Tom Farley School district must shift philosophy:
an Madison afford a new School Board member who requires time to understand the issues, study the research, or develop a good relationship with board members and union leaders? These are all certainly desirable objectives, and over time it is important that they occur. Yet these are exceptional times for Madison and its public school system.
The federal government has demanded that educational leaders in every community must start demonstrating a willingness to challenge the status quo, seek innovative solutions, and begin executing change management efforts. Only those school districts that show a willingness to radically alter their approaches to education, in order to achieve real results, will be supported and funded. The time has come to bring that level of leadership to the Madison School Board.
Management of the Madison School District cannot continue operating in its present form, or under its current philosophies. We have called for additional funding and referendums to increase taxes, and this has not produced the promised results. Clearly, it is not lack of money that hinders our education system; it is the system itself. That needs to change.
James Howard: We must make cuts, but not in classroom
As parents, teachers, taxpayers and voters evaluate the financial woes our Madison public schools face, there are several key points to keep in mind.
First, the taxpayers in our district have been very generous by passing several referendums that have helped close the gap between what schools can spend and what it really costs to educate our kids. However, due to the depressed economy voters are focused on direct family financial impacts and less on the indirect costs that result from any decline in quality of our public schools. Since the district is currently operating under a three-year recurring referendum, it would be a lot to ask of taxpayers to vote yes on a new referendum.
That means we must look elsewhere for answers on how to close what might be a gap of as much as $30 million. Let me be very clear as to where I wouldn’t look: the classroom. We need to protect learning by keeping class sizes small; by funding initiatives that help at-risk children perform up to grade level in basic subjects; and by funding those things that make Madison schools so special, like programs in the arts and athletics.