What School Choice Means for Democrats in the Age of Trump

Shavar Jeffries: With President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos driving the public dialogue toward their far-right, for-profit privatization agenda, an alien from another planet could be forgiven for landing here and assuming that “school choice” is the priority of only the Republican Party — or that Democrats are in retreat when … Continue reading What School Choice Means for Democrats in the Age of Trump

You’re Invited: One City to Launch Preschool Movement and Charter School

One City Early Learning, via a kind Kaleem Caire email: A high quality preschool education, from birth to age 5, should be available and accessible to every child in the United States of America. Please join us on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 11:30am to 1:00pm for lunch and an important presentation and dialogue. We … Continue reading You’re Invited: One City to Launch Preschool Movement and Charter School

When charter schools unionize, students learn more, study finds

Matt Barnum: When charter school teachers push to unionize, charter leaders often fight back. That’s happened in Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Unionizing, they argue, would limit the schools’ ability to innovate, ultimately hurting kids. But a new study of California schools finds that, far from harming student achievement, unionization of … Continue reading When charter schools unionize, students learn more, study finds

Unaccountable

Madison School Board President James Howard’s remarks prior to the recent Montessori “charter” school contract vote (which failed 3-4). Well worth watching. Madison lacks K-12 governance diversity. A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preporatory Academy IB Charter School. Madison spends more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, while tolerating long … Continue reading Unaccountable

“83 percent of students of color at Success passed the English test; only 29 percent in public schools did”

NY1 rmed with new test scores showing a strong performance by her 15,000 students, the head of the Success Academy network of charter schools takes a victory lap – and seizes an opportunity to bash her long-time sparring partner Mayor de Blasio. NY1’s education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report: The city’s leading charter … Continue reading “83 percent of students of color at Success passed the English test; only 29 percent in public schools did”

Are City Schools Becoming Monolithic? Analyzing the Diversity of Options in Denver, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.

Betheny Gross, Colleen McCann, Shannon Murtagh and Christine Campbell:: As school choice grows in America’s cities, more district leaders are adopting a portfolio approach, giving schools greater autonomy and families more choices while still ensuring accountability. However, some community advocates are concerned that the new school options are not diverse enough to meet students’ needs. … Continue reading Are City Schools Becoming Monolithic? Analyzing the Diversity of Options in Denver, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.

“We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades”

Paul Fanlund: For example? “If you’re looking for the simplest examples, we weren’t consistently teaching students the fundamentals of reading in the earliest grades. We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades, and then you wonder why students aren’t attaining the skills, the basic skills … the foundational skills of reading. We still have … Continue reading “We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades”

In favor of K-12 Governance Diversity

Nicholas Kristof:: So far, it seems it can — much better. An interim study just completed shows Bridge schools easily outperforming government-run schools in Liberia, and a randomized trial is expected to confirm that finding. It would be odd if schools with teachers and books didn’t outperform schools without them.  If the experiment continues to succeed, … Continue reading In favor of K-12 Governance Diversity

As charter renewal looms, Badger Rock Middle School pledges to improve its performance

Doug Erickson: A small, environmental-themed charter school in Madison with a substandard academic record is facing heightened School Board scrutiny as its charter comes up for renewal. Badger Rock Middle School, 501 E. Badger Road, opened in 2011 amid great enthusiasm for its emphasis on urban agriculture, environmental sustainability and project-based learning. Last month, though, … Continue reading As charter renewal looms, Badger Rock Middle School pledges to improve its performance

Analysis: Unions Have Cash But Not Partners In Fight Against MA Charter Proposal

Mike Antonucci: Save Our Public Schools, the Massachusetts campaign fighting to retain the state’s cap on charter schools, describes itself as “a grassroots organization of families, parents, educators and students.” But a glance at its campaign finance disclosure shows it to be almost devoid of families, parents, and students, and includes educators only to the … Continue reading Analysis: Unions Have Cash But Not Partners In Fight Against MA Charter Proposal

The Great Massachusetts Charter Schools Debate

Rachel Slade In November, Massachusetts voters will decide whether the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) can raise the cap on the number of charter schools allowed, or increase enrollment in existing charters in underperforming districts. If the referendum is approved, the city of Boston—which currently has 27 Commonwealth charter schools that operate independently … Continue reading The Great Massachusetts Charter Schools Debate

Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women graduates first class

Erica Green: Seven years ago 120 girls bedecked in purple polo shirts and plaid skirts walked into an experiment — a Baltimore public school modeled on those originally designed for affluent white girls whose families could afford to send them to “finishing school.” On Friday, half of those girls, all but one of them African-American … Continue reading Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women graduates first class

To block union power, school reformers try courts

Stephanie Simon: Education reformers stymied by teachers unions and liberal state legislatures increasingly are turning to the courts to get their way on everything from funding charter schools to making it easier to fire teachers. It’s an end-run strategy championed by Republican and Democratic reformers alike: When they find it hard to change policies through … Continue reading To block union power, school reformers try courts

Bring back plan for all-male school to help black Boys

Kaleem Caire: So far, our capital city, like so many other cities, has preferred to go another way. They have no problem limiting their investment to spending millions of dollars on safety and security strategies that focus on locking up black males and policing them. We spend more money on policing, jail and related services … Continue reading Bring back plan for all-male school to help black Boys

School Board answers to MTI, not to students, taxpayers —

Norman Sannes Nothing has changed in the past 30 years. The love affair between the Madison School Board and Madison Teachers Inc. Executive director John Matthews is still in full bloom. The latest pending agreement to extend the existing union contract is proof. The ensuing litigation could cost Madison taxpayers a great deal. The Wisconsin … Continue reading School Board answers to MTI, not to students, taxpayers —

UW researcher surprised by ‘magnitude of grimness’ of Wisconsin achievement gap

Jesse Opoien:

Without trying to pin it on one magic solution — what are some of the potential solutions that are being discussed?
There’s plenty of research that says you get the most bang for your buck in investing in the early childhood grades. That probably still holds true. But at the same time, if you invested in high quality preschool and then let chips fall where they may, many of those positive effects will eventually deteriorate.
My sense is that the efforts to identify high-performing schools, high-quality schools regardless of what sector they’re in — public, charter or private — identifying the characteristics of high-performing schools regardless of sector, and trying to replicate them.
The other thing we’ve known for a long time is the single biggest within-school factor or influence on student achievement, in this order, are the quality of the teacher and the quality of the principal. Investing in ways of identifying effective teachers and helping them get better is almost always a good investment. It’s hard work, but it’s a good investment.
The other thing in terms of causes worth mentioning: there’s plenty of research that shows we have inequitable distributions of teacher quality. The higher the poverty rate, the more likely students are to be taught by a younger, less effective teacher. We can look at ways of trying to incentivize the most effective teachers to teach in the neediest schools. There are some positive signs here, but it’s nothing that’s going to be fixed over night.

Related: the rejected Madison Preparatory IB charter school.

Mayor Paul Soglin Discusses Education Reform with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

City of Madison, via a kind reader’s email:

Mayor Paul Soglin joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, other mayors and school superintendents in Washington, DC, today to discuss partnership opportunities between cities and the U.S. Department of Education to foster effective approaches to education reform.
Participating city leaders are part of a new Mayors’ Education Reform Task Force co-chaired by National League of Cities (NLC) First Vice President Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, MN, and NLC Second Vice President Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT. Mayors Coleman and Becker formed the task force in March 2013 to explore how cities can and should be involved in local education reform efforts.
During today’s meeting, task force members highlighted the growing commitment by municipal officials across the country to promoting educational achievement.
“Mayors and elected officials can bring together all the stakeholders in the education conversation in their cities,” said Mayor Soglin. “The perspectives from mayors of cities large to small are valuable to local and national policymakers. I’m glad we had an opportunity to talk with the Secretary and his staff about the role mayors can play in education transformation.”
Local leaders shared examples of city-school partnerships they have formed in their communities in areas such as school improvement, early learning, afterschool programming, and postsecondary success.
“The trajectory of learning begins at birth and extends over a lifetime,” said Mayor Becker, who was unable to attend the meeting. “Cities now experience an unprecedented level of collaboration and discussion in formulating specific plans for postsecondary access and success and productive out-of-school time learning.”
The meeting with Secretary Duncan provided mayors with an opportunity to discuss how lessons learned at the city level can inform federal education policy. Among the key issues of concern identified by the task force are:

  • Finding a “third way” in education reform that balances a commitment to accountability with a spirit of collaboration among school administrators, teachers, and cities;
  • Transforming schools into centers of community that support parent engagement and provide wraparound services to children and families;
  • Building on successful “cradle-to-career” models to develop a strong educational pipeline;
  • Securing adequate and equitable funding for local education initiatives; and
  • Promoting college access and completion.

“In this global economy, cities and towns depend on an educated workforce and schools are depending on us. We need to work together to ensure that our children graduate high school ready for postsecondary education and career success,” said NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, Mayor of Avondale, AZ. “As city leaders, we have an important message that must be heard and we must be at the table in guiding federal and local education reform policies.”
In addition to Mayors Soglin, Coleman and Becker participants in today’s meeting included: Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana; Mayor Edna Branch Jackson of Savannah, Georgia; Mayor Dwight Jones of Richmond, Virginia; Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Connecticut; Riverside (Calif.) Unified School District Superintendent Rick Miller; Gary Community School Corporations Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt; and New York City Deputy Chief Academic Officer Josh Thomases.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

Related:

Rocketship pushes to enter Milwaukee school orbit

Erin Richards:

t’s midmorning on a Saturday in June when Will Reichardt unlocks the front door of a south side office and grabs the day’s supplies: clipboard, school fliers in Spanish and English, some enrollment applications.
Just in case.
Then Reichardt drives his minivan to the local laundromats, where he circles dryers and washers and toddlers and parents, asking each family, in Spanish, to consider the opportunities at a new school opening in August called Rocketship.
A newcomer to Milwaukee, Rocketship Education is a nonprofit elementary charter-school network based in San Jose, Calif., that’s attracting national attention for its low-cost schools that blend traditional instruction with technological intervention.
Rocketship’s first national expansion site is Southside Community Prep, a new school at 3003 W. Cleveland Ave. which will operate under a special charter with the City of Milwaukee. If successful, Rocketship may open up to eight schools serving up to 4,000 children in Milwaukee.
The organization’s mission is to eliminate the achievement gap by rapidly replicating schools that perform better and cost less than local options. It intends to grow from 3,800 students in California to 25,000 students in six states by 2018.
In a decade, leaders estimate, they could be educating 200,000 students in 30 cities.
But in Milwaukee, Rocketship is an unknown, and the hurdles to recruiting students in a highly competitive school landscape have it scrambling to enroll at least 300 students by an Aug. 19 start date — now four weeks away.

Related: A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school last year.

More US Schools Go International

Stephanie Banchero & Caroline Porter:

An educational curriculum that originally catered to the children of globe-trotting diplomats is making rapid inroads in K-12 public schools across the U.S., boosting test results and academic readiness even at inner-city schools.
An educational curriculum designed for the children of globetrotting diplomats is making rapid inroads in K-12 schools across the U.S., showing surprising improvements in test results and academic readiness even at inner-city schools. Caroline Porter has details.
Houston, Chicago, Tampa, Fla., and other cities are embracing the International Baccalaureate [SIS IB Link] program as a way to overhaul low-performing schools, attract middle-income families who might otherwise favor private schools, or offer more choice.
“It’s not a program for the elite,” said Samuel Sarabia, who runs the IB program for Houston Independent School District, where 10 schools have IB programs, including two where the majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Five more low-income schools are in the midst of an IB conversion process run by the nonprofit International Baccalaureate group.
The program began in Geneva in the 1960s as a two-year high-school diploma offering for the children of diplomats and itinerant business executives. It later expanded into elementary- and middle-school programs.
Today, there are 1,651 IB programs in the U.S.–including 1,493 public schools–up from 503 in 2003. About 90% of them are in public schools, and most are aimed at U.S. students, not the children of diplomats.
Officials tout the programs’ emphasis on critical thinking. Unlike the traditional model of teachers imparting knowledge in a lecture format, IB programs emphasize individual and group projects governed by a philosophy of “international mindedness.” Students are required to take a second language.

The Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school in 2012, largely sponsored by the local Urban League.

Charter school experiment a success; The arrival of charter schools in any city usually starts a fight.

USA Today Editorial:

Critics — whether district superintendents or teachers’ unions or school boards or a traveling band of academic doubters — snipe at the newcomers, arguing that they’re siphoning students and money from traditional public schools.
But as evidence from the 20-year-old charter experiment mounts, the snipers are in need of a new argument. There’s little doubt left that top-performing charters have introduced new educational models that have already achieved startling results in even the most difficult circumstances.
That doesn’t mean all charters are automatically good. They’re not. But it’s indisputable that the good ones — most prominently, KIPP — are onto something. The non-profit company, which now has 125 schools, operates on a model that demands much more of students, parents and teachers than the typical school does. School days are longer, sometimes including Saturday classes. Homework burdens are higher, typically two hours a night. Grading is tougher. Expectations are high, as is the quality of teachers and principals, and so are the results.
KIPP’s eighth-grade graduates go to college at twice the national rate for low-income students, according to its own tracking. After three years, scores on math tests rise as if students had four years of schooling, according to an independent study.

Related: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”
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A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school.
Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools
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What will it really take to Eliminate the Achievement Gap and Provide World-Class Schools for All Children in 2013 and beyond?

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

February 6, 2013
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
As the Board of Education deliberates on who the next Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District will be, and as school districts in our state and across the nation wrestle with what to do to eliminate the racial achievement gap in education, while at the same time establishing world class schools that help prepare all children to learn, succeed and thrive in the 21st century, it’s important that we not lose sight of what the research continues to tell us really makes the difference in a child’s education.
More than 40 years of research on effective schools and transformational education have informed us that the key drivers for eliminating the racial achievement gap in schools and ensuring all students graduate from high school prepared for college and life continue to be:

  • An Effective Teacher in Every Classroom – We must ensure every classroom is led by an effective teacher who is committed to and passionate about teaching young people, inspires all children to want to learn, has an appropriate depth of knowledge of the content they are teaching, is comfortable teaching and empowering diverse students, and coaches all of their students to high performance and expectations. Through its Race to the Top Initiative, the Obama Administration also defined an effective teacher as someone who can improve a students’ achievement by 1.0 grade levels in one school year while a highly effective teacher is someone who can improve student achievement by 1.5 grade levels annually. Schools with large numbers of students who are academically behind, therefore, should have the most effective teachers teaching them to ensure they catch up.
  • High Quality, Effective Schools with Effective Leaders and Practices – Schools that are considered high quality have a combination of effective leaders, effective teachers, a rigorous curriculum, utilize data-driven instruction, frequently assess student growth and learning, offer a supportive and inspiring school culture, maintain effective governing boards and enjoy support from the broader community in which they reside. They operate with a clear vision, mission, core values and measurable goals and objectives that are monitored frequently and embraced by all in the school community. They also have principals and educators who maintain positive relationships with parents and each other and effectively catalyze and deploy resources (people, money, partnerships) to support student learning and teacher success. Schools that serve high poverty students also are most effective when they provide additional instructional support that’s aligned with what students are learning in the classroom each day, and engage their students and families in extended learning opportunities that facilitate a stronger connection to school, enable children to explore careers and other interests, and provide greater context for what students are learning in the classroom.
  • Adequately Employed and Engaged Parents – The impact of parents’ socio-economic status on a child’s educational outcomes, and their emotional and social development, has been well documented by education researchers and educational psychologists since the 1960s. However, the very best way to address the issue of poverty among students in schools is to ensure that the parents of children attending a school are employed and earning wages that allow them to provide for the basic needs of their children. The most effective plans to address the persistent underachievement of low-income students, therefore, must include strategies that lead to quality job training, high school completion and higher education, and employment among parents. Parents who are employed and can provide food and shelter for their children are much more likely to be engaged in their children’s education than those who are not. Besides being employed, parents who emphasize and model the importance of learning, provide a safe, nurturing, structured and orderly living environment at home, demonstrate healthy behaviors and habits in their interactions with their children and others, expose their children to extended learning opportunities, and hold their children accountable to high standards of character and conduct generally rear children who do well in school. Presently, 74% of Black women and 72% of white women residing in Dane County are in the labor force; however, black women are much more likely to be unemployed and looking for work, unmarried and raising children by themselves, or working in low wage jobs even if they have a higher education.
  • Positive Peer Relationships and Affiliations – A child’s peer group can have an extraordinarily positive, or negative, affect on their persistence and success in school. Students who spend time with other students who believe that learning and attending school is important, and who inspire and support each other, generally spend more time focused on learning in class, more time studying outside of class, and tend to place a higher value on school and learning overall. To the contrary, children who spend a lot of time with peer groups that devalue learning, or engage in bullying, are generally at a greater risk of under-performing themselves. Creating opportunities and space for positive peer relationships to form and persist within and outside of school can lead to significantly positive outcomes for student achievement.
  • Community Support and Engagement – Children who are reared in safe and resourceful communities that celebrate their achievements, encourage them to excel, inform them that they are valued, hold them accountable to a high standard of character and integrity, provide them with a multitude of positive learning experiences, and work together to help them succeed rarely fail to graduate high school and are more likely to pursue higher education, regardless of their parents educational background. “It Takes A Whole Village to Raise a Child” is as true of a statement now as it was when the African proverb was written in ancient times. Unfortunately, as children encounter greater economic and social hardships, such as homelessness, joblessness, long-term poverty, poor health, poor parenting and safety concerns, the village must be stronger, more uplifting and more determined than ever to ensure these children have the opportunity to learn and remain hopeful. It is often hopelessness that brings us down, and others along with us.

If we place all of our eggs in just one of the five baskets rather than develop strategies that bring together all five areas that affect student outcomes, our efforts to improve student performance and provide quality schools where all children succeed will likely come up short. This is why the Urban League of Greater Madison is working with its partners to extend the learning time “in school” for middle schoolers who are most at-risk of failing when they reach high school, and why we’ll be engaging their parents in the process. It’s also why we’ve worked with the United Way and other partners to strengthen the Schools of Hope tutoring initiative for the 1,600 students it serves, and why we are working with local school districts to help them recruit effective, diverse educators and ensure the parents of the children they serve are employed and have access to education and job training services. Still, there is so much more to be done.
As a community, I strongly believe we can achieve the educational goals we set for our chlidren if we focus on the right work, invest in innovation, take a “no excuses” approach to setting policy and getting the work done, and hire a high potential, world-class Superintendent who can take us there.
God bless our children, families, schools and capital region.
Onward!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Assistant: 608-729-1249
Fax: 608-729-1205
www.ulgm.org

Related: Kaleem Caire interview, notes and links along with the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school (rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board).

Urban League leader blasts hand-wringing about city’s image

Paul Fanlund:

During 2011, Kaleem Caire became a household name in local public affairs by leading a passionate but ultimately unsuccessful fight to create the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school.
When I mentioned it in an interview at his Park Street office last week, Caire, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, instantly recited the date of the Madison School Board’s 5-2 rejection (Dec. 19, 2011).
Madison Prep was to be an academically rigorous school of mostly minority students who would dress in uniforms and be divided by gender. The school day would be longer and parental involvement required. Teachers would also serve as mentors, role models and coaches. The goal was to lessen the city’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
But the board voted no, citing unanswered questions and worries about costs. Also in play were teacher union trepidations and widespread skepticism about the charter school concept, a favorite of conservatives, in liberal Madison.

Related: Achievement gap exists for both longtime, new Madison students.
Madison School district must solve problems no matter where they originate.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before (November, 2005).
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.

The Plight of Young, Black Men Is Worse Than You Think

Peter Coy:

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any wealthy nation, with about 2.3 million people behind bars at any given moment. (That’s 730 out of 100,000, vs. just 154 for England and Wales.) There are more people in U.S. prisons than are in the country’s active-duty military. That much is well known. What’s less known is that people who are incarcerated are excluded from most surveys by U.S. statistical agencies. Since young, black men are disproportionately likely to be in jail or prison, the exclusion of penal institutions from the statistics makes the jobs situation of young, black men look better than it really is.
That’s the point of a new book, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress, by Becky Pettit, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington. Pettit spoke on Thursday in a telephone press conference.

Related: Robert Francis, the Texan judge closing America’s jails

Until recently, these people would have been discarded in overcrowded prisons. After all they were caught in Texas – the toughest state of a nation that locks up more offenders than any other in the world, with more than one in every 100 adults behind bars. Instead they receive counselling and assistance with housing and employment, although they can be sent back to jail if they fail drug tests, abscond or reoffend. One woman, a crystal meth addict, tells me the sessions in court are like walking on eggshells. But there are small incentives for those doing well, such as $10 gift vouchers or – on the day I visited – barbecue lunch out with Francis. “These people have to believe we care and want them to succeed,” he tells me later. “Once they believe in me they can start to change.”
They are beneficiaries of a revolution in justice sweeping the United States, one with illuminating lessons for Britain. It is a revolt led by hardline conservatives who have declared prison a sign of state failure. They say it is an inefficient use of taxpayers’ money when the same people, often damaged by drink, drugs, mental health problems or chaotic backgrounds, return there again and again.
Remarkably, this revolution was unleashed in “hang ’em high” Texas, which prides itself on its toughness and still holds more executions than other states. But instead of building more prisons and jailing ever more people, Texas is now diverting funds to sophisticated rehabilitation programmes to reduce recidivism. Money has been poured into probation, parole and specialist services for addicts, the mentally ill, women and veterans. And it has worked: figures show even violent crime dropping at more than twice the national average, while cutting costs and reducing prison populations.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Emanuel’s push for more Chicago charter schools is in full swing: Now that the teachers strike is over, mayor is free to expand charter schools in Chicago

Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann and John Chase:

Chicago Public Schools officials expect about 53,000 of the district’s roughly 400,000 students will attend charter schools this year, and the number of charters will increase to more than 100. The city is aiming to add 60 charter schools in the next five years with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is trying to expand charters across the country.
The biggest push for charter schools locally comes from some of the wealthiest backers of Emanuel, including Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist who regularly advises the mayor. At a seminar of business and political leaders held the same day teachers voted to return to school, Rauner said the strike would only energize reform efforts that he called a “multiyear revolution.”
“I think we’re going to have a coalescing of interests that’s a focus and drive some major change. And there are some plans in the works, some charter community education innovators who are now focusing on Chicago, and I think in the coming years we can innovate,” he said.
Experts called the union’s stand against privately run networks unique in the United States, where several big cities, including New York, also have pushed charter schools.
“What’s different is this is really the first mass movement against that comprehensive strategy” for privatization, said Janelle Scott, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studies school policy.

Related:

“I think we have come a long way”

NBC15:

“I think we have come a long way,” said Superintendent Jane Belmore. “The district, as you may know, developed a pretty ambitious achievement plan last year and came out to the community and talked with folks in the community about it, got a lot of buy-in and there are lots of community organizations that are really behind us on that.”
Superintendent Belmore says it will take a number of years to complete the process–but says they’re fortunate to have the resources to help put it into play this year. “We have a plan that we’re now looking at, really what I’m calling kind of sorting the priorities of the priorities, because it’s very ambitious,” she said. “We’re not going to be able to do everything at the same level, at the same time, but we’re really figuring out what the things are that are going to give us the most leverage.”
The Urban League of Greater Madison has been on the forefront of the fight to address the achievement gap. President and CEO Kaleem Caire says he thought the achievement gap plan was too broad to begin with.

Links:

Don’t let failed prep school end dialogue

Chris Rickert:

t was already something of a fig leaf for a district that rejected the much less expensive Madison Prep amid opposition from the teachers union and liberal activists who painted the school’s chief advocate, Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire, as something of a school privatization Trojan Horse for the right.
(I never really understood how a black guy of modest origins who struggled in the Madison schools himself got tossed in with the likes of Newt Gingrich.)
This despite one of the widest racial achievement gaps in the state and a dismal four-year graduation rate for blacks of 50 percent.
I called Cummings on Saturday to see what he thought of Thursday’s news.
“I hate to be a cynic,” he said, but he’d seen it happen “over and over and over. … It’s easy to wear people out by giving them hope.”
Cummings initially wasn’t a big fan of Madison Prep. It would have served only a few dozen students, he argued, and what minority kids need is a districtwide attitude adjustment toward the issue.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

For our schools, is blame the only certain outcome?

Paul Fanlund:

But both are deeply concerned about what the school district’s ability to serve children, and the achievement gap is on the front burner. In the wake of a bitter fight over Madison Preparatory Academy — a proposed but ultimately rejected charter school aimed at fighting that gap — Nerad proposed a detailed achievement gap plan of his own. Even after scaling it back recently, it would still cost an additional $5.8 million next year.
And then there are the maintenance needs. “It’s HVAC systems, it’s roofs, it’s asphalt on parking lots,” Nerad says. “It’s all those things that don’t necessarily lead to a better educational outcome for young people, but it ensures that our buildings look good and people feel good about our buildings, they’re safe for children.”
He pauses, and adds, “My point is that we have a complex set of issues on the table right now.”
Madison teachers made about $20 million in voluntary pay and benefit concessions before the anti-collective bargaining law was enacted, according to district figures. But Nerad says state school support has been in relative decline for more than a decade, long before Walker’s campaign against teacher rights.

Related:

On Charter, Virtual & Traditional School Governance: Identical or ?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

I know how the issue would appear to me if I were on the McFarland school board and I were considering whether to revoke the school’s charter or decline to renew it on the basis of the school’s abysmal graduation rates.
On the one hand, continuation of the arrangement and hence of the income stream from K12 would mean that the district could spend at least $150 more per student on the education of the kids who actually live in McFarland, which is a not insignificant sum. On the other hand, revocation of the charter would mean that K12 would shop around for some other relatively small school district in the state that would be willing to host the virtual school, cash K12’s checks and provide even less oversight. K12 wouldn’t miss a beat and nothing would be accomplished. On top of this, as the McFarland superintendent pointed out, no one’s complaining. I suspect that I wouldn’t be leading the charge to revoke the charter and kiss away that very handy K12 money.

Are traditional public schools, budgets and staff held to the same standards?
Much more the rejected Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Hispanic, STEM charters approved Montessori proposal denied by Delaware Board of Education

James Fisher:

The state board of education voted Thursday to approve charter schools in Wilmington and Dover, but a proposal to start a new Montessori school under the charter system failed to gain approval.
The board unanimously approved charters for:

  • Academia Antonia Alonso, for students in kindergarten through fifth grade in Wilmington. The school would focus on Hispanic English-language learners. The founding board is a partnership between Innovative Schools, a Wilmington nonprofit that aids districts and charter schools, and the Latin American Community Center, a nonprofit in Wilmington.
  • Early College High School at Delaware State University, a high school embedded in the DSU campus in Dover. The curriculum would focus on science, technology, engineering and math, and is based on an early-college high school model to serve first-generation college students. State Board President Teri Quinn Gray calling the charter proposal “one of the strongest I’ve seen in awhile.”

The First State Montessori Academy needed four votes for approval, but it received favorable votes from only three of the five board members present. Under the proposal, the school would have served kindergarten through sixth grade based on the Montessori education model. The school’s planners don’t yet have a location secured for the school, and they have said it may share a campus with a private Montessori school.

Related: Madison recently rejected a proposed IB Charter school. Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

New Orleans Urban League College Track Graduation Event Tonight



via a kind email.
Perhaps, one day, Madison will take bold steps to address its reading (more) and math challenges. The recent rejection of the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school proposal illustrates how far our community must travel.
About College Track:

College Track is the catalyst for change for under-resourced high school students who are motivated to earn a college degree. Since its inception, College Track has grown each year, strengthening its services and expanding its program to support more and more students.

Rigorous college prep program (International Baccalaureate) helps CPS students get into selective colleges

Lauren Chooljian:

New research shows Chicago Public Schools students enrolled in a rigorous college prep program, known as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, are much more likely to get into good colleges.
The IB programs are located in neighborhood high schools around the city. Launched in 1997, the college prep programs were inspired by a long-running IB program in Lincoln Park High School. According to the study, released Wednesday, the programs have increasingly been used by the school district as a to provide a “high-quality education to high-achieving students, regardless of their mobility.”
The study was completed by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Their research found that students in the IB programs have a greater chance of not only getting into selective four-year colleges, but also staying there.

THe the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school featured an International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Achievement gap needs public’s greater scrutiny

Eric Hill:

You’ve undoubtedly read about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s recent initiative to close the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap that’s been plaguing the city for decades. This sudden shift in collective focus is likely the result of the Urban League of Madison’s recent Madison Prep charter school proposal. If not, it’s important to note that the proposal would open two schools to serve a portion of youth from some of city’s most under-served communities. They would borrow from formulas being used by highly effective charter schools across the country to get at-risk youth achieving at levels consistent with their more fortunate counterparts. But despite it being sound, well-funded and supported by evidence, the plan was ultimately voted down by the Madison school board in favor of the unchanging system that guarantees nothing but persistent failure.
The only silver lining to emerge from the school district’s disappointing decision is that the community has a renewed sense of urgency around the issues of education inequality in Madison.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

We Need Transformational Change, and We Can Do it!

Kaleem Caire, via email:

Kaleem Caire, President/CEO
February 21, 2012
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
I read yesterday’s article by Paul Fanlund of the Capital Times titled, “On School Gap Issue, there’s also a Gap between Leaders.” In his article, he addresses the perception of a gap that exist between Madison School’s superintendent, Dr. Daniel Nerad, and myself.
Is there a gap?
Yes. So far as our proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy is concerned, there is a gap. Dr. Nerad did not support the proposal. I do. I still believe, as thousands of others do, that Madison Prep would benefit children and our public schools, and should be supported.
However, beyond Madison Prep, the only gaps that may exist between Dr. Nerad and me are our different personal and professional backgrounds and experiences; his full silver top and my emerging grey hairs; my love for old school hip hop, break dancing and the cupid shuffle, and his love for disco, the mashed potato and the electric slide; and perhaps our respective views about how innovative and aggressive we should be in pursuing change in public education. Although, I did see Dr. Nerad bobbing his head to some Jay-Z, Nas and Kanye West tunes while driving down Park Street last week. We actually might not be that far apart after all (smile).
But these are authentic differences that can be mitigated and parlayed into a powerful and effective partnership, which is something that I am very interested in. More importantly, our mutual concerns outweigh our differences, and that is where we, the media and the public need to focus our attention.
What’s immediately concerning is that this summer, we will learn that another 350 Black, 200 Latino and 50 Southeast Asian teenagers stopped attending school this year. Our children cannot wait any longer. They need transformation change in our schools and community right now. They need Madison to empower them, their families and embrace their cultural differences. They need Madisonians to support and inspire them, not quietly complain about which neighborhood in Chicago they might come from.
Can Dr. Nerad and I work together?
Of course we can; and, we do. This week, we will announce that our organization has secured private funding to partner with MMSD to operate 14 College Readiness Academies between March and December 2012. These academies will provide four-weeks of free ACT prep classes, test preparation and academic skills development to 200 MMSD high school juniors and seniors.
We will also announce the hiring of the Project Director for the South Madison Promise Zone Initiative that we are spearheading. This initiative will address the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to addressing the multifaceted needs of children and their families within a specific geographic region of South Madison, with the ultimate goal being the creation of an environment where all children are ready for college. MMSD is a partner in this initiative, too.
Additionally, our agency operates the Schools of Hope Initiative, serving more than 1,300 students in several MMSD middle and high schools in partnership with the United Way of Dane County and other agencies and community partners. We have also worked over the last 2 years to identify federal and national funding to support the work of MMSD and its students, and have helped the District think through some its diversity hiring strategies.
Beyond these things, we are exploring partnerships to expand our children’s involvement in recreational sports and the arts; to give them opportunities to have fun and be kids. We are also planning a new, major annual fall event aimed at building broad community support for our children and schools and restoring fun and inspiration in public education. “School Night” will be an entertaining celebration that recognizes the unsung heroes in our schools, classrooms and community who are going above and beyond the call of duty to provide quality educational experiences for kids.
What About Dr. Nerad’s Plan?
We look forward to sharing our thoughts and suggestions in the coming weeks. However, don’t expect a thoughtless or categorical critique of Dr. Nerad’s plan. Instead of adding more divisive discourse to public education and highlighting where we disagree with Dr. Nerad’s plan, our proposal will flesh out “how” MMSD could, in a cost effective manner, identify and manifest the level of system-wide changes and improvements that we believe are needed in order to eliminate the achievement gap and stop the flow middle class families out of our community and public schools.
Yes, Madison Prep will be included as one valuable strategy, but only because we believe there is much to be gained from what the school can accomplish.
In the end, regardless of our differences, I believe Dr. Nerad and I want the same thing. We want our children and schools to succeed, and we want to keep dancing and having fun for as long as our knees will allow. I remain ready and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that we achieve these aims.
Onward!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Fax: 608-729-1205
www.ulgm.org

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

How Wide Are the Racial Opportunity Gaps in Your Metro?



Margery Turner:

In December, MetroTrends graded America’s 100 biggest metros on measures of economic security. Today we offer a new report card, with grades reflecting the opportunity gaps facing African Americans and Latinos.
We’re all well aware of the national story. Despite the huge achievements of the civil rights era, neither African Americans nor Latinos (on average) enjoy the same school quality, job opportunities, or homeownership access as whites. But the picture isn’t the same in every metro area. So our report card scores metros on five factors: residential segregation, neighborhood affluence (for the average black, Latino, and non-Hispanic white), public school quality (for the average black, Latino, and non-Hispanic white student), employment (among working-age adults), and homeownership.
Let’s start by looking at the grades for black-white equity.
Surprised? The top scorers are mostly small- to medium-sized metros in the south and west (Charleston, SC, and Riverside, CA, for example), while the worst performers are big metros in the midwest and northeast (including New York, Boston, and Chicago).
When I first saw these results, I thought perhaps that so few African Americans live in the high-scoring metros that their high performance is irrelevant. For some top scorers (like Albuquerque and San Jose), that’s definitely the case. But lots of other metros scoring As and Bs on this report card have substantial African American populations.

Madison was given a C on Racial Equity. Milwaukee is the worst while Albuquerque is the best.
Related:

Oakland’s McClymonds High is a full-service school

Jill Tucker, via a kind reader’s email:

After school each day, dozens of students at Oakland’s McClymonds High School crowd through a generic-looking door and into a space that offers them amenities that are few and far between in their West Oakland neighborhood.
Just off the reception area of the school’s new Youth and Family Center is a dance studio with wooden floors, a large mirror and a sound system. A few more steps in is the learning center with brand new computers. Toward the back is a living-room-like area with a small stage, a big-screen television and comfortable sofas for meetings or informal gatherings.
A door at the end of a hallway opens to a Children’s Hospital Oakland clinic waiting room. In the clinic, free medical care is available to all students and their siblings, no appointment necessary.
The center is part of a growing national trend to create full-service schools for children who come from difficult family situations.

Related: Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

School choice opponents suggest Kaleem Caire is a long-lost Koch Brother

David Blaska:

Previously on Bring It!, we reported on the Left’s campaign of vilification directed at Kaleem Caire.
The Left must discredit Mr. Caire for daring to disrupt the comfortable “Madison Way” by proposing a non-union charter school catering to students of color. He must be politically neutered for pointing out this liberal bastion’s failure to graduate even half of its black students.
But how to disparage the president of the Madison Urban League, the founder of One Hundred Black Men of Madison, and the 2001 recipient of the city of Madison’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award?
By the usual and convenient method of tying him to that Great Right-Wing Conspiracy in the Sky. The man for that job is one Allen Ruff. In comments before the school board and on his blog, avidly picked up and repeated by other liberal/progressive outlets, the Madison-based historian and social activist has been spinning an intricate web of guilt by association and seven degrees of separation in order to out Mr. Caire as a closet conservative, a secret tea partier, and a suspect capitalist.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Research about the (Achievement) Gap

Mary Battaglia kindly forwarded this email sent to the Madison School Board:

The high school graduation racial gap has been in the Madison news as though it only affects our fair city. It does not require much research, something the local media has failed to do, to see this is a national concern. According to an analysis called “Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education,” nationally only 47% of black males graduated from high school in 2007. (1) It has been reported that Madison’s graduation rate for black males is 50%. Obviously a pathetic rate compared to the 87% for whites, but what has not been a part of the local conversation is how Madison compares in relationship to the rest of the nation, and perhaps figure out where black males are graduating at a higher rate, and why. The Schott’s report, revealed two communities with large minority populations with much better graduation outcomes than the rest of the nation, Baltimore and Fort Bend, Texas. What MMSD should be looking into is what are these cities doing, and what curricula or community effort has made them successful? One interesting part of the gap for Madison and the state of Wisconsin is the high rate of whites graduating. While Wisconsin is the worst defender in the racial gap, the states total graduation rate is one the highest in the nation.
When you read various assessments of the “reason” for the gap nationally, the theories include the lack of financial investment, lack of good teachers, and the lack of community structure. While I find these proposals reasonable, I fail to understand how in this community they are relevant. MMSD spends well over $13,000 per student, lack the overwhelming urban problems of Milwaukee and Chicago, and have many fine teachers that somehow get non-minority students educated. These excuses ring hallow as to why MMSD has such a poor rate. What does ring true is we are not educating the population as it exist today. In the last 25 years the MMSD’s minority rate has increased from 20% to one closer to 48%. (2) In the last 25 years MMSD has changed from a district of less than 25% free and reduced lunch to one that is closer to 50%. (3)Madison is still teaching to the population of 25 years ago, the students have changed, but the curriculum has not.
Perhaps, MMSD could improve the graduation rate for all students, with a significant change of focus. For example, MMSD’s high school’s emphasize 4 year college candidates when many of the students would do better in a 2 year or technology school focus. There has been an increased coordination with MATC, but what would be beneficial is to offer a dual graduation for students, so as they graduate from MMSD, they also have a 2 year degree or a certificate from MATC. This is a system that has been successful in a high school in North Carolina. (4) A student that wants to head to college still has that opportunity and perhaps a chance to make some money to support the effort. Perhaps, another way to improve graduation outcomes would include an overhaul of the summer school program. Currently, MMSD summer school staff are paid poorly, the programs focus is mostly on students that have flunked their classes and need a recovery grade, and the programs poor reputation have lead many staff to discourage students from participating. (5) Why not invest in a comprehensive retooling of the summer program that provides a better salary for staff, and includes enrichment, regular classes, as well as recovery options. Let’s find a creative summer program with smaller class sizes and build a program that is the envy of the country and one that works. If summer school is going to be provided, then make it an awesome program, not just a warehouse for failing kids. Perhaps, as most research reveals, early education is a key component to better graduation outcomes, and the district finally is getting a 4K program up and running after a decade long battle with the union.
Madison Prep was an idea, but it is a unique group of students that would select to participate in such a rigorous program, which means an already motivated student or parents with very high expectations, both factors that frequently mean a student would do well anyway. MMSD needs to look at students that may not be that motivated or academically talented and assess what works to keep them engaged. The one thing MMSD has no control over is probably the most important issue for a students outcome. Research concludes the number one predictor of a students academic success is parental expectations. (6) Our schools cannot change parental expectations, however, they can change what a student expects. MMSD students need to expect a positive future, a purpose and a reason to stay in school. Not all kids will succeed but more than half of the black male students should. Let’s develop a district that gives all the students the opportunity to succeed.
blackboysreport.org
http://legistar.cityofmadison.com/attachments/3b609f41-9099-4e75-b894-06f56ab57ca5.pdf
DPI.wi.gov Public school data
http://www.durhamtech.edu/admissions/highschoolstudent.htm

This statement is based on personal experience of having many staff, from middle school up to high school, discourage my daughter who struggles in math from attending summer school. I have also spoke to many parents with the same experience.
http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/366
*** Of note the data of graduation rate is debated in academic circles as the data is not always standardized. Some data includes GED and 5 year rates others include only 4 year rates.
Thanks,
Mary Kay Battaglia

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Stakes high for Nerad on achievement gap proposal, including his contract which currently expires June, 2013

Matthew DeFour:

lot is riding on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s upcoming plan for improving low-income, minority student achievement.
The plan is billed as a blueprint for addressing an intractable, divisive issue in Madison, and it could also factor into the upcoming School Board discussion of Nerad’s future in Madison.
The United Way of Dane County has made closing the achievement gap one of its primary issues for more than 15 years through the Schools of Hope tutoring program. But president Leslie Howard said the recent debate over the proposed Madison Prepatory Academy charter school has drawn more public attention to the issue than ever before.
“I don’t want to say something so grandiose that everything’s at stake, but in some ways it feels like that,” Howard said.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Related links:
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before
“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!
Acting White
Event (2.16.2012) The Quest for Educational Opportunity: The History of Madison’s Response to the Academic Achievement Gap (1960-2011)

History, Not “Conspiracy”: Kaleem Caire’s Connections

Allen Ruff, via a kind email:

First of a series
The recent controversy over the Urban League of Greater Madison’s proposal for a Madison Preparatory Academy has been framed primarily as a local story pitting contending interests within the city. The charter school’s promoters, supporters and mainstream media have portrayed the ULGM’s CEO and President, Kaleem Caire as the Prep’s public champion and native son returned home on a mission to help “close the achievement gap,” the racial disparities in Madison’s schools.
But Caire’s well-established national ties, spanning more than a decade, to numbers of conservative foundations, think tanks and individuals bent on privatizing public school coffers, creating for-profit schools, and destroying teachers’ unions, certainly suggest that there is more to the story.
Caire has consistently dismissed any suggestion of his links to various right-wing efforts. On occasion he has admitted some distant connections but asserted his independence by saying, “They have their agenda, but we have ours.” Lately, he has taken to waving off critic’s references to such ties as nothing more than “guilt-by-association crap” or part of a “conspiracy” and “whisper campaign” coming from those trying to discredit the Mad Prep Academy project. However, a readily traceable history reveals some truth to the charges.

180K PDF version.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Clusty Search: Allen Ruff, Blekko, google, bing.

Charter School Climate Comparison: Illinois education officials review proposals for charter school at Great Lakes Naval Station

Associated Press, via a kind reader’s email:

State and local education officials are reviewing proposals for a charter school at Great Lakes Naval Station in northern Illinois.
The Illinois State Board of Education and a school district in North Chicago say they’ve gotten three applications to run a charter school on the base.
The school would be open to all families within the district’s boundaries, including those not connected to the military.

Review the charter proposal here: Charter School Opportunity PDF.
Related: The proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.

Kaleem Caire should run for School Board

The Capital Times:

Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire fought hard to win approval of his Madison Prep project. But the Madison School Board ultimately rejected a plan that would have steered tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into a project that board members felt lacked sufficient oversight and accountability.
The response of Caire and his fellow Madison Prep advocates was to suggest a variety of moves: the filing of a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, or perhaps a request for state intervention to allow the project to go forward without state approval.
We would suggest another approach.
Caire has succeeded in garnering a good deal of support for Madison Prep. He could capitalize on that support and make a run for the School Board.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Changing the school board would either require: patience (just two of seven seats: Lucy Mathiak, who is not running after two terms and Arlene Silveira, who apparently is seeking a third term) are up in April, 2012 or a more radical approach via the current Wisconsin method (and Oakland): recalls. Winning the two seats may not be sufficient to change the Board, given the 5-2 no vote. Perhaps the “momentum”, if realized, might sway a vote or two?
Perhaps the TAG complaint illustrates another approach, via the courts and/or different government agencies.

Where is UW support for charter school?

Chris Rickert:

Last week I wrote that it seemed hypocritical that average Madisonians and other liberals in city government and the left-leaning Madison press haven’t been beating the drum for proposed charter school Madison Preparatory Academy.
The school’s target clientele, after all, is one the left usually considers sympathetic: poor, disenfranchised minority youth historically denied access to educational opportunity.
But it took a reader to point out an even bigger elephant in this oddly somnolent room: UW-Madison.
It was only a few months ago that Madison’s prime educational attraction and the jewel of the UW System mounted a vigorous and very public defense of attempts to create a more diverse student body through its affirmative action policies.
You’d think this powerful institution might also be showing a little love for a similar social justice cause in its own backyard.

Nothing will change if we do nothing — or more of the same

Kaleem Caire:

For the last 17 months, I have followed the commentary and misinformation shared about our organization’s proposal to establish Madison Preparatory Academy.
Some who have written and commented about our proposal have been very supportive; others don’t think Madison Prep should exist. With less than 24 hours until the Madison School Board votes on the school, we would like to bring the public back to the central reasons why we proposed Madison Prep in August 2010.
First, hundreds of black and Latino children are failing to complete high school each year. In 2009, the Madison School District reported that 59 percent of black and 61 percent of Latino students graduated. In 2010, the percentage of graduates dropped to 48 percent for Black and 56 percent for Latino students. This not only has an adverse impact on our young people, their families and our community, it results in millions in lost revenue to the Madison district every year.
Second, in 2010, just 20 percent of the 387 black and 37 percent of the 191 Latino seniors enrolled in the district completed the ACT college entrance exam. The ACT is required for admission by all public colleges and universities in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, just 7 percent of black and 18 percent of Latino student who completed the ACT were “ready for college.” This means that only 5 of 387 black and 13 of 191 Latino students were academically ready for college.

Matthews has history of anti-charter views

Peter Joyce:

It’s ironic that John Matthews, executive director for Madison Teachers Inc., writes in a State Journal guest column that Madison Prep charter school could be implemented only if it was more like Nuestro Mundo.
In 2004, when Nuestro Mundo applied, Matthews didn’t support the formation of a charter school. He opposed the charter despite the fact that Nuestro Mundo wanted teachers to remain in the collective bargaining agreement as members of MTI.
If the Madison School Board had listened to Matthews back in 2004, there would not be a Nuestro Mundo charter school.
Nuestro Mundo came into existence through the work of members of the community and the efforts of three Madison School District board members, Ruth Robarts, Ray Allen and Juan Jose Lopez. In spite of the many legal and economic questions, they found a way to make Nuestro Mundo a reality.
Matthews has not assisted in the formation of charter schools. Don’t look to him for a balanced opinion — he’s anti-charter.
— Peter Joyce, Madison

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

ACE Media Conference 12/15/2011 12:30p.m. Financial and Accountability Issues Facing MMSD Board of Education

Don Severson, via a kind email:

(Madison, WI) The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will make a decision at its regular meeting December 19th regarding the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) proposal for a non-instrumentality charter school. Active Citizens for Education (ACE) has discussed several issues related to the proposal with the Board of Education, administration and with ULGM.
The Board of Education, in its deliberations, must weigh several implications and consequences for the schools, students, parents and the taxpaying public.
In its public statement, ACE will announce its position on the
financial implications of the proposal for future MMSD budgets and the taxpayers; how the issues of “control” and “accountability” relate to the authority of the Board of Education regarding approval or non-approval of the charter school proposal; and Madison Preparatory Academy over-all proposal.
The media conference will be held
December 15, 2011 (Thursday)
12:30 PM, Conference Room
Genesis Enterprise Center (GEC)
313 West Beltline Highway (off Rimrock Road to the west)
Mr. Severson will be available for questions and comments following the media conference.

Kaleem Caire draws on personal experience to support school alternatives for blacks

Dan Simmons:

“Come on Madison, we can do better than this!”
That’s Kaleem Caire. He said it not recently but in 1998 in an op-ed questioning why his hometown wasn’t paying more attention to the poor educational outcomes and high incarceration rates of black males.
“I’m asking Madison to be your best self and get this done!”
That’s also Caire, in an interview this week about his proposal for a publicly funded charter school designed to improve educational outcomes of low-income minority students.
What hasn’t changed, then to now, is Caire’s conviction that Madison’s public schools are failing minority students and his willingness to force issues that cause some distress to the city’s white liberal establishment.
What has changed is Caire’s clout. He returned to his hometown in 2010 after a decade long detour with his family to the East Coast. As president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, and public face for the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, his profile has skyrocketed. But with it has come criticism and skepticism over a plan that challenges Madison’s longstanding commitment to inclusive learning.

Caire, Nerad & Passman Wisconsin Senate Bill 22 (SB 22) Testimony Regarding Charter School Governance Changes

Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire 13mb .mp3 audio file. Notes and links on the Urban League’s proposed IB Charter school: Madison Preparatory Academy. Caire spoke in favor of SB 22.
Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad 5mb .mp3 audio file. Nerad spoke in opposition to SB 22.
Madison School Board Member Marj Passman 5mb .mp3 audio file. Passman spoke in opposition to SB 22.
Much more on SB 22 here.
Well worth listening to. Watch the hearing here.

Milwaukee Voucher School WKCE Headlines: “Students in Milwaukee voucher program didn’t perform better in state tests”, “Test results show choice schools perform worse than public schools”, “Choice schools not outperforming MPS”; Spend 50% Less Per Student

Erin Richards and Amy Hetzner

Latest tests show voucher scores about same or worse in math and reading.
Students in Milwaukee’s school choice program performed worse than or about the same as students in Milwaukee Public Schools in math and reading on the latest statewide test, according to results released Tuesday that provided the first apples-to-apples achievement comparison between public and individual voucher schools.
The scores released by the state Department of Public Instruction cast a shadow on the overall quality of the 21-year-old Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which was intended to improve results for poor city children in failing public schools by allowing them to attend higher-performing private schools with publicly funded vouchers. The scores also raise concerns about Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to roll back the mandate that voucher schools participate in the current state test.
Voucher-school advocates counter that legislation that required administration of the state test should have been applied only once the new version of the test that’s in the works was rolled out. They also say that the latest test scores are an incomplete measure of voucher-school performance because they don’t show the progress those schools are making with a difficult population of students over time.
Statewide, results from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam show that scores didn’t vary much from last year. The percentage of students who scored proficient or better was higher in reading, science and social studies but lower in mathematics and language arts from the year before.

Susan Troller:

Great. Now Milwaukee has TWO failing taxpayer-financed school systems when it comes to educating low income kids (and that’s 89 per cent of the total population of Milwaukee Public Schools).
Statewide test results released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction include for the first time performance data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which involves about 110 schools serving around 10,000 students. There’s a total population of around 80,000 students in Milwaukee’s school district.
The numbers for the voucher schools don’t look good. But the numbers for the conventional public schools in Milwaukee are very poor, as well.
In a bit of good news, around the rest of the state student test scores in every demographic group have improved over the last six years, and the achievment gap is narrowing.
But the picture in Milwaukee remains bleak.

Matthew DeFour:

The test results show the percentage of students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program who scored proficient or advanced was 34.4 percent for math and 55.2 percent for reading.
Among Milwaukee Public Schools students, it was 47.8 percent in math and 59 percent in reading. Among Milwaukee Public Schools students coming from families making 185 percent of the federal poverty level — a slightly better comparison because voucher students come from families making no more than 175 percent — it was 43.9 percent in math and 55.3 percent in reading.
Statewide, the figures were 77.2 percent in math and 83 percent in reading. Among all low-income students in the state, it was 63.2 percent in math and 71.7 percent in reading.
Democrats said the results are evidence that the voucher program is not working. Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, the top Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, said voucher students, parents and taxpayers are being “bamboozled.”
“The fact that we’ve spent well over $1 billion on a failed experiment leads me to believe we have no business spending $22 million to expand it with these kinds of results,” Pope-Roberts said. “It’s irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Milwaukee students.”
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who is developing a proposal to expand the voucher program to other cities, took a more optimistic view of the results.
“Obviously opponents see the glass half-empty,” Vos said. “I see the glass half-full. Children in the school choice program do the same as the children in public school but at half the cost.”

Only DeFour’s article noted that voucher schools spend roughly half the amount per student compared to traditional public schools. Per student spending was discussed extensively during last evening’s planning grant approval (The vote was 6-1 with Marj Passman voting No while Maya Cole, James Howard, Ed Hughes, Lucy Mathiak, Beth Moss and Arlene Silveira voted yes) for the Urban League’s proposed Charter IB School: The Madison Preparatory Academy.
The Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Examination (WKCE) has long been criticized for its lack of rigor. Wisconsin DPI WKCE data.
Yin and Yang: Jay Bullock and Christian D’Andrea.
Related: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.

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

MacIver Institute:

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

Related Links:

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

Houston School board OKs creation of a school just for boys

No sagging pants and grungy T-shirts will be allowed at this new Houston school.
Neither will bad attitudes.
And neither will girls.
This school, approved by the Houston board of trustees Thursday, will open next fall with only male students. The campus will start with sixth- and ninth-graders, who will have to apply to attend, and will grow annually to become a full middle and high school.
The boys at this new school in Houston’s Fifth Ward will have to wear blazers and ties. They will take advanced courses, learn a foreign language and- the biggest expectation — go on to earn a college degree.
This will be the first all-boys school started directly by the Houston Independent School District, which last month announced plans to open an all-girls campus next year. The district has two other all-boys schools, but they are run by contractors and one is leaving HISD’s umbrella to become a state charter school.

Related: The Proposed IB Charter Madison Preparatory Academy.

Give all-male charter school a chance

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial

The Urban League of Greater Madison’s dramatic proposal for an all-male public charter school deserves open minds and fair consideration from the Madison School Board.
Don’t dismiss this intriguing initiative just because the teachers union is automatically opposed. A new approach to helping more young black men get to college is justified, given the district’s stark numbers:

  • Only 7 percent of black students who took the latest ACT college preparation test were ready for college.
  • Barely half of black students in Madison schools graduated in 2009.
  • Almost three-quarters of the 3,828 suspensions last school year were black students, who make up less than a quarter of the student body

Much more on the proposed IB Charter Madison Preparatory Academy and Kaleem Caire.

AP component of MMSD high school plan is about access and equity, not “TAG”

One of the many pieces of the MMSD administration’s just-introduced high school proposal that has not been made clear is where the prominent AP component comes from. The answer is that it comes largely from a three-year federal grant, a $2.2 Advanced Placement Incentive Program grant that was awarded to the DPI in 2009. As … Continue reading AP component of MMSD high school plan is about access and equity, not “TAG”

“They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

ibmadison.com interviews Kaleem Caire about the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, via a kind reader:

In Caire’s mind, kids can’t wait. Consider the data he cites from the ACT District Profile Report for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s 2010 graduating class:

Of students taking the ACT, average test scores differed significantly between African Americans and white students:

English Math Reading Science Composite
African Americans 16.3 18.0 17.1 18.4 17.6
Caucasian/White 25.1 25.6 25.8 24.8 25.4

The percent of students meeting ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores, broken out by ethnicity, for the 2010 graduating class seems more alarming:

Total Tested English (18) Math (22) Reading (21) Science (24)
All Students 1,122 81% 68% 71% 51%
African Americans 76 38% 24% 25% 9%
Caucasian/White 733 90% 77% 79% 60%
Hispanic 71 59% 39% 45% 18%
Asian/Pacific Isl. 119 67% 65% 61% 45%

Numbers like these fuel Caire’s fire, and his vision for The Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. “I’m amazed that [the primarily white leadership in the city] hasn’t looked at this data and said, ‘wow!’ They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

Caire understands the challenges that lie ahead. By November, he needs to formally propose the idea to the School Board, after which he will seek a planning grant from the Department of Public Instruction. He anticipates other hurdles along the way. Among them, a misconstrued conception. “Madison believes it’s creative, but the reality is, it’s not innovative.” Will the community accept this idea, or sit back and wait, he wonders.
Second: The resources to do it. “We can survive largely on what the school system can give us [once we’re up and running], but there’s seed money you need to get to that point.”
Third: The teacher’s union response. “No one knows what that will be,” Caire said. “The school board and district are so influenced by the teacher’s union, which represents teachers. We represent kids. To me, it’s not, ‘teachers at all costs,’ it’s ‘kids first.’ We’ll see where our philosophies line up.” He added that the Urban League and those behind the Charter School idea are not at all opposed to the teacher’s union, but the Prep School’s design includes, for example, a school day longer than the teacher’s contract allows. “This isn’t about compensation,” he said of the contract, “it’s about commitment. We don’t want red tape caught up in this, and we want to guarantee long-term success.”

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT! and outbound open enrollment.

The New Black Migration: The Suburbs or Bust

Steven Snead, via a kind reader

Recall now the biblical phrase, “from whence comes my help?” It mentions looking up to the hills and Detroiters are doing just that.
They are looking to the Hills of Bloomfield, Auburn Hills, and Rochester Hills. They are looking to the rich green lawns of Troy, Sterling Heights, Farmington, and Gross Pointe. And yes, they are looking to their excellent schools too.
I have no doubt that this mother’s prayers have been duplicated by thousands of Detroit parents. The results of the 2010 census will no doubt show that minority populations have increased in suburban cities and overall population in Detroit will yet again hit an all time low. So while they desperately scramble to enroll their children in charter schools and suburban schools of choice, parents still have their compass set due north. Way north.
This is the New Black Migration. And if school leaders cannot devise a way to make the city schools a viable option for parents who want the best for their children, it will be a migration whose tide will know no end.

Clusty Search: Steven Snead.
Related: Madison Preparatory Academy.