CUNA Mutual & Madison School District Financial Partnership grows again

Molly Beck

CUNA Mutual Group has promised more than $1 million to a new program aimed at training and keeping new teachers developed by the Madison School District and the UW-Madison School of Education.

Officials announced the company’s $1.2 million commitment Thursday at Wright Middle School. It is the largest grant the organization has awarded, said CUNA Mutual Foundation executive director Steve Goldberg.

“This is also the largest opportunity we’ll ever have to make a difference in the future trajectory of our community and especially the young people who live here,” Goldberg said.

The money will fund the mentoring of 150 new teachers starting this fall and for the next three years. District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the district will “be working to develop a sustainable model for years” after that.

The project, dubbed “Forward Madison,” would provide mentors and coaches for new teachers, improve professional development for teachers, and create a program for district students to become teachers to diversify teaching ranks. The CUNA Mutual grant only pays for the mentoring.

CUNA funds have been involved in a number of Madison School District programs over the years. How have they performed?

My sense is that Madison has added many “programs” over the years, yet the District’s long term disastrous reading problem, remains.

Madison Schools’ Administration has “introduced more then 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”.

I asked a former Madison Superintendent if the program, coaching and “professional development” program growth reflected an inability to address the core issues? The then Superintendent responded that “there is some truth to that”.

Perhaps the monolithic structure has run its course.