Accelerating the best students helps them intellectually and socially, says A Nation Deceived, a new report from the University of Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports:
A new University of Iowa report seeks to debunk myths that accelerated learning for gifted students is unfair, expensive for schools and causes students to be social outcasts, gifted-education experts said Monday.
Time recites the fears about children pushed too fast, but concedes there’s evidence many very smart students are very bored.
For the smartest of these kids, those who quickly overpower schoolwork that flummoxes peers, skipping a grade isn’t about showing off. Rather, according to a new report from the University of Iowa, it can mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out from sheer tedium. “If the work is not challenging for these high-ability kids, they will become invisible,” says the lead author of the report, Iowa education professor Nicholas Colangelo. “We will lose them. We already are.”
. . . In a 2000 study for Gifted Child Quarterly, Joseph Renzulli and Sunghee Park found that 5% of the 3,520 gifted students they followed dropped out after eighth grade. Astonishingly, that’s almost as high as the 5.2% of nongifted kids who dropped out. Untold numbers of other highly intelligent kids stay in school but tune out. “When we ask exceptional children about their main obstacle, they almost always say it’s their school,” says Jan Davidson, a co-author of the new book Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds. “Their school makes them put in seat time, and they can’t learn at their own ability level.”
Via Education News.
Via Joanne Jacobs
�. . . the loss of Barb Thompson highlights a major Rainwater weaknesses. In filling key administrative jobs, he�s gravitated to loyalists, or looked outside for the district for candidates who will fit comfortably into Team Rainwater.
Smart, knowledgeable internal candidates with deep understanding of Madison and its problems, but who like Thompson are independent thinkers, are passed over.
. . .�She�s a bulldog, but that ain�t bad, � observes the blunt-talking [Milt] McPike [former East High Principal}. �Some people can�t handle that. Do you understand what I�m saying? I was a bulldog for my school, too.� �
Marc Eisen�s opinion piece Isthmus, June 13, 2003
Barb Schrank collected video & audio clips from last nights Madison School District Board of Education Meeting:
- Don Hunt: Retired West High School Art Teacher Fine Arts Statement [MP3 1.4MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Barb Schrank Fine Arts Presentation [MP3 1.6MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Mariel Wozniak Fine Arts Presentation [MP3 1.9MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Juan Lopez lecture to Ruth Robarts [MP3 2.7MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Athletic Fees Presentation [MP3] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
Lee Sensenbrenner summarized the meeting as well.
MMSD Board policies require a trained coordinator for filling a vacant position for a number of specialties, including art, music and physical education.
Only last night did the Superintendent inform the Board that he would be sending around a modification to this policy in light of no Fine Arts Coordinator and that this information would be made available to the Board on Tuesday, September 21, 2004. The only change being proposed would be to eliminate the coordinator requirement for music and art. The coordinator requirement will remain for bilingual, ESL, physical education and special education.
The Superintendent’s remarks were made following a public appearance by the District’s former Fine Arts Coordinator, Mariel Wozniak, who pointed this policy out to the Board. Dr. Wozniak said that if fine arts personnel were being hired without a coordinator, the district administration was in violation of Board policy.
As taxpayers and parents, the public should get more than “it was a personnel change.” What went wrong? Why? What will be done to prevent a similar disaster for the next principal?
These are legitimate questions Dr. Rainwater and the school board should address.
On September 13, 2004, The Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board reviewed a recommendation from the MMSD administration that the district spend $46M for school maintenance projects from 2005 through 2010. Because the Board dedicates approximately $3.8M per year for maintenance from the operating budget (%19M over the next five years), the administration’s cost estimates amount to recommending referendum for $27M. In 2004-2005 the district will exhaust the $20M provided by the 1999 maintenance referendum. Some projects, however, remain to be done.
Citizen advisors asked many good questions to clarify the recommendation of the administration. The Committee will not, however, act on the administration’s recommendation in the next few months.
What Short-Term Option Would I Suggest for Board Consideration? � I would lower the ticket prices to last year�s prices and include volleyball and swimming. Why – families with low or tight budgets are the ones being disenfranchised, and I believe that the drop in attendance will all but wipe out any potential gains from increased ticket prices. I would also not add any additional funds to the athletics budget and have the District Administration, Athletic Directors, Booster club representatives, parents, kids need to come together to review and to prioritize the extracurricular sports budget.
I�ve just learned about the agenda for the Monday, September 20th School Board meeting that includes a proposal to transfer additional funds to the athletic afterschool budget from the educational contingency fund.
On Monday night, September 20th the School Board will be holding a special Board meeting. There will be public appearances. I think the art and music teachers (arts professionals in general) need to either e-mail board members prior to Monday or be at this meeting demanding a fine arts coordinator to help them with administrative and educational issues. I would suggest that the fine arts teachers send copies of all e-mail questions that you are asking about where you are working, how to transfer supplies, scheduling be copied to the school board.
I�m sure that Mary Gilbrandsen, Mary Ramburg and the HR department are doing their best, but they are simply inadequate resources for 130+ personnel working in 47 schools with increased class sizes and increased number of sections. Art has mistakenly said that Mary G. has done the allocations for the arts. In fact the senior administrators have determined the allocation amount, but finding the personnel for those allocations and working with the principals on scheduling was a major function of the Fine Arts Coordinator at the beginning of the year.
“Madison East High School Principal Catherine Tillman has been relieved of her duties and reassigned to a central office position for the remainder of the school year.”
Like Tillman the newly named interim principal at East was transferred to an administrative position after serving a couple of reportedly unsuccessful years at West.
Is the change just going from one failed principal to another?
Read the story in the Wisconsin State.
The number of Wisconsin schools and districts that failed to make enough progress to satisfy federal law rose, according to statistics released Friday, prompting renewed concern over whether schools can meet the increasingly tough standards of the “No Child Left Behind” era.
According to state Department of Public Instruction figures, 123 schools were on the list of schools that failed to make “adequate yearly progress” – a 12.7% increase over last year.
Wisconsin DPI Report DPI Press Release (151K PDF)
Doug Erickson also covered this DPI news release.
Understanding Superintendent Art Rainwater�s employment contract with the Madison Metropolitan School Board goes a long way toward answering a common question: �Who runs the Madison schools?�
Answer: Superintendent-for-Life Rainwater runs the Madison schools.
In January of 1999 the Board promoted Art Rainwater from Acting Superintendent to Superintendent. Voting for the contract were Carol Carstensen, Calvin Williams, Deborah Lawson, Joanne Elder and Juan Lopez. Ray Allen and I voted no.
Rafael Gomez sent me an email regarding Dr. Paul Yvarra’s dinner presentation at La Hacienda [map] next Thursday evening [9.23.2004 @ 6:00p.m.]. Yvarra is evidently planning to run for State Superintendant of DPI:
He is currently a professor in the deparment of school administration at Whitewater Univ. He is an ex-school board member at Whitewater school dist. And, he has been active on teacher training. He is running for school choice.
With this said, a dinner presentation is scheduled at La Hacienda from 6p.m to 7:30p.m. Sept. 23. There is a $10.00 donation. Please contact me at 277 83 42 if you have an interest to attend. Thank you for your attention to my note. Rafael Gomez
Fascinating look at the top 500 World Universities, from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s perspective (the UW, my alma matter is #18). Criteria and weights are based on:
We rank universities by several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, articles published in Nature and Science, articles in Science Citation Index-expanded and Social Science Citation Index, and academic performance with respect to the size of an institution.
A story in this week’s Isthmus reports on the “inexcusable” conduct of East High School’s baseball coach and parents’ complaints about him.
You can read the story and parents’ letters of complaint at the Document Feed of The Daily Page.
Statistics Canada & The Economist:
TO WHAT extent is economic growth driven by the acquisition of �human capital�? Many economists have pursued the answer over the past 20 years, but without great success. Despite building and rebuilding elaborate growth models, they have failed to prove that better education and training significantly raises a country’s long-term growth. Recently, though, a Canadian team made a breakthrough. It found that, if you measure actual skills rather than educational qualifications, human capital becomes a strong predictor of economic growth.
The team identified a clear and significant association between investments in human capital in each period and a country’s subsequent growth and labour productivity. Specifically, a rise of 1% in literacy scores relative to the international average is associated with an eventual 2.5% relative rise in labour productivity and a 1.5% rise in GDP per head.
These are much clearer effects than those found in previous studies. In the three countries in the study where human capital improved the fastest between the older and the younger generations (Belgium, Finland and Italy), growth in output per worker rose much faster than average between 1960 and 1995, while in those with least improvement in skills (New Zealand, Sweden and the United States), growth was slower.
Statistics Canada: International Adult Literacy Survey: 656K PDF
On August 30, the Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board met with its advisory members for the first time. Advisory members in attendance were Dawn Crim, Joan Eggert, Jill Jokela, Lucy Mathiak, Pat Mooney, and Jan Sternbach. Teresa Tellez-Giron (nominated by Board member Juan Lopez) withdrew before our initial meeting. LRP Committee members Carol Carstensen and Johnny Winston Jr. were present as were several other Board members.
The advisory members introduced themselves and asked questions about their role and the work of the committee. Unfortunately, the MMSD staff had not been able to get written materials to all of the citizen members. Lack of common materials limited our discussion.
We briefly discussed the role of the citizen advisors. In June the Board of Education unanimously approved a two-part strategy for seeking advice from the public. The motion read, in part:
The Long Range Planning Committee recognizes the importance of public participation in its review of demographic issues, long range facility planning, strategic planning and referendum issues. Therefore, the committee will seek advice and comment at public hearings at appropriate times during 2004-2005.
Don Severson: Active Citizen’s for Education White Paper [212K PDF]:
MMSD has one of the highest per pupil costs of any school district in the state. MMSD administration proposed a FY 2004-05 budget with a $10 million shortfall in revenues to deliver the same services as that which was delivered in the 2003-04 budget year. This white paper compares MMSD administration costs, staffing levels and per pupil costs with peer school districts at Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha andRacine.
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 important academic areas. This paper compares retention rates of the Madison School District, (the number of pupils who were not passed to the next grade level) with fourother districts: Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. Retention occurs when a student has not made progress in a prescribed course of study. A pupil is consideredretained if:
- a pupil needs an additional year to complete a prescribed program
- a pupil in grades kindergarten through eight must repeat a grade
- a pupil in high school (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior years) does nothave enough credits equal to or more than one-seventh of the district�s high school requirement
This 40K PDF compares the Madison School District with Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee.
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 education preschool; day care services; and other programs which are not elementary or secondary educational programs but have the primary function of servingthe community. Expenditures for these activities, including cost allocations for salaries, benefits, travel, purchased services, etc. are to be paid from this Fund to the extentfeasible. The district may adopt a separate tax levy for the Fund. Building use fees charged for utilities and other operational costs must be charged in the General Fund if nocost allocation was made for these to the Community Service Fund.
Recent studies have shown that a steadily growing number of students cheat or plagiarize in college — and the data from high schools suggest that this number will continue to rise. A study by Don McCabe of Rutgers University showed that 74 percent of high school students admitted to one or more instances of serious cheating on tests. Even more disturbing is the way that many students define cheating and plagiarism. For example, they believe that cutting and pasting a few sentences from various Web sources without attribution is not plagiarism.
Before the Web, students certainly plagiarized — but they had to plan ahead to do so. Fraternities and sororities often had files of term papers, and some high-tech term-paper firms could fax papers to students. Overall, however, plagiarism required forethought.
I wish the article had gone further and mentioned that taken to its extreme, cheating manifests in leaders who will lie and lie and lie, and media who will let them get away with it, while our country suffers the consequences…
The table shows 3rd grade reading scores for all Madison elementary schools for the last seven years.
Barb Golden forwarded some information on the Madison Area Family Advisory/Advocacy Council:
MAFAAC: Closing the achievement gap through information, advocacy & support.
[67K PDF Press Release]
Source: American Psychological Society
The idea that studying music improves the intellect is not a new one, but at last there is incontrovertible evidence from a study conducted out of the University of Toronto.
The study, led by Dr. E. Glenn Schellenberg, examined the effect of extra-curricular activities on the intellectual and social development of six-year-old children. A group of 144 children were recruited through an ad in a local newspaper and assigned randomly to one of four activities: keyboard lessons, voice lessons, drama lessons, or no lessons. Two types of music lessons were offered in order to be able to generalize the results, while the groups receiving drama lessons or no lessons were considered control groups in order to test the effect of music lessons over other art lessons requiring similar skill sets and nothing at all. The activities were provided for one year.
The participating children were given IQ tests before and after the lessons. The results of this study revealed that increases in IQ from pre- to post-test were larger in the music groups than in the two others. Generally these increases occurred across IQ subtests, index scores, and academic achievement. Children in the drama group also exhibited improvements pre- to post-test, but in the area of adaptive social behavior, an area that did not change among children who received music lessons.
This study is published in the August issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society. View a PDF (78k) of the full article.
E. Glenn Schellenberg is currently with the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Psychological Science is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals for impact by the Institute for Scientific Information. The American Psychological Society represents psychologists advocating science-based research in the public’s interest.
Board Ignores Fine Arts Teachers June Plea For Fine Arts Coordinator Academic Support � Instead, Board Adds Back $210,000 (4 athletic coordinators and 1 administrator downtown) Into the Extra-Curricular High School Athletics Budget
Don Severson forwarded this Active Citizens for Education white paper on Fund 80 [272K PDF] and related after school changes.
This site has a number of posts on the after school changes (essentially: replacing community after school partnerships with taxpayer funded MSCR programs via Fund 80. Fund 80, unlike other school expenditures is not limited by state spending caps).
The school board meets tonight (8.30.2004; 7:15p.m. in room 103) to discuss the controversy.
Send your views to: firstname.lastname@example.org
On August 13, Madison Board President Bill Keys and I agreed to recommend nine citizens plus the two student School Board members to the 2004-05 Advisory Committee to the Long Range Planning Committee.
On August 30, the Board will vote on the nominations:
Hardin Coleman (nominated by Johnny Winston, Jr.)
Dawn Crim (nominated by Johnny Winston, Jr.)
Joan Eggert (nominated by Bill Keys)
Jill Jokela (nominated by Carol Carstensen)
Lucy Mathiak (nominated by Ruth Robarts)
Patrick Mooney (nominated by Bill Clingan)
Jan Sternbach (nominated by Juan Lopez)
Teresa Tellez-Giron (nominated by Juan Lopez) and
Xa Xiong (nominated by Shwaw Vang).
The student members are the students elected to serve on the Board for 2004-05: Oliver Kiefer and Lena Song (alternate).
Don Severson forwarded this message recently
Taxpayer advocates will hold a news conference Friday, August 27th at 1:00 p.m. at the Sequoia Library, 513 South Midvale Boulevard (Midvale Plaza) to call for an audit of �Community Services Fund 80� of the Madison School District. Don Severson, president of the Active Citizens for Education (ACE), will ask for an independent audit of �Fund 80� which is used by school district officials to fund �community service programs�. The fund has come under recent scrutiny because of its growth � over 200% in four years � and its use in pushingYMCA after-school programs out of certain Madison schools. Parents of children in the after school program held a news conference this past Monday to highlight the issue. Severson will also preview a radio ad, which begins airing Friday, August 27 and is sponsored byACE, appealing to taxpayers to contact Madison school board members and district officials. The Madison School Board is holding a special meeting Monday night at 7:00 p.m. at the DoyleAdministration Building to hear concerns of parents of children in the after-school program.
Interesting thread on discovery learning, with notes from Alan Siegel’s study of videotaped Japanese Math lessons:
Discovery learning is fashionable in math reform circles, writes Seebach. The Japanese are supposed to be the models. But the Japanese teach traditionally — with “beautifully designed and superbly executed” lessons.
The videotape shows, Siegel says, that “a master teacher can present every step of a solution without divulging the answer, and can, by so doing, help students learn to think deeply. In such circumstances, the notion that students might have discovered the ideas on their own becomes an enticing mix of illusion intertwined with threads of truth.”
Amy Hetzner on Waukesha’s decision to halt early kinderdarten admissions:
The Waukesha School Board decided earlier this year to eliminate early admission for children who have not celebrated their fifth birthday by Sept. 1, arguing that the expense of testing the children outweighed the benefit for the few who got in to kindergarten.
The move puts the district at the center of a national trend that observers say is resulting in an older crop of kindergartners
In the late spring of 2004, I had the idea that inviting a group of citizens to work with the Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board might help the Committee ask better questions of the administration and explore more options during the next year. In 2004-05, the Committee will consider the possibility of another referendum to fund maintenance of the district’s buildings and try to solve overcrowding problems at Leopold Elementary School. It will also develope a 3-5 year long range plan for presentation to the Board by the end of the spring semester
In this log, I will relate our progress toward this goal.
Ruth’s informative diary on the Long Range Planning Committee’s inclusiveness goals provides context for C.K. Prahalad’s interesting new book: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
He is a fierce critic of traditional top-down thinking on aid, by governments and non-governmental organisations alike. They tend to see the poor as victims to be helped, he says, not as people who can be part of the solution�and so their help often creates dependency. Nor does he pin much hope on the �corporate social responsibility� (CSR) programmes of many large companies. If you want serious commitment from a firm, he says, its involvement with the poor �can’t be based on philanthropy or CSR�. The involvement of big business is crucial to eradicating poverty, he believes, but BOP markets must �become integral to the success of the firm in order to command senior management attention and sustained resource allocation.�
Learn more about the book here.
Louie Villalobos summarizes a recent study by the Arizona Department of Education:
The Arizona results showed students in immersion classes outperformed bilingual education students in every grade level between second and eighth grade in reading, language and math, based on Stanford 9 scores.
There starts to be a significant difference at the sixth-grade level, at which immersion students were more than one year ahead of the bilingual students in math.
By the eighth grade, there was at least a one-year difference in all three subjects.
“There is not a single exception,” Horne said. “It tells us that the students in English immersion do substantially better.”
Nanette Asimov, Tanya Schevitz and Carrie Sturrock summarize the Golden State’s latest 4th and 10th grade results:
Last spring, nearly 4.8 million students in grades 2 through 11 took the exam, which is considered tough because it measures the students’ knowledge of what the state says they need to know about English, math, science and history.
Statewide, 36 percent of students scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the English portion, up from 35 percent last year. The remaining students scored below par, at “basic,” “below basic” or “far below basic.”
In math, proficiency inched up from 40.5 to 41.6 percent of students in grades 2 through 7 since last year. Older students, tested in a variety of math subjects, slipped in algebra and geometry.
Only 20 percent of low-income students were proficient in English, while among wealthier students, 50 percent were proficient. The rates were identical last year.
Barb Williams forwarded this article by Diana Jean Schemo:
The data shows fourth graders attending charter schools performing about half a year behind students in other public schools in both reading and math. Put another way, only 25 percent of the fourth graders attending charters were proficient in reading and math, against 30 percent who were proficient in reading, and 32 percent in math, at traditional public schools.
Because charter schools are concentrated in cities, often in poor neighborhoods, the researchers also compared urban charters to traditional schools in cities. They looked at low-income children in both settings, and broke down the results by race and ethnicity as well. In virtually all instances, the charter students did worse than their counterparts in regular public schools.
NPR’s Talk of the Nation Audio:
What options do you have if your school says there’s no money for football, the Spanish club or student government? “Pay to pay” has become the option for an increasing number of public schools, an alternative that’s not very popular.
This article is a Letter to the Editor submitted to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Thanks for the editorial, ?What?s going on after school?? Questioning the Madison School Board?s rush to replace private, non-profit after school day care providers with tax-supported Safe Haven programs operated through the Madison School Community Recreation program is a public service.
Last year we had 4,437 low-income children in our elementary schools. As a community, we should support all of them with high quality after school care. However, the district must continue to work with community providers to reach this goal. The scope of the problem is far beyond the district?s capacity.
Judy Sekulski is a parent at Midvale-Lincoln School in Madison. In this article she responds to the Madison district administration’s recent public statements about Safe Haven programs.
I am writing in response to Lucy Chaffin’s column on
July 12, 2004, (“Schools Offer Quality Childcare”),
about the Safe Haven after-school programs run by
MSCR. She states that, “The district doesn’t support
separate programs running side-by-side in elementary
schools (as was the case last year at Midvale) because
this results in segregation by income and race.”
On July 12, the Madison Board of Education will review proposals from Superintendent Rainwater that may mean the end of a long and successful collaboration between the district, the City of Madison and private child care providers to ensure quality after-school child care for elementary students. Apparently the superintendent plans to argue that MMSD can do a better job and can afford to expand into the after-school care business.
Claudio Sanchez reports (NPR):
Throughout Latin America, political and education officials are considering long-term plans to improve the region’s struggling public schools. Researchers recently met in the Dominican Republic to discuss education strategy. A successful public school in one of Santo Domingo’s worst neighborhoods could serve as a model for schools elsewhere in Latin America
Raquel Rutledge reports that:
13% of students surveyed reveal they skipped out to avoid possible run-in
The WSJ editorial page asks some questions about the MMSD’s
plans to cancel contracts with the YMCA and After School Inc. to run child-care programs at Frank Allis, Falk and Midvale schools. Parents and taxpayers are still waiting for a persuasive explanation from administrators and board members.
The editorial raises a number of useful questions on this topic. Read more here.
Student Photography: 117 pupils at John B. Dey Elementary School, armed with disposable cameras were sent to photograph the alphabet. Here’s a look at the project, from A to Z.
Sam Dillon writes in the NY Times:
But there was an alternative – the city could shut them down on its own and create small, new, privately managed schools to replace them. And that, Mr. Martin wrote, would bring a crucial advantage: the new schools could operate outside the Chicago Teachers Union contract.
It seemed a fire-breathing proposal, since in its entire history Chicago had closed just three schools for academic failure, and the union is a powerful force in the school system here, the nation’s third largest. But Mr. Duncan was already convinced of the need for direct intervention in many failing schools, and the business group’s proposal helped shape a sweeping new plan, which Mayor Richard M. Daley announced in June. By 2010, the city will replace 60 failing schools with 100 new ones, and in the process turn one in 10 of its schools over to private managers, mostly operating without unions. It is one of the nation’s most radical school restructuring plans.
“It’s time to start over with the schools that are nonperforming,” Mr. Daley said in an interview July 19. “We need to shake up the system.”
The schools slated for closing include 40 elementary schools and 20 high schools. In all of them, most students perform far below grade level.
Barb Williams forwarded a recent letter to the NY Times Magazine regarding the June 20, 2004 article: “It Takes a Hood” on The Harlem Project:
Of the many efforts aimed at interrupting the effects of poverty on kids’ lives, none has left me more hopeful than Paul Tough’s piece on The Harlem Project. Geoffrey Canada, to my mind, has got it right. His focus on poor black kids’ success in school, his goal to reach those least likely to succeed, and his preference for programs that emphasize accountablility are not new. But combine that with his plans for a charter school with longer days, a longer school year and a demanding curriculum (despite rifling the feathers of the teachers’ union) while having in place a network of support had me, a sometimes sad cynic, rooting him on. Maybe one day kids like Janiqua Utley will be guaranteed the kind education Canada envisions, rather than land on a waiting list. And perhaps Canada has identified what needs to be in place in order for children to imagine their own possibilities–unconstrained by their circumstances–and the means to realize them. We ought to pay very close attention. I salute Canada.
Amy Hetzner notes the interesting paradox to the current situation:
Residents in more than half of Wisconsin school districts could have ended up paying more under an all-but-dead idea to raise sales taxes to provide $1.44 billion in property tax relief, a new study says.
Milwaukee residents, in particular, could have paid $1 more in sales taxes for every 77 cents their property taxes were reduced if the plan had been in effect in 2003, claims a Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report released Friday. In all, the study found 223 school districts containing 56% of the state’s public school enrollment would pay more in sales taxes than they would save in property taxes.
The study found that taxpayers in the Madison Metropolitan School District could get $1.20 in property tax relief for every new sales tax dollar.
“What this tells me is that when I see districts like Madison and Middleton in our area and Menomonee Falls or Wauwatosa in the Milwaukee area with positive returns of $1.20 per $1 sales tax or $1.30 or $1.40, that suggest a pattern going on,” Berry said.
Steve Schultze summarizes recent comments by Governor Jim Doyle regarding Milwuaukee’s school choice program. In effect, Doyle is willing to support expansion of the choice program as long as the legislature provides more money for the public schools (it would be interesting to see the numbers behind this, along with the logic for and against).
The Madison School District has more or less standardized many computers on Microsoft’s Windows operating system software. This approach, pitched as “sensible” because “that’s what most people use” ignores the explosive growth of other technology platforms such as:
- Linux; which, ironically, the MMSD uses to run its own web servers (likely because of the ongoing security issues with Windows servers and the performance advantages linux provides). In the tech world, we speak of this as “eating your own dog food” – or not.
- Cell Phones/PDA’s, including those that run the Palm OS and Symbian
- ipod – Duke University’s approach is interesting; an ipod for all incoming freshman (the iPod, is after all a very small computer). The iPods will be used for course materials (text & mp3 audio clips, calendar items) and music, of course.
- The increasingly interesting, unix based, mac. Roger Ebert provides some examples.
- Increasingly smart network devices.
- Anyone who uses google, uses linux. Google runs what is either the largest, or one of the largest linux installations in the world. Many other very large sites also run linux.
- Nikon’s latest digital camera supports wireless networks
The MMSD technology approach also ignores the fact that much will change by the time today’s K-12 students enter the workforce. At the end of the day, the network (the internet, essentially built on unix) is truly the computer.
Finally, one of the arguments for a windows monoculture is price. Advocates argue that windows pc’s are cheaper (generally ignorning the cost of virus, worm and other TCO (total cost of ownership) issues such as ongoing security patches, software compatibility issues and network support). Some of the cheapest pc’s around are linux based “LindowsOS PC’s, starting at $278.00.
Amy Hetzner summarizes the absurd aspects of the current state school finance schemes:
For example: If a school district with a maximum levy of $1 million one year decides to levy only $900,000, that district annually would collect $25,000 less from then on. Districts that voluntarily restrict their levies one year will not be able to catch up unless they ask voters to approve a tax increase in a referendum.
Hartford High School plans to levy taxes as high as it can for the coming school year but will be able to carry over only $118,000 of the unused levy from the previous year, Tortomasi estimated.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Don Severson, who mentions that Madison per pupil spending is now $12,500):
The new figures show that the Madison district will collect property taxes of $196.2 million next year, while the MPS tax levy will be $194.8 million, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance reported.
Relevant to the sucess of students at Marquette Elementary School, U.W. Psychologist Mark Seidenberg has a new paper in Psychological Review that shows that phonics is critical for skilled reading. Seidenberg’s research “suggests that teaching young children the relationships between spellings and sounds – or phonics – not only makes learning to read easier, but also allows the flourishing of other skills that lead to faster, better reading.” “If you have a teaching method that discourages learning the connections among spelling, sound and meaning, you make the task of learning to read much harder for the child,” says Seidenberg. “You also leave out an important component of what ultimately makes us skilled readers.” You can read a press release here.
The WSJ Editorial page, in a wide ranging piece, discussed social promotion and the utility of summer school:
That’s because the get-tough approach – flunking students – isn’t realistic: Repeating a grade does more harm than good. Such students are much more likely to cause behavior problems, skip school and eventually drop out.
And simply advancing students to the next level – called “social promotion” – with no extra help only ensures the children will fall behind even faster the next year. Wisconsin law now prohibits social promotion out of fourth and eighth grades.
With both social promotion and grade retention discredited as phony strategies that harm, not help, student achievement, summer school starts to look like a good investme
Wisconsin DPI just released statewide third grade reading test results:
- DPI Superintendant Elizabeth Burmaster’s comments: (6 page pdf)
- Sarah Carr: Still, at the state level, educators need to work on closing a persistent achievement gap between students of different races and socioeconomic classes, said Joe Donovan, state Department of Public Instruction spokesman. This year, 64% of African-American and 65% of Hispanic students scored in the top two categories, compared with 90% of white students.
Lindsey added that too many MPS schools – 18 to be exact – have fewer than half of the students reading at proficient or advanced levels.
- Lee Sensenbrenner: Marquette, a school for third- through fifth-grade students, partners with Lapham Elementary, which teaches phonics-based reading to its kindergarten through second-grade students.
- Lee Sensenbrenner writes:
Notable within the district were the two elementary schools that led the county for the percentage of students reading at the advanced level:
Shorewood Hills, drawing from affluent homes and graduate student housing on the near west side, topped the list with 70.1 percent of its students at the top level.
Second was Marquette Elementary, a near east side school where more than 28 percent of the students come from low-income homes. There, 65.7 tested at the advanced level, while another 28.6 read at the proficient level.
This approach, coupled with an individual remedial reading program called Direct Instruction, is somewhat different from the curriculum in other Madison elementary schools.
Lee Sensenbrenner on the MMSD’s recent board discussion regarding after school services (The District is attempting to replace privately funded after school services with those paid for by Madison taxpayers – via Fund 80, which is not capped by state revenue limitations.).
Ray Smith’s article on the growing property tax backlash is one of many excellent examples of why Ruth Robart’s ongoing efforts to create a more strategic & transparent Madison Schools budget process is vital. The district’s plans for 2005 referendums simply increases the urgency for a well thought out process – rather than throwing hot button fee issues against the wall and determing what sticks. Read the entire article:
Caroline Hendrie writes in the June 16 edition of Education Week
As a strategy for reforming secondary education in America, small schools have gotten big.
Prodded by an outpouring of philanthropic and federal largess, school districts and even some states are downsizing public high schools to combat high dropout rates and low levels of student achievement, especially in big- city school systems. For longtime proponents of small schools, the upswell in support for their ideas is making for heady times.
Despite the concept�s unprecedented popularity, however, evidence is mounting that “scaling up” scaled-down schooling is extraordinarily complex. A sometimes confusing array of approaches is unfolding under the banner of small high schools, contributing to concerns that much of the flurry of activity may be destined for disappointing results.
Thanks to the kind generosity of the civic-minded folks at Ingersoll-Rand, teachers at Boca Raton’s Don Estridge High Tech Middle School will no longer have to take attendance. Side benefit: malleable, young students will become conditioned and eager to submit their body parts for biometric identification in the future.
Obligatory stomach-churning quote:
“It’s for the teachers’ protection as well as the kids … my kids are telling everyone about it. They think it’s so high-tech, so FBI, so cool.”
In case you experience any cognitive dissonance with the sentiment above, just keep repeating the following handy mantra to yourself: “it’s for our protection, it’s for our protection, it’s for our protection…”
BTW – Don Estridge headed up the skunk works in Boca Raton that led to the 1981 IBM PC. (Estridge died in the 1985 Delta L-1011 crash at DFW airport).
“There’s a lot of latitude for teachers to do what they think is right, and there’s not a lot of commonality, consistency, across classrooms.” David Schmidt, Waukesha school superintendent in an article by Amy Hetzner.
Every Thursday before the Monday meetings of the Madison School Board, a school district employee driving a district vehicle pulls up at each of the seven homes of the board members to deliver a packet of information for the upcoming meeting. Sometimes the vehicle is a van. Sometimes it’s a diesel truck.
“Charter Schools: A New Vision of Public Education in Wisconsin.”
Date: July 7, 2004 (Wednesday morning)
Time: 9:00 am to 11:30 am
Site: Madison – Concourse Hotel (Capital Ballroom A – 2nd Floor)
Purpose: Discuss the significance of the evolving charter schools sector as an institutional innovation within Wisconsin’s public education system. You and your colleagues are invited to participate in the discussion, sponsored by the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association, along with:
JOHN WITTE — John Witte bio
John is a UW-Madison Professor of Political Science & Public Affairs. He directs a major study of charter schools in Wisconsin — LaFollette Insitute
JOE GRABA — Joe Graba bio
Joe is a Senior Policy Fellow at Education/Evolving in Saint Paul. His
career in public education spans forty years and an impressive array of leadership positions including teacher, union leader, state legislator and higher education administrator.
COMMENTERS – Moderated by Jonathan Gramling
JONATHAN GRAMLING, Editor, The Madison Times
TONY EVERS, TALC, Milwaukee
MAI SEE THAO, Student, Madison
CHARITY ELESON, Executive Director, Council on Children & Families
BARBARA GOLDEN, Madison Area Family Advisory/Advocacy Council
DANERYS RIOS & DONTE HOLIFIELD, Students, Milwaukee
JUAN JOSE LOPEZ, Member, Madison Board of Education
DOUG & DEE THOMAS, Gates-EdVisions Project & MN New Country School
TOM SCULLEN, Superintendent, Appleton Area School District
REGISTRATION: This invitational meeting is FREE. Please register in advance by sending your name and contact info to:
Senn Brown, Secretary, Wisconsin Charter Schools Association
PO Box 628243, Middleton, WI 53562
Email: email@example.com Tel: 608-238-7491
Madison Area Family Advisory/Advocacy Council
MAFAAC~Closing the achievement gap through information, advocacy & support
Join MAFAAC and be part of the solution
Amy Hetzner writes that school finance reform is necessary, but no one agrees on the formula. Hetzner points out the strange nature of this issue: spending, in many cases has gone up significantly despite “spending controls”. Excellent article. Steven Walters writes a followup today on the proposed sales tax boost.
The State Journal has posted four more editorial pieces on schools:
I wanted to point out a couple of useful sites on the internet that can be very helpful in demonstrating the importance of music education as an important part of all students’ development.
A very useful site with lots of information, research and resources is SupportMusic.com. They can even help you build your case for keeping your school’s music program by addressing talking points to 13 common issues including: Music is not perceived as a core academic subject or districtwide budget cuts.
Another useful site is the American Music Conference. They also have a sizable listing of music related research.
For instance, did you know that middle school and high school students who participated in instrumental music scored significantly higher than their non-band peers in standardized tests. University studies conducted in Georgia and Texas found significant correlations between the number of years of instrumental music instruction and academic achievement in math, science and language arts.
Another important finding: A ten-year study, tracking more than 25,000 students, shows that music-making improves test scores. Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams.
Visit both of these sites and see why schools need more not less music instruction.
The Wisconsin State Journal has published three related editorials on school finance issues:
I would be surprised if this round of school finance changes substantially increases the amount of money available for schools. There’s also a growing risk of problems as local districts rely completely on state/federal funding sources (filled with political schemes and deal making).
You can visit the Document Feed at the Isthmus Web site to read the entire article by Bill Lueders.
From Education Week an article by Catherine Gewertz
New data from a survey of more than 500 school districts show the average salary of their superintendents has risen by more than 12 percent over the past decade in inflation-adjusted dollars, and that of their high school principals by more than 4 percent, while the average teacher salary declined by nearly 2 percent.
The salary survey of employees in precollegiate public schools also shows that the gap between teachers� and superintendents� salaries grew a bit wider in the same period. In 1993-94, the superintendents were paid on average 2.4 times as much as teachers. By 2003-04, the difference was 2.75 times.
The data come from the National Survey of Salaries and Wages in Public Schools and were released to Education Week this month by Educational Research Service as part of a research partnership.
An Answer That May Surprise
Margaret DeLacy’s recent article in Education Week
Since education is high on the national agenda, here�s a pop quiz that every American should take.
Question: What group of students makes the lowest achievement gains in school?
Answer: The brightest students.
In a pioneering study of the effects of teachers and schools on student learning, William Sanders and his staff at the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System put in this way: “Student achievement level was the second most important predictor of student learning. The higher the achievement level, the less growth a student was likely to have.”
Mr. Sanders found this problem in schools throughout the state, and with different levels of poverty and of minority enrollments. He speculated that the problem was due to a “lack of opportunity for highscoring students to proceed at their own pace, lack of challenging materials, lack of accelerated course
offerings, and concentration of instruction on the average or below-average student.”
While less effective teachers produced gains for lower-achieving students, Mr. Sanders found, only the top one-fifth of teachers were effective with high-achieving students. These problems have been confirmed in other states. There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own.
Lewis Collens reviews Shakespeare, Einstein and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education by David L. Kirp.
David Kirp’s excellent book “Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line” provides a remarkable window into the financial challenges of higher education and the crosscurrents that drive institutional decision-making. He reminds us that the coin of the realm in higher education is the quality of education and research, and he cautions that the pursuit of dollars can debase the coin of the realm.
Kirp explores the continuing battle for the soul of the university: the role of the marketplace in shaping higher education, the tension between revenue generation and the historic mission of the university to advance the public good.
Two articles of interest appear in the issue of Isthmus dated June 15, 2004.
A small article on page 6 says “Several Madison elementary schools, including Thoreau and Glenn Stephens, will begin teaching Singapore Math next year. The change comes amid concerns that the district’s preferred math program, TERC Investigations, which stresses self-guided problem solving, does not teach students enough basic math skills.”
A lengthier article reviews the “difficult transiton at East High.” As “faculty vent deep discontent,” the article headline asks “is new princiapl to blame?” One source doubts, says the article, that “Tillman’s contract will be renewed” beyond next year.”
As the Madison School Board ends the 2003-04 school year, the Finance & Operations Committee is beginning to develope the budget for 2005-06. Committee Chair Carol Carstensen asked for Board suggestions. This memo gives my suggestions.
You can participate by sending your suggestions to the entire Board at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on added cuts to TAG programming.
The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau released its 2003-2004 Estimated State Support for School Districts (227K PDF)
This report includes information on total state aid to local school districts along with individual school district aid data. The State provided $5.286B, up from $5,081 in 2001-2002 and $5,254B in 2002-2003.
Lee Sensenbrenner writes about Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent comments regarding three possible 2005 referendums:
“Facing growing subdivisions on the city’s edges, the expiration of a maintenance fund, and state laws that annually force cuts, the Madison School Board may be looking at three referendums next year.”
State laws do not directly “force cuts”. Rather, Wisconsin has controversial state laws that control the annual rate of increase in local school spending (“revenue caps”) and teacher contract compensation growth (QEO). Indeed, there are state caps on most, but not all school spending growth.
Interestingly, according to this Active Citizens for Education document (270K PDF), Madison school spending has increased from $180M in 1993 to $308M in 2003/2004 – with revenue caps in place ($12,419/student). The document also mentions that enrollment “has stayed virtually the same during the past ten years: 24,800”.
Given the spending growth, there must be more to this than is mentioned in Lee’s article.
Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal features an editorial on the recently proposed Public School Finance Reforms:
School reformers fail math test:
Put together, this equation fails any basic math test. Even under the current limits, payroll eats around 80 percent of the money available to schools. If schools no longer limit employee cost increases but cannot get new money to cover those rising costs, where is the money coming from? Cuts to other areas? Most of the frills are already gone. More fees? Parents already fork over hundreds of dollars on top of the taxes they – and everyone else – already pay for schools. Tax swap aids pols, not schools Fatal flaw aside, any plan that uses sales taxes to help pay for schools invites a new set of problems. The task force nevertheless expects to recommend increasing the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent to generate $800 million a year.
Links and additional comments are available here.
Brendia Ingersoll on “Some say schools have gotten more violent.”
Lee Sensenbrenner on Arts in Schools supporters pressing the Board of Education to save K-12 curriculum.
Manny Fernandez provides another perspective on school crime, from Washington, DC.
He avoided trouble by sticking to the basketball court, focused on sharpening his game while walking past clusters of young men who hang out near his apartment building after school.
“We believe the arts and technology are a great tool for engaging students”, Bob Lenz, Principal of the Marin School of Art & Technology. Maggie Shiels writes about this Novato, CA school for the BBC.
Q: What is ?Fund 80??
A: A property tax that school districts may levy for ?community programs and services.? Unlike property tax levies for school operations, Fund 80 property taxes are subject to less restrictive revenue limits.
Beginning in 1993, Wisconsin law has imposed limits on the increases in residential property taxes that school districts may levy to pay for the operations of the k-12 educational program. Unless a referendum passes, the districts may increase taxes only up to a limit determined by a legal formula.
On June 7, teachers, students, parents, and community representatives took the Madison Board of Education to task for its recent decision to eliminate the full-time district-level position of Fine Arts Coordinator. The same night, parents of children attending YMCA and After School, Inc. after-school programs at Midvale-Lincoln and Allis schools questioned the district?s unilateral imposition of a plan to replace those programs next year with ?Safe Haven?, a program operated by the district?s Madison School-Community Recreation department (MSCR). Later in the evening the Board voted 5-2 to spend more than $173,000 on a computerized time clock system for MSCR staff (YES: Carol Carstensen, Bill Clingan, Bill Keys, Juan Lopez, Shwaw Vang; NO: Johnny Winston Jr. and I).
On the surface the parent, staff, and community criticisms appear to have little relation to the decision to computerize time clocks for community program staff. But there is a common thread in terms of the district?s budget?something called ?Community Service? funds, or, ?Fund 80.?
Jay Matthews writes that Mathcounts lets smart middle schoolers compete to solve complex math problems.
A strongly substantiated rumor has it the Ed Holmes, the current principal of Wright Middle School, is all but certain to be selected as the next principal of West High School. People who are more informed and more involved at West than I am believe that Mr. Holmes would be a very bad match for West High.
Diana Jean Schemo writes about States’ efforts to get around the No Child Left Behind improvement requirements:
Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, every category of student at Broad Acres � including special education � must show improvement or the entire school can face penalties. But like a dozen other states, Maryland is hoping to circumvent those rules, asking to count students like Ms. Grant’s only as children of poverty, a big group that would hide any lack of academic growth.
Maryland officials say their proposals would avoid large numbers of schools being labeled “in need of improvement” when only small numbers of students are doing poorly. If changes are not made, said Nancy Grasmick, Maryland’s superintendent of schools, “there’ll be a lot of anger on the part of the community,” some of it possibly directed at the special education students.
To learn more about Alan Harris, the new principal of Black Hawk Middle School, you might want to visit the site that has the “report card” for the school he’s leaving.
It appears that 27% of the students scored advanced or proficient on English language arts in 2002-2003, compared to 50% for the district, and 35% for the state average.
Two fascinating posts at former SJ Mercury writer Joanne Jacobs blog:
- National Spelling Bee results, commentary from the American Literacy Union, who picketed the event (debt vs dette among other useful comments). Jackobs also writes about single mother Ashley White, a former spelling bee contestant featured in the film Spellbound.
- School Finance Post, with some interesting comments and links (California Finance and a recent Economist article).
Barb Schrank sent along this 1 page pdf file (37K) that covers the June 24, 2004 School Finance Reform Walkathon. For more info, see www.nocaps.org or contact MTI Staff Rep Doug Keillor (email@example.com).
With the recent elimination of the Fine Arts Coordinator in the Madison public schools, music and art (arts) education in Madison�s public schools will continue to crumble and to fall apart but at a faster pace. That�s bad for our children�s education, but it�s also bad for the City�s economy.
This letter to the editor of local Madison papers expresses concerns over the educational and financial costs of cutting 1/2 the position of the MMSD Fine Arts Coordinator that works with the District’s 130+ music and art FTEs in 47 schools to help these teachers deliver a quality curriculum.
Wired’s James Surowiecki has an interesting look at authoritarian vs democratic governance cultures (he argues that collective intelligence is far more effective, than a top down structure)
Instead of looking to a single person for the right answers, companies need to recognize a simple truth: Under the right conditions, groups are smarter than the smartest person within them. We often think of groups and crowds as stupid, feckless, and dominated by the lowest common denominator. But take a look around. The crowd at a racing track does an uncannily good job of forecasting the outcome, better in fact than just about any single bettor can do.
NPR’s All Things Considered: Experts Say Best Instructors Spot Where Students Go Wrong:
Research shows that teachers with degrees in the subjects they teach are more successful. That’s the reason behind teacher-certification requirements in the federal No Child Left Behind education law.
But as Robert Frederick reports, not all mathematicians are successful math teachers. Most could use some help in becoming calculating sleuths. Education experts note that most advanced math programs are geared toward theoretical as opposed to practical instruction.
It’s not enough to know math, says Judith Ramaley of the National Science Foundation. Teachers “also need to understand how the minds of young people work, and how to diagnose� the kinds of tangles kids get into,” she says.
John Katzman, Andy Lutz, and Erik Olson write: How several well-known writers (and the Unabomber) would fare on the new SAT.
In the summer of 2002 the College Board announced its plans to change the SAT. The new test will (surprise, surprise) contain several higher-level algebra questions, will no longer contain analogies questions, and will�as part of a whole new section on “writing”�includ an essay question. It is scheduled to be administered for the first time in March of next year.
To illustrate how the essays on the “new” SAT will be scored, The Princeton Review has composed some typical essay questions, provided answers from several well-known authors, and applied the College Board’s grading criteria to their writing.
I’ve summarized my recent emails to and from MMSD Board of Education President Bill Keys below. I want to thank Bill for taking the time to respond to my notes. I’ll post any further messages and/or links.
It’s true, there isn’t any windfall to be found in next year’s Madison school budget. But small changes in the budget could have a major effect on Madison’s families and direct educational services to our children.
The following opinion piece was published in The Capital Times on Saturday, May 29, 2004.
Notice we don’t even have a separate category for science curriculum which echoes the point of this WaPo editorial on the failure to teach and fund science.
Website from Tom Beebe’s group on reforming school financing: http://www.excellentschools.org/
RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING BENEFITS AND IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL-BASED MUSIC EDUCATION PASSED BY US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSES MUSIC EDUCATION RESOLUTION
On May 4, 2004 the United States House of Representatives approved a
resolution supporting music education. We encourage you to send a
letter to your congressperson thanking him or her for supporting music
in schools. It’s very easy to do, just visit www.house.gov/writerep
and enter your zip code. You will be linked right away to a form to
contact your representative. You can encourage your students and
parents to write to their representative as well.
For a complete listing of sponsors and votes on this resolution, visit http://thomas.loc.gov and enter “H Con Res 380” in the “Bill Number”
Barb Williams forwarded this article by Michael Winerip, and asked me to post it (“It is, I believe, the sum of all we need in education–period, the end”):
The secret to quality public education has never been a big mystery. You need good teachers and you need small enough classes so those teachers can do their work. Period. After that, everything seems to pale, including the testing accountability programs, technology, building conditions. Even curriculum seems secondary, as our best public colleges demonstrate. We have West Point and we have Berkeley, and the question isn’t which has the correct curriculum; the question is which curriculum is the best fit for the student and teacher.
Parents get this. Joe Gipson, a black parent from Sacramento who feels that black students are too often shortchanged, told me the best thing that happened to his children’s school was the California law capping class size at 20 through third grade. You can still have incompeten