely affected when staffing is reduced and programs are cut.
I have attached the following documents:
which hopefully will be of assistance to you in driving a hard bargain on the subject of health care costs.
Continue reading Madison Schools Health Care Cost/Benefit Analysis
Editorial note: Carol Carstensen contacted me to correct the sequence of events at the Long Range Planning Committee meeting on Monday, June 6. She initially suggested the formation of a task force, but couldn’t make the motion because she does not formally serve on the committee.
I apologize that I missed her suggestion. Many of the people who spoke earlier had begun to leave and two or three board members seemed to be talking at the same time.
I edited my original post to include Carol’s role in making the suggestion. Ed Blume
Leopold school supporters packed room 103 of the Doyle Building to speak at a meeting of the Long Range Planning Committee on Monday evening, June 6.
Arlene Silveira led off with a bitter attack on Ruth Robarts and Lawrie Kobza, accusing them of causing the defeat of the referendum to build a second school on the Leopold school site.
Beth Zurbachen followed with an equally nasty attack.
Nearly two dozen more Leopold supporters continued the assault for almost two hours.
Ironically, Lawrie Kobza, at Carol Carstensen’s suggestion, kept their hopes alive. Carol offered the idea of forming a task force. Since she isn’t a formal member of the committee, she could not make a motion. Instead Lawrie made, Juan Lopez seconded, and the committee approved a motion to form a task force to explore attendance issues on the West side.
If Carol hadn’t made the suggestion and Lawrie had not made the motion, the committee would have adjourned with absolutely no movement on solving the overcrowding problem at Leopold, and probably no possibility of considering the issue until late in the summer.
Carol deserves praise for recognizing the need to restart an examination of the overcrowding on the West side.
Lawrie also deserves praise for not behaving vindictively against the Leopold supporters who blasted her. Instead she was more than willing to move toward an inclusive process that might just give the Leopold supporters and all West side children an option to overcrowding.
This is a letter from Sherman Principal, Ann Yehle via Superintendent Rainwater to school board members regarding NOT moving Band & Orchestra to “8th Hour” for the upcoming year. I do have a copy of her original rationale to why she wished to do it. I will send it to anyone who wishes to read it. No changes will take place in the 2005-06 school year.
There appears to be lack of a clear understanding relative to what constitutes the school day as well as what bell schedule changes require a waiver and what bell schedule changes do not require a waiver from the state DPI. From communications with other principals in WI who have performance music at a zero hour, over lunch, or during an “8th hour” there isn’t consistency on whether a waiver from DPI is necessary. At this point given our most recent email communication from Mike George at DPI, there is a possibility that DPI would require us to obtain a waiver. While the reasoning we would provide on the waiver would meet the criteria necessary to get a waiver, align with MMSD strategic plan, Sherman CSR work, and while there is precedence for this move in other WI districts, a public meeting in front of the BOE is necessary. The timing on this would present a challenge for next school year. Furthermore, even though we may not need a waiver, I believe the course of action I outline below to be in the best interests of Sherman Middle School students, staff, families for the 05-06 school year.
Continue reading Band and Orchestra To Remain In the School Day at Sherman
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has sent a letter to members of the Joint Finance Committee and the Milwaukee legislative delegation outlining his concerns regarding funding for public K-12 education.
Perhaps Mayor Dave would like to take a stab at such a message?
From The Capital Times, Monday, June 6
Changes coming in music, art classes
The arts hit hardest in teacher layoffs
By Cristina Daglas
June 6, 2005
Lapham Elementary School music teacher Lynn Najem and art teacher Sally Behr will keep their jobs next year, but their classrooms won’t be what they have been.
Next year, both Behr and Najem will be teaching classes of approximately 22 students in comparison to the previous 15.
The total number of students they teach is not increasing, but the number of classes offered is decreasing. The approximately 230 kindergarten through second-grade students at Lapham will remain the same.
“They think of us as fancy recess … a holding tank,” Najem said. “This is typical of the School Board.”
Continue reading Art Attack at Lapham School
Change is hard! This fact holds true to most businesses or organizations including the Madison Metropolitan School District. Though the MMSD is not dying in the sense of being gone forever, the failure of the operating referendum on May 24th has given the school district the opportunity to develop new service delivery models that may enhance student opportunities for success.
Continue reading Change Is Hard
Amy Hetzner takes a look at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s proposal forwarded to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.
Madison East High School parents, staff, and community members have been working since the beginning of 2005 to create an advocacy and support organization for this key East side school. The group was named at the June 2 meeting:
EAST HIGH UNITED
A parent-teacher-staff-student-community organization
The organization meets as a whole in the East High School cafeteria on the second Thursday of each month. (There is no July meeting, the next meeting is August 11).
In addition, working groups focussed on specific initiatives meet at a time agreed upon by members of those groups. A list of existing and emerging working groups is contained in this report from the June 2 meeting.
Continue reading East High United – June 2 meeting outcomes
Robert Slavin of John Hopkins reports on current educational models that are supported by scientific evidence, and makes recommendations.
Despite some recent improvements, the academic achievement of American students
remains below that of those in most industrialized nations, and the gap between African
American and Hispanic students and White students remains substantial. For many years, the
main policy response has been to emphasize accountability, and No Child Left Behind has added
further to this trend. There is much controversy about the effects of accountability systems, but
they have had little impact on the core technology of teaching: Instruction, curriculum, and
This paper argues that genuine reform in American education depends on a movement
toward evidence-based practice, using the findings of rigorous research to guide educational
practices and policies. No Child Left Behind gives a rhetorical boost to this concept, exhorting
educators to use programs and practices “based on scientifically-based research.” In practice,
however, programs that particularly emphasize research-based practice, such as Reading First,
have instead supported programs and practices (such as traditional basal reading textbooks) that
have never been evaluated, while ignoring well-evaluated programs. The same is true of the
earlier Comprehensive School Reform program, which was intended for “proven,
comprehensive” programs but has instead primarily supported unresearched programs.
This paper reviews research on programs that already have strong evidence of
effectiveness. Programs with strong evidence of effectiveness fell into the following categories.
1. Comprehensive school reform models, which provide professional development and
materials to improve entire schools. Research particularly supports Success for All and
Direct Instruction, but smaller numbers of studies support several additional models
including the School Development Program, America’s Choice and Modern Red
2. Instructional technology. Research supports integrated learning systems in mathematics.
Word processing has been found to improve writing achievement.
3. Cooperative learning programs engage students in small groups to help each other learn.
Many studies support this strategy in elementary and secondary math, reading, and other
4. Innovative mathematics programs. The first What Works Clearinghouse report supported
research on two technology-based programs, Cognitive Tutor and I Can Learn, in middle
schools. Elementary programs such as Cognitively Guided Instruction and Project SEED
also have strong evidence of effectiveness.
5. Innovative elementary reading programs having strong evidence of effectiveness include
Success for All and Direct Instruction, as well as Reciprocal Teaching and Cooperative
Integrated Reading and Composition.
6. Tutoring programs in reading, especially Reading Recovery, have rigorous evaluations
showing their effectiveness.
7. Dropout prevention programs, such as the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program and Alas,
have good evidence of effectiveness.
See Full Report
New York Times editorial by Matt Miller:
Speaking just between us – between one who writes columns and those who read them – I’ve had this nagging question about the whole enterprise we’re engaged in.
Is persuasion dead? And if so, does it matter?
The significance of this query goes beyond the feelings of futility I’ll suffer if it turns out I’ve wasted my life on work that is useless. This is bigger than one writer’s insecurities. Is it possible in America today to convince anyone of anything he doesn’t already believe? If so, are there enough places where this mingling of minds occurs to sustain a democracy?
The signs are not good. Ninety percent of political conversation amounts to dueling “talking points.” Best-selling books reinforce what folks thought when they bought them. Talk radio and opinion journals preach to the converted. Let’s face it: the purpose of most political speech is not to persuade but to win, be it power, ratings, celebrity or even cash.
By contrast, marshaling a case to persuade those who start from a different position is a lost art. Honoring what’s right in the other side’s argument seems a superfluous thing that can only cause trouble, like an appendix. Politicos huddle with like-minded souls in opinion cocoons that seem impervious to facts.
See full editorial
David Blunkett, the Education Secretary who introduced the Literacy Strategy, promised to resign in 2002 unless 80 per cent met the expected standard of English on leaving primary school. The target has never been met, but Mr Blunkett long ago moved on to higher things. Instead, it is the nation’s children who have suffered: between 1998 and 2005, well over a million children have failed to achieve basic standards of literacy. A quarter of a million 11-year-olds are unable to read and write properly.
Yet, as Mr Burkhard and the CPS reported recently, if schools had been allowed to employ the phonics method, illiteracy at age 11 might have been eradicated altogether. Judging by tests in Clackmannanshire, where synthetic phonics have been taught since 1998, the method reduces the rate of reading failure to near zero. The evidence suggests that pupils taught using phonics are over three years ahead of their peers taught by other techniques.
The SUN and Joanne Jacobs have more. I agree with the Telegraph’s perspective on decentraliziation vs. a top down approach.
Board member Ruth Robarts said the mistake was “clearly (Price’s) responsibility” but added that it was unclear whether he would face any real consequences for it.
She mentioned a case a few years ago when the district fired several custodians because Price charged them with “stealing time,” or checking out before their assigned hours. They were fired shortly before Thanksgiving, but were brought back after it was found they were reporting to work early with their supervisors’ approval.
Robarts said those workers faced the most severe form of punishment, while it’s not clear that Price will face anything of the same scale.
She called the incorrect ballots “a very human kind of error,” but added that “you have to be extremely careful, and someone at (Price’s) level knows that.”
Pat Smith, the president of AFSCME Local 60, said he clearly remembers the fight when Price fired 13 custodians. “If one of my Local 60 members makes a costly mistake, hopefully they’ll be treated as good as Roger,” Smith said.
Lord knows, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. I hope the District treats everyone the same in this respect.
Posted in PDF format here
– Expect several public appearances related to the Sherman strings/band programs
– Articulation of committee goals for 05-06
– Recommendations regarding transfer of parcels from Middleton-Cross Plains and Verona districts and related boundary changes
– Purchasing recommendations
WKOW-TV reports on the “flawed election ballots for last week’s Madison School District referendum.”
Milwaukee Superintendent William G. Andrekopoulos wrote a letter (PDF) to the members of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on school funding:
On May 26, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors passed its budget for the 2005-2006 school year. The budget successfully holds the line on taxes with a levy increase of less than one percent.
However, it also marks another year in a long line of years, where harmful cuts will be made to programs. Schools will have fewer resources and students will have fewer opportunities to engage in a full range of educational activities.
I wrote to you by e-mail previously and invited you to submit on the blog goals for the Human Services Committee, which you chair.
I have not yet received a response.
You may recall that I wrote that schoolinfosystem.org will soon launch a page dedicated to the committees of the Board. We hope to post the following items for each committee:
* Goals for the coming year, as set by each chair or committee.
* Meeting agendas.
* Meeting minutes.
* Documents provided to the committee. (We’d like to post these prior to the committee meetings.)
* Notes and videos of the committees if people submit any to the blog.
I’m once again inviting you to provide the goals that the Human Resources Committee will pursue in the coming year. You can post them directly by asking Jim Zellmer to give you a password so that you can post, or you can send the goals to me, and I’ll post them for you.
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Please e-mail the school board. Simply say, “I do not agree with the plan to move Sherman’s curricular performance music classes to an afterschool, 8th hour format. Our children deserve to have their school academic curricular classes during the day not after school.”
And sign your name. It’s as easy as that. School Board members can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader Rebecca Stockwell emailed this link to a PDF document published by the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns (Westchester County, NY) after a renovation & expansion referendum failed. The newsletter begins:
The referendum was to finance a major school facilities renovation and expansion project. The proposal, which was the result of more than two years of analyzing our facilities needs and evaluating options for addressing them, was defeated by a vote of about 1200 to 1000.
Factors that appear to have contributed to the “no” vote include 1) concern about the cost of the project in a community that had not faced a major facilities referendum in 50 years, 2) some disagreement with the scope and/or conceptual design elements of the project, 3) some confusion and mis- trust over the district’s analysis of the tax implications, and 4) the perception by some that they had not had an adequate opportunity to participate in or be fully informed about the process leading up to the project referendum.
At the same time, feedback also strongly indicated widespread support across all segments of our population for continuing to take a long-range, comprehensive approach in addressing our facilities needs.
We have listened carefully to the feedback.
Continue reading NY School Board Actions After a Failed Renovation & Expansion Referendum
The current music education upheaval at Sherman Middle School is about
- what Madison values for our children’s education, such as academic music education during the school day and
- who makes those decisions.
It is not about money, because teacher allocations will be needed to teach the 8th hour same as during the school day.
Making changes that seem to be by fiat may be desirable to the person in charge, but the students and parents are the school’s and district’s customers – please listen to us at the start of a process, let us have time to have meaningful input and comment! Isn’t it the School board who are the district’s policymakers, especially curriculum policy and what defines a school day. Those are the basics! A longer school day might make sense – but not by what appears and feels like fiat and not without public discussions, deliberations and decisions by our School Board.
Continue reading Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool
The Scarsdale (NY) schools have a bond vote June 15. Supporters have published a website, that includes video clips, a FAQ and voter information. This site supports the bond issue, but also includes quite a bit of information. Transparency on these matters is vital, I believe to any hope of success.
Peter T. Kilborn:
Ms. Link and her husband, Jim, 42, a financial services sales manager for the Wachovia Corporation of Charlotte, N.C., belong to a growing segment of the upper middle class, executive gypsies. The shock troops of companies that continually expand across the country and abroad, they move every few years, from St. Louis to Seattle to Singapore, one satellite suburb to another, hopscotching across islands far from the working class and the urban poor.
As a subgroup, relos are economically homogenous, with midcareer incomes starting at $100,000 a year. Most are white. Some find the salaries and perks compensating; the developments that cater to them come with big houses, schools with top SAT scores, parks for youth sports and upscale shopping strips.
I found this article quite interesting, particularily the choice this family made with respect to their next move (an older, established neighborhood).
Mary H. Fisher, “Tax Worries Didn’t Justify a No Vote” and Rick Berg, “Taxpayers made rational choice with ‘no’ votes on referendums”:
Continue reading Fisher & Berg on the Referenda
This information was given to Madison School Board members by Joe Quick
Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent William Andrekopoulos warned Tuesday that if limits on how much Wisconsin school districts can increase their spending are held down by the Legislature, dozens of additional teaching positions in city schools will be cut.
The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is expected in the next few days to take up proposals to allow school districts to increase their spending over the next two years, but by amounts that are smaller than what Gov. Jim Doyle has proposed.
Read the full article at this link.
“A plan to make band and orchestra classes at Sherman Middle School an after-school program next year is upsetting parents and other music supporters in the Madison School District,” according to a story by Sandy Cullen in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Study spells out new evidence for roots of dyslexia
(Posted by University Communications: 5/31/2005)
Report of newly released research by Mark Seidenberg and colleagues.
Addressing a persistent debate in the field of dyslexia research, scientists at UW-Madison and the University of Southern California (USC) have disproved the popular theory that deficits in certain visual processes cause the spelling and reading woes commonly suffered by people with dyslexia.
Rather, a more general problem in basic sensory perception may be at the root of the learning disorder, the scientists reported May 29 in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The work suggests new ways to identify dyslexics and to assess the many unevaluated techniques teachers use to help dyslexics in the classroom.
For the full press release, go to: http://www.news.wisc.edu/11252.html
John Seely Brown (Brown was Chief Scientist at Xerox PARC, where many of the technologies we use today, including, ethernet, Laser Printers and the GUI were invented):
My interest here today is in looking at the notions of learning, working and playing in the digital age and how today’s kids—growing up digital—might actually be quite different from what we might first think. But, more particularly, how by stepping back and looking at the forces and trends underlying the digital world, we may have a chance to create a new kind of learning matrix, one that I will call a learning ecology.
I became interested in learning ecologies because of their systemic properties. We need to view higher education from a systemic perspective, one that takes into consideration all of the components—k-12, community colleges, state and private colleges and universities, community libraries, firms, etc.—that make up a region. This, in turn, raises additional questions about how we might create a regional advantage such as in the Research Triangle in North Carolina or in Silicon Valley. For example, is there a way to extend science parks, that typically surround universities, into also being learning parks and from there into being learning ecologies by combining the knowledge producing components of the region with the nearly infinite reach and access to information that the internet provides? And, if so, might this provide an additional use of the internet in learning—one besides just distance learning. But first, let’s consider what the Web is and see how it might provide a new kind of information fabric in which learning, working and playing co-mingle. Following that we will then look at the notion of distributed intelligence which has a great deal to do with the social basis as well as the cognitive basis of learning, and how those fold together. Then we will look at the issue of how one might better capture and leverage naturally occurring knowledge assets, a topic as relevant to the campus as to the region or to the firm. Finally, we will come to the core topic of how all this folds together to lead to a new concept of a learning ecology.
Background on John Seely Brown: Clusty
Since the May 24th referenda, I began looking at other blog sites such as the Madison.com/ post and the Isthmus “Daily Page.” Here are a few highlights of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Continue reading The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of other Blog Sites
The following letter was written by a parent of an East High Student to Carol Carstensen, President of the Madison School Board. The writer expresses concerns over the Sherman Middle School proposal to place curriculum band and orchestra classes in afterschool and the layoff Thursday of 8.55 FTE music teachers.
Based upon my review of the 05-06 MMSD budget, financial issues do not support the recent music educator layoffs and the curriculum change proposal at Sherman Middle School. It’s about values – community values for what our children learn in public school and what contributes positively to their achievement as learners.
I am writing to you as School Board President (and neighbor) because I am very disturbed about the impact on music education of several recent decisions affecting students of the MMSD . I write as the mother of an 11th grade student of color at East High for whom music performance education has been crucial. Without the solid, consistent music instruction and opportunities he has received for the last six years, I question where he would be right now.
I fear that music performance is sometimes viewed as an elite activity for already motivated students. For my son, it has been the primary area in which he could excel at school over the years while he struggled with regular academic classes. It was the break in the school day where he felt energized and motivated, part of a large team working toward excellence and specific identifiable goals. Over the years, band classes offered an opportunity to interact with a different group of highly motivated peers, to perform in public concerts that affirmed his sense of achievement, and to participate in challenging music trips. Because of his school day band experience, my son gets himself up and to school every Tuesday morn! ing at 6:30 a.m. to participate in Jazz Band before school starts. His band program is a source of joy, discipline, and motivation, as well as musical growth.
Continue reading Erosion of music instruction is the wrong direction, especially for non-traditional learners
On Thursday, based upon Superintendent Rainwater’s recommendation, the Madison School Board approved 20 FTEs for layoff. These layoffs included 60% of the elementary string staff – the largest percentage of one academic personnel group ever laid off in the history of the Madison Metropolitan School District. How come a program that cost less than 1/10 of one percent of the $318 million budget resulted in nearly 50% of the teacher layoffs? Elementary string teacher are less than 3/10 of 1% of the total teacher population. What happeded? No evaluation of the music education curriculum, no planning (not exploring the allowed use of federal dollars for fine arts education for low income children) and some might say vindictiveness from top administrators and some Board members toward string teachers because of the community outcry in support of elementary strings – our community cannot tolerate the latter. Money is not the issue – data do not support money being the issue.
Continue reading MMSD Teacher Layoffs Target Elementary String Teachers
Scott Berkun pens a useful read:
That said, the more homogeneous a group of people are in their thinking, the narrower the range of ideas that the group will openly consider. The more open minded, creative, and courageous, a group is, the wider the pool of ideas they’ll be capable of exploring.
I ran for the School Board, and voted No, No, No on the referenda because of my profound disagreement with how the School Board conducts itself and their lack of leadership and direction, and my strong sense of a deteriorating school system, not all to be blamed on draconian measures by Federal and State politicians.
Marshalling the ideas of other contributors to this site, ideas from the National School Board Association, other sources and my own ideas and goals, I have drafted a rough set of goals that I think the School Board and Madison citizens in general should address. It is meant as a possible starting point for discussions.
The document’s basic purpose is to ensure a high level of student achievement through public accountability, honest and open assessment, transparent setting of priorities, and alignment of the budget with the priorities. It makes an initial attempt to distribute the goals across the BOE’s committees, so they are working toward the same goals.
It is my strong sense that the Board views these committees as somehow dealing with issues that are orthogonal to each other; for example, there were arguments that the Long Range Planning committee must not concern themselves with the decisions of the Finance and Operations committee (which actually wasn’t doing anything, anyway).
I certainly do not believe the current majority on the School Board is willing to make or is capable of making the necessary changes to how it conducts its business to set appropriate priorities and ensure their execution. Certainly comments made by supporters of the referenda after they were voted down indicated that they don’t get it.
In any case, I would like comments and suggestions, agreement, disagreement on this document. Better ideas are welcome.
Tuesday’s Madison Schools Referenda results continues to generate comments:
Continue reading More Post Referenda Comments
Then and now…
The case of the changing summers
A comparison of father’s, son’s vacations
By PETE KENNEDY
May 26, 2005
We all know times have changed. But a look at my son’s summer versus the
same period when I was a kid shows how much.
Here are a few examples of how James, 14, will spend the next few months,
compared with how I spent the summers when I was his age (and maybe a few
Son: Be at basketball at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
Me: Get up when I wake up, or a neighbor comes over and rouses me out of
bed, or my mother starts vacuuming.
Son: Play in soccer and basketball leagues in the evenings.
Continue reading Summer vacation
Reader Thomas J. Mertz emails:
I agree with Ruth Robarts that the Board should explore all options before laying off classroom personel and that revisting the ongoing MTI negotiations is the place to start.
I think that this issue is also linked to a key to the failure of two of the referenda — the transparency of the process. Wages and benefits are by far the largest budget item, yet the negotiations with MTI are shrouded in mystery. I’ve looked through the newspapers, the MTI site and the MSMD site and can find very little information about the current negotiations. Perhaps this is a legal question and negotiations must be secret (does anyone know?). But if they can be public and publicized, they should be.
If, as many believe, the administration and the Board need to be tougher with MTI, then public scrutiny woulkd make this more likely. If the administration and the Board are already sufficiently tough with MTI (as many others believe), then public scrutiny would undermine the position of those who question the contracts.
I see many potential benefits and little if any harm coming from shining a light on the negotiations.
Thomas J. Mertz
Here is an excerpt from the article in this morning’s State Journal that deserves comment: Matthews said it was worth looking at whether layoffs can be avoided, but he was less optimistic about finding ways to achieve that.
He said MTI’s policy is that members have to have decent wages, even if it means some jobs are lost.
The last teachers contract provided a 1 percent increase in wage scales for each of the past two years. This year’s salary and benefits increase, including raises for seniority or advanced degrees, was projected at 4.9 percent, or $8.48 million. Teachers’ salaries range from $29,324 to $74,380.
“The young teachers are really hurting,” Matthews said, adding that the district is having difficulty attracting teachers because of its starting pay.
Continue reading MTI & The Madison School Board
On May 24th, the Madison School Board participated in the democratic process by involving local citizens in its budgetary process by putting forth a referendum. Regardless of how you voted, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the issues, weigh in on the debate and cast your ballot the way you saw fit.
I am not surprised at the outcome of the referenda votes. While I voted, Yes, Yes, Yes, and encouraged others to do the same, I can understand why someone voted No, No, No or any other combination. I am sympathetic to community concerns regarding higher property taxes and the uneasiness that leaves in the community’s sense of economic security. While I am disappointed in the outcome of the referenda for the district’s operating budget and building a new school at Leopold elementary, I do believe that these defeats allow for exploring creative opportunities to capitalize on in the future.
Continue reading Needed: New Opportunities and Directions for the School District
Picked up the following flyer in our PTO box this morning……
“ATTENTION ALL PARENTS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL BAND & ORCHESTRA:
Sherman Middle School Administration has taken upon themselves to move the Orchestra and Band Programs to an “exploratory” optional class that will be offered after the school day effective next school year. MMSD is looking at this as a pilot program at Sherman with idea of implementing these changes at all middle schools in Madison.
Please help us fight this change. Our students have rights to attend these classes during the school day.
You can help by writing to the school board and MMSD administration to voice your concerns before this becomes the norm in the Madison School District.
For more information you can contact Sheryl Trumbower at 243-1005 or 279-2117.”
East High Band Parents Organization
What does it cost to adequately fund K-12 education in Wisconsin? A nationally recognized expert in school finance at UW-Madison is leading an effort to address this critical question.
The Rockefeller Foundation of New York has awarded Allan R. Odden, professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, $500,000 over two years to determine the costs of educational adequacy in Wisconsin.
Read more at UW news.
Anupreeta Das and Amanda Paulson:
Somit Basak’s tutoring style is hardly unusual. The engineering graduate spices up lessons with games, offers rewards for excellent performance, and tries to keep his students’ interest by linking the math formulas they struggle with to real-life examples they can relate to.
Unlike most tutors, however, Mr. Basak lives thousands of miles away from his students — he is a New Delhi resident who goes to work at 6 a.m. so that he can chat with American students doing their homework around dinnertime.
Via Joanne Jacobs
Yesterday’s Madison School’s Referenda generated quite a bit of local coverage. Check out these links:
Joan Knoebel offered her thoughts on how to win support for the operating referendum, and I whole-heartedly second them.
On the Leopold referendum, I’d ask the board and supporters to do two things:
1) Lay out three or four alternative locations and configurations for a new Westside school, draw possible boundaries, develop cost projections, and then debate which alterantive seems to be the most likely to achieve academic excellence on the West side.
2) Invite organizations or individuals to propose a charter school on the Westside. Several people suggested a charter or magnet school, so let’s see whether one might emerge as the best option for providing excellent education in the area.
Current overcrowding is not an issue at Leopold. Leopold is overcrowded, but I’ll vote no again on a second school at Leopold if its supporters rotely drone, “This is the only option. This is the only option. This is the only option.”
Frankly, I was surprised by the referenda outcome. This was an election designed to win–a special date, a phalanx of support from community politcoes and newspapers, mulitple pieces of professionally designed mail-drop literature– all favored an across-the-board yes vote.
I’d like to suggest that for some, and perhaps what amounted to the critical portion of the voting electorate, their vote was a message to the majority of the board. The message: we want a transparent budget process, we want the assumptions laid bare and we want all components of the budget on the table, including administrative staff positions and salaries as well as district health care costs. The board needs to mend its fences with the community. Stop the “Do as we say or the kids will suffer” approach.
I voted no because I believe there is still time to do this better. Thus I saw my vote as one for our children. And if I’m convinced, next fall I’ll be one of the loudest advocates in support of the revised referenda.
The headline is that MMSD students generally scored lower than last year on the state standardized tests at the same time as state performance either held steady or showed slight improvement. The data on individual Madison schools are available here
The County Clerk web site has referendum results, by ward, for people who are interested:
In the aftermath of the votes on the May 24th Madison School referenda, it is critical that the Madison School Board not rush to vote on layoffs of teachers and other staff. Currently, the Board is scheduled to vote on layoffs at noon on Thursday, May 26. This deadline for layoff votes is self-imposed by the district and Madison Teachers Inc (MTI). State law sets a later deadline. The district and the union could change the May 26 date by mutual agreement. In 2003 the vote on layoffs following a referendum for the operating budget was scheduled for June 4.
Continue reading Madison Board of Education Should Not Rush to Vote on Layoffs
Jennifer Alexander sent an email to local chamber members urging them to be informed and vote.
Continue reading Greater Madison Chamber Urges Members to Vote
If I have to hear or read another article about how I don’t CARE about Madison Schools or the kids because I think and analyze before I vote, I will scream. I voted today, thanks for the applause, and I voted No, Yes, Yes. So I guess I CARE 2/3 of the time right?
I CARE about the whole district and after careful analysis of the situation I am convinced the district needs another school, just not on the Leopold site. I feel a school located in a more general location that could accommodate students from the (higher income) west growth, (higher income)Leopold growth and perhaps be a home school for Allied Drive would be a more logical location for the whole district. Also I am concerned about the Ridgewood Apartments and the size of the proposed school if the numbers change due to that large complex.
Continue reading I Care, but I think too.