Wright Middle School students recognized for winning regional African American History Challenge Bowl

Negassi Tesfamichael: Students at Wright Middle School were formally recognized by the Madison School Board on Monday for their success at the 25th annual African American History Academic Challenge. The contest, which is sponsored by the group 100 Black Men of Madison, saw teams of students from across the district compete to see who knew … Continue reading Wright Middle School students recognized for winning regional African American History Challenge Bowl

Wright Middle School Brings Home National Championship at AAHCB in New Orleans

David Dahmer: I think at this point it would be hard not to call Madison a national powerhouse on the African American History Challenge Bowl scene. This past weekend, Wright Middle School brought home Madison’s 5th national championship in 23 years, emerging victorious at the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. 31st Annual International Conference … Continue reading Wright Middle School Brings Home National Championship at AAHCB in New Orleans

Students at Madison’s Wright Middle School weigh in on uniform policy

Cristian Cruz: Following a contentious 5-2 vote by the Madison School Board, James C. Wright Middle School will be the first school in the Madison Metropolitan School District to require students to wear uniforms. Wright principal Angie Hicks told the board that the new uniform policy will decrease distractions for her students and, as such, … Continue reading Students at Madison’s Wright Middle School weigh in on uniform policy

Wright Middle School 7th-grader wins state Google honors

Gayle World: Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Anderson isn’t quite sure where she’ll be at noon on Friday, since Madison students have no school that day. But wherever she is, she’ll probably be Googling. Alyssa, a seventh-grader at Wright Middle School, is Wisconsin’s finalist in this year’s Doodle 4 Google competition, a nationwide design contest run by the … Continue reading Wright Middle School 7th-grader wins state Google honors

Madison’s Wright Middle School seeks to give up its charter school status

Doug Erickson: Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Road, is poised to give up its status as a charter school after 22 years. Kaleem Caire, a community member who has been heavily involved in helping the school discern its future, said the decision came about in part due to changes by the state Legislature. In … Continue reading Madison’s Wright Middle School seeks to give up its charter school status

Madison’s Wright Middle School Achievement Review

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): Wright was founded to successfully educate all students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence required to participate fully in an evolving global society. The school was created to be a pioneer in the use of thematic integrated and multi-cultural curricula as a way of connecting with the lives of its students. … Continue reading Madison’s Wright Middle School Achievement Review

Reviewing and Renewing Madison’s Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School “Charters”

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): Issue: The charter contracts for Badger Rock Middle School (BRMS) and James C. Wright Middle School (Wright) expire on June 30, 2016. Per respective contracts, the Board is required to make a decision whether or not to renew Wright’s contract at least six months before the contract’s expiration and BRMS’ contract … Continue reading Reviewing and Renewing Madison’s Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School “Charters”

Wright Middle School inspires

Mike Ivey:

Just when you think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, a bunch of hand-written letters arrive from Wright Middle School students.
For the past several years, I’ve participated in the “School Makes a Difference” program where adults talk to kids about their career and give them a pep talk about learning. It’s not a big commitment — and the thank you notes from the kids make it well worth the time.
For example, Hope Blackmon wrote that my 15-minute presentation “really inspired a lot of us to start writing more and to try to get better at writing.”

Wisconsin Governor Doyle’s “Race to the Top” Press Conference Today @ Madison’s Wright Middle School

Via a kind reader’s email. It will be interesting to see the intended and unintended consequences of the recently passed (47-46 in the Wisconsin Assembly) legislation. The news conference is scheduled for today @ 12:45p.m. at Madison’s Wright Middle School.
A reader mentioned that the Madison School District’s budget, has, in the past been approved by the City’s “Board of Estimates“. A return to this practice has its pros and cons. However, it may actually improve financial transparency, which, in my view has declined recently. Susan Troller’s recent MMSD budget article mentions a $350M 2009/2010 budget while the District’s budget site does not include the November, 2009 budget update 1.1MB PDF, which mentions a $418,415,780 2009/2010 Budget ($412,219,577 2008/2009 and $399,835,904 in 2007/2008).
Related: Doug Newman – For Debate: Who Picks School Board?. Greg Bump covered Doyle’s most recent press conference, which included a relevant discussion.

Background on President Obama’s trip to Madison’s Wright Middle School

www.whitehouse.gov, via a kind reader’s email:

1:00 PM CDT
The President and Secretary Arne Duncan will meet with approximately 40 students at James C. Wright Middle School, one of two public charter schools in Madison, Wisconsin. The group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders was chosen based on teacher recommendation.
1:30 PM CDT
The President will deliver remarks to students, parents, teachers, school officials and state/local leaders at James C. Wright Middle School on strengthening America’s education system and putting the interests of the nation’s students first. In coming weeks, states will be able to compete for a grant from one of the largest investments ever made in education – over $4 billion – the Race to the Top Fund. These grants will be made available to states committed to transforming the way we educate our kids so that they can develop a real plan to improve the quality of education across the nation.
The audience will be composed of approximately 500 Wright Middle School students, parents, teachers, and school officials as well as state and local leaders. Secretary Duncan will also be in attendance.
– Principal Nancy Evans will welcome students, parents and invited guests.
– Ari Davis (6th grade) will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
– Miko Jobst (8th grade), Laura Sumi (7th grade), and Erika Meyer (orchestra teacher) will perform the National Anthem.
– Governor Jim Doyle will introduce the President.
The mission of the Wright Middle school is “to educate all students to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence required to participate fully in an evolving global society.” A public charter school established in 1997, the Wright school is the smallest and most ethnically and economically diverse middle school in Madison (38% African-American, 37% Latino, 13% White, and 86% low-income). The school also has a significant population of students with disabilities (22%) and English language learners (39%), and outpaces both the school district and statewide average achievement for both student subgroups.
Wright offers a core curriculum of language arts, social studies, math and science at each grade level, and provides enrichment courses in physical education, music, art, and technology. All grades at the school participate in a social action project focused on the environment at the sixth grade level; the economy at the seventh grade level; and government at the eighth grade level. Among the school’s signature reforms are a small and tailored instructional program; bilingual resource specialists (Spanish and Hmong languages); an academic acceleration program in literacy to support struggling 6th and 7th graders; and a mentorship and afterschool homework program.
Wright is also one of three middle schools in Madison that partners with the University of Madison in a teacher preparation program through an innovative model that pairs new teachers with veterans and delivers professional development and ongoing support.

Madison’s Wright Middle School Panorama; -24 to the Obama / Duncan Education Speech

Click to view a panoramic image shot earlier today (click the full screen icon – lower right – to view full quality). The calm before the storm, as it were at Madison’s Wright Middle School. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will give an education speech tomorrow at one of Madison’s two charter schools.

Madison School Board Members on President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan’s 11/4/2009 Wright Middle School Visit

The elected Madison School Board will be present at Wednesday’s visit and rightfully so. There will be plenty of other politicians, but these people truly deserve a bit of time in the spotlight.
Love them or loath them, we should all be thankful for the time and effort our board members devote to that most important public expenditure: public schools. It is truly an essential but thankless job. I believe boardmembers are paid $4,000 annually.
I emailed our board and asked for a quote prior to the President’s arrival. Four responded thus far:
President Arlene Silveira:

“How exciting for our students at Wright. To meet the president of the United States is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope his visit awakens the civic responsibility in all who attend”.

Ed Hughes:

We’re honored by the President’s visit. I’m pleased that the visit will shine a positive light on the great work the Principal Nancy Evans and her staff have been doing at Wright, and that we’re able to provide Wright students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If the President is able to find the time to visit one of our Madison schools, I hope that any Madison parents who have questions about what’s best for their kids will similarly make the effort to visit their neighborhood schools and see for themselves what we have to offer.

Beth Moss:

The President’s visit to a Madison school is an honor for our entire community. Nancy Evans, her staff, students, and the Wright Middle School families deserve to be recognized for their success in creating and maintaining a school community worthy of the President’s attention. This is an experience that none of us will forget, and we should be extremely proud that we have been chosen to host a presidential speech on education.

Marj Passman:

President Obama and I may not always agree about what is best for education
but I am very grateful that he has returned the importance of education to
center stage. It is an honor to have been invited to meet him.

It will be interesting to observe the Board when and if President Obama discusses mayoral control of schools in Milwaukee, as Alexander Russo muses.

Notes and Links: President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visit Madison’s Wright Middle School (one of two Charter Schools in Madison).


President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Madison’s Wright Middle School Wednesday, November 4, 2009, purportedly to give an education speech. The visit may also be related to the 2010 Wisconsin Governor’s race. The Democrat party currently (as of 11/1/2009) has no major announced candidate. Wednesday’s event may include a formal candidacy announcement by Milwaukee Mayor, and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. UPDATE: Alexander Russo writes that the visit is indeed about Barrett and possible legislation to give the Milwaukee Mayor control of the schools.

Possible Participants:

Wright Principal Nancy Evans will surely attend. Former Principal Ed Holmes may attend as well. Holmes, currently Principal at West High has presided over a number of controversial iniatives, including the “Small Learning Community” implementation and several curriculum reduction initiatives (more here).
I’m certain that a number of local politicians will not miss the opportunity to be seen with the President. Retiring Democrat Governor Jim Doyle, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (Falk has run for Governor and Attorney General in the past) and Madison School Superintendent Dan Nerad are likely to be part of the event. Senator Russ Feingold’s seat is on the fall, 2010 ballot so I would not be surprised to see him at Wright Middle School as well.

Madison’s Charter Intransigence

Madison, still, has only two charter schools for its 24,295 students: Wright and Nuestro Mundo.
Wright resulted from the “Madison Middle School 2000” initiative. The District website has some background on Wright’s beginnings, but, as if on queue with respect to Charter schools, most of the links are broken (for comparison, here is a link to Houston’s Charter School Page). Local biotech behemoth Promega offered free land for Madison Middle School 2000 [PDF version of the District’s Promega Partnership webpage]. Unfortunately, this was turned down by the District, which built the current South Side Madison facility several years ago (some School Board members argued that the District needed to fulfill a community promise to build a school in the present location). Promega’s kind offer was taken up by Eagle School. [2001 Draft Wright Charter 60K PDF]

Wright & Neustro Mundo Background

Wright Middle School Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Madison Middle School 2000 Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Nuestro Mundo, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was established in response to the commitment of its founders to provide educational, cultural and social opportunities for Madison’s ever-expanding Latino community.” The dual immersion school lives because the community and several School Board members overcame District Administration opposition. Former Madison School Board member Ruth Robarts commented in 2005:

The Madison Board of Education rarely rejects the recommendations of Superintendent Rainwater. I recall only two times that we have explicitly rejected his views. One was the vote to authorize Nuestro Mundo Community School as a charter school. The other was when we gave the go-ahead for a new Wexford Ridge Community Center on the campus of Memorial High School.

Here’s how things happen when the superintendent opposes the Board’s proposed action.

Nuestro Mundo:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

The local school District Administration (and Teacher’s Union) intransigence on charter schools is illustrated by the death of two recent community charter initiatives: The Studio School and a proposed Nuestro Mundo Middle School.

About the Madison Public Schools

Those interested in a quick look at the state of Madison’s public schools should review Superintendent Dan Nerad’s proposed District performance measures. This document presents a wide variety of metrics on the District’s current performance, from advanced course “participation” to the percentage of students earning a “C” in all courses and suspension rates, among others.

Education Hot Topics

Finally, I hope President Obama mentions a number of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent hot topics, including:

This wonderful opportunity for Wright’s students will, perhaps be most interesting for the ramifications it may have on the adults in attendance. Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman recent Rotary speech alluded to school district’s conflicting emphasis on “adult employment” vs education.

Wisconsin State Test Score Comparisons: Madison Middle Schools:

WKCE Madison Middle School Comparison: Wright / Cherokee / Hamilton / Jefferson / O’Keefe / Sennett / Sherman / Spring Harbor / Whitehorse

About Madison:

UPDATE: How Do Students at Wright Compare to Their Peers at Other MMSD Middle Schools?

President Obama’s November 4, 2009 Madison Destination: Wright Middle School?

President Obama’s “education” speech, due to be delivered in Madison on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 may, perhaps be given at Wright Middle School. It is a (rare) charter school located in Madison. Obama and Education Secretary (and former Chicago Superintendent) have been promoting structural change within our public schools. Wright, a Charter School, was birthed via a “Madison Middle School 2000” initiative along with the desire to place a new middle school on Madison’s south side. Local biotech behemoth Promega offered land for the school in Fitchburg, which the District turned down (that land and initiative became Eagle School).
Has Wright been successful? Has it achieved the goals illuminated in the original Madison Middle School 2000 initiative?
There are any number of local issues that could be discussed around the visit, including: the District’s general opposition to charter schools, changes to the teacher contract seniority system and Wisconsin’s controversial and weak state test system (WKCE).
The Wisconsin State Journal has more.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, substantive actions arise from Obama’s visit.

Wisconsin State Budget Forum, Wed. April 1, Wright Middle School, 6 p.m.

Joe Quick:

Dear MMSD Advocate,
Every two years, state government adopts a biennial budget that funds nearly every program in state government. Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget mostly protects K-12, but many K-12 programs were cut by 1%. Due to the floundering national/state economy millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds for Wisconsin are being used to provide a one-time boost to state funding for schools over the next two years.
Short-term, there are some important items in the budget that will help MMSD; but long-term, little is being done to end the annual ritual of either going to referendum or determining what programs and services for students must be cut to balance the local budget.
In the two-year legislative cycle, April in odd years is probably the most important time to contact your legislator to advocate for school programs. Whether it’s SAGE, the K-3 class size reduction program funded by the state, or funding for students in special education — the biennial budget provides the resources.
If you want to advocate to protect school programs/services, please come to the State Budget Forum on April 1st (see attached flier [54K PDF]) to learn about the issues, receive information to help you with that advocacy and find out what is being done to bring about comprehensive school funding reform.
Please forward this information to others who might be interested. Hope to see you April 1st,
Joe Quick
Legislative Liaison/Communication Specialist
Madison Schools
608 663-1902

Wright Middle School Celebrates 10 years with Give Us 10! Campaign


Students and staff at James C. Wright Middle School will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the charter school through a Give Us 10! campaign. Wright students will read 10 books outside of the classroom curriculum and then create a mural showcasing their hand prints and the book titles they’ve read. This colorful symbol of student achievement will be showcased in the LMC at Wright.
Community members are welcome to join in the celebration by honoring students who reach the ten book goal. They can show their support by contributing $10 to the Wright Middle School Endowment at the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, so they too can Give Us 10!

Wright Middle School Charter Renewal – Leopold?

I’ve attended a couple of the East / West Task Force Meetings (props to the many volunteers, administrators and board members who’ve spent countless hours on this) and believe that Wright Middle School’s facilities should be part of the discussion, given its proximity to Leopold Elementary (2.2 miles [map], while Thoreau is 2.8 miles away … Continue reading Wright Middle School Charter Renewal – Leopold?

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

Commentary on Charter & Traditional Public Schools

Dave Zweifel: Lafer’s report details how Rocketship teaches only basics like reading and math with “live” teachers, while the rest of the curriculum is taught online. There are no art, music or gym classes. The teachers are recent education school grads who have volunteered for a couple of years with Teach for America, a private … Continue reading Commentary on Charter & Traditional Public Schools

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, … Continue reading CUNA Mutual & Madison School District Financial Partnership grows again

2013 Madison Summer School Report

Scott Zimmerman:

The district provided a comprehensive extended learning summer school program, K-Ready through 12th grade, at ten sites and served 5,097 students. At each of the K-8 sites, there was direction by a principal, professional Leopold, Chavez, Black Hawk and Toki, and oral language development was offered at Blackhawk and Toki. The 4th grade promotion classes were held at each elementary school, and 8th grade promotion classes were held at the two middle school sites.
Students in grades K-2 who received a 1 or 2 on their report card in literacy, and students in grades 3-5 who received a 1 or 2 in math or literacy, were invited to attend SLA. The 6-7 grade students who received a GPA of 2.0 or lower, or a 1 or 2 on WKCE, were invited to attend SLA. As in 2012, students with report cards indicating behavioral concerns were invited to attend summer school. Additionally, the summer school criterion for grades 5K-7th included consideration for students receiving a 3 or 4 asterisk grade on their report card (an asterisk grade indicates the student receives modified curriculum). In total, the academic program served 2,910 students, ranging from those entering five-year-old kindergarten through 8th grade.
High school courses were offered for credit recovery, first-time credit, and electives including English/language arts, math, science, social studies, health, physical education, keyboarding, computer literacy, art, study skills, algebra prep, ACT/SAT prep, and work experience. The high school program served a total of 1,536 students, with 74 students having completed their graduation requirements at the end of the summer.
All academic summer school teachers received approximately 20 hours of professional development prior to the start of the six-week program. Kindergarten-Ready teachers as well as primary literacy and math teachers also had access to job embedded professional development. In 2013, there were 476 certified staff employed in SLA.

Jennifer Cheatham:

Key Enhancements for Summer School 2014
A) Provide teachers with a pay increase without increasing overall cost of summer school.
Teacher salary increase of 3% ($53,887).
B) Smaller Learning Environments: Create smaller learning environments, with fewer students per summer school site compared to previous years, to achieve the following: increase student access to high quality learning, increase the number of students who can walk to school, and reduce number of people in the building when temperatures are high. ($50,482)
C) Innovations: Pilot at Wright Middle School and Lindbergh Elementary School where students receive instruction in a familiar environment, from a familiar teacher. These school sites were selected based on identification as intense focus schools along with having high poverty rates when compared to the rest of the district. Pilot character building curriculum at Sandburg Elementary School. ($37,529)
D) Student Engagement: Increase student engagement with high quality curriculum and instruction along with incentives such as Friday pep rallies and afternoon MSCR fieldtrips. ($25,000)
E) High School Professional Development: First-time-offered, to increase quality of instruction and student engagement in learning. ($12,083)
F) Student Selection: Utilize an enhanced student selection process that better aligns with school’s multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) so that student services intervention teams (SSIT) have time to problem solve, and recommend students for SLA. Recommendations are based on student grades and standardized assessment scores, such as a MAP score below the 25th percentile at grades 3-5, or a score of minimal on the WKCE in language arts, math, science, and social studies at grades 3-5. (no cost)
Estimated total cost: $185,709.00
Summer School Program Reductions
The following changes would allow enhancements to summer school and implementation of innovative pilots:
A) Professional development (PD): reduce PD days for teachers grades K-8 by one day. This change will save money and provide teachers with an extra day off of work before the start of summer school (save $49,344.60).
B) Materials reduction: the purchase of Mondo materials in 2013 allows for the reduction of general literacy curricular materials in 2014 (save $5,000).
C) Madison Virtual Campus (MVC): MVC is not a reimbursable summer school program as students are not in classroom seats. This program could be offered separate from summer school in the future (save $18,000).
D) Librarians: reduce 3 positions, assigning librarians to support two sites. Students will continue to have access to the expertise of the librarian and can utilize library resources including electronic equipment (save $12,903.84).
E) Reading Interventionists: reduce 8 positions, as summer school is a student intervention, it allows students additional learning time in literacy and math. With new Mondo materials and student data profiles, students can be grouped for the most effective instruction when appropriate (save $48,492).
F) PBS Coach: reduce 8 positions, combining the coach and interventionist positions to create one position (coach/interventionist) that supports teachers in setting up classes and school wide systems, along with providing individual student interventions. With smaller learning sites, there would be less need for two separate positions (save $24,408).
G) Literacy and Math Coach Positions: reduce from 16 to 5 positions, combining the role and purpose of the literacy and math coach. Each position supports two schools for both math and literacy. Teachers can meet weekly with literacy/math coach to plan and collaborate around curriculum and student needs (save $27,601.60).
Estimated Total Savings: $185,750.04
Strategic Framework:
The role of the Summer Learning Academy (SLA) is critical to preparing students for college career and community readiness. Research tells us that over 50% of the achievement gap between lower and higher income students is directly related to unequal learning opportunities over the summer (Alexander et al., 2007). Research based practices and interventions are utilized in SLA to increase opportunities for learning and to raise student achievement across the District (Odden & Archibald, 2008). The SLA is a valuable time for students to receive additional support in learning core concepts in literacy and math to move them toward MMSD benchmarks (Augustine et.al., 2013). SLA aligns with the following Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Strategic Framework goals:
A) Every student is on-track to graduate as measured by student growth and achievement at key milestones. Milestones of reading by grade 3, proficiency in reading and math in grade 5, high school readiness in grade 8, college readiness in grade 11, and high school graduation and completion rate.
B) Every student has access to challenging and well-rounded education as measured by programmatic access and participation data. Access to fine arts and world languages, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, and advanced coursework.

An Update on Madison’s Use of the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) Assessment

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore

Unlike other assessments, MAP measures both student performance and growth through administering the test in both fall and spring. No matter where a student starts, MAP allows us to measure how effective that student’s school environment was in moving that student forward academically.
This fall’s administration serves as a baseline for that fall to spring growth measure. It also serves as an indicator for teachers. As we continue professional development around MAP, we will work to equip schools to use this data at the classroom and individual student level. In other words, at its fullest use, a teacher could look at MAP data and make adjustments for the classroom or individual students based on where that year’s class is in the fall, according to these results.
Meeting growth targets on the fall administration indicates that a student met or exceeded typical growth from Fall 2011 to Fall 2012. Typical growth is based on a student’s grade and prior score; students whose scores are lower relative to their grade level are expected to grow more than students whose scores are higher relative to their grade level.
In Reading, more than 50% of students in every grade met their growth targets from Fall 2011 to Fall 2012. In Mathematics, between 41% and 63% of students at each grade level met their growth targets. The highest growth in Mathematics occurred from fourth to fifth grade (63%) and the lowest growth occurred from fifth to sixth grade (41%).
It is important to note that across student groups, the percent of students making expected growth is relatively consistent. Each student’s growth target is based on his or her performance on previous administrations of MAP. The fact that percent of students making expected growth is consistent across student subgroups indicates that if that trend continues, gaps would close over time. In some cases, a higher percentage of minority students reached their growth targets relative to white students. For example, at the middle school level, 49% of white students met growth targets, but 50% of African American students and 53% of Hispanic students met their growth targets. In addition, English Language Learners, special education students, and students receiving free and reduced lunch grew at similar rates to their peers.
MAP also provides status benchmarks that reflect the new, more rigorous NAEP standards. Meeting status benchmarks indicates that a student would be expected to score “Proficient” or “Advanced” on the next administration of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE).
That means that even though overall scores haven’t changed dramatically from last year, the percent of students identified as proficient or advanced will look different with these benchmarks. That is not unique for MMSD – schools around the state and nation are seeing this as they also work toward the common core.
While these scores are different than what we have been used to, it is important to remember that higher standards are a good thing for our students, our districts and our community. It means holding ourselves to the standards of an increasingly challenging, fast-paced world and economy. States all around the country, including Wisconsin, are adopting these standards and aligning their work to them.
As we align our work to the common core standards, student achievement will be measured using new, national standards. These are very high standards that will truly prepare our students to be competitive in a fast-paced global economy.
At each grade level, between 32% and 37% of students met status benchmarks in Reading and between 36% and 44% met status benchmarks in Mathematics. Scores were highest for white students, followed by Asian students, students identified as two or more races, Hispanic students, and African-American students. These patterns are consistent across grades and subjects.
Attachment #1 shows the percentage of students meeting status benchmarks and growth targets by grade, subgroup, and grade and subgroup. School- and student-level reports are produced by NWEA and used for internal planning purposes.

Related: 2011-2012 Madison School District MAP Reports (PDF Documents):

I requested MAP results from suburban Madison Districts and have received Waunakee’s Student Assessment Results (4MB PDF) thus far.

The Day After: What’s Next for Madison’s Public Schools?

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

Dear Friends & Colleagues.
With one of the most competitive and expensive school board races in the history of the Madison Metropolitan School District now behind us, it is time for us to get to work on strengthening public education in our capital city and ensuring that every single one of our children have the schools and tools they need to succeed in education and in life.
We congratulate Mary Burke and Arlene Silveira for their success in securing three-year terms on the Madison Board of Education. They will bring significant experience and business acumen to the School Board. We also give great respect to their challengers, Nichelle Nichols and Michael Flores, for stepping up, taking a stand for children and ensuring that the voices of parents and children of color were front and center during the campaign. They ensured that the discussion remained focused on the alarming racial achievement gap that exists in our schools, and we deeply appreciate them for it.
As the Board of Education moves forward, we expect they will remain focused on our community’s five greatest priorities: (1) eliminating the racial achievement gap; (2) establishing world class schools that attract enrollment and prepare all children to thrive and succeed in college and work after high school; (3) empowering parents and engaging them in their children’s education; (4) developing a highly talented and skilled workforce that is more reflective of the students our school district now educates; and (5) aligning the District’s employee handbook to the priorities, needs and goals of students, staff and schools.
The Board of Education can start by focusing their efforts on hiring an outstanding new Superintendent who possesses significant leadership skill/experience and business acumen, a proven track-record of successfully leading urban schools with significantly diverse student populations; and a strong, clear and compelling vision and plan for public education and our children’s future.
Rather than deciding too quickly on approving an achievement gap plan that was rushed in its development, we hope the Board of Education will avoid getting too far ahead of the next Superintendent in implementing plans, and instead focus their attention on existing efforts where the District can make a difference in the next six months, such as:

  • Implementing the Common Core Standards and related common curriculum in literacy, English/language arts and mathematics in all elementary schools in grades K-5 (to start), with additional learning support for students who are significantly behind or ahead academically;
  • Re-establishing and aligning the District’s Professional Development Program for all educators and support staff to the curriculum, standards and needs/interests of students;
  • Implementing Wisconsin’s new Educator Effectiveness evaluation and assessment program;
  • Providing a full-time principal and adequate staffing for Badger Rock and Wright Middle Schools;
  • Requiring greater collaboration and alignment between the District’s safety-net, student-support programs such as Schools of Hope, AVID/TOPS, Juventud/ASPIRA, PEOPLE/ITA Program and ACT Prep Academies to ensure more effective and seamless identification, support and progress monitoring of students who need or are enrolled in these programs;
  • Partnering with local businesses, educational institutions and community organizations to recruit, hire, acclimate and retain a diverse workforce, and appropriately assign all staff to schools according to their skills and interests and the needs of students;
  • Engaging parents more effectively in the education of their children through community partnerships; and
  • Partnering with the United Way, Urban League, Boys & Girls Club, Centro Hispano, Hmong Education Council and other agencies to effectively build awareness and educate the community about local and national best practices for eliminating the achievement gap and preparing all youth for college and work.

We look forward to working with YOU, the Board of Education, our community partners and the leadership of our public schools to implement immediate opportunities and solutions that will benefit our children TODAY.
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Assistant: 608-729-1249
Fax: 608-729-1205


An expected outcome.
Thanks to the four citizens who ran.
The Silveira/Nichols race was interesting in that it was the first competitive school board election involving an incumbent in some time. Lawrie Kobza and Lucy Mathiak defeated incumbent candidates during the mid-2000’s. Perhaps the “success recipe” requires that the insurgent candidate have a strong local network, substantive issues and the ability to get the word out, effectively.
Arlene is a different incumbent than those defeated by Kobza & Mathiak.
That said, she has been on the board for six years, a time during which little, if any progress was made on the MMSD’s core mission: reading, writing, math and science, while spending more per student than most Districts. Perhaps the Superintendent’s looming departure offers an opportunity to address the core curricular issues.
I wish the new board well and congratulate Mary and Arlene on their victories.
Paraphrasing a friend, it is never too early to run for the School Board. Three seats are up in 2013, those currently occupied by Maya Cole, James Howard and Beth Moss.
A reader emailed a link to this M.P. King photo:

Q & A: Charter School Proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men

570K PDF:

APPENDIX MMM-7-21 January 31, 2011
Urban League of Greater Madison
On December 6, 2010, the Urban League of Greater Madison presented an initial proposal for the establishment of Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (a non-instrumentality all-boys secondary charter school) to the Planning and Development Committee of the MMSD Board of Education. During the discussion that followed, Board members agreed to submit follow-up questions to the Urban Leagne, to which the Urban Leagne would respond before the next meeting of the Planning and Development Committee. Questions were submitted by Ed Hughes and Lucy Mathiak. Furthermore, Arlene Silveira submitted questions presented to her by several connnunity members. Below each numbered Board member question, you will find the ULGM response.
1. Ed Hughes: Do you have a response to the suggestion that your proposal may violate Wis. Stat. sec. 118.40(4)(c) other than that you also intend sometime in the future to develop and operate a school for girls? If so, what is the response?
ULGM: Please refer to our letter to MMSD Board of Education members that responded to the ACLU’s opposition to Madison Prep. The answer to your question is contained in that letter. We have attached the letter to this document for your review.
2. Ed Hughes: To the extent the information is available to you, please list the 37 or so non instrumentality charter schools currently operating in Wisconsin.
ULGM: The following list of non-instrumentality charter schools currently operating in Wisconsin was compiled from the 20 I 0-20 II Charter Schools Yearbook published by the Department of Public Instruction. You can find the complete Yearbook online at: http://dpi.wi.gov/sms/pdf/2010.llyearbook.pdf
1. Barron, North Star Academy
2. Cambridge, JEDI Virtual High School
3. City of Milwaukee, Central City Cyberschool
4. City of Milwaukee, Darrell Lynn Hines (DLH) Academy
5. City of Milwaukee, Downtown Montessori Academy
6. City of Milwaukee, King’s Academy
7. City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Academy of Science
8. Grantsburg, Insight School of Wisconsin
9. Hayward, Hayward Center for Individualized Learning
10. Hayward, Waadookodaading Charter School
11. McFarland, Wisconsin Virtual Academy
12. Milwaukee, Carmen High School of Science and Technology
13. Milwaukee, Highland Community School
14. Milwaukee, Hmong American Peace Academy (HAPA)
15. Milwaukee, International Peace Academy
16. Milwaukee, La Causa Charter School
17. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Community Cyber (MC2) High School
18. Milwaukee, Next Door Charter School
19. Milwaukee, Wings Academy
20. Milwaukee, Wisconsin Career Academy
21. Nekoosa, Niikuusra Community School
22. New Lisbon, Juneau County Charter School
23. New Richmond, NR4Kids Charter School
24. Sheboygan, Lake Country Academy
25. UW-Milwaukee, Bruce Guadalupe Community School
26. UW-Milwaukee, Business & Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM)
27. UW-Milwaukee, Capitol West Academy
28. UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee College Preparatory School
29. UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Renaissance Academy
30. UW-Milwaukee, School for Early Development & Achievement (SEDA)
31. UW-Milwaukee, Seeds of Health Elementary School
32. UW-Milwaukee, Tenor High School
33. UW-Milwaukee, Urban Day Charter School, Inc
34. UW-Milwaukee, Veritas High School
35. UW-Milwaukee, Woodlands School
36. UW -Milwaukee, YMCA Young Leaders Academy
37. UW-Parkside, 21st Century Preparatory School
38. Weyauwega-Fremont, Waupaca County Charter School
3. Ed Hughes: Do you have copies of any of the contracts Wisconsin non-instrumentality charter schools have entered into with their school districts? If so, please list the contracts and provide a copy of at least one of them.
ULGM: See attached contracts for Lake Country Academy in Sheboygan and the Wisconsin Virtual Academy in McFarland, which are both non-instrumentality charter schools.
4. Ed Hughes: To the extent the information is available to you, please list the amount ofper.student payment each non-instrumentality charter school in Wisconsin is contractually entitled to receive from its sponsoring school district.
ULGM: We have requested information from the DPI on the current per-student payments to each non-instrumentality charter school in Wisconsin, but we understand that DPI does not now have the information consolidated in one database. We expect that the per-student payment information will be available from DPI by January 17, and we will submit that information to the board and administration as soon as it becomes available from the DPI. The per-pupil payment to each district.authorized charter school in Wisconsin, including instrumentality and non-instrumentality charter schools, is determined through negotiations and mutual agreement between the school district, as the charter school authorizer, and the charter school developer/operator.
5. Ed Hughes: Please identify the minimum per-student payment from the school district that would be required for Madison Prep to be financially feasible from your perspective. If you don’t have a specific figure, provide your best estimate of the range in which that figure is likely to fall.
ULGM: The MMSD Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent-Business in agreement with us that more time is needed to present a projected minimum payment from the school district. DPI’s School Finance Data Warehouse indicates that MMSD reported $14,432 in revenue per student and spent $13,881 per student iu 2008-09. We are certain that we will not request more per student than what MMSD spends annually.
6. Lucy Mathiak: Do you know what Madison Prep will cost the district? And do you know where the money will come from?
ULGM: We have an idea ofwhat our school will cost but as stated in the answer to question number 5, we are working through several costs and line items with MMSD’s Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent-Business. In Wisconsin, public charter schools are funded primarily by school districts or the state legislature (non-school district authorized schools). Generally, private funding is limited to 5% of costs during the budgeting process. However we will raise significantly more in private funding during the pre-implementation and implementation years of the school than we will in out years.
7. Lucy Mathiak: How the financial commitment asked of the district compares to the financial commitment to its existing schools?
ULGM: Assuming you mean existing traditional public schools, we will require more information from MMSD’s administration to make this comparison. Given that Madison Prep will be a new school and a non-instrumentality, there will be costs that Madison Prep has that the school system does not, and vice versa. However, we are firmly committed to ensuring our school is operated within the annual per pupil cost MMSD now spends to educate students in middle and high schools.
8. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: First of all, has the funding that is indicated as part of the proposal actually been acquired or promised? The proposal indicates $100,000/ year from the Madison Community Foundation, but I can’t find any information from MCF itself about funding Madison Prep. All I can see is that they donated to the Urban League’s capital and Workforce campaigns. Will you check into this? Also, the proposal indicates $250,000/ year for 3 years from Partners for Developing Futures. Last year, despite having received 25 applications for funding from “education entrepreneurs,” this organization did not fund any of them due to the quality of the applications. How is the Madison Prep planning team able to claim this as a source of funding? Have promises been made?
ULGM: The Madison Community Foundation and Partners for Developing Futures were listed as potential revenue sources; these dollars were not committed. Our business plan followed the same approach as most business plans for start-up initiatives: listing prospective revenue sources. However, we do intend to pursue funding through these and other sources. Our private fundraising goals and needs in our five-year budget plan are reasonable.
9. Lucy Mathiak: What additional resources are needed to make the Madison Prep model work?
ULGM: Our school is designed as a demonstration school to be replicable, in whole or in part, by MMSD and other school systems. Therefore, we will not request more than the district’s own annual costs per pupil at the middle and high school levels.
10. Lucy Mathiak: What resources are in hand and what resources will you need to raise?
ULGM: We presently have $50,000 to support the planning of the school, with the offer of additional support. However, we will secure additional private and public funding once the Board of Education formally approves the DPI planning grant application/detailed proposal for Madison Prep.
11. Lucy Mathiak: Ifthere is a proposed endowment, what is the amount of the endowment in hand, the estimated annual rate of return, and the estimated income available for use?
ULGM: New charter schools generally do not budget for endowment in their first few years of operation. We intend to build an endowment at some point and have line items for this in Madison Prep’s budget, but these issues will be decided by the Board ofDirectors ofthe school, for which we will not begin recruiting until the Board of Education approves our DPI plauning grant application/detailed proposal.
12. Ed Hughes: Which parts of your proposal do you require non-instrumentality status to implement?
ULGM: Non-instrumentality status will be vital to Madison Prep’s ability to offer an extended school day, extended school year, as well as the expectations we have of teachers to serve as mentors and coaches to students. The collective bargaining contract between the Board of Education and Madison Teachers, Inc. would not allow for this added instructional time. Yet this added instructional time will be necessary in order for students to meet Madison Prep’s ambitious achievement goals. In addition, our professional development program will also require more hours of training. We also intend to implement other special activities for students and faculty that would not be allowed under MMSD and MTI’s collective bargaining agreement.
13. Ed Hughes: What will be the school’s admission policy? Please describe any preferences that the admission policy will include. To what extent will students who live outside ofthe Madison school district be considered for admission?
ULGM: Madison Prep will comply with all federal and state regulations relating to charter school admissions. In its inaugural school year (20 12-20 13), Madison Prep will be open to any 61h and 7’h grade male student residing within the boundaries of MMSD.
All interested families will complete an Enrollment Form at the Urban League’s offices, online, during community meetings and outreach activities, through local partners, or during a visit to the school (after it opens). If Madison Prep receives less than 45 enrollment forms for either grade (6 and 7) in the tirst year, all students’ who applied will be admitted. If the school receives more than 45 enrollment forms for either grade level in the first year, or enrollment forms exceed the seats available in subsequent years, Madison Prep will hold a public random lottery at a location that provides enough space for applicant students and families. The lottery will be held in accordance with DPI guidelines for random lotteries. If Madison Prep does not fill all available seats, it will continue its grassroots recruitment efforts until it reaches its enrollment goal.
14. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: We know that Madison Prep won’t accept girls. Will it except boys with Autism or Aspergers? If a boy has a learning disability, will he be allowed to attend? What ifthis learning disability makes it not possible for him to perform above grade level on a standardized test? Will he be allowed in? And can they kick him out if his test scores aren’t advanced/proficient?
ULGM: Please see our answer to question #13. To be clear, Madison Prep will accept students with special learning needs, including students who speak English as a second language. As always, IEP teams will determine on a case-by-case basis if Madison Prep is an appropriate placement for special education students. No Madison Prep student will ever be expelled for academic performance.
15. Ed Hughes: An attraction ofthe proposed school is that it could provide the kind ofiutense academic and other sorts of support that could change the trajectories of its students from failure to success. How will you ensure that your school serves primarily students who require the sort of approach the school will offer in order to be successful?
ULGM: Please see our answer to question #13 and question #16 below. We will go to great lengths to inform parents about Madison Prep as an option for their child, and to recruit students and families to our school. We will over-market our efforts in low-income communities and through media, sports clubs, community centers, churches, employers, and other vehicles that reach these students and their parents. We are also exploring the legality of our ability to set an income goal or threshold for student admissions. Nonetheless, we believe that any young man, regardless of their family background, would be well served by Madison Prep.
16. Ed Hughes: To the extent yon know them, describe what the school’s stndent recruitment and marketing strategies will be.
ULGM: Madison Prep’s marketing plan will support three priorities and goals:
1. Enrollment: Recruiting, retaining, and expanding student enrollment annually -share Madison Prep with as many parents and students as possible and establish a wait-list of at least 20 students at each grade level by June I each year (with the exception of year one).
2. Staffing: Recruiting and retaining a talented, effective, and committed faculty and staff -field qualified applicants for each position in a timeframe that enables us to hire by June 30 each year.
3. Public Image and Support: Building, maintaining, and solidifying a base of support among local leaders, financial contributors, key partners, the media, and the general public.
To ensure the public is well acquainted with the school, Madison Prep, with the support of the Urban League of Greater Madison, will make use of a variety of marketing strategies to accomplish its enrollment, staffing, fundraising, and publicity goals. Each strategy will be phased in, from pre.launch of the school through the first three years of operation. These marketing strategies are less expensive and more sustainable with the budget of a new charter school than television, radio, and popular print advertisements. They also deliver a great return on investment if executed effectively. Each strategy will enable Madison Prep, with its limited staff, to promote itself to the general public and hard-to-reach communities, build relationships, sustain communications and achieve its goals.
A. Image Management: Madison Prep’s logo and images of young men projecting the Madison Prep brand will be featured on the school’.s website, in informational and print materials, and on inexpensive paraphernalia (lapel pins, emblems, ink pens, etc). Students will be required to wear uniforms that include a red or black blazer featuring the Madison Prep emblem, a sweater, a red or black tie, white shirt, black or khaki pants, and black or brown dress shoes. They will also have a gym uniform and athletic team wear that features the Madison Prep emblem. Additionally, Madison Prep will ensure that its school grounds, educational facility, and learning spaces are clean, orderly and well-maintained at all times, and that these physical spaces reflect positive images of Madison Prep students, positive adult males, community leaders, families, and supporters. Madison Prep’s Core Values will be visible through the school as well, and its students, faculty, staff, and Board of Directors will reflect an image in school and in public that is consistent with the school’s Core Values and Leadership Dimensions.
B. Grassroots Engagement: Madison Prep’s founders, Board members, volunteers, and its key staff (once hired) will go door-to-door in target neighborhoods, and other areas within MMSD boundaries where prospective candidates can be found, to build relationships with young men, families, and local community resource persons and advocates to recruit young men to attend Madison Prep. Recruiters will be dressed in the Madison Prep uniform (either a polo shirt, sweater or suit jacket/tie, each showing the Madison emblem, and dress slacks or skirt) and will visit homes in two person teams.
Madison Prep will also partner with City Council members, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, and local libraries to host community meetings year-round to promote the school in target neighborhoods and military bases. It will also promote the school to citizens in high traffic residential areas of the city, including metro stops, restaurants, community centers, community health agencies, and at public events. Madison Prep will engage the religious community as well, promoting the school to church leaders and requesting to speak before their congregations or have the church publicize the school during their announcements on Sundays and ministry activities during the week. Area businesses, hospitals, government agencies, foster care agencies, and mentorship programs will be asked to make information available to their patrons, clients, and families. Madison Prep will also seek to form partnerships with the Police Department and Court System to ensure judges, attorneys, neighborhood police officers, and family advocates know about the school and can make referrals of young men they believe will benefit from joining Madison Prep’s school community.
C. Online Presence & Partnerships: Madison Prep will launch a website and update its current Facebook and Twitter pages prior ·to the school opening to expand its public presence. The Facebook page for Madison Prep presently has more than 100 members, has been operational for less than 2 months, and has not yet been widely marketed. The page is used to raise awareness, expand support, communicate progress, announce activities and events, and promote small-donor fundraising campaigns. The website will be used to recruit students, staff, and eventually serve as an entry-point to a member only section on the Internet for faculty, students, and parents. Madison Prep will also seek to establish strategic alliance partnerships with service associations (100 Black Men, Sororities and Fraternities, Civic Clubs or Organizations, etc.), enlisting their participation in the school’s annual events. In addition, Madison Prep will establish partnerships with other public and private schools in the Madison area to recruit students, particularly elementary schools.
D. Viral Marketing: Madison Prep will use email announcements and social networking sites to share its mission, activities, employment opportunities, and successes with its base of supporters and will inspire and encourage them to share the information with their friends, colleagues, parents and young men they know who might be interested in the school. Madison Prep will add to its base of supporters through its other marketing strategies, collecting names and contact information when and where appropriate.
E. Buzz Marketing: Madison Prep will use subtle forms of marketing to recruit students and faculty, increase its donor and support base, and develop a positive public image. The school will maintain an influential board of directors and advisors, will engage notable people and organizations in the school, and will publicize these assets to the general public. The school will also prepare key messages and strategically involve its students, staff, and parents in key events and activities to market its brand -high achieving, thoughtful, forward thinking, confident and empowered young men who are being groomed for leadership and success by equally talented, passionate and committed adults. The messages, images, and quality of interactions that the broader community has with members of the greater Madison community will create a positive buzz about the school, its impact, and the success of its students.
F. School Visits & Activity Participation: Each year, from the week after Thanksgiving through the end of the school year, Madison Prep will invite prospective students and parents, funders, and members of the community to visit the school. A visit program and weekly schedule will be established to ensure that the school day and learning is not interrupted by visitors. Madison Prep will also establish an open visit policy for parents, and will create opportunities for them to leverage their ongoing involvement with the school and their young men. Through nurturing positive relationships with parents, and establishing an enviromnent where they are wanted and respected, Madison Prep will create spokespersons in the community who help grow its student body and community support. Finally, Madison Prep will host an annual community event that engages its school community with the greater Madison community in a day of fun, competitive events for families, and will serve as a resource to parents whose children do not attend Madison Prep by inviting them to participate in its Destination Planning workshops.
G. Popular Media: Madison Prep will allocate resources to market itself on Urban and News Radio during the peak student recruitment season in two phases. Phase I will take place in November 2011 and Phase 2 advertising will take place between Jannary and May 2012. To defray costs, Madison Prep will enlist the support of local and national celebrities for feature interviews, spotlights, and PSAs with Madison Prep’s Leadership to promote the school.
17. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: It looks like the Charter school is aiming for 50% of its population to be low-income. The middle school my children will go to, Sherman, is 71% low income. Blackhawk is at 62%. Wright is 83%. Sennett is 65%. Cherokee is at 63%. Toki is at 51%. Can we, in good conscious, start a new school-designed to help low income students -that has a lower percentage oflow-income students than six of our existing middle schools?
ULGM: The Urban League has set the 50% low-income target as a floor, not as a ceiling. In fact, we expect that more than 50% of Madison Prep students will qualifY for free or reduced lunch.
Furthermore, we have chosen to use the 50% figure to allow us to be conservative in our budgeting process. No matter what the level of low income students at Madison Prep -50% or higher-the student achievement goals and overall program quality will remain unchanged.
18. Ed Hughes: Have you considered limiting admission to students who have scored minimal or basic on their WKCE tests?
ULGM: No. Madison Prep will be open to any male student who wishes to attend, regardless of past academic performance.
19. Ed Hughes: Some have suggested that Madison Prep could skim offthe most academically.motivated African-American students from the District’s middle and high schools, leaving fewer role models and academic peers for the African-American boys who remain in our existing schools. What is your response to that concern?
ULGM: The notion that charter schools skim off the most motivated students is a common misconception. First, this argument is not logical. Parents/caregivers ofchildren who are academically motivated and doing well in traditional public schools have little incentive to change their students’ educational environment. Those kids will likely stay put. When a parent, teacher, social worker, or school counselor recognizes that a child isn’t doing well in the traditional school and seeks an alternative, the charter school that is sought as an alternative does not in this process gain some advantage. In fact, research suggests the opposite. A 2009 study by researchers at Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, and Mathematic Policy Research examined charter schools from across the country to test the “skimming” theory. The researchers found no evidence of skimming. In fact, they found students who go to charter schools typically have LOWER test scores than their counterparts in traditional public schools. (Read the full paper at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/schoolchoice/conference/papers/Zimmer_COMPLETE.pdf)
20. Ed Hughes: Have you extended preliminary or informal offers of employment at Madison Prep to anyone? If so, identify to whom the preliminary or informal offers were made and for which positions.
21. Ed Hughes: What will he your strategy for recruiting teachers? What qualifications will you establish for teachers? Please describe the general range of salary and benefits you expect to offer to teachers.
ULGM: Teacher Recruitment -The overarching goal of teacher recruitment will be to hire a highly qualified, passionate, hard-working, diverse staff. The recruitment effort will include casting a wide net that allows Madison Prep to draw from the pool oflocal teachers as well as teachers statewide and nationwide who will embrace the opportunity to help build a school from the ground up. We will recruit though typical both typical means (postings on our website, WECAN, charter school association job pages) as well as through recruitment fairs outside of the state. Our hiring process will take place in early and mid spring rather than late spring and summer so that we may have a competitive edge in recruiting the teachers that are the best fit for Madison Prep. While the Head of School will be responsible for the hiring of teachers, he/she will engage a committee of teachers, community members, parents, and students in the process ofselecting teachers and other staff. In addition to a thorough interview, teacher candidates will be required to teach a sample lesson to a group of students, as well as other interview committee members. Teacher Qualifications-All teachers at Madison Prep will be licensed by the Department of Public Instruction.
General Salary Range and Benefits*-For the 2012-2013 school year, the salary for Master Teachers (of which there will be two) is currently projected to be $61,406 with a signing bonus of $2,000 and a maximum performance bonus of $2,750. The salary for general education teachers is currently projected to be $50,055 for the 2012-2013 school year, with a signing bonus of$2,000 and a maximum performance bonus of$1,750. Madison Prep intends to provide a full range of benefits to its teachers. *Salary and bonus figures are subject to change
22. Ed Hughes: MMSD already has a charter middle school with a very diverse student population -James C. Wright Middle School. If the school district chose to continue James C. Wright as an instrumentality charter school but modeled on your Madison Prep proposal, which components of your proposal do yon think could be implemented at the school and which components of your proposal could not?
ULGM: The Urban League is not in a position to determine how the fundamental elements ofthe Madison Prep proposal could or could not be implemented at James C. Wright Middle School. That determination would have to be made by the district administration and c01mnunity at Wright.
23. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: Here is the annual report from one of the Urban League charter schools that the proposal cites as a model for Madison Prep:
http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/reports/2009/annual/0471.doc This is a report from the school’s lO'” year in existence. Please note the test achievement goals and scores on page 4 and compare them with the extremely overconfident goals of the Madison Prep proposal. IfMadison Prep is serious about attaining the goal of 75% oftheir students scoring 22 or higher on the ACT or 1100 or higher on the SAT, how do they plan to achieve this and what will happen with those students who fail to meet this standard? What will happen to the teachers who don’t meet their quota ofstudent test scores above this level? Please investigate these questions in detail and within the framework of Madison Prep processes from admissions through expulsion.
ULGM: The reference to the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts in the Madison Prep initial proposal was meant to show the precedent for the establishment of charter schools by Urban League affiliates; the New Leadership Charter School is NOT a model for Madison Prep, nor was this ever stated in the initial proposal. That said, Madison Prep IS serious about our student achievement goals related to the ACT and SAT. We plan to meet these goals through-as the proposal states-an all-male student body, the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, college preparatory educational program, Harkness Teaching, an extended school day and year,mentoring and coll1111unity support, and a prep year. Students will be carefully assessed for years leading up to these tests to ensure their preparedness. When formative assessments indicate re-teaching is needed in order to meet the goal, students will receive further individualized instruction. Madison Prep teachers will not have student test score “quotas.”
24. Lucy Mathiak: What would a timeline for the counterpart girls’ school look like?
ULGM: We would like to initiate the process for the girls’ school in the fall of 2012, with an opening aimed at 2014-2015.

I continue to believe that the fate of this initiative will be a defining moment for the Madison School District. If approved and implemented, it will, over time, affect other traditional schools within the District. If it is rejected, a neighboring District will likely step in.
Finally, I found the Urban League’s response to Ed Hughes’ question #5 interesting:

DPI’s School Finance Data Warehouse indicates that MMSD reported $14,432 in revenue per student and spent $13,881 per student iu 2008-09. We are certain that we will not request more per student than what MMSD spends annually.

Commentary on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, a Charter School

Kaleem Caire, via email: Chris Rickert:

At some point in the next couple months, members of the Madison School Board are almost certain to be in the unlucky position of having to decide whether to admit what is most fairly characterized as a colossal failure.
Approving a charter for Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire’s all-boy, mostly black, non-union Madison Preparatory Academy will make it clear that, when it comes to many black schoolchildren, teachers have failed to teach, parents have failed to parent, and the rest of us have failed to do anything about either.
Reject the charter and risk the false hope that comes from thinking that all these children need is another program and more “outreach.” A tweak here and a tweak there and we can all just keep on keeping on. Never mind that the approach hasn’t seemed to work so far, and that if past is prologue, we already know this story’s end.
Caire’s model would be a radical departure for Madison. The district’s two existing charter schools — Wright Middle School and Nuestro Mundo — don’t exactly trample on hallowed educational ground. They employ union teachers and have the same number of school days and teaching hours as any other non-charter and “broadly follow our district policies in the vast majority of ways,” said district spokesman Ken Syke.

Amber Walker:

I want to thank Kaleem Caire for coming home to Madison and making positive changes. If anyone can make an all-male charter school happen here, he can. The statistics in the article may be alarming to some, but not as alarming to the students and parents who are living these statistics.
I support integration, but how can it be true integration when the education gaps are so large? Who is benefiting? In my eyes, true integration in the school system would support the same quality of education, the same achievement expectations, the same disciplinary measures and so on.
Numbers don’t lie, and what they tell us is that we need to go another route to ensure educational success for black males. If that means opening a charter school to intervene, then let’s do it!

Sally Martyniak:

Instead of the headline “All-male charter school a tough sell,” imagine this one, “Loss to society: Madison schools graduated only 52 percent of black male students in 2009.” Then the reaction to the Urban League’s plan to start a charter school intended to boost minority achievement might have been different.
Reaction in the article discussed all the reasons why people will or should oppose the idea of an all-male charter school, despite its benefits. Let’s not talk about why we should be aghast at the cultural performance disparities in Madison’s schools. And let’s not talk about what we lose as a society when almost half of all black males attending Madison schools fail to graduate.

Marshall Smith:

The comments of John Matthews, head of the Madison teachers union, on charter schools are hyperbole. Saying that the Madison School Board will have no control is a cover for the union not having control.
We can’t argue the importance of good teachers. But the idea that a degree in education, and a union membership, make you the only one capable of performing this role is specious. All of us are teachers, or have been taught meaningfully by individuals with teaching skills. Are we going to let successful teachers teach, or are we going to let their union dictate?
According to Carlo D’Este’s book “Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War,” Churchill, during a lull in his career, learned bricklaying. Hearing this, the British Trade Union Council, in a public relations gesture, offered him a Master’s card.

Douglas Alexander:

Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire applied for a charter school for males because only 52 percent of black males graduate in Madison schools, while black males are suspended significantly more than the majority white students.
Before anyone responds, they should answer two questions:

  • Are you concerned about these statistics?
  • What are you doing about it?

Much more on the proposed IB Charter school: Madison Preparatory Academy.

An Update on Madison Preparatory Academy: A Proposed International Baccalaureate Charter School

Kaleem Caire, via email:

October 8, 2010
Greetings Madison Prep.
It was so wonderful to have those of you who were able to join us for the information session Tuesday night (Oct 5) here at the Urban League. We appreciate you dedicating part of your evening to learning about Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men and we look forward to working with you on this very important project. You are receiving this email because you volunteered to join the team that is going to put Madison Prep on the map!
There are a few things we want to accomplish with this email:
1. Share information about the project management website that we’ve established to organize our communications and planning with regard to developing the school
2. Secure dates and times that you’re are available to attend the first of your selected Design Team meeting(s)
3. Provide, as promised, background information on Madison Prep along with hyperlinks that will help you educate yourself on charter schools and components of the Madison Prep school design
Please SAVE this email as it contains a number of information resources that you will want to refer back to as we engage in planning Madison Prep. There is a lot of information here and we DO NOT expect you to read everything or learn it all at once. Take your time and enjoy the reading and learning. We will guide you through the process. J
Today, you will receive an email with a subject line that reads, “You’re invited to join our project management and collaboration system.” Please open this email. It will contain the information you need to sign up to access the Madison Prep Project Management Site. You will need to select a username and password. FYI, Basecamp is used by millions of people and companies to manage projects. You can learn more about basecamp by clicking here. Once in the site, you can click on the “help” button at the top, if necessary, to get a tutorial on how to use the site. It is fairly easy to figure out without the tutorial. If you have spam controls on your computer, please be sure to check your spam or junk mail box to look for emails and posting that we might make through Basecamp. Occasionally, postings will end up there. Please approve us as an email “sender” to you.
We have already posted the business plan for the original school (NextGen Prep) that is the same model as Madison Prep. We’ve also posted other important documents and have set a deadline of Friday, October 15, 2010 for you to review certain documents that have been posted. The calendar shown in Basecamp will include these assignments. Please email me or Ed Lee (elee@ulgm.org) if you have questions about using this site.
At the Interest Meeting we held on Tuesday (or in other conversation with us), you indicated a preference for getting involved in one of the following design teams. Please click on the name of the team below. You will be taken to www.doodle.com to identify your availability for these meetings. Please share your availability by Monday, October 11 at 12pm so that we can send out meeting notices that afternoon. We will address the dates and times of future meetings at the first meeting of each team. Please note, you do not need to be a “charter school” expert to be involved with this. You will have a lot of fun working towards developing a “high quality public charter school” and will learn in the process.
· Curriculum & Instruction Team. This design team will develop a thorough understanding of the IB curriculum and define the curriculum of the school, including the core and non-core curriculum. At least for the first meeting of this design team, Instructional strategies will be addressed as well. The Instruction team will develop a thorough understanding of the Harkness teaching method, outline instructional best practices, and address teacher expectations and evaluation. Both teams will address special education and English Language Learners (ELL). Additional details will be shared at the first meeting.
· Governance, Leadership & Operation Team. This design team will help develop the school’s operations plan, define the governing structure, and address the characteristics and expectations of the schools Head of School. The Head of School will be the instructional leader and therefore, there will be some overlapping conversations that need to occur with the team that addresses instruction and quality teaching.
· Facility Team. This team will be responsible for identify, planning, and securing a suitable facility for Madison Prep.
· Budget, Finance & Fundraising Team. This team will be involved with developing Madison Prep’s budget and fundraising plans, and will explore financing options for start-up, implementation, and the first four years of the school’s operation.”
· Community Engagement & Support Team. This team will develop strategies and work to establish broad community support for Madison Prep, develop criteria for partnering with others, and establish partnerships that support teaching, learning, leadership, and community engagement.
There is a lot of good support and buzz growing around Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (charter school). To ensure you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with charter schools and single gendered school models, we have listed internet resources below that you can visit and review. Just click on the hyperlinks.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men will be an all-male charter school that we intend to open in the Madison area in the fall of 2012. It will serve as a high quality school option for parents as well as a demonstration school for secondary education reform and improvement in Dane County. We want local teachers and schools to learn from Madison Prep, and will take steps
We have attached the two page executive summary again for your review along with a business plan for the school (that will be modified to fit Madison). Madison Prep was originally to be launched as a charter school in Washington, DC and Prince Georges County, Maryland in 2011 and 2013 under Next Generation, an organization I founded in Maryland with my wife and other partners in 2006.
In 2009, there were 5,043 charter schools in the United States compared to 33,740 private schools and 98,916 traditional public schools. Nationally, charter schools enrolled 1,536,079 students in 2009. According to the Wisconsin Charter School Association, there are more than 223 charter schools in Wisconsin serving more than 37,432 students. There are presently just two charter schools in Madison: James C. Wright Middle School on Madison’s South side, founded in 1997 (originally as Madison Middle School 2000).
Until recently, other school districts in Wisconsin have been more open to charter schools. Appleton (14), Janesville (5), Kenosha (6), LaCrosse (4) and Milwaukee (66), Oshkosh (6), Sheboygan (7), Sparta (4), Stevens Point (7), and Waukesha (6) have authorized a significant number of public charter schools when considering the size of their total school district enrollments. However, recent enthusiasm around the formation of Badger Rock School is a sign that Madison area school districts could be more receptive to innovative charter school models that serve a specific community need and purpose. With your support and that of many others, we intend to make a very strong case for Madison Prep and why it’s so desperately needed in our community.
In Maryland, our team spent three years researching and designing the school and the curriculum. Members of the founding team were involved in the establishment and/or leadership of Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys , Septima Clark Public Charter School , The SEED Foundation and Public Charter Schools, Sidwell Friends School (where President Obama’s children attend), and Hyde Leadership Public Charter School . We had an expert on international baccalaureate education lead our curriculum design. We also worked closely with the leadership and faculty of other private and charter schools as we developed the business plan, curriculum and education program, including Washington Jesuit Academy , the St. Paul’s School in Baltimore, and Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. The school will utilize the highly regarded college-preparatory International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and the teaching methodology will be rooted in Harkness instruction. St. Paul’s also has a school for girls – the St. Paul School for Girls.
Prior to being hired as President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM), I shared with our ULGM board that I would look to establish charter schools as a strategy to address the persistent underperformance and failure of our children attending Madison area schools. As we have engaged our community, listened to leaders, researched the issues, and evaluated the data, it is clear that Madison Prep is not only needed, but absolutely necessary.
As of June 2010, there were 540 public schools in the U.S. offering a single-gendered option, with 92 schools having an all-male or all-female enrollment and the rest operating single gendered classes or programs. There were 12 public schools in Wisconsin offering single gendered classes or classrooms (6 middle schools, 5 high schools, and one elementary school).
There are several single gendered charter schools for young men that have garnered a lot of attention of late, including Urban Prep Academies in Chicago – which sent 100% of its first graduating class to college, The Eagle Academy Foundation in New York City, Boys Latin of Philadelphia, and Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys and Green Tech High School in
Albany, NY,
Bluford Drew Jemison Academy in Baltimore.
To learn more about charter schools, visit the following websites:
US Charter Schools
Information Website
Starting a Charter School
National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, Washington, DC
National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Chicago, IL
District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, Washington, DC (one of the best authorizers of charter schools; the local school board will authorize our school)
Center for Education Reform, Washington,
Wisconsin Charter School Association
Madison, WI
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (Charter Schools), Madison ,WI
Green Charter Schools Network, Madison, WI
National Council of LaRaza Charter School Development, Phoenix, AZ
Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBC), Lynn, MA
National Association for Single Sex Public Education Exton, PA
The Gurian Institute,
Colorado Springs, CO
Some of the more highly recognized and notable “networks” of charter
Green Dot Public Schools, Los Angeles, California
KIPP Schools, San Francisco, CA
Aspire Public Schools, Oakland, CA
Achievement First Schools, New Haven, CT
Uncommon Schools, New York, NY
Other Programs of interest:
America’s Top Charter Schools, U.S. News & World Report (2009)
New Leaders for New Schools, New York,
Teach for America, New
York, NY
Teacher U, New York, NY
Early College High Schools
Charter School Financing (excluding banks):
State of Wisconsin Charter School Planning and Implementation Grants (planning, start-up, and implementation)
Walton Family Foundation, Bentonville, AR (planning, start-up, and implementation; however, only focus in Milwaukee right now but we can talk with them)
Partners for Developing Futures, Los Angeles, CA (planning, start-up, and implementation)
IFF, Chicago, IL (facilities)
Building Hope, Washington, DC (facilities)
Charter School Development Center, Hanover, MD (facilities)
Local Initiatives Support Corporation, New York, NY (facilities)
NCB Capital Impact, Arlington, VA (facilities)
Raza Development Fund, Phoenix, AZ (facilities)
We look forward to getting Madison Prep off the ground with you! WE CAN DO THIS!!
Whatever it Takes.
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 South Park Street, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
Main: 608-729-1200
Assistant: 608-729-1249
Mobile: 202-997-3198
Fax: 608-729-1205
Email: kcaire@ulgm.org
Internet: www.ulgm.org
Facebook: Click Here

Next Generation Preparatory Academy for Young Men Empowering Young Men for Life 1.5MB PDF and Madison Preparatory Academy Overview 150K PDF.
Related: Kaleem Caire video interview.

Wednesday early release set for Madison middle, high schools

Susan Troller:

Hey Madison parents, teachers and students, get ready for some changes.
I wrote about a letter sent to teachers several weeks ago, but snags in transporation had the plan still tentative until today.
Now it’s official: A plan for teacher collaboration at the Madison middle and high school levels beginning this fall will alter daily and weekly schedules for all eleven local middle schools and four high schools.
The most immediate change will be early release most Wednesdays for both high school and middle school students; middle school classes (except at Wright Middle School) will end on Wednesdays at 1:37 p.m. School will end at Wright at 2:15 p.m.

Gena Kittner has more.

What happens to Madison’s bad teachers?

Lynn Welch:

It’s absurd to believe anyone wants ineffective teachers in any classroom.
So when President Barack Obama, in a speech last fall at Madison’s Wright Middle School, called for “moving bad teachers out of the classroom, once they’ve been given an opportunity to do it right,” the remark drew enormous applause. Such a pledge is integral to the president’s commitment to strengthen public education.
But this part of Obama’s Race to the Top agenda for schools has occasioned much nervousness. Educators and policymakers, school boards and school communities have questions and genuine concern about what it means. What, exactly, is a bad teacher, and how, specifically, do you go about removing him or her from a classroom?
Many other questions follow. Do we have a “bad teacher” problem in Madison? Does the current evaluation system allow Madison to employ teachers who don’t make the grade? Is our system broken and does it need Obama’s fix?
A look into the issue reveals a system that is far from perfect or transparent. But Madison school board President Arlene Silveira agrees it’s an issue that must be addressed.

Madison school board rivals Tom Farley and James Howard square off at forum

Lynn Welch:

Walking toward the audience wearing a dark blue suit and tie, James Howard explained that he doesn’t have all the answers to big issues facing Madison’s schools.
“I won’t stand here and tell you I know the best way. But we do have to make sure we protect learning,” said Howard, 56, a contender for Madison school board, at a candidate forum on Sunday. “$30 million is a heck of a deficit. Have you written you r congress people? We really need to come up with a different funding source.”
Tom Farley and James Howard are vying for school board Seat 4, being vacated by Johnny Winston. It is the only contested seat of three on the April 6 ballot.
Following a brief presentation from uncontested candidates Maya Cole and Beth Moss, Howard and Farley answered questions posed by forum organizers from Progressive Dane and submitted questions from an audience of about 50 at Wright Middle School. One key area of inquiry was how the candidates would go about solving an anticipated $30 million budget hole next year.

Progressive Dane to host Madison School Board Candidate Forum 2/21/2010

via a TJ Mertz email [PDF Flyer]:

What: Public Forum featuring all candidates for Madison Board of Education.
When: Sunday February 21, 2010; 1:30 to 3:30 PM.
Where: JC Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Rd. Madison, WI.
Contact: Thomas J. Mertz, tjmertz@sbcglobal.net; (608) 255-4550
On Sunday, February 21, voters in the Madison Metropolitan School District will have their first opportunity to hear and question the School Board candidates on the ballot in the April 6 election. Unopposed incumbents Beth Moss and Maya Cole will begin with short statements on their service and why they are seeking re-election. Next the candidates for Seat 4, James Howard and Tom Farley, will answer questions from Progressive Dane and the audience. Madison District 12 Alder and member of the Board of Education
– Common Council Liaison Committee Satya Rhodes-Conway will serve as the moderator.
Progressive Dane is hosting this event as a public service to increase awareness of this important election.”The seven people on the School Board are responsible for the education of about 24,000 students and an annual budget of roughly $400 million.” explained Progressive Dane Co-Chair and Education Task Force Chair Thomas J. Mertz. “We want people to know what is going on, choose their candidate wisely and get
Candidates Tom Farley and James Howard welcome this opportunity to communicate with the voters. Farley expects a substantive discussion; he is “looking forward to participating in the Progressive Dane forum. It will certainly be our most in-depth public discussion of the issues – and most likely the liveliest and most enjoyable one too.”
Howard expressed his appreciation for “this opportunity to talk to the voters about my record of service with public schools and my unique perspective that I will add to the Board of Education” and is also ready to discuss “how to maintain and strengthen Madison schools.”
Incumbents Cole and Moss are also pleased to take part. Cole said she is “happy to have this opportunity to meet with members of our community to discuss the work of the Board, to listen to their concerns and to share the opportunities we are embracing to make our district better for all children. Moss also appreciates the chance to share her thoughts on “the good work that is going on in the schools and some of the challenges we face.”
Progressive Dane is a progressive political party in Dane County, Wisconsin. Progressive Dane is working to make Dane County a better place for everyone (no exceptions!). Progressive Dane helps community members organize around issues that are important to them and also works on the grassroots level to elect progressive political candidates.

State of the Madison School District Presentation by Superintendent Dan Nerad 1/25/2010

via a kind reader’s email:

A State of the District presentation will be made by Superintendent
Daniel Nerad to the community at a Board of Education meeting on Monday, January 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the library of Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Rd. The presentation will be the meeting’s sole agenda item.
All community members are welcome to attend.
The presentation will provide an overview of important information and data regarding the Madison School District – including student achievement – and future areas of focus.
The visually-supported talk will be followed by a short period for questions from those in attendance.
The speech and Q&A period will be televised live on MMSD-TV Cable Channels 96/993 and streaming live on the web at www.mmsd.tv. It will
also be available for replay the following day at the same web site.
For more information, contact:
Ken Syke, 663-1903 or ksyke@madison.k12.wi.us , or
Joe Quick, 663-1902 or jquick@madison.k12.wi.us
Ken Syke
Public Information
Madison School District
voice 608 663 1903; cell 608 575 6682; fax 608 204 0342

Wisconsin risks stumbling in ‘Race to Top’

University of Wisconsin School of Education Dean Julie Underwood:

President Barack Obama spoke at Wright Middle School in Madison last month and urged our nation to make improving K-12 education a national priority.
The president underscored the critical link between improving education and our nation’s future economy. He called for our schools to push all students to achieve at higher levels.
The president also spoke about our need to raise the bar for student achievement and to close existing achievement gaps. He is offering the states $4.35 billion in competitive “Race to the Top” grants to try to spur improvement.
His call for reform comes at a critical time for our schools. Our graduates face an increasingly competitive world. The future of our state rests on our ability to prepare our students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.
In recent years, however, the real struggle in Wisconsin has been in maintaining the quality public school system created by previous generations. Our public schools operate under a financial system that chokes reform and chips away at quality.

Underwood’s School of Education has a close relationship with the Madison School District via grants and other interactions. Former Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater now works for the School along with former Administrator Jack Jorgenson. Underwood attended the 2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances.

The Perfect Example of Communalism

Andreal Davis – Madison School District Instructional Resource Teacher for Cultural Relevance, via a kind reader’s email:

Communalism is the concept that the duty to one’s family and social group is more important that individual rights and privileges. On November 4, 2009 I personally experienced this concept through President Barack Obama’s visit to James Coleman Wright Middle School.
The experience began with my 12 year old son, Ari Davis, being selected to lead the Pledge of Allegiance during the ceremony. Minutes after being informed of this special occasion, I was invited to attend the event as a member of the Madison Metropolitan School District staff. Thus, I attended the ceremony wearing two hats, one as a parent and the other as an educator.
On the day of this event, several of us anxiously awaited – for more than four hours – the arrival of President Obama. During this period I experienced first hand the spirit of communalism. A recap of my educational career began to unfold in the parking lot as I held conversations with past and current MMSD colleagues. As I entered Wright Middle School I had the opportunity to interact with students I had taught at Lincoln Elementary. This allowed me to see some products of my work by listening to their thought provoking reactions to the President’s impending visit.

Clusty Search: Communalism.

Press Release: Wisconsin Governor Doyle Signs Education “Reform” Laws

Governor Doyle’s Office [PDF]:

Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law Senate Bills 370, 371, 372 and 373, which take the first steps toward reforming education in Wisconsin and ensuring every student has a chance to succeed. Governor Doyle signed the laws at Wright Middle School just days after President Obama visited the school to call for states to make significant education reform. The bills take important steps to align Wisconsin with federal education reform goals laid out by the President and position Wisconsin to compete for Race to the Top funds.
“I want to thank state legislative leaders for acting swiftly to take these critical first steps toward major education reform,” Governor Doyle said. “We are really proud of our state’s great schools but we know we have to step it up and strive to reach the highest levels. We must continue moving forward reforms that put our students first and answer President Obama’s challenge to race to the top.”
The Governor will continue to work closely with the Legislature to move forward reform efforts to create clear lines of accountability at Milwaukee Public Schools, strengthen the State Superintendent’s ability to turn around struggling schools and raise math and science standards so every student can compete in the global economy.

Madison Teachers, staff trying the ‘Wright way’

Doug Erickson & Gayle Worland:

Founded in 1993 as Madison Middle School 2000, the school alleviated crowding in the West High School attendance area and served as a hopeful sign to the ethnically diverse South Side, which lacked a middle school. The school moved to its building at 1717 Fish Hatchery Road (Panoramic view) in 1997 and was renamed for the late Rev. James C. Wright, a prominent local black pastor and civil rights leader.
The school’s early years were marred by lax discipline, high staff turnover, the resignation of the original principal and clashes among parents and teachers over governance. Stability arrived in 1998 with Ed Holmes, whose six-year tenure as principal earned praise from many parents and students.
“I would characterize (Wright) as one of the district’s grand experiments,” said Holmes, now West High principal.
As a charter school, students choose it; no one is assigned there. Enrollment is capped at 255, and classes rarely exceed 20 students. The school’s mission stresses civic engagement, social action and multicultural pride.

Related: Wright economically disadvantaged WKCE test scores compared to other Madison middle schools. Notes and links on President Obama’s recent visit to Madison’s Wright Middle School.

Spotlight on schools

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

President Barack Obama handed out some difficult assignments Wednesday at a Madison middle school.
Elected leaders, educators, parents and students need to get these tasks done. The future of Wisconsin and our nation is at stake.
Obama didn’t sugar coat what needs to occur. He talked tough about closing failing schools and firing bad teachers. He told parents and students they were more responsible than anyone for student success, which hinges on high expectations and follow-through.
Yet the “educator in chief” also offered reassurance and rewards, including a chance to win hundreds of millions of dollars in competitive grants.
It’s time to act.
A day after Obama’s visit to Wright Middle School on Madison’s South Side, the Wisconsin Legislature barely approved a bill allowing student test scores to be used in teacher evaluations – something Obama specifically called for. Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan had called Wisconsin’s ban on tying teachers to test data “ridiculous.”

Teacher Performance: White House Press Gaggle by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Aboard Air Force One 11/4/2009


Q Secretary Duncan, can you articulate why it’s important to link student achievement data with teacher performance, and also why it’s important to lift these caps on the charter schools?
SECRETARY DUNCAN: I’ll take one at a time. On the first one — it’s amazing, I always use the California example because California is a big state — California has 300,000 teachers — 300,000 teachers. The top 10 percent, the top 30,000 teachers in California, would be world-class, would be among the best teachers in the world. The bottom 10 percent in California, the bottom 30,000, probably need to find another line of work, another profession. And nobody can tell you of those 300,000 teachers who’s in what category. There’s no recognition.
And so what I fundamentally believe is that great teaching matters and we need to be able to identify those teachers who routinely are making an extraordinary difference in students’ lives. And to say that teaching has no impact on student performance, on student achievement, just absolutely makes no sense to me. It absolutely degrades the profession.
So the counterargument — so right now as a country basically zero percent of student achievement relates to teacher evaluation. I think that’s a problem. I also think 100 percent — if all you do is look at a test score to evaluate a teacher, I think that’s a problem. So zero is a problem; 100 is a problem. As a country, we’re here, we’re trying to move to a middle point where you would evaluate teachers on multiple measures — that’s really important — not just on a single test score, but, yes, student achievement would be a part of what you look at in evaluating a teacher.
And so whether it’s an individual teacher, whether it’s a school, whether it’s a school district, whether it’s a state, the whole thing as a country we need to do is we need to accelerate the rate of change. We have to get better faster. And there are teachers every single year — just to give you an illustration — there are teachers every single year where the average child in their class is gaining two years of growth — two years of growth per year of instruction. That is herculean work. Those teachers are the unsung heroes in our society. And nobody can tell you who those teachers are.
There are some schools that do that, not just one miraculous teacher or one miraculous student. There are schools that year after year produce students that are showing extraordinary gains. Shouldn’t we know that? Isn’t that something valuable? Shouldn’t we be learning from them?
And the flip side of it, if you have teachers or schools where students are falling further and further behind each year, I think we need to know that as well. And so we just want to have an open, honest conversation, but at the end of the day, teachers should never be evaluated on a single test score. I want to be absolutely clear there should always be multiple measures. But student achievement has to be a piece of what teachers are evaluated on.
And there’s a recent study that came out, The New Teacher Project, that talked about this Widget Effect where 99 percent of teachers were rated as superior. It’s not reality.
On your second point, on charter caps, I’ve been really clear I’m not a fan of charter schools, I’m a fan of good charter schools. And what we need in this country is just more good schools. We need more good elementary, more good middle, more good high schools. No second grader knows whether they’re going to a charter school, or a gifted school, or traditional school, or magnet school. They know, does my teacher care about me? Am I safe? Is there high expectations? Does the principal know who I am?
We need more good schools. And where you have — where you have good charters, we need to replicate them and to learn from them and to grow. Where you have bad charters, we need to close them down and hold them accountable. And so this is not let a thousand flowers bloom, this is trying to take what is being successful and grow.
And what I would say is if something is working, if you reduce — we talked about the graduation rate, if you’re doing something to reduce the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate, would you put a cap on that strategy? Would you ever say that we’re going to cap the number of students who can take AP classes this year? We’re going to limit the number of kids who take — we’re going to limit the number of kids that graduate? We would never do that.
So if something is working, if that innovation is helping us get better, why would you put an artificial cap on it? So let’s let that innovation flourish, but at the same time actually have a high bar and hold folks accountable.
So I was a big fan of successful charter schools in Chicago when I was a superintendent there, but I also closed three charter schools for academic failure. And you need both. Good charters are a big piece of the answer. Bad charters perpetuate the status quo and we need to challenge that.

Prior to the President’s visit, I emailed a number of elected officials and education stakeholders seeking commentary on the Wright Middle School visit. One of my inquiries went to the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association. I asked for a statement on charters in Madison. They declined to make a public statement, which, perhaps is a statement in and of itself.

Remarks by The President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Discussion with Students


1:05 P.M. CST
SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, we’re thrilled to be here and this is a school that’s getting better and better, and you guys are working really, really hard. And we’ve been lucky. We have a President here who has got a tough, tough job. Being President is tough without the — he’s fighting two wars, a really, really tough economy — I like your shirt.
STUDENT: Thanks. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY DUNCAN: And what amazes me is that week after week, month after month, he just keeps coming back to education, and he’s absolutely passionate about it. He and his wife, the First Lady Michelle Obama, received great educations. Neither one was born with a lot of money, but they worked really hard and had great teachers and great principals and made the most of it. And now he’s our President. So it’s a pretty remarkable journey. The only reason he’s the President is because he got a great education.
So we’re thrilled to be here. He might want to say a few things, and looks like you guys have questions for him. And so we’ll be quick and we’ll open up to your questions.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is good to see all of you. Thanks so much for having us.
First of all, I’ve got a great Secretary of Education in Arne Duncan. So he helps school districts all across the country in trying to figure out how to improve what’s going on in the schools. And let me just pick up on something that Arne said earlier.
I was really lucky to have a great education. I didn’t have a lot of money. My parents weren’t famous. In fact, my father left when I was two years old, so I really didn’t grow up with a father in the house; mostly it was my mom and my grandparents. But they always emphasized education and they were able to send me to good schools, and by working hard I was obviously in a position to do some good stuff.
My wife, Michelle, same thing. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Her dad was actually disabled, he had multiple sclerosis, but he still worked every day in a blue collar job. And her mom didn’t work, and when she did she was a secretary. But because she worked really hard in school she ended up getting a scholarship to Princeton and to Harvard Law School and ended up really being able to achieve a lot.
So that’s the reason why we are spending a lot of time talking to folks like you, because we want all of you to understand that there’s nothing more important than what you’re doing right here at this school. And Wright has a great reputation, this school is improving all the time, but ultimately how good a school is depends on how well you guys are doing.
And the main message that I just wanted to deliver to you is, every single one of you could be doing the same kinds of things that Arne is doing or I’m doing or you could be running a company or you can be inventing a product or you could — look, anything you can imagine, you can accomplish, but the only way you do it is if you’re succeeding here in school. And we are spending a lot of money to try to improve school buildings and put computers in and make sure that your teachers are well trained and that they are getting the support they need.
So we’re working really hard to try to reform the schools, but ultimately what matters most is how badly you want a good education. If you think that somehow somebody is just going to — you can tilt your head and somebody is going to pour education in your ear, that’s just not how it works. The only way that you end up being in a position to achieve is if you want it, if inside you want it.
And part of the reason why we wanted to talk to you guys is, you’re right at the point now in your lives where what you do is really going to start mattering. My daughters are a little younger than you — Malia is 11, Sasha is eight — but when you’re in grade school, you’re playing — hopefully somebody is making sure you’re doing your homework when you get it, but to some degree you’re still just kind of learning how to learn.
By the time you get to middle school, you’re now going to be confronted with a lot of choices. You’re going to start entering those teenage years where there are a lot of distractions and in some places people will say you don’t need to worry about school or it’s uncool to be smart or — you know, all kinds of things. And, look, I’ll be honest, I went through some of that when I was in high school and I made some mistakes and had some setbacks.
So I just want everybody to understand right now that nothing is going to be more important to you than just being hungry for knowledge. And if all of you decide to do that, then there are going to be teachers and principals and secretaries of education who are going to be there to help you. So hopefully you guys will take that all to heart.
All right. Okay. Now we’re going to kick out everybody so I can let you — you guys can ask me all the really tough questions without having the press here.
1:09 P.M CST

Much more on the President’s visit to Madison’s Wright Middle School.

Wis. teachers couldn’t be fired over test scores

Scott Bauer:

Wisconsin schools could use student test scores to evaluate teachers, but they still couldn’t use the information to discipline or fire them under a bill moving quickly through the Legislature.
Lawmakers must remove a ban on using test scores in evaluations for Wisconsin to compete for about $4.5 billion in Race to the Top stimulus money for education. Race to the Top is intended to improve student achievement, boost the performance of minority students and raise graduation rates.
Republicans and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards say Doyle and Democrats who control the Legislature are still giving teachers too much deference even as they work to qualify the state for the program.
Wisconsin and Nevada are the only states that don’t allow test results to be used to evaluate teachers. A similar prohibition in New York expires next year, and California removed its ban earlier this year to compete for the federal stimulus money.
Doyle and Democratic lawmakers are moving quickly to get Wisconsin’s ban removed with a vote this week. There is urgency because applications for the Race to the Top money will likely be due in a couple of months and the Legislature ends its session for the year on Thursday.
Doyle supports a proposal that would lift Wisconsin’s restriction on tying test scores with teacher evaluations. However, it would keep in place a ban on using the scores to fire, suspend or discipline a teacher.

Related: Notes and Links: President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visit Madison’s Wright Middle School (one of two Charter Schools in Madison)..

School spotlight: Summer program combines science and black history

Pamela Cotant:

For the last 14 years, a summer program has found a way to make learning about a particular area of science fun while also exposing elementary and middle school students to blacks who have made a difference in that field.
This year, flight was the theme for the program, called a Celebration of Life. In general, about two-thirds of those in attendance are returning participants like Synovia Knox, who also had four siblings who attended.
“Each year I would leave wanting to be someone else,” said Knox, who has attended since third grade. “They just make everyone seem so interesting.”
The annual event is one of the programs put on by the African American Ethnic Academy of Madison. The site of the program and its co-sponsor is the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute, the non-profit affiliate of Promega, which offers the use of its Fitchburg facilities.
The program, which is held during the morning for two weeks, is divided into two sessions — one for students entering grades three through five and another for students going into grades six through eight. A total of 28 students attended this year and the organizers hope the numbers will grow, said Barbara Bielec, who helps run the Celebration of Life as the K-12 program coordinator for the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute.

Promega offered the Madison School District free land in the mid-1990’s for a tech oriented Middle School. The offer was turned down and the proposed school eventually became Wright Middle School.

Madison School Board: Legislative Session and Fine Arts Task Force

Legislative Informational Community Session: We are holding a special Board meeting to focus on legislative issues on Wednesday April 1 at 6:00pm at Wright Middle School. At this session we will provide updates on school funding and state budget issues that affect the MMSD. We will discuss and share strategies on how the community can get involved in advocating for our schools.
Fine Arts Task Force (FATF) Informational Community Sessions: The focus of each session will be a presentation of the findings and recommendations of the FATF followed by an opportunity for discussion. The Executive Summary and complete FATF report can be found at http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/boe/finearts/ Tuesday, March 10, 6:00-8:00pm, Memorial High School. Thursday, March 12, 6:00-8:00pm, La Follette High School LMC.

Parents cool to short-term solutions for overcrowding at Leopold

Kurt Gutknecht, via a kind reader’s email:

A temporary solution to concerns about Leopold Elementary School will be announced by June 2009, according to Daniel Nerad, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Nerad, members of the school board and other officials held what Nerad called “an engagement session” at Leopold on Oct. 20. About 100 parents attended the session, part of what Nerad called an effort to find “a short-term solution to find a long-term solution.”
But a show of hands after the meeting indicated most of those attending the session opposed the proposed short-term solution, which would involve transferring fifth graders to Cherokee and Wright middle schools.
“I’m confident it (the short-term solution) would work for two years,” Nerad said.
Nerad conceded that the short-term plan would address crowding but not another concern of parents- the high proportion (68 percent) of low-income students at Leopold. The long-term plan would tackle that issue, he said.

Much more on Leopold here.

Leopold fifth-graders would go to two middle schools under district plan to reduce crowding

Click to view a map displaying Leopold and nearby schools.

Tamira Madsen:

Five days after Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison School Board officials learn if voters approved a referendum to help finance the district budget, they’re expected to vote on options to ease overcrowding at Leopold Elementary.

Wisconsin State Journal & The Madison School District:

A long-term plan for coping with Leopold Elementary’s crowded classrooms would be delayed until June, and the school’s fifth graders would be shuttled to two middle schools for two years under a proposal released today by Madison schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad.
In a report to the Madison School Board, Nerad acknowledged that residents living in the Leopold area on Madison’s South Side would prefer that a new school be built in the area.
However, he recommended the stopgap measures while delaying the long-term plan, which had been expected to be announced this fall. District officials have been studying the problem since April.
Under Nerad’s plan, Leopold’s fifth graders would attend Cherokee and Wright middle schools in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. About three-fourths of the fifth graders would be sent to Cherokee.

Distance from Leopold Elementary to:

Much more on Leopold here.

Madison’s Leopold Elementary School’s Overcrowding in the News

Click to view a map displaying Leopold and nearby schools.

Tamira Madsen:

Five days after Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison School Board officials learn if voters approved a referendum to help finance the district budget, they’re expected to vote on options to ease overcrowding at Leopold Elementary.
And those fixes, especially the long-range ones, won’t be cheap.
Overcrowding at the largest elementary school in the district has been a hot-button topic the past several years, and the School Board has put the issue at the top of its priority list. Leopold had 718 students last year (new figures aren’t available yet), making it more than double the size of many district elementary schools and larger even than all but one middle school.
A decision can’t come quickly enough for the Leopold community, as evidenced by the 130 parents, teachers and faculty who attended a meeting Sept. 9 at the school. District officials were there to outline a variety of options (see them at www.mmsd.org/boe/longrange) they’re considering for the south Madison school located on Post Road.

Distance from Leopold Elementary to:

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Releases Latest State Test Results, Madison Trails State Averages

380K PDF Press Release [AP’s posting of DPI’s press release]:

Results for statewide testing show an overall upward trend for mathematics, stable scores in reading, and a slight narrowing of several achievement gaps. This three-year trend comes at a time when poverty is continuing to increase among Wisconsin students.
The 434,507 students who took the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations (WKCE) and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD) this school year showed gains over the past three years in mathematics in six out of seven grades tested. Reading achievement at the elementary, middle, and high school levels was stable over three years. An analysis of all combined grades indicates a narrowing of some achievement gaps by racial/ethnic group.
“These three years of assessment data show some positive trends. While some results point to achievement gains, we must continue our focus on closing achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students,” said State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster.

Andy Hall notes that Madison Trails State Averages [Dane County Test Result Comparison prepared by Andy Hall & Phil Brinkmanpdf]:

But in the Madison School District, just two of the 23 proficiency scores improved, while five were unchanged and 16 declined, according to a Wisconsin State Journal review of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school year data from the state Department of Public Instruction.
Madison’s scores trail the state average in 22 of the 23 scores. Typically the percentage of Madison students attaining proficient or advanced ratings trails the state average by several percentage points.
“The fact that we’re able to stay close to the state average as our demographics have made dramatic changes, I think is a positive,” said Madison schools Superintendent Art Rainwater, who added that the district’s “strong instructional program” is meeting many of the challenges of immigrant and low-income students while ensuring that “high fliers are still flying high.”
A district analysis shows that when the district’s students are compared with their peers across the state, a higher percentage of Madison students continue to attain “advanced” proficiency scores — the highest category.
Madison students who aren’t from low-income families “continue to outperform their state counterparts,” with higher percentages with advanced scores in reading and math at all seven tested grade levels, the district reported.
Rainwater said he’s long feared that the district’s increasingly needy student population, coupled with the state’s revenue limits that regularly force the district to cut programs and services, someday will cause test scores to drop sharply. But so far, he said, the district’s scores are higher than would be expected, based on research examining the effects of poverty and limited English abilities on achievement.
This school year, 43 percent of Madison students are from low-income families eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, while 16 percent of students are classified as English language learners — numbers that are far above those of any other Dane County school district.
Rainwater noted that students with limited English abilities receive little help while taking the reading and language arts tests in English.

Tamira Madsen:

Reading test scores for Madison students changed little compared to 2006-07, but math results decreased in six of the seven grades tested. Of 23 scores in five topics tested statewide, Madison lagged behind state peers in 22 of 23 of those scores.
Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater attributes the district’s performance and trends to the growing population of English language learners in the district.

Officials now are able to draw upon three years of results since Wisconsin began administering testing to students in grades three through eight and grade 10 in reading and mathematics. Based on state regulations, students in fourth, eighth and 10th grade were also tested in language arts, science and social studies.

Alan Borsuk on Milwaukee’s results:

But there is little room for debate about what the scores say about the need for improvement in the outcomes for Milwaukee Public Schools students: The gaps between Milwaukee students and the rest of the state remain large, and school improvement efforts of many kinds over the years have not made much of a dent.
The problem is especially vivid when it comes to 10th-graders, the highest grade that is part of Wisconsin’s testing system. The gap between sophomores in Milwaukee and those statewide has grown larger over the last two years, and, once again, no more than 40% of 10th-graders in MPS were rated as proficient or better in any of the five areas tested by the state. For math and science, the figure is under 30%.

Amy Hetzner notes that Waukesha County’s test scores also slipped.
Notes and links regarding the rigor of Wisconsin DPI standards. DPI academic standards home page. Search individual school and district results here. The 2006 Math Forum discussed changes to the DPI math test and local results.
TJ Mertz reviews Wright Middle School’s results.
Chan Stroman’s June, 2007 summary of Madison WKCE PR, data and an interesting discussion. Notes on spin from Jason Spencer.
Jeff Henriques dove into the 2007 WKCE results and found that Madison tested fewer 10th graders than Green Bay, Appleton, Milwaukee and Kenosha. There’s also a useful discussion on Jeff’s post.
Advocating a Standard Grad Rate & Madison’s “2004 Elimination of the Racial Achievement Gap in 3rd Grade Reading Scores”.
Madison School District’s Press Release and analysis: Slight decline on WKCE; non-low income students shine

Foundation for Madison Public Schools Celebrates Carol Carstensen’s School Board Tenure

Samara Kalk Derby:

More than 100 friends, colleagues, family members and parents showed up at a farewell party Wednesday at Olbrich Gardens to say goodbye and thank you to Carol Carstensen, who served six terms on the Madison School Board and stepped down after the spring elections.
“There will never be another Carol Carstensen. I will predict that,” said School Board member Johnny Winston Jr. “There will never be another School Board member in this community that will serve 18 years. I miss her already.”
Winston called it a wonderful experience to work with Carstensen.
“She really not only knew the material and had a grasp of the issues going on, but she also had her pulse on the community as well,” he said.
Former board member Nan Brien, who served with Carstensen in the early 1990s, said that for 18 years Carstensen was the spokesperson on the board for all the kids in the district.
“She was particularly adamant that all kids, no matter their background, have an opportunity for the best education. That is the heart and soul of who Carol Carstensen is,” Brien said.

Carol reflects on her tenure, including three accomplishments she takes personal pride in: Wright Middle School, renaming 5 middle schools to reflect the diversity of our community and establishment of the Joe Thomas award.
Much more on Carol Carstensen here. Watch a brief video interview with Carol during her most recent campaign.
More on the Foundation for Madison Public Schools here. John Taylor’s 2003 challenge grants energized the formation of FMPS.

CTM: Esperanza Rising

Children’s Theatre of Madison:

Middle school students are a notoriously tough audience.
But at a recent theater arts workshop at Wright Middle School in Madison, students shed their inhibitions as they stomped their feet, practiced the breathing exercises of actors and helped make mariachi music.
In the process, they began to appreciate the effort, energy and excitement of producing a play like “Esperanza Rising,” a Children’s Theatre of Madison production that will begin on April 4 and continue weekend performances through April 20.
Members of the Esperanza cast, the director, musicians and others associated with the production ran theater arts workshops at Hawthorne Elementary and Cherokee Middle School in Madison last week as well as at Wright Middle School.
When Jane Schroeder, outreach educator for CTM, asked students in Erika Meyer’s music class whether they had read the book “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan, Jennifer Neblett, a sixth-grader at Wright, eagerly raised her hand.

MUAE “Conversation With the Candidates”

Madison United for Academic Excellence (MUAE) will be hosting a “Conversation With the Madison School Board Candidates” on Tuesday, March 11, at 7:00 p.m. in the Wright Middle School LMC, 1313 Fish Hatchery Road. Marjorie Passman and Ed Hughes are running for Seats 6 and 7, respectively. Both are running unopposed. Please join us for a relaxed and productive dialogue, sans political sparring. Bring your questions, comments, concerns and ideas. The candidates are as eager to listen as they are to speak.
As an introduction to the candidates —
Isthmus Take-Home Test, Week One: http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=21758

Isthmus Take-Home Test, Week Two: http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=21825
Marjorie Passman’s website: http://marjpassmanforschoolboard.com/

Ed Hughes’s website: http://www.edhughesforschoolboard.com/
All are welcome!

Take Home Test: Madison school board (unopposed) candidates take on charter schools

Marc Eisen @ Isthmus:

More and more Wisconsin school districts are experimenting with charter schools. Some 231 are in operation. Most have a specialty focus and are exempted from certain state regulations to facilitate new approaches to learning.
Appleton, for example, has 14 charter schools for its 15,000 students. These schools focus on Montessori learning, environmentalism, gifted education, the construction industry, arts immersion and alternative programs, among others.
Madison with its almost 25,000 students has held back, authorizing just two charters, the bilingual Nuestro Mundo on the east side, and the south side’s Wright Middle School, which despite its charter designation offers a program similar to Madison’s other middle schools.
The two Madison school board candidates — Marj Passman is the lone candidate for Seat 6, while Ed Hughes is running unopposed for Seat 7 — were relatively vague when we asked them about charter schools this week. Perhaps an inquiring voter will pin them down at an upcoming forum.

Madison United for Academic Excellence Meeting on Charter Schools

Please join us at the next Madison United for Academic Excellence meeting on Monday, October 29, at 7:00 p.m. in the Wright Middle School LMC, 1717 Fish Hatchery Road [Map]. Our guests will be Paula Sween and Dory Witzeling from the Odyssey-Magellan charter school for gifted students in grades 3-8 in Appleton and Senn Brown of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association. Ms. Sween was one of the founders of the Odyssey-Magellan program. She is currently the TAG Curriculum Coordinator for the Appleton school district. Ms. Witzeling is a teacher and parent at the school.
All are welcome!

A Little Help Can Go a Long Way for Schools

Anjuman Ali: Madison’s schools are doing a remarkable job of educating children despite challenges posed by changing demographics and shrinking budgets. But schools need our help to keep giving kids the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. I learned this by being principal for a day at Wright Middle School on the … Continue reading A Little Help Can Go a Long Way for Schools

Community invited to give input on grant opportunity

(It seems that the public information session on the work of the High School Redesign Committee — including how it relates to the SLC grant described below — has been turned into something else quite entirely.) On Thursday, June 7, 2007, Superintendent Art Rainwater will be leading a discussion to solicit the Board of Education’s … Continue reading Community invited to give input on grant opportunity

School District Abandons Both Rhyme and Reason in Language Programs

Douglas J. Buege: As budget cuts extract another ton of flesh from Madison’s public school students, classroom teachers reel from the aftershocks. Keeping a smooth, consistent curriculum takes a lot from an educator, yet as our well-trained teachers meet tough demands, we witness a loss of both rhyme and reason at both the school and … Continue reading School District Abandons Both Rhyme and Reason in Language Programs

Minority Student Achievement Network Conference on Saturday 4/22 at J.C. Wright

Via a an email from Johnny Winston, Jr. The Madison Metropolitan School District presents its 2nd Annual Minority Student Achievement Network Conference for students of color on Saturday April 22, 2006 at 8 am to 2 pm at James C. Wright Middle School located at 1717 Fish Hatchery Road. Students and families of middle school … Continue reading Minority Student Achievement Network Conference on Saturday 4/22 at J.C. Wright

Community Invited to Suggest Budget Reductions

Residents of the Madison Metropolitan School District will be given the opportunity in 11 January sessions to make suggestions and set priorities for budget reductions necessary for the 2006-07 school year. The budget reduction exercise uses a $100 budget that reflects the proportionate share for 47 major program areas of the actual MMSD budget. MMSD … Continue reading Community Invited to Suggest Budget Reductions

Weekly Email From Board President Carol Carstensen

Parent Group Presidents: BUDGET FACTOID: The Qualified Economic Offer (Q.E.O.) law provides that a district which offers its teachers a combined salary and benefit package of at least 3.8% can avoid going to binding arbitration. The practical impact is that a district must offer at least 3.8%. Over the 12 years of revenue caps, the … Continue reading Weekly Email From Board President Carol Carstensen

Carol Carstensen’s Email Message to Parent Groups

Carol Carstensen: Parent Group Presidents: N.B. The Board’s discussion regarding animals in the classroom has been postponed until January. BUDGET FACTOID: Why does the Madison district spend more than the state average per pupil? One part of the answer is that our student enrollment differs significantly from the state average in areas which require more … Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Email Message to Parent Groups

West / Memorial Forum Audio/Video Archive (11/15/2005 @ Leopold)

Watch this event (about 90 minutes) or Listen (mp3 audio) A public forum was held to update the community on plans to address overcrowding in the West-Memorial attendance area at Leopold Elementary School Tuesday evening. Troy reports 150 people attended (in the comments, take a look at the video clip for details), rather decent, given … Continue reading West / Memorial Forum Audio/Video Archive (11/15/2005 @ Leopold)

Struggling to stay on topic, the debate continues…

Lucy, Your anger at your experience with MMSD is palpable. I’d like, however, to stick to the main point of my original post which is whether UW should be lowering admission standards for students who participate in the PEOPLE program. Whatever you think of the validity of those requirements, it doesn’t change the fact that … Continue reading Struggling to stay on topic, the debate continues…

I’d like to ask more about rejecting $2 million for reading

Barb Schrank started a discussion below about questions people would like to ask the board and superintendent during the MMSD’s budget deliberations. Here post actually hasn’t generated much discussion, so I’m re-posting the questions that I’d like to ask: I’d like the Board and Superintendent to tell the community more about why the Superintendent choose … Continue reading I’d like to ask more about rejecting $2 million for reading

MMSD’s Kurt Keifer on the Administration’s Boundary Plans

Kurt Kiefer via email: I’m writing in response to your questions from last week re: boundary change options. Tim Potter, research analyst on my staff who is handling all of the GIS work on the project, provided the details. a) Leopold at 1040 students. I seem to recall the original plan was 800? (it’s now … Continue reading MMSD’s Kurt Keifer on the Administration’s Boundary Plans

Expert in multicultural and gifted education to visit Madison

A support group for parents of talented and gifted (TAG) students, the Madison TAG Parents Group, is pleased to announce that Donna Ford, Ph.D., will be visiting Madison on February 8 and 9 to discuss the issues surrounding the identification and retention of gifted and talented low income and minority students. Dropout data from the … Continue reading Expert in multicultural and gifted education to visit Madison