Kristen Stephens and Jan Riggsbee
DURHAM – In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush called on Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), saying “We must increase funds for students who struggle…and make sure these children get the special help they need.” But NCLB, as it is currently implemented, largely ignores another important group that is struggling — gifted and talented students.
Our society typically views struggling students as those who are disadvantaged by ability or demonstrated achievement level — those students not meeting proficiency levels for their respective grade.
However, gifted and talented students struggle because they sit in our classrooms and wait. They wait for rigorous curriculum. They wait for opportunities to be challenged. They wait for engaging, relevant instruction that nurtures their potential.
And, as they wait, these students lose interest in their passions, become frustrated and unmotivated from the lack of challenge their schools’ curricula provide them. As a result, they become our lost talent.
January 30, 2007
Lawrence ninth grader to speak up for high achievers during Capitol visit.
As No Child Left Behind policy is reviewed this year, there is one group of students some think may have been left behind — those who are high achievers.
“Most of the time I’m stuck in regular classes,” said Dravid Joseph, a ninth-grader at West Junior High. “Sometimes I’m bored with what I’m doing there.”
Partially for that reason, Dravid will join a contingent of some of Kansas’ most gifted students who will travel Wednesday to Topeka to advocate for specialized classes for more than 15,000 of their peers across the state.
Similar stories from Wisconsin and beyond:
The ‘No Child’ Law’s Biggest Victims? An Answer That May Surprise, Education Week, June 23, 2004
Gifted students losing lifeline. Parents, advocates decry budget cuts, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 20, 2004
Schools facing tight budgets, leave gifted programs behind, The New York Times, March 2, 2004
Don’t punish gifted students to aid those struggling , Peoria Journal Star, Jan. 12, 2004
Brain Drain: Initiative to Leave No Child Behind Leaves Out Gifted; Educators Divert Resources From Classes for Smartest To Focus on Basic Literacy; Blow to Bright Minority Kids, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29, 2003
Gifted Minority Student Left Behind, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 8, 2000
Disadvantaging the advantaged, Forbes, Nov. 21, 1994
Let’s skip the issues this week and probe the Madison school board candidates on their community involvement and their advice for students moving up to high school. We’ve asked them to describe their most fulfilling volunteer experiences, as well as what they would say to a graduating class of eighth graders.
Here are the responses for the candidates for Seat 3: Pam Cross-Leone, Beth Moss, and Rick Thomas.
Much more on the election here.
School spending has always been a puzzle, both from a state and federal government perspective as well as local property taxpayers. In an effort to shed some light on the vagaries of K-12 finance, I’ve summarized below a number of local, state and federal articles and links.
The 2007 Statistical Abstract offers a great deal of information about education and many other topics. A few tidbits:
|US K-12 Enrollment [.xls file]
|US K-12 Deflated Public K-12 Spending – Billions [.xls file]
|Avg. Per Student Spending
|US Defense Spending (constant yr2000 billion dollars) [.xls file]
|US Health Care Spending (Billions of non-adjusted dollars) [.xls file]
|US Gross Domestic Product – Billions [.xls file]
Continue reading School Finance: K-12 Tax & Spending Climate
You’ll find the answer in the ATTACHED article from the “Wisconsin School News,” monthly journal of the Wisconsin School Boards Association. Appleton Embraces Charter Schools by Annette Talis. [650K PDF]
Madison Metropolitan School District:
The state’s failure to pay for mandated special education and English Language Learner (ELL) costs reduced available resources to Madison Schools by over $11.6 million, according to information released to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB).
At the district’s request, Pocan asked the LFB to calculate the reimbursement for special education and ELL expenses comparing the level of state categorical aid during the 1993-94 school year (the first year of state-imposed revenue limits) and the 2005-06 school year. School districts statewide were reimbursed for special education expenses at nearly 45% for 1993-94. The reimbursement for 2005-06 slipped to below 29%, translating to a loss of over $9.4 million in resources for Madison Schools compared to 1993-94.
For ELL students, the 1993-94 state reimbursement to districts for expenses was 33.1%. Currently, school districts are reimbursed at 11.5%, a loss of over $2.2 million in resources for Madison Schools compared to 1993-94.
For decades the state had a statutory provision requiring reimbursement for special education to be 63%, but the statute was eliminated from law in the 1999-2001 biennial budget.
The State of Wisconsin has been increasing it’s overall K-12 funding during this time, including the much discussed commitment to fund 2/3 of school district budgets. It would be interesting to see a summary of the spending changes over time, including areas that saw increases, and like this example, decreases.
Sun Prairie School District:
On February 20, 2007, voters within the Sun Prairie Area School District will be asked to vote on a referendum to build a 7th elementary school within the school district.
Cliff Miller has more.
According to a meeting I had with the Superintendent, he says MMSD will require $300,000 to fund elementary string instruction and that private funding and/or grants will be needed to continue Elementary String Education in the Madison public schools. Without this funding, he is likely to again propose cutting this Madison public school tradition of nearly 40 years.
I’m exploring setting up a specific fund for string education at either the Foundation for Madison Public Schools or the Madison Community Foundation, so tax deductible contributions can be made in support of the curriculum. Madisonians United for String Education for Students (MUSEs) is a working title for a group of parents who want to keep elementary string instruction in our public schools for our young children. We welcome your ideas on next steps. Personally, we feel if this is the route we have to take, an endowment fund will be needed to ensure the course continues into the future.
I met last week with the Superintendent who said he a) supports elementary string curriculum instruction during the school day, b) would accept proposals for privately funding elementary string education. I also said the support and/or leadership of the Fine Arts Coordinator was important to such an effort, and he agreed, saying the Fine Arts Coordinator would be supportive.
Public schools surrounding Madison have strong, growing elementary string courses, because the community values the course and this is the foundation course for more advanced instrumental training/experiences in middle and high school. Plus, elementary string courses make their school districts attractive to parents deciding where to live and to send their children to school. Many parents want their children to have the experience of learning to play an instrument and to make music with other students. Private lessons can cost $2,000 or more per year – few families can afford this, especially low income families. That’s what’s special about Madison’s elementary strings program. In Madison, in previous years, Grade 4 and 5 strings taught about 500+ low-income students annually.
String instrument instruction offers a number of benefits for children – they can be sized to a small child, they are “easy” to take home to practice, all types of cultural and popular music can be played on the string instruments, and these instruments lend themselves to ensemble playing. Furthermore, learning how to play an instrument prepares you for playing a string or band instrument in middle school or for chorus, because you learn how to read music. Through the one- to two-year elementary course, children experience the joy of making music and performing through discipline and practice. Also, by offering this course Madison’s public schools stand shoulder to shoulder with what the surrounding school districts value and offer their children.
Lastly, I’m also be looking at various financial information to develop some proposals for the School Board’s consideration. I welcome your support and ideas.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York said today that he would allocate more money to the state’s public education system in his 2008 budget proposal, but he said the increased spending would be tied to better results from schools, educators and students.
“There will be no more excuses for failure,” Mr. Spitzer said. “The debate will no longer be about money, but about performance.”
The governor, in office for less than a month, did not tip his hand today on how much the public school system will get in the budget that he will submit to the state Legislature on Wednesday. But in an address to school leaders and legislators, he said that every school district that receives at least $15 million more this year in his new budget, or 10 percent more than in the previous year, would be subject to a new “contract for excellence” that will dictate how they can spend those funds.
Schools that do not perform well, he said, would be shut down. Educators who do not meet performance goals would be dismissed. A new accountability system would monitor how schools are performing academically and whether they are making the best use of their money, he said. Also, the schools will be judged on whether their academic programming is helping students perform better.
“We should be ready to close more schools that fail — perhaps as many as 5 percent of all the schools in the state if we have to,” he said.
Spitzer’s Speech, “A Contract for Excellence” is available here.
Jonathan Mandell comments.
In the midst of a national debate over whether Advanced Placement courses place too much pressure on U.S. high school students, a team of Texas researchers has concluded that the difficult courses and three-hour exams are worth it.
In the largest study ever of the impact of AP on college success, which looked at 222,289 students from all backgrounds attending a wide range of Texas universities, the researchers said they found “strong evidence of benefits to students who participate in both AP courses and exams in terms of higher GPAs, credit hours earned and four-year graduation rates.”
A separate University of Texas study of 24,941 students said those who used their AP credits to take more advanced courses in college had better grades in those courses than similar students who first took college introductory courses instead of AP in 10 subjects.
Madison United for Acadmic Excellence has a useful comparison of AP and other “advanced” course offerings across the four traditional Madison high schools. Much more on local AP classes here.
Wisconsin Advanced Placement Distance Learning Consortium.
Verona High School Course Prospectus, including AP.
Middleton High School Course List.
Monona Grove High School Course Catalog [320K PDF]
Sun Prairie High School Courses.
Waunakee High School Course Index.
McFarland High School Course Guide.
Edgewood High School.
Jay Matthews has more in a later article.
Message from the Vice President, AERA
November 14, 2006
California State University, Monterey Bay
Being a teacher educator these days can be a strange experience. Over the past several months, I have given numerous presentations depicting teaching as intellectually challenging, complex work. Using case studies of teachers in diverse classrooms, I have argued that learning to teach well is complicated, partly because excellent teachers know how to engage their students in thinking deeply about things that matter, while embedding the teaching of skills and basic content in broader ideas and problems that have relevance to their students. Ron Berger’s descriptions of teaching and learning in An Ethic of Excellence are not only brilliant and inspiring, but helpful illustrations of what classroom teaching and learning can be.
As teacher educators, this is the kind of teaching we try to promote. Linda Darling-Hammond’s most recent book Powerful Teacher Education develops excellent portraits of the best in preservice teacher education. [Highlights Alverno College in Milwaukee – LJW]. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Education has been sponsoring an Iterative Best Evidence Syntheses program, connecting research on teaching to diverse students’ learning, and to teacher professional development. For example, professional development linked to enhanced children’s learning incorporates teachers’ knowledge and skills, provides theoretical content knowledge related to practice, involves teachers in analyzing data from their own settings, and engages them in critical reflection that stretches their thinking and challenges their assumptions most recent issue of Harvard Educational Review, Betty Achinstein and Rod Ogawa examine two cases of beginning teachers whose students were out-scoring those of their peers on state tests, but who were pushed out of their teaching positions because of their refusal to follow the script.
What is going on here? It is true that teacher education as a whole has not done nearly as well as it could in preparing teachers to teach all students well. At the same time, reducing learning to teach to learning to follow a script greatly shortchanges what teaching and learning could be. It is ironic that teaching has become exceedingly prescribed and determined at a time when the U.S. is aggressively exporting its version of democracy and personal liberty. Not only is tolerance for diverse perspectives currently the lowest it has been in my lifetime, but support for intellectual inquiry and creativity in education seems to have disappeared.
To prompt consciousness-raising, curriculum theorist Thomas Poetter wrote a novel, The Education of Sam Sanders. Set in about 2030, it tells the story of a student who rebelled against rote learning and test preparation because he wanted to read whole books of his own choosing. His rebellion awakened some teachers’ memories of a time when teaching and learning involved harnessing reading, writing, and math skills to explore interdisciplinary themes of significance to the lives of students. Books that had been banned were brought out of a locked vault. Teachers began working collaboratively to design engaging curricula. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happened.
I believe it is essential that we demand more for students. In part, this means demanding more from our own teacher education programs. Our work as teacher educators needs to be grounded in the realities of the diverse students who populate classrooms today. But rather than acquiescing to formulas and scripts, we must re-invigorate a vision of, in the words of Maria de la Luz Reyes and John Halcón, The Best for our Children.
The revenue caps and QEO are transforming the operations of public schools, pushing school officials and the public into a never-ending cycle of cuts, compromises and referendums.
Most districts reduced the number of academic courses, laid off school support staff and reduced programs for students at the highest risk of failure, according to a survey of 278 superintendents during the 2004-05 school year by groups representing administrators and teachers.
Public schools, the most expensive single program in Wisconsin, account for about 40 cents of every dollar spent out of the state’s general fund.
In the old days, school boards wanting more money for school operations could simply raise taxes, and risk retribution from voters if they went too far.
Revenue caps stripped school boards of that power, requiring them instead to seek the permission of voters in ballot questions.
“We’re literally governing by referendum,” complained Nancy Hendrickson, superintendent of the Pecatonica Area School District in Blanchardville, 35 miles southwest of Madison.
Much more on the Madison School District’s $331M+ budget here and here.
They Protect Teachers’ Rights, Support Teacher Professionalism, and Check Administrative Power.
We live in an era when leaders in business and the media demand that schools function like businesses in a free market economy, competing for students and staff. Many such voices say that such corporate-style school reform is stymied by the teacher unions, which stand in the way of leaders who want unchecked power to assign, reward, punish, or remove their employees. Some academics blame the unions when student achievement remains stagnant. If scores are low, the critics say it must be because of the teachers’ contract, not because the district has a weak curriculum or lacks resources or has mediocre leadership. If some teachers are incompetent, it must be because of the contract, not because the district has a flawed, bureaucratic hiring process or has failed to evaluate new teachers before awarding them tenure. These critics want to scrap the contract, throw away teachers’ legal protections, and bring teacher unions to their collective knees.
It is worth recalling why teachers joined unions and why unions remain important today. Take tenure, for example. The teacher unions didn’t invent tenure, despite widespread beliefs to the contrary. Tenure evolved in the 19th century as one of the few perks available to people who were paid low wages, had classes of 70 or 80 or more, and endured terrible working conditions. In late 19th century New York City, for example, there were no teacher unions, but there was already ironclad, de facto teacher tenure. Local school boards controlled the hiring of teachers, and the only way to get a job was to know someone on the local school board, preferably a relative. Once a teacher was hired, she had lifetime tenure in that school, but only in that school. In fact, she could teach in the same school until she retired—without a pension or health benefits—or died.
More on Diane Ravitch. Joanne adds notes and links to Diane’s words.
The Madison School Board discussed the proposed Madison Studio School recently. Watch the video and read these recent articles:
- Mayoral Candidates Endorse the Studio School by Susan Troller
- Board Wants Study of Studio School by Deborah Ziff
- Don’t Rush Approval of Studio School by John Keckhaver
- Chafing at Charters by Jason Shephard:
But citizen praise was matched by district badmouthing. At every stage, district officials exaggerated the potential problems posed by the school, and at no point did they provide evidence that they had worked to resolve them.
For example, Rainwater wants the 44-student school to have its own full-time principal and secretary, while Studio School backers want to save money by sharing Emerson’s resources.
Rainwater’s insistence on spending more money, which could torpedo the proposal, left some shaking their heads. Kobza asked whether it would make sense to even consider other charters, as Rainwater’s rules would make them financially unviable.
Rainwater, amazingly, conceded the point: “I agree that you would never have a charter school” given these requirements, he said.
Continue reading More on the Proposed Madison Studio School
In 2006-07 the Madison School district will spend $43.5M on health insurance for its employees, the majority of the money paying for insurance for teachers represented by Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) That is 17% of the operating budget under the revenue limits.
In June of 2007, the two-year contract between the district and MTI ends. The parties are now beginning negotiations for the 2007-09 contract.
The Sun Prairie School district and its teachers union recently saved substantial dollars on health insurance. They used the savings to improve teacher wages. The parties joined together openly and publicly to produce a statement of the employees health needs. Then they negotiated a health insurance package with a local HMO that met their needs.
The Madison School district has no choice but to look for ways to reduce future health insurance costs, while keeping a high quality of care. What we pay our teachers in the future depends on it–both in wages and in post-retirement benefits. What we can offer to our children in programs depends on it.
We have made some progress in reducing future health insurance costs for some of the union-represented employees and for our administrators. I hope that board members elected in April will continue down this path. It’s not an easy path.
MTI plays hard ball in its election endorsements. It is looking for candidates that will continue coverage by Wisconsin Physicians Services (WPS)—no matter what else is available. It is also telling the incumbents what kind of treatment to expect from executive director John Matthews if the incumbent takes his or her board role seriously enough to represent the kids’ interest at the negotiating table. For an example, see MTI’s newsletter for late January:
http://www.madisonteachers.org/Solidarity/Solidarity%2006-07/solid012207.pdf [65K PDF]
What does it take to truly create a school where no child is left behind?
That question defines what is probably the most pressing issue facing American public education, and a high-poverty school on Madison’s north side west of Warner Park seems to have figured out some of the answers.
Mendota Elementary is among a small handful of schools in Madison where the percentage of children from low-income families hovers above 70 percent. But contrary to what most research would predict, Mendota’s standardized test scores meet or beat Madison’s generally high district averages, as well as test scores from throughout the state, on the annual Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.
In fact, Mendota’s test scores even exceed those of many other local schools where the majority of students come from more affluent homes with a wealth of resources to devote to child raising, including both time and money.
From “Successful schools, successful students” by reporter Susan Troller, The Capital Times, January 26, 2007.
Continue reading Madison’s Mendota Elementary School beats the odds
The Madison Board of Education is faced with several great challenges over the next few months. One of the biggest is the announcement that Superintendent Art Rainwater will retire at the end of the June 2008. The board will be working with a consultant to assist in hiring the next superintendent. Another board challenge is the budget shortfall of $10.5 million dollars. Lack of state and federal funding, unfunded and under funded mandates, revenue limits and the qualified economic offer, all contribute to the annual budget woes. While addressing these issues the Board continues its discussion and analysis on positive student behavior in our schools. These changes will lead from a punitive approach to a preventive and restorative justice methodology. This model will increase school safety and lead to changes in the student Code of Conduct and Board policy that can be applied fairly to all students.
Continue reading Late January School Board Progress Report
Education Commission of the States:
This unique resource is for you:
- If your governor or your legislator has asked you to tell him/her what the research says on education issues
- If you don’t know whom to trust — and find it difficult to navigate potential bias and the selective use of data
- If you don’t have time to read 25 pages and trudge through complicated explanations of methodology
- If you need to cut through the mud right to the findings and policy implications.
Richard S. Davis, writing in the Spokesman Review:
What should the state spend on public schools?
In Olympia today, there is only one right answer: More.
And that answer has budget-busting consequences.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, the current education governor – when has the mansion not been occupied by an education governor? – has proposed increasing per student spending by 25 percent. Republicans don’t disagree, though they might spend it differently. And the governor has called her education budget, which goes a long way toward depleting a $1.9 billion surplus, just a down payment.
Not satisfied with promises, nine school districts went to court earlier this month, suing for more state money. They didn’t say how much they wanted, possibly to avoid low-balling the judge. The courts can be very generous with other people’s money.
But there are limits to how much is available. The current surplus will be spent in a few years. And when “more” means higher taxes, public support erodes quickly.
Perhaps, rather than focusing on how much we are spending, we should be asking how well existing money is being spent.
Joanne has more.
When I was first contacted about writing a guest opinion, I thought, “What a great opportunity to share my strong feelings about public education.” Then I realized I need to be aware that everyone will not feel the same as me nor for the same reasons and I must be cautious lest I alienate them. But I was asked for my views, so I will give them.
I believe education of our youth is the most valuable thing we as adults can provide to them. Similarly it is a great responsibility we hold. For the youth it gives them the future. They, of course, must decide how to use it. Often overlooked is the value that is returned to us as providers. If we have done well, we will have real contributors to our society in our future: our doctors, nurses, community leaders, engineers, lawyers, writers, ethical politicians and journalists. And we will provide the teachers for that next generation so this responsibility can go on.
None of this comes free. There is a cost and I agree it is substantial. But if you look at it as an investment, you will find a return on your money. There is the development of the future as shown in the preceding paragraph. There is also the concrete value of your community and the property you hold. It is accepted that the quality of life and property values are directly related to the education provided in that community. We all can think of areas where we would rather not live and raise our children, but you would also find that in many of those you could afford to buy a house. There is a direct correlation between the quality of local education and property value. Why else is an evaluation of the schools always a prime part of buying a house?
Continue reading Making our schools a top priority: Investment in education will always pay off in society
Watch an excellent explanation of current math instruction and alternatives to it. I’ve never before seen such clear demonstrations of current math education. It really helps make the current math controversies much more concrete. Go to You Tube.
The Madison School Board’s 2006/2007 Goals for Superintendent Art Rainwater included the “Initiatiation and completion of a comprehensive, independent and neutral review and assessment of the District’s K-12 math curriculum”. Watch the discussion [Video] and read a memo [240K PDF] from the Superintendent regarding his plans for this goal. Much more here and here.
Barbara Lehman kindly emailed the Board’s conclusion Monday evening:
It was moved by Lawrie Kobza and seconded by Ruth Robarts to approve the revised plan for implementation of the Superintendent’s 2006-07 goal to initiate and complete a comprehensive, independent, and neutral review and assessment of the District’s K-12 math curriculum as presented at this meeting, including extension for completion of the evaluation to the 2007-08 school year. The Board of Education shall receive a report in 2006-07 with analysis of math achievement data for MMSD K-12 students, including analysis of all math sub-test scores disaggregated by student characteristics and schools in addition to reports in subsequent years. Student representative advisory vote * aye. Motion carried 6-1 with Lucy Mathiak voting no.
W. Stephen Wilson [75K PDF]:
Professors are constantly asked if their students are better or worse today than in the past. This paper answers that question for one group of students.
For my fall 2006 Calculus I for the Biological and Social Sciences course I administered the same final exam used for the course in the fall of 1989. The SAT mathematics (SATM) scores of the two classes were nearly identical and the classes were approximately the same percentage of the Arts and Sciences freshmen. The 2006 class had significantly lower exam scores.
This is not a traditional research study in mathematics education. The value of this study is probably in the rarity of the data, which compares one generation to another.
Nineteen eighty-nine is, in mathematics education, indelibly tied to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ publication, Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989), which downplayed pencil and paper computations and strongly suggested that calculators play an important role in K-12 mathematics education. My 2006 students would have been about two years old at the time of this very influential publication, and it could easily have affected the mathematical education many of them received. Certainly, one possibility is that mathematics preparation is down across the country, thus limiting the pool of well prepared college applicants.
Wilson is a Professor of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University.
Action and Help Needed: I am beginning to work with some parents and others in the community to raise awareness and possibly financial support for all fine arts education. If you are interested in learning more, or would like to help, let me know (email@example.com or 231-3954). I will be posting on the blog more of what we are doing, including surveys and petitions of support.
Due to the proposed budget gap for next year and the Superintendent’s preliminary discussion idea to cut up to $300,000 from elementary strings, our focus will be on this course in the short-term. Elementary strings is only one piece of Fine Arts Education, but there is no other organization that teaches so many low income children how to play an instrument for about $200 per child vs. $2,000 per child in private instruction. We would like to resolve this issue this spring, working collaboratively with the administration and the school board.
The School Board would like proposals from the community re supporting elementary strings. I have begun working with parents and others on this topic, and I welcome ideas and support from readers of this blog. In addition to various proposals for School Board consideration, which I’m being encouraged to submit, we feel there is a need to raise awareness of the importance of a strong, vibrant standards-based, academic fine arts education. For an instrumental curriculum that meets national and state standards, course instruction begins in Grade 4 and classes are held at least twice weekly during the day.
The demand for elementary strings from parents and students has been and continues to be strong; but sadly, I feel the administration (not the School Board) has been a barrier to moving forward in partnership with the community, preferring each year to cut and to whittle away the course each year rather than gather the community together to bring ideas and solutions to the table. Last November, I asked District Administration for the following basic information: number of elementary string students, number of FTEs, number of middle and high school band and string students, number of FTEs, and revenue collected. I have not received this information, which I need to work on proposals, even though I have asked for the information repeatedly. The administration may have a lot on their plate, but I was only asking for basic information needed to develop some proposals for board consideration. I thought, perhaps the administration is working on their own proposals to continue this course, but that is not the case.
Up until a few years ago, there were nearly 2,000 4th and 5th grade students taking elementary strings, 30-40% of these children were low income (600+ children). During the 1990s, as the district’s low income population increased, enrollment in elementary strings doubled from about 1,000 students in 1991 to more than 1,900 in after the year 2000.
Elementary strings has been part of the Madison schools for more than 40 years. Growing school districts around Madison offer this course, and the enrollment is growing. Grandparents and parents who live in Madison took this course when they were in elementary school. The large string festival is one of other opportunities that make our elementary schools unique. If we want to keep parents sending their children to Madison, and to keep the needed diversity in our schools, I think this course is important and unique to Madison.
I hope some of you will join me in supporting a vibrant fine arts education for our children and working on proposals for elementary strings. Thank you for reading this blog item,
Continue reading Elementary Strings: Update and Community Appeal
Madison school officials were heartened Monday by a bipartisan state study panel’s backing of a measure that would allow the School Board to raise more than an additional $2 million a year.
That would cost the owner of an average city home about $25 a year.
If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would essentially allow school boards to boost their revenue limits by up to 1 percent, which in Madison would be $2.2 million next year. Boards would need to OK such moves by a two-thirds vote, and the spending would be in effect for just one year at a time.
Madison and some other districts with relatively high levels of spending and property values have strong financial disincentives against exceeding the revenue caps. Madison taxpayers, for example, pay $1.61 for every $1 the district exceeds the revenue cap due to the school funding formula, which works to equalize the tax burden between richer and poorer districts.
But the measure that advanced Monday wouldn’t subject Madison and similar districts to that financial penalty.
An additional tax of $2.2 million would mean the owner of an average Madison home valued at $239,400 would pay about $25 more per year, said Doug Johnson, a Madison School District budget analyst. The district’s property tax levy is $209.2 million.
The Madison School Board’s Communications Committee recently released a list of spending increase authority changes they would like to see the State enact. More on the School District’s $331M+ Budget.
David Callendar has more.
Many CEOs who have scaled the corporate ladder say their early start in business gave them their best advantage. While many of their classmates socialized, they were punching time cards, earning money and learning management lessons they still use — from how to promote new ideas to organizing work efficiently and handling arduous schedules.
Who can forget the early paper routes, particularly on blustery winter mornings, or cleaning a restaurant’s grease trap…..
Taxpayers, parents and students, particularly those who will enter our schools over the next few decades will benefit from more local choices if the Madison Studio School can lift off, soon.
The Madison School District Administration’s recent history has been marked by a reduction in choice for parents and students and generally a monolithic approach to curriculum. Examples include the rush toward one size fits all curriculum in high schools [East High School and West High School’s English 9/10], the annual attempt to kill elementary strings and the ongoing implementation of scripted curriculum such as Connected Math, among others. This has occurred despite flat overall enrollment and growing district budgets.
The Madison Studio School initiative rises out of the successful near westside Preschool of the Arts family. Learn more by visiting their website along with these articles.
Lifting off is made more difficult by the Madison School District’s structural deficit, which further limits annual increases in the $331M+ budget.
I hope that The School Board, Administration and Studio School proponents can mutually find a way to say yes, rather than, as Scott Milfred points out, starting with the usual same service reasons to say no.
Over time, I believe the Studio School will grow and spawn additional charter initiatives, perhaps offering middle and high school students more options.
For me, this is simply a governance issue. I think movement away from the typical monolithic approach will benefit our students and community over the long haul.
A closing data point: Appleton’s public schools offer 13 charter options, compared to Madison’s two.
David Cohen makes some useful counter-points in his comments below.
A proposal to open a third charter school in Madison is too costly and lacks educational research support, the Madison School District administration said, even as it announced a projected $10.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget.
“We (the administration) believe the proposal is not complete enough and does not contain enough detail about how the school would operate this fall,” Superintendent Art Rainwater said.
Organizers for the Studio School, which would have an arts and technology focus, asked for funding for 2 full-time teachers. Nancy Donahue, lead organizer for the school, estimated first-year costs to be about $35,000 if the school shared a principal and administrative costs with a host school such as the under- capacity Emerson Elementary School.
Rainwater said the administration believes shared principals are far from ideal. He said paying for another principal and administrative staff could cost the district nearly $5 million over five years.
More on the Madison Studio School.
IN the past year or so I have seen Matthew Perry drink 30 cartons of milk, Ted Danson explain the difference between a rook and a pawn, and Hilary Swank remind us that white teachers still can’t dance or jive talk. In other words, I have been confronted by distorted images of my own profession — teaching. Teaching the post-desegregation urban poor, to be precise.
Although my friends and family (who should all know better) continue to ask me whether my job is similar to these movies, I find it hard to recognize myself or my students in them.
So what are these films really about? And what do they teach us about teachers? Are we heroes, villains, bullies, fools? The time has come to set the class record straight.
At the beginning of Ms. Swank’s new movie, “Freedom Writers,” her character, a teacher named Erin Gruwell, walks into her Long Beach, Calif., classroom, and the camera pans across the room to show us what we are supposed to believe is a terribly shabby learning environment. Any experienced educator will have already noted that not only does she have the right key to get into the room but, unlike the seventh-grade science teacher in my current school, she has a door to put the key into. The worst thing about Ms. Gruwell’s classroom seems to be graffiti on the desks, and crooked blinds.
Continue reading Classroom Distinctions
Isthmus continues their useful weekly candidate take-home tests, this week’s questions include a look at Superintendent Art Rainwater:
Much more on the election here.
Charles Murray posted three articles this week on Education and Intelligence, a series that generated some conversation around the net:
- Intelligence in the Classroom:
Our ability to improve the academic accomplishment of students in the lower half of the distribution of intelligence is severely limited. It is a matter of ceilings. Suppose a girl in the 99th percentile of intelligence, corresponding to an IQ of 135, is getting a C in English. She is underachieving, and someone who sets out to raise her performance might be able to get a spectacular result. Now suppose the boy sitting behind her is getting a D, but his IQ is a bit below 100, at the 49th percentile.
We can hope to raise his grade. But teaching him more vocabulary words or drilling him on the parts of speech will not open up new vistas for him. It is not within his power to learn to follow an exposition written beyond a limited level of complexity, any more than it is within my power to follow a proof in the American Journal of Mathematics. In both cases, the problem is not that we have not been taught enough, but that we are not smart enough.
- What’s Wrong with Vocational School?
Begin with those barely into the top half, those with average intelligence. To have an IQ of 100 means that a tough high-school course pushes you about as far as your academic talents will take you. If you are average in math ability, you may struggle with algebra and probably fail a calculus course. If you are average in verbal skills, you often misinterpret complex text and make errors in logic.
These are not devastating shortcomings. You are smart enough to engage in any of hundreds of occupations. You can acquire more knowledge if it is presented in a format commensurate with your intellectual skills. But a genuine college education in the arts and sciences begins where your skills leave off.
In engineering and most of the natural sciences, the demarcation between high-school material and college-level material is brutally obvious. If you cannot handle the math, you cannot pass the courses. In the humanities and social sciences, the demarcation is fuzzier. It is possible for someone with an IQ of 100 to sit in the lectures of Economics 1, read the textbook, and write answers in an examination book. But students who cannot follow complex arguments accurately are not really learning economics. They are taking away a mishmash of half-understood information and outright misunderstandings that probably leave them under the illusion that they know something they do not. (A depressing research literature documents one’s inability to recognize one’s own incompetence.) Traditionally and properly understood, a four-year college education teaches advanced analytic skills and information at a level that exceeds the intellectual capacity of most people.
- Aztecs vs. Greeks:
How assiduously does our federal government work to see that this precious raw material is properly developed? In 2006, the Department of Education spent about $84 billion. The only program to improve the education of the gifted got $9.6 million, one-hundredth of 1% of expenditures. In the 2007 budget, President Bush zeroed it out.
But never mind. A large proportion of gifted children are born to parents who value their children’s talent and do their best to see that it is realized. Most gifted children without such parents are recognized by someone somewhere along the educational line and pointed toward college. No evidence indicates that the nation has many children with IQs above 120 who are not given an opportunity for higher education. The university system has also become efficient in shipping large numbers of the most talented high-school graduates to the most prestigious schools. The allocation of this human capital can be criticized–it would probably be better for the nation if more of the gifted went into the sciences and fewer into the law. But if the issue is amount of education, then the nation is doing fine with its next generation of gifted children. The problem with the education of the gifted involves not their professional training, but their training as citizens.
We live in an age when it is unfashionable to talk about the special responsibility of being gifted, because to do so acknowledges inequality of ability, which is elitist, and inequality of responsibilities, which is also elitist. And so children who know they are smarter than the other kids tend, in a most human reaction, to think of themselves as superior to them. Because giftedness is not to be talked about, no one tells high-IQ children explicitly, forcefully and repeatedly that their intellectual talent is a gift. That they are not superior human beings, but lucky ones. That the gift brings with it obligations to be worthy of it. That among those obligations, the most important and most difficult is to aim not just at academic accomplishment, but at wisdom.
Joanne has notes [more], along with Nicholas Lehmann, who comments on Murray’s The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. Technorati search. Clusty Search on Charles Murray. Brad DeLong posts his thoughts as well.
I could rattle off a half-dozen reasons why it’s a good thing that Art Rainwater is resigning as Madison’s school superintendent in 18 months. But I won’t. I wish instead that he was staying on the job.
Rainwater’s lame duck status and the uncertainty over his replacement come at a particularly bad moment for the schools.
In education-loving Madison, the schools are the city’s pride and joy. But they face huge issues: the influx of educationally disadvantaged poor kids; the loss of middle-class families, who provide the ballast to keep schools on even keel; the deeply troubling “achievement gap” between white and minority students; and the onerous financial squeeze delivered by the state’s perverse system of financing K-12 education.
Rainwater knows these issues. He understands how crucial their solution is to Madison’s future. I’m sharply critical of some of his personnel and strategic decisions, but I don’t doubt his sincerity and commitment to Madison’s 24,000-student district.
A Capital Times Editorial:
Rainwater has brought stability and vision to the district. Where his predecessor had seemed weak and unfocused, Rainwater was a solid administrator who spoke directly and effectively about the system’s strengths and its promise. He established a good working relationship with the teachers union, he won the confidence of the community and he has presided over a period of needed growth and, for the most part, smart change.
This is not to say that Rainwater has been a perfect administrator. He has, at times, had testy relations with some members of the School Board, and the voters have sided with the board members who have pressed the administrator — sending clear signals in the last several elections that they want the board to assert itself and play a more definitional role with regard to the direction of the district. Even Rainwater’s critics have recognized, however, that the problem has less to do with him than with the relative weakness of the board in recent years.
Replacing Superintendent Art Rainwater will dominate the Madison school board’s agenda in the next 18 months, a task board members rightly view with trepidation.
“For me, there is an appeal to finding a new person,” says board member Carol Carstensen. “But a lot of me just says this is going to be really, really difficult.”
Rainwater’s retirement announcement this week gives the board until June 30, 2008, to find a replacement. But he’s leaving mighty big shoes to fill.
Rainwater took over Madison schools nearly nine years ago after predecessor Cheryl Wilhoyte was run out of town. Avoiding her missteps, he won at least grudging respect from most quarters, managing tight budgets while maintaining student achievement gains. His candor, plain talk and work ethic have helped build good will with unions, politicians and the media.
Madison Metropolitan School District:
The Madison Metropolitan School District is seeking suggestions for the name of the new school in the Linden Park area. Anyone can submit a name for consideration by completing a form that’s available from the district, and submitting it by 4 p.m. on February 23rd, 2007.
“We encourage community members and organizations to submit name suggestions,” said Superintendent Art Rainwater. “A wide variety of suggestions from the community will help us as we make this decision.”
The form that needs to be submitted can be obtained from the district website at www.mmsd.org or by calling 663.1879, or stopping by Room 100 of the school administration building, 545 West Dayton Street. The form is available in Spanish, as well as English.
Within moments of reading Chris Anderson’s “The Vanishing Point Theory of News“, a link to the Madison Parents’ School Safety Site arrived in my inbox. The site includes a useful set of questions that all parents should use to evaluate their children’s school.
Duke Helfand & Joel Rubin:
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled a sweeping reform strategy for Los Angeles public schools Wednesday, calling for top-to-bottom changes that would include ending the practice of promoting failing students, requiring school uniforms and bringing in outsiders to help transform schools.
The education blueprint — drawing heavily from reform ideas already underway in Los Angeles and elsewhere — amounts to Villaraigosa’s fall-back position if the courts rule against his efforts to gain a measure of control over the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In releasing the “Schoolhouse” policy framework [400K PDF] at a town hall meeting Wednesday evening, and supporting candidates in the March 6 school board elections, Villaraigosa is hedging his bets: He is seeking a prominent role in the school district through a friendly board majority that could promote his vision of more decentralized schools.
Related LA Times Editorial:
MAYOR ANTONIO Villaraigosa’s blueprint for the Los Angeles schools, unveiled Wednesday evening, contains a little something for everyone. There are some fine-but-small ideas (school uniforms), some big-but-redundant ones (more schools and family centers) and a few that are simply pie-in-the-sky (better-paid teachers, smaller class sizes and longer school hours). The problem with the mayor’s “schoolhouse” plan isn’t his vision — it’s his inability to carry it out.
The feel-good plan offers no thoughts on how the mayor, who currently has no authority over the schools, would bring its proposals to fruition. It provides only vague notions about how such proposals would be paid for, and it doesn’t refer to his legal battle to win partial control of the schools.
That battle isn’t going so well, with the mayor having suffered two losses in state court. So the blueprint is a kind of fall-back plan: If he can’t beat the school district, Villaraigosa will join it. After all, he can wield his considerable charisma to influence Schools Supt. David L. Brewer, and his equally considerable political power to support a sympathetic slate of school board candidates.
Naush Boghossian has more.
After decades of adding classrooms and teachers, school districts in some of the Valley’s more established neighborhoods are wrestling with enrollment declines.
The loss of students, which results in le ss state funding, will lead to tighter budgets and difficult decisions for large districts in Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale.
In the Paradise Valley district, enrollment dropped by 373 students last year. But district officials anticipate residential development, making it tricky to determine the need for a new high school.
“Up until you hit that peak, you’re growing and people are used to, ‘Hey, we’ve got a thousand new kids,’ ” said Chuck Essigs, director of government relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials. “Those thousand kids are nice revenue generators for the district, and people get used to that.”
Barb Schrank noted the enrollment changes in public school districts around the Madison area last fall.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg laid out ambitious new plans yesterday to overhaul the school system by giving principals more power and autonomy, requiring teachers to undergo rigorous review in order to gain tenure and revising the school financing system that has allowed more-experienced teachers to cluster in affluent areas.
The plan, which would also increase the role of private groups, represents the most dramatic changes to the system since the mayor reorganized it after gaining control of the schools in 2002. Although the mayor has chosen to spend some of the city’s current surplus on tax cuts, he said he could invest more in schools with money promised by Gov. Eliot Spitzer to equalize state education aid across New York.
The administration can undertake most of the education reforms unilaterally, without City Council or union acquiescence.
While New York City appears to de-centralize, Milwaukee is evidently moving in the opposite direction. WNYC has more.
David Herszenhorn has more:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday effectively doubled his bet that the nation’s largest school system is capable of unprecedented improvement, wagering the education of the city’s nearly 1.1 million students and his own legacy on a far-reaching decentralization plan that puts enormous pressure on principals to raise student achievement.
The mayor’s announcement, in his State of the City address, made clear that by the end of his second term he hopes to leave behind a school system irreversibly changed and virtually unrecognizable from the bureaucracy that existed before he took office.
It will have new rating systems for schools, principals and teachers, a new finance system designed to break the lock that many schools in middle-class neighborhoods have had on highly paid veteran teachers, and a sharply increased role for private groups in helping to run schools. It will also make it harder for teachers to get tenure.
But Mr. Bloomberg’s plan, while cementing his place at the forefront of urban education reform in America, also carries huge risks, raising questions about whether yet another reorganization will bring such swift and noticeable improvement in test scores and graduation rates that it can mute critics who say the administration is using constant change to mask mediocre results.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial:
The need for a new state school funding system is starkly illustrated by the fix in which the Waukesha School District finds itself. Caught between rising costs, state mandates and state caps, the district faces a $3.4 million budget shortfall in the next school year. To meet the shortfall, district administrators have suggested cutting the equivalent of about 62 full-time positions in 2007-’08.
The cuts may not prove devastating to the system right now, but they do point to the fact that many school districts have pared the fat from their systems and are now starting to cut into bone. And more cutting will come as expenses, especially health care costs, continue to rise.
What’s needed is not mere tinkering, such as the proposal to eliminate the “qualified economic offer,” which has helped to suppress teacher pay. What’s needed is a new plan that rethinks how schools are financed and is able to put some kind of brake on racing health care costs.
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:
Aloud school bell has been ringing across Wisconsin for years now, and it’s not the end of recess.
It’s an alarm bell — one that state leaders can no longer ignore.
Wisconsin’s school financing system is an out-of-date and unfair mess. For many schools, the state essentially forces them to increase spending faster than they are allowed to raise revenue.
About the only way around the rigid formula is to ask voters for more money in referendums, which are difficult to pass, divide communities, hinder efficiencies and create financial instability. Districts also have dramatically different transportation, special education and security needs, which a new funding formula must better account for.
I am pleased to invite you to a conference on “Education and Educational Research in an Era of Accountability: Insights and Blind Spots“, to be held on February 7-8, 2007, at the Pyle Center [map], near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Attendance is free, and we very much hope that members of the local educational community will be able to attend. The conference is sponsored by the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A schedule detailing the presentations is attached.
The conference will examine the impact on schools of the increased accountability, rationalization, and standardization of education symbolized and accelerated by the No Child Left Behind Act. It will also look at recent shifts in educational research that are associated with these trends, out of which a new emphasis on, and a new definition of, “scientific research” have emerged.
The conference will start Wednesday evening, February 7th, with a keynote address by Professor Richard F. Elmore, who is the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Co-Director of the Consortium of Policy Research in Education. Professor Elmore will be introduced by Dean Julie Underwood of the UW School of Education. He is particularly interested in complex efforts at the school level to improve the quality of instruction. He seeks to understand how current state and federal accountability systems can work to support those efforts, as well as how these systems may unintentionally work at cross purposes with school and district level efforts. His recent works include School Reform from the Inside Out and the co-edited Redesigning Accountability Systems for Education.
Continue reading Education and Educational Research in an Era of Accountability: Insights and Blind Spots
Some updates regarding the April 3, 2007 (and a Seat 3 primary February 20th, 2007) Spring school board elections:
Much more on the 2007 elections here.
No matter what side of these specific issues you fall on, one thing is undeniable: The Milwaukee Public Schools system is failing. We’ve got such horrible statistics when it comes to the dropout rate, illiteracy, proficiency in math and science, discipline in the schools, etc., that even friends from out of state know of our educational crisis.
We’ve got a nasty reputation, but it’s well-deserved.
So when I read that single-sex schools are “controversial” while teachers in essence “deserve more,” I conclude that in reality it’s exactly the opposite.
To disclose, I am a “St. Mary’s Girl” – all-girls St. Mary’s Academy class of 1987. I got an excellent education there, and I was very disappointed when the school closed in 1991.
With none of the distractions of flirting with boys, dressing up to impress boys, not wanting to be “too smart” in front of the boys, we learned. Which is all teenagers are supposed to do in school anyway.
What I remember the most is that being in a relaxed atmosphere, where the learning style and interests of girls was catered to, made each day bring with it lessons in maturity, responsibility and life discipline.
Mind you, we were hardly cloistered and had a good deal of opportunity to mingle with boys (particularly from all-boys Thomas More and Marquette University High School). And it was clear that our counterparts were experiencing the same on their side of the spectrum.
Michael Mathias adds another perspective.
Madison United for Academic Excellence (MUAE — www.madisonunited.org) will hold its next monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 23, at 7:00 p.m. in Room 209 of the Doyle Administration Building. The topic for the evening will be our high schools. An informal panel of students and parents from each of our four high schools will be joining us for the evening. They will provide us with an insider’s view of their school communities and update us on recent events at their schools. We also hope to have a representative from the MMSD Student Senate at the meeting.
Here is the complete list of topics that we will be discussing that evening:
1) A comparison of the four high schools, in terms of course offerings — especially in terms of high-end course offerings, especially at the 9th and 10th grade levels.
2) An update on Superintendent Rainwater’s December 4 “High Schools of the Future” presentation, including his plans for a two-year high school “study” and the freeze he has put on any further changes in our high schools while the study is going on.
3) The difference between TAG, honors, accelerated, advanced, AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) classes; the evidence regarding AP courses and tests and later success in college; and the AP audit that is going to be conducted this year.
4) An update on the current situation at each high school.
5) A report on the MMSD Student Senate’s recent discussion of embedded honors and complete heterogeneity in the high school classroom.
6) An update on the Youth Options Program and the general issue of receiving MMSD credit for non-MMSD courses.
Some Madison community members are circulating a petition to put forward a candidate to be La Follette High School’s next principal.
That name is Joe Gothard, who is the former dean of students at La Follette and currently serves as principal at Akira Toki Middle School, WISC-TV reported.
Questions about who would lead the school began to swirl after former principal John Broome stepped down last month after only six months on the job. Loren Rathert, a Madison Metropolitan School District veteran has stepped in to serve as interim principal for the remainder of the school year.
Some of those behind the petition said that Gothard is “exactly what La Follette needs” and is “tough, intelligent, and personable,” WISC-TV reported.
Much more on LaFollette High School here.
“Green Charter Schools” in Wisconsin Trails Magazine
2007 Wisconsin Charter Schools Conference Co-Sponsored by WCSA & DPI.
Why Public Charter Schools [PDF]?
Links to 34 “green” charter schools
Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin weighs in on Progessive Dane’s “Loyalty Oath” requirement:
PD basically demands a loyalty oath from all candidates seeking its endorsement. The absolutist position of PD in regards to candidates is one of the reasons that the present mayor, no longer needing them to establish his left credentials, is not renewing his membership.
And there have always been good progressives (yes, with a small ‘p’), comfortable with most of the Democratic Party and Progressive Dane agendas.
But all of this challenges Progressive Dane. It would seem that a political party that demands adherence to a strict platform would find meddling in the internal workings of another party morally and politically reprehensible.
Some current Madison School Board members along with several 2007 candidates have been endorsed by Progressive Dane. Brenda Konkel weighs in on the “PD spin“. Much more on the 2007 Madison School Board elections here. Progressive Dane has endorsed Beth Moss (Seat 3 candidates include Pam Cross-Leone, Moss and Rick Thomas) along with incumbent School Board President Johnny Winston, Jr. (Seat 4; Johnny’s opponent is Tom Brew).
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial:
“Desegregation in Racine and throughout the nation has failed based upon the mechanism used, which is busing,” said County Supervisor Ken Lumpkin, who publishes a black community newspaper. Lumpkin’s partner in a debate held last week, board member Randy Bangs, argued that ending long bus rides would give students more time for other activities, such as studying, and may help close the achievement gap.
Mattie Booker, who taught in the district before desegregation, argued that busing students was necessary.
“I watched black and brown kids play jacks in classes because their teachers did not have what it took to teach them,” she told the crowd at the debate. Her partner in the debate, Sister Michelle Olley of the Racine Dominicans, was School Board president when the board adopted the desegregation policy in 1977. She said it worked throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
If you do, then your support of The Studio School charter school proposal is critical. Please let the school board know. Write letters. Email them [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Call them. Attend the meeting on January 22nd! I have heard from a board member that if the “pressure” to vote for opening this school in the fall isn’t strong enough, board members will not vote in favor of this proposal January 29th.
The opportunity to offer this innovative educational option with the possibility of up to $450,000.00 of federal funding over the next two years will not be available to MMSD again.
For more information to find out how to help, community members are invited to join us for our planning group’s general meeting on January 17th (this Wednesday) at 6:30 PM at the Sequoya Branch of the Public Library [Map]. You can also go to our website for more information.
Dear Friends & Supporters of Education:
On Tuesday April 3rd, I am seeking to be re-elected to the fourth seat on the Madison School Board. I ran for election to the Board of Education in 2004, because I felt that public service is a wonderful opportunity to continue giving back to the community that helped educate me from childhood to adulthood. But, I’m not done … Tough times are ahead … More difficult decisions need to be made … Every student in the MMSD needs the opportunity for a quality education to be prepared for successful participation in our global economy.
Continue reading Friends of Johnny Winston, Jr. School Board Campaign -Seat 4
On a sunny September morning in 2005 Preston Hollow Elementary School hosted Bike to School Day. Dozens of grinning children with fair skin played and talked outside in the courtyard, relaxing happily after rides through their North Dallas neighborhood of garish mansions and stately brick homes. Parents shared tea and fruit, capturing the smiles of their kids with digital cameras. A police officer gave the group a friendly lecture on bicycle safety. Inside the classrooms surrounding the courtyard, other children watched glumly. Many of them lived in the modest apartment complexes off Central Expressway, separated from their school by busy roads and shopping centers. Those kids, nearly all them Hispanic and black, took the bus to school.
As their classmates parked their bikes and snacked on fruit and juice the other children waited in English as a second language (ESL) classes. A federal judge would later rule that many of them shouldn’t have been there. Their language skills were good enough to be in the same classes as the kids who rode their bikes to Preston Hollow.
From Dallas Observer, January 11, 2007.
Continue reading A judge says Preston Hollow Elementary segregated white kids to please parents. The reality is deeper and maybe more troubling.
WKOW-TV notes that Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater has banked quite a bit of unused sick leave time (and therefore money upon his retirement).
WKOW-TV raises some useful policy questions. However, I do think Art is to be commended for the extraordinary amount of time he spends in the community. I’ve been amazed at how frequently I see his name appear around town.
I certainly have had some disagreements with certain policies that he has pushed such as one size fits all mandatory classroom groupings, but Art is to be commended for his extensive time in the schools and community.
Here are the responses from the two candidates for Seat 5, Maya Cole and Marjorie Passman.
Much more on the April 3, 2007 election (and February 20, 2007 Seat 3 Primary) here.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial:
Gov. Jim Doyle – Democrat and ally of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s chief umbrella teachers union – has tried to rescind the QEO in the past. The Republican-controlled Legislature wouldn’t hear of it. Since then, one chamber, the Senate, has shifted Democratic. And rescission of the QEO is an idea whose time may be near.
But any such step mustn’t take place in isolation. The QEO is part of an intricate financing mechanism for schools, whose most troubling cost is health care, which is rising out of control. Any abolition of the QEO must be part of a plan that rethinks how schools, including health care, are financed.
The West High School PTSO met on January 8, 2007 with featured guest West teacher Heather Lott,
coordinator for the Small Learning Community grant implementation. The video below only includes Heather Lott’s presentation and questions that followed. It does not include other portions of the meeting such as Dr. Holmes report of the West Principal, nor reports from West PTSO officers.
The video of the meeting is 117MB, and 1 hour and 27 minutes long. Click on the image at left to watch the video. The video contains chapter headings which allow quick navigation to sections of the meeting. The video will play immediately, while the file continues to download.
Lott presented an overview of the three-year Federal SLC grant (Year 1, 2003-2004; Year 2, 2004-2005; Year 3, 2005-2006), what changes were begun in the year prior and the changes and goals for the 2006-2007 school year, post-SLC grant. She emphasized that the SLC plan would take 7 years to “complete” and that the remaining 4 years would need to be funded. The 3 year federal grant paid her salary and for professional development only. Budget cuts for the 2006-2007 year and continuing fiscal problems in the district will hamper making the desired progress.
When asked how much, minimally, West would need make acceptable progress in the implementation of the SLC plan, Dr. Holmes suggested $20,000.
She also presented data showing discipline improvements and academic achievement improvements over the SLC years.
Discussions also included the topics of differentiation and heterogeneity, and general discussions from parents of incoming West students on the social aspects of the small learning communities.
Slides for Heather Lott’s presentation are in PowerPoint and PDF for your convenience.
Does anyone have any news on the meeting on January 10 on boundary changes on the north side?
The rumor mill says that the administration offered a plan to close Lapham.
How could closing Lapham improve the situation on the north side?