A crack in Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model: independent charter One City Schools

Logan Wroge:

In a previous attempt at a charter school, Caire proposed the Madison Preparatory Academy, which would have served a similar population as One City Schools, but would have been for grades 6-12. The Madison School Board rejected the idea in December 2011.

Caire sought to bring his “change-maker” approach to the Madison School Board, but lost an election last month to Cris Carusi.

“Almost half the electorate, they know what I do, and they like the message I was bringing about trying to implement these changes in the school system, and so we think that Madison is ready,” he said.

School Board president Mary Burke said she has no specific concerns with One City and is supportive of “innovative approaches” meant to lessen the gaps between students of color and their white peers. But she remains concerned about the financial impact charter schools cause on the Madison School District as state aid is moved from the district to charters.

“I’m not saying one way or the other whether it’s the best use of resources,” Burke said. “I’m just saying that expansion comes at a cost for MMSD.”

Doug Keillor, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., said the union shares similar concerns about the fiscal impact on the Madison School District, but sees some elements in the school’s model he likes.

“I’m particularly interested in the full-day 4K model and what that could mean for Madison schools,” he said. “Even though we disagree with the way it’s funded and the politics of it, we’re still intrigued with the work they’re doing.”

With the school’s expansion into new grade levels comes added personnel, instructional and capital costs.

For the 2018-19 school year, One City has budgeted $2.2 million to operate the entire school, which includes the private One City Junior Preschool for children between ages 1 and 3 and the public One City Senior Preschool. The public 4K and kindergarten components educate 62 children and are expected to cost $1.2 million this year, said Ramakrishnan, of which approximately $413,000 is covered by state funding.

One City also has a federal five-year charter implementation grant, is eligible for school lunch reimbursement, and received less than $10,000 in other federal funding, according to Ramakrishnan.

Curiously, Mr Wroge’s article includes this budget note: :

The Madison School District’s adopted 2018-19 operating budget, which covers traditional costs associated with education like teacher pay and instructional materials, results in spending $15,440 per student. The district’s total budget for this year, which includes among other things capital maintenance and community programming, is $17,216 per student.

Ramakrishnan said the average salary for a lead teacher is $47,000. The starting salary for kindergarten and 4K teachers in the Madison School District is $41,970, according to district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson, and the average salary for all district teachers in those grades is $55,382.

Yet, the district’s budget documents stare that total 2018-2019 spending is $518,955,288, October 31, 2018 Madison School District 2018-2019 2 page budget summary, about $20k/student

Much more on the taxpayer supported Madison school district budget, here

A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: 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:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.