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Compare Omaha K-12 Governance & Spending With Madison: Expand Least Diverse Schools Or?



Mareesia Nicosia:

They’ve waited every morning since, Gunter told The 74 in a recent interview, until the doors open and staff welcomes them warmly inside, trading handshakes and high-fives as music courses through the halls.

Not long ago, though, there was little enthusiasm from students, their families — and staff, for that matter. The pre-K–5 school is located in North Omaha’s Highlander neighborhood, for decades one of the poorest, most segregated and most violent areas in the city of 440,000.

Roughly 97 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch; about 22 percent are English-language learners, and 29 percent are refugees, higher than the district average in each case, according to 2015–16 data. While students have made gains on state test scores in recent years, the school had long been one of the worst-performing in Omaha, which serves about 52,000 students, and one of the lowest-ranked in Nebraska.

Madison voters recently approved additional tax and spending to expand our least divers schools: Hamilton middle and Van Hise elementary.




Minding the nurture gap, Madison plans to expand least diverse schools



Economist:

THE most important divide in America today is class, not race, and the place where it matters most is in the home. Conservatives have been banging on about family breakdown for decades. Now one of the nation’s most prominent liberal scholars has joined the chorus.

Robert Putnam is a former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of “Bowling Alone” (2000), an influential work that lamented the decline of social capital in America. In his new book, “Our Kids”, he describes the growing gulf between how the rich and the poor raise their children. Anyone who has read “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray will be familiar with the trend, but Mr Putnam adds striking detail and some excellent graphs (pictured). This is a thoughtful and persuasive book.

Among the educated elite the traditional family is thriving: fewer than 10% of births to female college graduates are outside marriage—a figure that is barely higher than it was in 1970. In 2007 among women with just a high-school education, by contrast, 65% of births were non-marital. Race makes a difference: only 2% of births to white college graduates are out-of-wedlock, compared with 80% among African-Americans with no more than a high-school education, but neither of these figures has changed much since the 1970s. However, the non-marital birth proportion among high-school-educated whites has quadrupled, to 50%, and the same figure for college-educated blacks has fallen by a third, to 25%. Thus the class divide is growing even as the racial gap is shrinking.

Meanwhile, the Madison School Board & District administration plan to expand Van Hise and Hamilton schools via the April, 2015 referendum.

Hamilton and Van Hise are among Madison’s least diverse schools…..




K-12 $pending Inequality (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)



Darrel Burnette II:

Several Massachusetts superintendents are spending more money on schools that enroll mostly wealthy students than they are on schools that educate mostly poor students, even though the state designed its funding formula to do the exact opposite. And some schools are outperforming other schools even though they’re receiving significantly less money.

That’s according to a new report by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, which analyzed school-spending data now provided by the state’s department of education under a new ESSA provision.

The data dump comes amid a tense debate at the state capital over how to overhaul the state’s funding formula. Three bills under consideration in the state legislature could provide significantly more money to districts. But the distribution methods and amounts vary widely. All are tangled up in a politically contentious process that’s spurred protests and a lawsuit.

MBAE found that under the current system, districts such as Brockton, Chelmsford and New Bedford, distribute their money between schools in an inconsistent way that often is not targeted toward the state’s neediest students.

“Money isn’t always getting to the students who need it the most,” Edward Lambert Jr., the group’s executive director said in a press release.

Madison recently expanded Hamilton Middle and Van Hise elementary school, our two least diverse organizations.




School District Reform Prompts Parent Protests in Beijing (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)



Ding Jie, Li Rongde, Su Xin and Zhou Simin:

A group of 30 parents staged a protest at the education department of Beijing’s Dongcheng district earlier in May to voice their opposition to a sweeping change to the “school district” policy now being tested by the local government.

Under the change, a school district, usually comprised of several neighborhoods, is no longer tied to one specific school. Instead, students in one school district can choose from a list of schools close to their homes depending on the availability of spaces at each of the schools.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools: Hamilton Middle and Van Hise Elementary.




On expanding Madison’s Least Diverse schools



It’s interesting to consider recent Madison School Board/Administration decisions in light of David Brooks’ 7/11/2017 column:

Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.

How they’ve managed to do the first task — giving their own children a leg up — is pretty obvious. It’s the pediacracy, stupid. Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids.

Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.

Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents. Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.

As life has gotten worse for the rest in the middle class, upper-middle-class parents have become fanatical about making sure their children never sink back to those levels, and of course there’s nothing wrong in devoting yourself to your own progeny.

Let’s begin with the rejection of the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school (which would have operated independently of the current model) and continue to a recent referendum that expanded Madison’s least diverse schools.

Madison has continued to substantially increase tax and spending practices, now approaching $20,000 per student, annually. This is far more than most school districts and continues despite disastrous reading results.

See also Van Hise’s special sauce.

IVY LEAGUE SUMMARY: TAX BREAK SUBSIDIES AND GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS:

KEY FINDINGS:
1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

2. The Ivy League was the recipient of $25.73 billion worth of federal payments during this period: contracts ($1.37 billion), grants ($23.9 billion) and direct payments – student assistance ($460 million).




On School Segregation And Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse School



Kate Taylor:

A look at the history of District 3, which stretches along the West Side of Manhattan from 59th to 122nd Street, shows how administrators’ decisions, combined with the choices of parents and the forces of gentrification, have shaped the current state of its schools, which, in one of the most politically liberal parts of a liberal city, remain sharply divided by race and income, and just as sharply divergent in their levels of academic achievement.

In 1984, two years before Ms. Shneyer started kindergarten, less than 8 percent of the district’s 12,321 elementary and middle school students were white. Not a single school was majority white, and the only school where white students made up the biggest group was P.S. 87 on West 78th Street. At the time, many white parents would not even consider their zoned schools. James Mazza, who served as deputy superintendent, and then superintendent of the district, from 1988 to 1997, recalled in an interview that parents would sometimes come into his office carrying a newspaper with the test scores of every school in the district and explain that they didn’t want to go to their zoned school because of its place on the list. Though scores are often used as a shorthand for quality, they correlate closely with the socioeconomic level of the children in a school.

Ms. Ortiz didn’t think having more white or upper-middle-class parents in the school would necessarily improve it, since she thought that they would mostly push for programs that benefited their own children. She said it seemed that Ms. Castellano-Folk already gave parents in the gifted program preferential treatment.

Others expressed positive feelings about the school.

Curiously, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools (Van Hise/Hamilton)…..




Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse Schools: Exclusionary Zoning Robs Our Cities of Their Best Qualities



Sightline Institute:

What drew far less attention—and what is ultimately far more important—is the rest of HALA’s assertion. Those other 43 words point directly at local restrictions on housing construction in Seattle, prominently including its vast allocation of land to single-family lots as “among the largest obstacles to equity and affordability.”

Across North America, such statements are vanishingly rare in the official pronouncements of policymakers. Zoning, especially single-family zoning, is presumed sacrosanct. What may be surprising to those not steeped in land-use and urban economics, however, is that HALA’s words are not strong at all in light of the growing body of evidence that restrictive zoning undermines equity and social justice.

Much more, here.




Food drive at the recently expanded Madison Van Hise Elementary School



Scott Girard:

In addition to accepting donations at the school through the drive, McGuire said the kindergarten classes went around the Van Hise neighborhood and collected donations from homes on Wednesday. They first put up posters on Dec. 1 alerting residents to their planned collection event, filling up 10 wagons between the three classes.

“We’re just so proud of them,” McGuire said. “And we’re just so proud of our community, too, for being so supportive.”

Madison taxpayers recently funded the expansion of our least diverse schools, including Van Hise and nearby Hamilton middle schools. This, despite space in nearby facilities.




Expanding some Madison High Schools…



Scott Girard:

The plans caused equity concerns among some, especially given that both schools are on the west side of Madison and have lower rates of students of color and students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. La Follette and Capital high schools later added their own, smaller, capital fundraising campaigns.

Taxpayers funded the expansion of Madison’s least diverse schools a few years ago; Hamilton and Van Hise. This, despite space in nearby schools.




Expanding certain Taxpayer funded Madison schools



Logan Wroge:

As the Madison School District prepares for an overhaul of its high schools, some parents are questioning how fair it is — and whether it’s a violation of district policy — to let the two more-affluent high schools raise potentially tens of millions in donations to bolster referendum-funded renovations.

Parents, alumni, staff and students at Memorial and West high schools have formed capital campaign committees to raise money for extra projects not included in renovation plans being funded by the $317 million facilities referendum voters approved last fall.

But at a board meeting last week, La Follette parents of former, current and future students urged the board to consider what approving donor-funded projects at Memorial and West will mean for the more economically disadvantaged La Follette and East high schools.

Madison recently expanded Hamilton Middle and Van Hise elementary school, our two least diverse organizations.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.




Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance



Negassi Tesfamichael:

MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement.

“Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said.

Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early Learning Center, is one of the state’s first 4K and kindergarten charter options authorized by the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Educational Opportunity.

Caire said in his MTI questionnaire that he supports public charter schools “but only those that have produced higher levels of student outcomes and attainment, or that (are) designed to meet a particular need that traditional public schools either struggle with or do not offer.”

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

Children who are not proficient readers by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Additionally, two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare.

Though these dismal trajectories are well known, Madison School District’s reading scores for minority students remain unconscionably low and flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

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

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison

Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place

Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison

Seat 4

David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison

Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison

Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison

Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison

Seat 5

TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

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

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

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

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

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

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

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

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

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

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

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

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.




Civics: Starbucks Hired Eric Holder To Conduct a ‘Civil Rights Audit.’ The Policies He Blessed Got the Coffee Maker Sued.



Aaron Sibarium:

It was 2018, two years before the tidal wave of diversity initiatives unleashed by George Floyd’s death, and Starbucks needed a public relations win. The coffee giant was under fire after an employee at one of its stores mistakenly called the police on two black men, prompting the company to announce a “multiphase effort” to become “more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.”

Part of that effort was a series of “civil rights assessments” conducted by Covington & Burling, one of the top white shoe law firms in Washington, D.C., under the leadership of former attorney general Eric Holder, a senior counsel at the firm.

Holder—who has charged as much as $2,295 an hour for such work—issued a final report in 2021 that outlined the steps Starbucks had taken to promote “equity.” They included tying executive pay to diversity targets, setting spending goals for “diverse suppliers,” and launching a mentorship program for “BIPOC” employees, which Holder pressed the company to expand. Each initiative, he wrote, demonstrated the coffee maker’s “commitment to civil rights and equal treatment.”

But one year later, Starbucks was fending off a civil rights lawsuit over precisely the programs Holder had blessed. The lawsuit, which is still ongoing and was filed last August by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative nonprofit that is also a Starbucks shareholder, argued that the programs violate non-discrimination laws as well as the company’s fiduciary duties. Such claims may have come as a surprise to Starbucks executives: At no point did Holder’s report address the legality of the policies at issue.

When a law firm’s “civil rights” advice gets its client sued for race discrimination, one might expect the firm to dispense less of that advice, or at least to warn other clients about the risk of taking it. But Covington, which represents some of the largest companies in the world, did neither.




Why we must shed old fears of changing school boundaries to help poor and minority kids



Jay Matthews:

Educators and community leaders who wanted to help low-income students no longer tried to move them into better schools. Instead, they focused on improving schools in impoverished neighborhoods. Their work has been at the center of my reporting. They have had successes, but news of their progress has spread slowly.

Ignoring the segregated state of our education systemhas led some people to assume it is a natural situation — that perhaps there’s nothing wrong with students attending schools full of other students who look like themselves.

The lines that divide: School district boundaries often stymie integration

Nothing challenges such thinking more effectively than a new study by Tomás Monarrez and Carina Chien of the Urban Institute, titled “Dividing Lines: Racially Unequal School Boundaries in US Public School Systems.”

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Most of us probably don’t know — like I didn’t, before reading the think tank’s report — that if you study the history of school boundaries that divide neighborhoods by income and ethnicity, many reflect the redlining maps issued by a federal agency, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), in the 1930s and 1940s. Scholars disagree over whether President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who founded the agency as a New Deal initiative, can be blamed for making neighborhoods look bad on those maps, but there is little doubt that labeling some areas as “hazardous” for mortgage loans hurt the local schools.

Monarrez and Chien say they found more than 2,000 pairs of neighboring public schools that “are vastly different in terms of the racial and ethnic composition of the population living on either side of the boundary.”

Full report.

Madison has not addressed boundaries for decades. Yet, we recently expanded our least diverse schools, despite space in nearby facilities.




In a citywide overhaul, a beloved Black high school was rezoned to include white students from a richer neighborhood.



Minneapolis, among the most segregated school districts in the country, with one of the widest racial academic gaps, is in the midst of a sweeping plan to overhaul and integrate its schools. And unlike previous desegregation efforts, which typically required children of color to travel to white schools, Minneapolis officials are asking white families to help do the integrating — a newer approach being embraced by a small group of urban districts across the country.

The changes included redrawing school zones, including for North. “This plan is saying, everyone is going to be equally inconvenienced because we need to collectively address the underachievement of our students of color,” Mr. Moore added.

Research shows that de facto school segregation is one major reason that America’s education system is so unequal, and that racially and socioeconomically diverse schools can benefit all students.

But decades after Brown v. Board of Education, the dream of integration has remained just that — a dream.

Today, two in five Black and Latino students in the United States attend schools where more than 90 percent of students are children of color, while one in five white students goes to a school where more than 90 percent of students look like them, according to the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.

Locally, Madison taxpayers recently expanded our least diverse schools (despite space in nearby facilities). Boundaries have not been adjusted in decades.

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

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Boston Zip code quota plan litigation



William Jacobson:

On Friday, July 9, 2021, at 3 p.m., U.S. District Court Judge William Young is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether the Boston School Committee improperly concealed anti-white and anti-asian text messages and thereby deceived Judge Young into finding that the “Zip Code Quota Plan” had no racist intent.

We  covered the background to the dispute in a recent post, Leaked School Committee Texts Showing Anti-White Bias May Reopen Boston “Zip Code Quota Plan” Case.

You can read the Memorandum In Support of Motion for Relief From Judgment for the allegations of misconduct (emphasis added):

New evidence, in the form of highly relevant text messages between two members of the Boston School Committee, has recently come to light. These text messages have long been in the possession of the City of Boston, and should be been provided to the Boston Parents in response to its public records request and should have been made a part of the agreed-upon record in this case when the Court originally considered it. But the City, instead, concealed the messages, thereby depriving the Boston Parents and the Court of the opportunity to consider them. The reason for the City’s actions can and must be inferred from the content of the concealed evidence: the text messages show clear racial motivation and anti-White racism on the part of two School Committee members who were leading proponents of the Zip Code Quota Plan. In fact, the content of this previously suppressed evidence is so damning that both members have now been forced to resign.

hese facts are unique. They warrant the relief sought, and they elevate the Boston Parents’ request beyond that of other Rule 60 motions. As this memorandum explains, the Boston Parents timely exercised their rights under state law to obtain copies of these and other text messages exchanged between members of the School Committee during the meeting where the Zip Code Quota Plan was adopted. But when the School Committee responded to that request, it deliberately concealed clearly racist statements, first, by deleting racist portions of text messages from what it claimed was a “transcript” of text messages, and, second, by misrepresenting that it had produced complete records when it knew that it had not. This prejudice was further compounded when neither the City of Boston nor the individual Defendants came clean when it came time to provide this Court with an agreed-upon record. It was only after the Boston Globe published leaked copies of the offensive texts that the City of Boston finally produced them to the Boston Parents, long after this Court issued its decision in this case. That is what prompts this Motion.

When the School Committee lawyers asked for more time to respond, Judge Young denied the request (bold in original):

Curiously Madison has not addressed school boundaries in decades, choosing instead to use taxpayer funds to expand our least diverse schools.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.




Most US major metropolitan areas have become more racially segregated, study shows



Nicquel Terry Ellis:

The study found that 81% of regions with more than 200,000 residents were more segregated in 2019 than they were in 1990, despite fair housing laws and policies created to promote integration. Some of the most segregated areas included Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit in the Midwest and New York, northern New Jersey and Philadelphia in the mid-Atlantic. 

Conversely, large metropolitan regions that saw the biggest decrease in segregation included Savannah, Georgia, San Antonio and Miami.

Related: Shorewood Hills accused of racial bias in rejection of low-income apartments

Madison recently expanded our least diverse schools, despite nearby space.




“inequality between ethnic groups is strongly driven by politics, where powerful groups and elites channel the state’s resources toward their constituencies.”



Nils-Christian Bormann, Yannick I. Pengl, Lars-Erik Cederman and Nils B. Weidmann:

Recent research has shown that inequality between ethnic groups is strongly driven by politics, where powerful groups and elites channel the state’s resources toward their constituencies. Most of the existing literature assumes that these politically induced inequalities are static and rarely change over time. We challenge this claim and argue that economic globalization and domestic institutions interact in shaping inequality between groups. In weakly institutionalized states, gains from trade primarily accrue to political insiders and their co-ethnics. By contrast, politically excluded groups gain ground where a capable and meritocratic state apparatus governs trade liberalization. Using nighttime luminosity data from 1992 to 2012 and a global sample of ethnic groups, we show that the gap between politically marginalized groups and their included counterparts has narrowed over time while economic globalization progressed at a steady pace. Our quantitative analysis and four qualitative case narratives show, however, that increasing trade openness is associated with economic gains accruing to excluded groups in only institutionally strong states, as predicted by our theoretical argument. In contrast, the economic gap between ethnopolitical insiders and outsiders remains constant or even widens in weakly institutionalized countries.

Madison recently expanded our least diverse schools, despite nearby space.




How ‘Nice White Parents’ illustrates a powerful way of covering school inequality



Alexander Russo:

Over the few days, the political right has been in an uproar over Nice White Parents, the Chana Joffe-Walt-reported and -hosted podcast that premiers today, via Serial and the New York Times.

“Disintegrationists are now claiming that if you are a good parent who wants to educate your child in the best possible way, you are inherently racist because you are exacerbating racial inequality,” tweeted Ben Shapiro. “This holds only if you are white.”

The response is perhaps understandable, given the show’s inflammatory name given to the series and and promotional copy blaring that “if you want to understand what’s wrong with our public education system, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents.”

However, it’s progressive parents who should feel targeted. They’re the ones being scrutinized here. To understand why American schools are so broken and uneven, as Joffe-Walt reports it, we have to look closely at the beneficiaries of the system, those who make and shape the rules, whose preferences influence policy and worry politicians — and those who have the option to move or pay for private school if they are not pleased.

In big cities like New York City, the “nice white parents” are likely to be liberal.

Taxpayers have funded Madison’s K-12 school district well above most other public schools. Yet, we recently expanded our least diverse schools – despite space in nearby facilities.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




Milwaukee School board to begin discussions on desegregating schools in southeastern Wisconsin



Annysa Johnson:

As issues of race, racism and structural inequities dominate the national consciousness, Milwaukee Public Schools board members are laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a new push to address the hyper segregation in southeastern Wisconsin.

The board unanimously passed a resolution last week calling on activists, elected officials and others to develop a regional plan to desegregate schools and reduce inequities among schools in the region.

While the plan would initially focus on schools, board members said it must also address the myriad factors that have created and maintained what is a white ring around a predominantly black and brown city — from housing and transportation to job creation and economic development.
MPS School Board member Bob Peterson.

“The purpose of this resolution is to really raise the ante, to publicly push school districts, municipalities, county boards to address how they’re going to help end Jim Crow in metro Milwaukee — the systematic, institutional racism that has been part of this region’s history since the first white people came and took the land from Native Americans,” said board member Bob Peterson, who proposed the resolution with board member Sequanna Taylor.

Madison has not addressed school boundaries for many years. The School Board approved the expansion of our least diverse schools, despite nearby available space.




Commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum



Scott Girard:

In the midst of economic collapse, the Madison School Board is likely to decide in June or July whether to ask taxpayers for additional funds through November referenda.

But most board members stated their support for putting both questions on the ballot during a discussion Monday night. Each of the seven board members spoke of their continued support for the questions, though some asked to see more of the economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic before voting.

“We definitely need it,” board president Gloria Reyes said. “It’s just, given the economic instability and what this does to our taxpayers … I think we have to also be responsible and figuring out, is this the best route for our taxpayers right now given people losing jobs?”

Board member Savion Castro said the pandemic, “which is already exacerbating so many disparities across the board,” has shown “now is not the time to cut back our investment into public education for our students and our teachers.”

“Going into March there was a sense that this was really needed,” Castro said. “After COVID, it’s just underscored even more how badly our public schools need this investment from our community and I think we have a responsibility to be honest about that need.”

Before the pandemic, the board was planning to approve the questions for the November ballot with a March vote. Two weeks before that meeting, schools closed across the state of Wisconsin by order of the governor and public health officials.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

Meanwhile, the City of Madison is planning furloughs…




Madison School Board Continues Fall 2020 referendum tax and spending increase plans



Logan Wroge:

Board members acknowledged the tough financial reality facing residents, but several members said the need to renovate aging school buildings and shore up the operating budget remains the same.

“These are not things I think we should be putting off,” board member Ali Muldrow said during an online Operations Work Group meeting. “We are talking about the integrity of our district.”

In these challenging times, our local businesses need your support. Find out how to get food, goods, services and more from those remaining open.

Board President Gloria Reyes, though, said while she supports the referendums, the board needs to be “cautious,” given how many people have lost their jobs or are on unsure financial ground.

The School Board sought in March to finalize the referendum questions, but the vote was scrapped as the public health situation worsened.

The majority of the $317 million facilities referendum — $280 million — would go toward renovating, repairing and adding onto the district’s four main high schools, each getting $70 million.

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

David Blaska:

Cieslewicz gets the resentment felt by the Safer at Home protesters. 

  • Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is estimated to be 27% due to closures and social distancing orders aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.

  • National GDP dropped 4.8% in the first quarter, which only caught the first weeks of the national shutdown.

  • “One in three Wisconsin small businesses may never reopentheir doors,” Cieslewicz writes. Yet … yet … yet

Meet Two Small Business Owners Fighting to Open Wisconsin

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020




Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020



MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [May, 2020]

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020

Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)
6. Moody’s (https://www.moodys.com/)

Much more on the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s spending, here.

Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent search.

2013-2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




The fallen state of experts: How can governments learn from their expert failings?



Roger Koppl:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you’re not paying attention to the experts. Epidemiologists tell us that if we do not hide in our houses with the door securely locked, hundreds of thousands will surely perish. Economists tell us that if we do not return immediately to work, civilisation will collapse. Good luck figuring out which expert has the better advice. Is it any wonder a harried Michael Gove blurted out (1:02-1:15), “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts from organisations with acronyms saying they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.”

Expert fear-mongering did not begin with the pandemic or Project Fear. In 1922, John Maynard Keynes warned that “squalor follows” if we do not make the economist “king.” Daniel Defoe complained of the “calculators” and “quack-conjurers” whose fear-mongering “kept up their trade” in London’s plague year of 1665. He shrewdly observed, “And had the people not been kept in fright about that, the wizards would presently have been rendered useless, and their craft had been at an end.”

Defoe complained of quacks and wizards, whereas today’s epidemiologists and economists have rigorous scientific training, mathematical models, advanced statistics, and careful evidence all going for them. True. But today’s scientists are still people. And that means they respond to incentives just like everyone else. The issue is not lying and cheating. Sure, some modern experts are quack-conjurers who lie and cheat. Let’s not mistake a white lab coat for a golden halo. But that’s not the main thing. Even when the experts are trying to be sober, scientific, and scrupulously neutral, they will feel certain pressures.

Think if it were you. You’re an epidemiologist and the prime minister calls to ask you how many will die if we don’t have a lockdown. What do you tell him?  You can’t just look up the number. The pandemic is only now taking off and your knowledge of it is correspondingly sketchy. It’s hard to say. Every number is a guess. If you give the prime minister a low number, there will be no lockdown. What if he accepts your low number and we have no lockdown?  Maybe everything will be fine. But maybe there will be many more deaths than you predicted. You will get blamed. People will shame you as a bad scientist.  And, because you are a good and decent person, you will feel guilty. Blame, shame, and guilt. This is a bad outcome.

If you give him a high number, there will be lockdown. No one will ever be able to say that your estimate was too high, because your estimate assumed no lockdown. Even if a lot of people die during the lockdown you can say, “See? Think how much worse it would have been without the lockdown.” Thus, if you give the prime minister a high number, you will get credit for saving lives. You will be able to take pride in your sterling reputation as a scientist. And you won’t have to feel guilty about lost lives. Praise, pride, and innocence. This is a good outcome. The logic of the situation is clear. You have every incentive to predict doom and gloom if no lockdown is ordered.

It may be that the famous epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, who, until recently, was an important member of SAGE, has felt such pressures in his career. At one point in the pandemic he told a columnist for the New York Timesthat 1.1 million deaths was the “best case” for the US.  In 2001 he blasted as “unjustifiably optimistic” a study suggesting that mad cow disease deaths “may peak at 100 cases per year in Britain and kill no more than a few thousand people in coming decades.” Rejecting this relatively optimistic view, he said deaths are in the long-term likely to be much higher at something only slightly less than 136,000.  The true number as of June 2014 seems to have been 177.  In 2005, he was alarmed by bird flu (H5N1). “Around 40 million people died in 1918 Spanish flu outbreak,” he told the Guardian. “There are six times more people on the planet now so you could scale it up to around 200 million people probably.” That’s a lot more than the World Health Organisation’s estimate for cumulative worldwide deaths, 2003-2020 of, ahem, 455.

Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent search.

2013-2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Disastrous K-12 Civics



George Stanley:

You may have seen, in Alan Borsuk’s column Sunday, the latest testing results for eighth graders’ knowledge of American history and civics. Just 15% of students, about one in seven, are rated proficient in U.S. history and 24% in civics.

These numbers come in a year when we’ve seen the president impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate; a court-ordered presidential primary where people waited up to three hours to vote in Green Bay and Milwaukee; huge problems getting absentee ballots out to voters and back; the government closure of schools and most businesses around the world; shortages of masks, shields, ventilators and other key equipment to manage the coronavirus pandemic; record government aid packages due to historic job losses and health care needs.

>tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School Board May Retreat



Madison School Board:

Meeting Objectives

● Understand Applicable Legal Statutes that pertain to School Boards

● Develop a planned strategy to successfully transition to a new leadership paradigm with the MMSD

school board, superintendent, administration/staff, parents/guardians, and community creating a dynamic school community team.

Legal notice and zoom link.

Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent search.

2013-2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Resisting Open Records Requests at the taxpayer supported Madison School District



Scott Girard:

The Cap Times submitted an open records request the morning of Jan. 17, the deadline for residents to submit feedback through an online form, asking for “any and all public feedback on the Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent finalists, submitted online or via forms at the public forums, as of 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17.”

In late February, the district initially denied the request entirely, citing concerns about privacy and limiting people’s willingness to participate in future public input opportunities. The Cap Times said it was going to run a story about the denial and asked for comment, and the decision was reversed. The records took nearly two more months to deliver as staff redacted names and emails from the forms and then the pandemic delayed that work.

Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent search.

2013-2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Failing Our Students in a Crisis



John McGinnis:

The technology for teaching remotely had been nearly perfected by the time the coronavirus hit us. Zoom, an online networking service, has allowed me to call on a student in my administrative law class just as I could when I was in a physical classroom. While answering the question, the student then goes to the center of the screen, commanding everyone’s attention. Indeed, students can now be more easily understood by their classmates than if they were in a distant part of a physical classroom. When I lecture, the focus returns to me. And all this can be accomplished with complete social distancing.

But the crisis has also shown why such technological progress does not maximize learning if our educational institutions are mired in an ideology that prevents full use of these tools to adapt to a crisis. Many professional schools, like mine, as well as colleges and K-12 schools, have made decisions that frustrate the continuation of deep learning. They have done so from self-defeating egalitarian ideals and a sentimentality that encourages learned helplessness in our students.

Let’s begin with the institutions I know best. Law schools have almost uniformly decided to utilize a “pass-fail” grading system even though most of them only had a few weeks left in the semester. Pass-fail has many costs. It reduces the incentives to master the material. It impedes signaling the quality of students to employers. While some professors would like to go pass-fail all the time, the advantages of grading are so obvious that all law schools grade (although some of the super-elite schools, like Yale and Harvard, have such wide bands as to limit the meaning of their assessments). But beyond the utilitarian arguments for grading, justice militates against discontinuing the practice mid-semester. Students who have worked long and hard lose the expected reward for their labors.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




A Reprieve for Madison Property Taxpayers (taxes up substantially)



Abigail Becker:

The state’s COVID-19 Relief Bill, which Gov. Tony Evers signed into law April 15, included provisions to help counties and municipalities defer property tax payments. This allows Dane County to adopt a resolution enabling municipalities to waive interest and penalties on 2020 property tax payments due after April 1 until Oct. 1. 

“Many in Dane County are currently experiencing financial hardships, and we want to do as much as we can to help our residents and families make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a statement Monday. “By giving local governments the opportunity to delay property tax due dates, we hope to help residents feel relief and get more time and flexibility to meet this expense.”

Parisi, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and other local elected officials announced the news at a Monday press conference held on the steps of the City-County Building. All attendees were encouraged to stand six feet apart. The press conference was recorded and can be viewed online

In 2019, $3.7 million of unpaid property tax bills was turned over to the county July 31. Of that, $1.5 million was due to the city and the remaining $2.2 million was due to the other taxing jurisdictions like schools districts and Madison College. 

The remaining property taxes due between now and July 31 total over $100 million, according to the resolution before the City Council. 

Wisconsin counties and municipalities rely heavily on property taxes as a source of income. In 2018, counties generated $2.2 billion from property tax revenue, according to the Wisconsin Policy Forum. 

December, 2019: Madison increases property taxes by 7.2%, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results. Notes and links on our property tax increases, here.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




NOW will Madison take teen car thieves seriously?



David Blaska:

All hail Chris Rickert and the Wisconsin State Journal for a bang-up job exposing the revolving-door criminal-justice system here in Dane County WI.

Trouble down a one-way street” deserves to be read, saved, and discussed as the basis for action before someone gets killed. Oh, wait, someone HAS been killed. (“Car thief jailed in deaths of two in Madison.”)

Madison’s daily newspaper reports juvenile car thefts have increased threefold-plus in three years, from 53 in 2016 to 185 last year. Car thefts this year are on pace to blow well past that, projecting to 227!

The State Journal’s poster child is one Treveon D. Thurman. Now age 18, Thurman’s record of home invasions and 11 car thefts is impressive. We count 29 criminal charges listed on the State circuit court access site! All since last June! The only reason we know about them is because they’re now in adult court. Juvenile records are confidential, a big secret. Which is part of the problem. We learned of:

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




K-12 Tax, Spending & Referendum Climate: Freeze property taxes Local governments must consider cuts and furloughs too



Dave Cieslewicz:

There have been no cuts, furloughs or reduced hours for municipal workers in the City-County Building or anywhere else in city government yet.

It’s time for local governments in Dane County to make some cuts in response to the economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus epidemic. And, unfortunately, to be meaningful they’ll also have to be somewhat painful. 

Thousands of small business owners and their workers have been without income or suffering drastic reductions in their pay for the last month or more. One in three Wisconsin small businesses may never reopen their doors. Big businesses are hurting too. Madison’s Exact Sciences recently announced $400 million in pay and benefit cuts, including voluntary and involuntary furloughs and reductions to executive pay and director compensation. 

You might think that in the midst of a pandemic the last people to get hit with pay cuts would be health care workers. You would be wrong. UW Health and UnityPoint, which owns Meriter Hospital, recently announced 15% pay cuts for doctors and 20% cuts for senior administrators plus unpaid furloughs for other workers. SSM Health, which owns St. Mary’s and Dean Health clinics and facilities in three other states, just announced that it would furlough about 5% of its workers. 

Other state and local governments are acting as well. The city of Los Angeles is planning to impose 26 unpaid days of leave on its workers while Detroit has laid off 200 and furloughed others. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and a short list candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate, has furloughed 6% of the state’s workforce. 

And just Wednesday, as this blog was being finalized, Gov. Tony Evers’ administration announced a 5% cut in state spending, though no specifics are available yet. 

Yet, despite all that, the city of Madison, Dane County and the Madison Metropolitan School District have not cut, furloughed or reduced hours for their employees. It’s just not plausible that cuts aren’t possible and not acting will create a growing credibility problem for these institutions. It’s time for local leaders to make some really hard choices.

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

David Blaska:

Cieslewicz gets the resentment felt by the Safer at Home protesters. 

  • Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is estimated to be 27% due to closures and social distancing orders aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.

  • National GDP dropped 4.8% in the first quarter, which only caught the first weeks of the national shutdown.

  • “One in three Wisconsin small businesses may never reopentheir doors,” Cieslewicz writes. Yet … yet … yet

Meet Two Small Business Owners Fighting to Open Wisconsin

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School District sticking to ‘pass/no pass’ for high schoolers during COVID-19 closure despite some calls for letter grade option



Scott Girard:

A survey with more than 550 signatures is calling for the Madison Metropolitan School District to offer the option of letter grades to high school students during virtual learning, but district officials are maintaining their plan for a “pass/no pass” system.

The district announced it would use the “pass/no pass” grading system earlier in April to do the least harm to students’ grades, given the unprecedented shift to virtual learning for students and staff and inequitable access to the internet.

While that aligned with a petition started by some high school staff members and signed by more than 100 people, some students are disappointed they no longer have the opportunity to raise their grade point average. West High School senior Cris Cruz said he’s been trying to get his GPA up to a 3.8 since his freshman year.

“For a lot of students including me, the transition between middle school and high school is sometimes rough,” Cris said. “Students spend the rest of their high school careers trying to improve their GPA because it isn’t until later on that we understand how important GPA is.”

The district’s policy freezes students’ GPAs as they were at the end of first semester. Staff reiterated Wednesday during a virtual press conference that allowing some to opt into letter grades would “continue to create more inequity,” said Cindy Green, MMSD’s director of secondary programs and Pathways.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




In lieu of celebration, Greater Madison Writing Project shifts online for 10th anniversary



Scott Girard:

The Greater Madison Writing Project was set to celebrate its 10-year anniversary on March 21.

Ten days before that, the University of Wisconsin-Madison closed most of its facilities and social distancing practices went into effect amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, forcing GMWP to cancel its celebration and shift its work with teachers and students online.

“It’s not the 10-year anniversary that we expected, but it’s one that makes me really confident that whatever comes next, we have strong roots and strong branches,” said Bryn Orum, an outreach specialist for GMWP.

The program, housed on UW-Madison’s campus, is part of the National Writing Project and offers writing workshops to teachers and students around the Madison area. While it initially became a site in the 1980s, it closed up shop in the mid-1990s.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Notes and Commentary on Madison’s Planned 2020-2021 K-12 Budget



Kelly Meyerhofer:

The $476.1 million proposed spending package would increase property taxes by $46 for the owner of an average-value home in the district, now estimated at $311,500.

Faced with an $8 million shortfall at the beginning of crafting the 2020-21 budget, district officials propose cutting nearly 50 staff positions and doubling the share employees pay for health care premiums.

The total budget, which includes payments on debt service, capital maintenance and community programs, would slightly decrease from current-year spending, but the property tax levy would rise 2.9% to $339.5 million. The district’s portion of property taxes on an average-value home is estimated at $3,386 next year, or a 1.4% increase, in the preliminary budget.

Operating expenses — which include costs such as teachers’ salaries and classroom instruction — make up $432 million of the budget. The operating budget would decrease 0.22% from current spending levels.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Harvard vs. the Family: A scheduled academic conference confirms the suspicions of homeschooling parents.



Max Eden:

This June, pandemic conditions permitting, Harvard University will host a conference—not open to the public—to discuss the purported dangers of homeschooling and strategies for legal reform. The co-organizer, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, believes that homeschooling should be banned, as it is “a realm of near-absolute parental power. . . . inconsistent with a proper understanding of the human rights of children.” The conference has caused a stir on social media, owing to a profile of Bartholet in Harvard magazine, accompanied by a cartoon of a forlorn-looking girl behind the barred windows of a house made out of books titled, “Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Bible.”

Harvard claims, based on a Bartholet law review article, that as many as 90 percent of homeschoolers are “driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture.” But Bartholet’s research falls short of supporting this observation. In fact, we know strikingly little about homeschooling families. A 2013 review of the academic literature noted that, while academics assume that conservative Christians make up the largest subset of homeschoolers, “whether this percentage is two-thirds, one-half, or less is a matter of speculation.”

To support her claim that as many as 90 percent of homeschoolers are motivated by conservative Christian beliefs, Bartholet cites two primary sources. One is a survey by Cardus Education Group, which, she notes, “reveals 70 percent [of homeschoolers] in the religious category vs. the nonreligious category.” But that survey categorizes students as “religious homeschoolers” if their mother attends church once a month. Bartholet’s other source is a survey by the Department of Education, which asked parents about their motivation for homeschooling. Only 16 percent said religious considerations were of primary importance (compared with 34 percent who cited safety and 35 percent who listed academic or special-needs considerations). Fifty-one percent said that religion was important, while 80 percent said that safety was important. It’s reasonable to conclude from these data that most homeschool parents are religious—but empirically false to claim that as many as 90 percent are conservative Christians who wish to shield their children from mass culture.

Some, to be sure, fit this description. But before making judgments about them, academics might first try to understand them. Stanford University professor Mitchell Stevens, for example, published an inquiry into the culture of homeschooling that the New York Review of Books commended for taking readers beyond media-driven stereotypes. Bartholet does not cite Mitchell’s book. She does, however, manage to fit into a single footnote references to Gawker, Bitch Media, and an anonymous blog with a defunct URL. Her law review article contains several anecdotes about homeschooling families who teach female subservience or white supremacy, but she makes no effort to quantify this phenomenon, or to demonstrate her contention that “homeschooling to promote racist ideologies and avoid racial intermingling” is a common motivation, beyond the case of a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who homeschooled his son for that reason.

It would be useful to know how homeschooled students perform academically compared with their public school counterparts. A 2017 literature review, focusing only on peer-reviewed articles, found that the majority of studies showed positive academic, social and emotional, and long-term life outcomes. Bartholet dismisses much of this literature, noting that it tends to focus on a not necessarily representative sample of homeschoolers who “emerge from isolation to do things like take standardized tests.”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results:

Under your leadership, the Wisconsin d.p.i. granted Mulligan’s to thousands of elementary teachers who couldn’t pass a reading exam (that’s the “Foundations of Reading” elementary teacher reading content knowledge exam), yet our students lag Alabama, a state that spends less and has fewer teachers per students.

What message are we sending to parents, citizens, taxpayers and those students (who lack proficiency).

It is rather remarkable that Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results have remained litigation free.




Detroit Literacy Lawsuit



UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALSFOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT, via a kind reader:

“The recognition of a fundamental right is no small matter. This is particularly true when the right in question is something that the state must affirmatively provide. But just as this Court should not supplant the state’s policy judgments with its own, neither can we shrink from our obligation to recognize a right when it is foundational to our system of self-governance.

Access to literacy is such a right. Its ubiquitous presence and evolution through our history has led the American people universally to expect it. And education—at least in the minimum form discussed here—is essential to nearly every interaction between a citizen and her government. Education has long been viewed as a great equalizer, giving all children a chance to meet or outperform society’s expectations, even when faced with substantial disparities in wealth and with past and ongoing racial inequality.

Where, as Plaintiffs allege here, a group of children is relegated to a school system that does not provide even a plausible chance to attain literacy, we hold that the Constitution provides them with a remedy. Accordingly, while the current versions of Plaintiffs’ equal protection and compulsory attendance claims were appropriately dismissed, the district court erred in denying their central claim: that Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to a basic minimum education, meaning one that can provide them with a foundational level of literacy.”

Michigan Advance:

“We respect everything the Governor has, and is, trying to do for traditional public education throughout the state and in Detroit. However, it is time for her to stop listening to her attorneys and rely on her instincts. She knows the state was wrong,” Vitti said. 

Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said the office is reviewing the court’s decision.

“Although certain members of the State Board of Education challenged the lower court decision that students did not have a right to read, the Governor did not challenge that ruling on the merits,” Brown said in an email. “We’ve also regularly reinforced that the governor has a strong record on education and has always believed we have a responsibility to teach every child to read.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel has supported the students and filed an amicus brief stating that she believes basic education should be a fundamental right. However, the brief was rejected by the court, which noted attorneys from her office are representing the state. 

Nessel praised the court’s decision Thursday.  

“I am overjoyed with the Court’s decision recognizing that the Constitution guarantees a right to a basic minimum education,” Nessel said. “This recognition is the only way to guarantee that students who are required to attend school will actually have a teacher, adequate educational materials, and a physical environment that does not subject them to filth, unsafe drinking water and physical danger. Education is a gateway to exercising other fundamental rights such as free speech and the right to citizenship, it is essential in order to function in today’s complex society, and it is a necessary vehicle to empower individuals to rise above circumstances that have been foisted on them through no fault of their own.”

Detroit Mayor Duggan also praised the ruling, calling it a “major step forward.”

Literacy is something every child should have a fair chance to attain. We hope instead of filing another appeal, the parties sit down and focus on how to make literacy available to every child in Michigan,” Duggan said. 

Helen Moore, a Detroit resident who has been vocal in her support for the plaintiffs, told the Advance Thursday, “It’s been a long time coming and finally, we may see justice for our Black and Brown children. The court was right.”

Appeals court finds Constitutional right to literacy for schoolchildren in Detroit case:

The ruling comes in a 2016 lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of students from some of Detroit’s lowest-performing public schools. The crux of their complaint was that without basic literacy, they cannot access other Constitutionally guaranteed rights such as voting, serving in the military and on juries.

“It’s a thrilling and just result,” said Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer who represents the students. “It’s an historic day for Detroit.”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results:

Under your leadership, the Wisconsin d.p.i. granted Mulligan’s to thousands of elementary teachers who couldn’t pass a reading exam (that’s the “Foundations of Reading” elementary teacher reading content knowledge exam), yet our students lag Alabama, a state that spends less and has fewer teachers per students.

What message are we sending to parents, citizens, taxpayers and those students (who lack proficiency).

It is rather remarkable that Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results have remained litigation free.




Gov. Brown and the Oregon Teachers Union shut down online charter schools



Aaron Withe and Jeff Kropf:

In a time of national emergency, when our leaders need to be thinking outside the box and giving struggling families more choices rather than fewer, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown instead decided to pay back political favors by shutting down online charter schools.

On paper, online charter schools that allow students to proceed at their own pace and learn from the comfort and security of their own home is the ideal response to a pandemic that has just closed the state’s schools for the remainder of the academic year. Closing brick and mortar schools will especially hurt large numbers of students who are already struggling academically. Most high school seniors need just a few more credits to graduate so they can attend college in the fall, credits they may not be able to get without an online charter school. Allowing such an option will help these seniors catch up to where they should be at this point in the semester and perhaps even graduate on time and as planned.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




‘A’s for all’ is the most Seattle thing ever — and cover for the school district’s own poor marks



Danny Westneat:

The email to students from a Seattle high-school teacher Monday summed up the aimless mood in the city’s public schools.

“Hello All, I hope you had a good spring break! (I’m not sure what we were breaking from),” the teacher wrote, sardonically.

Also Monday — and maybe not coincidentally — the Seattle School Board did the most Seattle thing ever: It voted that every grade this spring would be an ‘A.’

High-schoolers could also theoretically get an I, for incomplete. But district officials said those wouldn’t be handed out much, if at all, and wouldn’t count in grade-point averages in any case.

“Grading has historically rewarded those students who experience privilege, and penalized others,” said Seattle schools Superintendent Denise Juneau — signaling that a more permanent relaxing of grading scales may be in Seattle’s future.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

“As a Teacher, I Was Complicit in Grade Inflation. Our Low Expectations Hurt Students We Were Supposed to Help”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




K-12 “Equity Spending Test”; Difference in spending between public or charter school cannot exceed 25%…. (Madison exceeds that)



Chris Stewart:

Public schools in New Mexico aren’t funding students equitably, so says the U.S. Department Education who accuse the state’s leaders of “diverting [$63 million] in federal Impact Aid grants” intended to help school districts that are disadvantaged by their low tax bases. 

The feds found that New Mexico wasn’t passing the “equity test,” which by law requires “the difference in per-student spending between the public district or charter school with the highest rate in the state and the one with the lowest must not exceed 25 percent.” 

As is, the state’s difference between its highest and lowest is 30%. Not only does that put them out of compliance, it also illustrates the equity-killing effects of business as usual.

Dylan Mullan from the Sante Fe New Mexican reporting includes a nugget that reveals a massive rip in the public education seam:

Madison spends roughly 19k/student annually, while some districts are far less. Charter and voucher schools cannot touch substantial local property taxes and therefore spend less than half of Madison.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




The Era of Coddling is over



David Brooks:

Over the past decades, a tide of “safetyism” has crept over American society. As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt put it in their book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” this is the mentality that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. The goal is to eliminate any stress or hardship a child might encounter, so he or she won’t be wounded by it.

So we’ve seen a wave of overprotective parenting. Parents have cut back on their children’s unsupervised outdoor play because their kids might do something unsafe. As Kate Julian reports in “The Anxious Child and the Crisis of Modern Parenting” in The Atlantic, parents are now more likely to accommodate their child’s fears: accompanying a 9-year-old to the toilet because he’s afraid to be alone, preparing different food for a child because she won’t eat what everyone else eats.

Meanwhile schools ban dodge ball and inflate grades. Since 2005 the average G.P.A. in affluent high schools has risen from about 2.75 to 3.0 so everybody can feel affirmed.

It’s been a disaster. This overprotective impulse doesn’t shelter people from fear; it makes them unprepared to deal with the fear that inevitably comes. Suicide rates are way up, depression rates have skyrocketed, especially for girls. As Julian notes, a staggering number of doctor visits now end with a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication, like Xanax or Valium.

But there has been one sector of American society that has been relatively immune from this culture of overprotection — medical training. It starts on the undergraduate level. While most academic departments slather students with A’s, science departments insist on mastery of the materials. According to one study, the average English class G.P.A. is above 3.3 and the average chemistry class G.P.A. is 2.78.

While most academic departments have become more forgiving, science departments remain rigorous (to a fault). As much as 60 percent of pre-meds never make it through their major.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Anti-Homeschooling Rhetoric; “we know best”



Erin O’Donnell:

RAPIDLY INCREASING number of American families are opting out of sending their children to school, choosing instead to educate them at home. Homeschooled kids now account for roughly 3 percent to 4 percent of school-age children in the United States, a number equivalent to those attending charter schools, and larger than the number currently in parochial schools.

Yet Elizabeth Bartholet, Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, sees risks for children—and society—in homeschooling, and recommends a presumptive ban on the practice. Homeschooling, she says, not only violates children’s right to a “meaningful education” and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.

“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling,” Bartholet asserts. All 50 states have laws that make education compulsory, and state constitutions ensure a right to education, “but if you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything.” Even apparent requirements such as submitting curricula, or providing evidence that teaching and learning are taking place, she says, aren’t necessarily enforced. Only about a dozen states have rules about the level of education needed by parents who homeschool, she adds. “That means, effectively, that people can homeschool who’ve never gone to school themselves, who don’t read or write themselves.” In another handful of states, parents are not required to register their children as homeschooled; they can simply keep their kids at home.

This practice, Bartholet says, can isolate children. She argues that one benefit of sending children to school at age four or five is that teachers are “mandated reporters,” required to alert authorities to evidence of child abuse or neglect. “Teachers and other school personnel constitute the largest percentage of people who report to Child Protective Services,” she explains, whereas not one of the 50 states requires that homeschooling parents be checked for prior reports of child abuse. Even those convicted of child abuse, she adds, could “still just decide, ‘I’m going to take my kids out of school and keep them at home.’”

As an example, she points to the memoir Educated, by Tara Westover, the daughter of Idaho survivalists who never sent their children to school. Although Westover learned to read, she writes that she received no other formal education at home, but instead spent her teenage years working in her father’s scrap business, where severe injuries were common, and endured abuse by an older brother. Bartholet doesn’t see the book as an isolated case of a family that slipped through the cracks: “That’s what can happen under the system in effect in most of the nation.”

In a paper published recently in the Arizona Law Review, she notes that parents choose homeschooling for an array of reasons. Some find local schools lacking or want to protect their child from bullying. Others do it to give their children the flexibility to pursue sports or other activities at a high level. But surveys of homeschoolers show that a majority of such families (by some estimates, up to 90 percent) are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture. Bartholet notes that some of these parents are “extreme religious ideologues” who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.

She views the absence of regulations ensuring that homeschooled children receive a meaningful education equivalent to that required in public schools as a threat to U.S. democracy. “From the beginning of compulsory education in this country, we have thought of the government as having some right to educate children so that they become active, productive participants in the larger society,” she says. This involves in part giving children the knowledge to eventually get jobs and support themselves. “But it’s also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints,” she says, noting that European countries such as Germany ban homeschooling entirely and that countries such as France require home visits and annual tests.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Harvard’s Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform – June 18-19, 2020.

Commentary.

Related: 1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

Alex J. Harris:

And yet these imperfections and heartbreaking realities are not unique to homeschooling. Should there be oversight? Yes. Can we have productive conversations about how best to realize the power and flexibility of homeschooling for certain students while guarding against abuse for others? Absolutely. But there are risks to sending your child to public school, private school, or parochial school. As a parent, the fact that children are vulnerable to abuse by any authority figure in their life is a danger I am ever mindful of. (I’m not aware of any research suggesting that abuse by homeschool parents is more prevalent than abuse by other parents, relatives, teachers, or coaches.)

So why single out homeschooling? For Professor Bartholet the critical fact seems to be that “a majority of such families … are driven by conservative Christian beliefs” and that some are “extreme religious ideologues” who are

“ideologically committed to isolating their children from the majority culture” and who “don’t believe in the scientific method, looking to the Bible instead.” She highlights the story of Tara Westover and her incredible memoir Educated, suggesting that Tara’s remarkable experience—as the daughter of a mentally unstable, off-the-grid survivalist in rural Idaho—demonstrates why a permissive homeschool regime is untenable. Unstated but implied is that any child in a family with “conservative Christian beliefs” is just a few short steps from Tara’s nightmare. Unexplained is how any law would have made a difference in a case like Tara’s.

Ironically, like so many missives from the ivory tower,

Professor Bartholet’s argument and unacknowledged biases may accomplish the exact opposite of what she intends: highlighting the virtues of alternative education options in a world full of “experts” ready to teach our children what is good and true and beautiful.

As for this homeschool graduate, I can only express my gratitude that the educational choices that were made for me were made by the two people in this world who knew me best, who loved me most, and who sincerely wished the very best for me and my siblings.

Thanks for the sacrifices, Mom & Dad. They were worth it.




COVID-19 Took Away Public Education. Will We Miss It?



Frederick M. Hess:

A week after COVID-19 prompted the closure of Virginia’s schools, my five-year-old’s Montessori teacher started doing 30 minutes of Zoom with the class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. The content is nothing to write home about. The teacher reads a story, talks a bit about daffodils or frogs, and might celebrate a kid’s birthday.

But, you know what? The first morning, Grayson was utterly transfixed. He shyly extended his hand to touch his teacher’s face on the iPad. He giggled when she said good morning to him. He bounced as he pointed out each classmate in his or her little Zoom box. Watching this, I found myself choking back tears. 

Humans are social creatures. A primary task for schools is to help ensure that socialization takes a productive, healthy direction. That’s been widely recognized at least since Plato first sketched his fascist fantasy of schooling in The Republic. Even before the coronavirus, schools have been taking on more and more of this burden as civil society has atrophied, with schools asked to play the role once more widely shouldered by churches, Boy Scout troops, and 4-H clubs. 

But socialization is hardly the only purpose of schooling: Schools are also, of course, the places where we expect youth to learn the knowledge, skills, and habits needed to be responsible, autonomous citizens. Lots of adults in a community — from cousins to coaches — may be able to mentor a kid or provide a shoulder to cry on. Few, outside of educators, are prepared to coherently teach algebra, biology, or Spanish. 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




How To Build A New Leadership Class



John Burtka:

In historian Christopher Lasch’s book, The Culture of Narcissism, he describes how “the new ruling class of administrators, bureaucrats, technicians, and experts” that dominates public life possesses neither the old aristocratic virtues of priests and monarchs nor the virtues of natural aristocrats described by Jefferson and Röpke. A “new therapeutic culture of narcissism” instead is at the center of their worldview. 

The biggest difference between the old aristocratic cultures and our own is how they raise children. And it’s in the home where the hopes of establishing a new, more virtuous leadership class go to die at a very young age. For today’s elites, guilt has replaced obligation as the organizing principle of family life. Instead of seeing society as “a partnership of the dead, the living, and the unborn,” as Edmund Burke aptly put it, they reject the concept of stewardship all together. Nature and tradition are   repressive or at least passé, and children are aided by an army of counselors, consultants, and programs in the hope of a lifetime of self-actualization. 

In order to justify such a selfish existence, they attempt to atone for the guilt of their privilege by ritual participation in the new religion of identity politics and its accompanying liturgical feasts. The high holy days of the past have been replaced with festivals and parades honoring various marginalized groups or identities. Anxious city managers and corporate boards offer pinches of incense to the new gods by modifying their branding guidelines and official communications to include the symbols of the new liturgical cult. Families themselves display these symbols from in their yards and on their cars. While their sense of guilt will not go away (there is no such thing as forgiveness for oppressors), they can learn to mitigate its effects and come to terms with their own narcissism so long as they pay lip service to the latest trends in social justice.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Free speech rhetoric, “we know best” and our long term, disastrous reading results



Brooke Binkowski:

And this is what social media needs to do, now, today: Deplatform the proudly ignorant disinformers pushing snake oil and false hopes. Do so swiftly and mercilessly. They will whine about freedom of speech. They will cry about censorship. Let them.

How can I be so cavalier about freedom of speech? I hear the naysayers asking. Surely there is a right to say what you like? Certainly. But these are people with more than a platform. They have a megaphone. Verified accounts on social media platforms are offered extra layers of influence and spread. Claims made by those accounts are taken as having more authority and sincerity, despite the observable truth that they often do not and are simply abusing their influence. Give the liars three chances, if you like. They’ll blow it. They always do. Once that happens, delete their accounts. Deplatform them.

What, do you really think people like Laura Ingraham — who has a nightly television show broadcast all over the world — or heads of state like Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro, who have entire diplomatic networks dedicated to getting their messages to the public — will suffer for it? They will still be able to say whatever they like. They just won’t be able to disinform the public so readily. Deplatform them all.

So, social media, you should have done this a long time ago but now we are in a situation that is many orders of magnitude worse than the often-invoked “fire in a crowded theater” clause. Show the world what we all know to be true: That freedom of speech is an elegant concept that demands a sense of personal responsibility, and that freedom of speech is not an absolute right but an earned privilege that works in all directions. If your particular exercise of freedom of speech obfuscates or contravenes that same right in others, then it is no longer free by definition. So let the liars cry about their imaginary censorship. They’ll still be able to. It just won’t be used against the people of the world quite so readily in the middle of a pandemic. The time is now.

“A well informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny”. – Thomas Jefferson.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School Board winners differ on school-based police; only 1 had union support



Logan Wroge:

Gomez Schmidt’s victory also meant a loss for Madison Teachers Inc., which had endorsed Pearson. Gomez Schmidt had the backing of the current Seat 6 holder, Kate Toews, who decided not to seek reelection.

In the other competitive race, though, the union-backed Vander Meulen earned a 20-percentage-point victory over Strong.

Gomez Schmidt has said that as a board member, she wants to prioritize choosing a new elementary reading curriculum, increasing trust and transparency, and effectively managing the budget.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Civics: Regulation and the tax base



Wisconsin institute of law & liberty:

Further Empower Parents and School Leaders

1.    Ensure accountability on schools – As stories appear that school districts are dropping the ball and failing to educate students, state policymakers must make it abundantly clear that school districts must use tax dollars to educate students.

2.    Oversight of federal stimulus dollars – The federal CARES Act will soon allocate over $200 million for Wisconsin K-12 education to Governor Evers and local school districts. This influx in funding needs to be allocated in a collaborative and transparent manner that helps families, teachers, and school leaders continue to provide education in this difficult environment.

3.    Increase virtual course access – SB 789 (Darling / Thiesfeldt) would better prepare families for the fallout of COVID by allowing any student to take up to 2 courses at any other school, including virtual courses. The bipartisan bill, already approved in the Assembly, awaits a vote in the Senate.

The free market coalition of Wisconsin stands ready to assist you in these unprecedented, challenging times. Thank you for considering our recommendations.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Christina Gomez Schmidt wins close Madison School Board contest; Nicki Vander Meulen reelected



Logan Wroge:

As a member of the School Board, Gomez Schmidt, 48, is looking to prioritize the selection of a new, research-based reading curriculum for elementary students, building trust in the district with families, improving accountability and transparency, and effectively managing the budget.

The 32-year-old Pearson had made finding ways to expand 4-year-old kindergarten to a full-day program a pillar of her campaign, along with prioritizing teacher autonomy in the classroom and growing district partnerships with nonprofits and businesses.

Last week, it was announced Matthew Gutierrez would no longer be taking the Madison superintendent position, but instead is staying on as head of his suburban San Antonio school district.

It’s unclear whether Gomez Schmidt — who will be sworn in April 27 — will have a say on who replaces Gutierrez to become the School District’s next leader as the board still needs to weigh its options and come up with a timeline for moving forward.

The board met Monday night in closed session to discuss the superintendent situation, and a news conference on the topic is scheduled for Tuesday.

Additionally, the winners will likely decide on two November ballot asks of taxpayers — tentatively a $317 million facilities referendum and a $33 million operating referendum — which was planned to be voted on later this month.

Scott Girard:

A disappointed Strong said over the phone Monday night that “the voters have spoken and it is what it is,” while adding his congratulations to Vander Meulen. He cited the starting, stopping and restarting of his campaign due to a health issue in January along with the COVID-19 pandemic as challenges for his campaign, limiting his opportunities to canvass.

He said he still believes each of the comprehensive high schools should have a school resource officer and he hopes to see how he can help lower the disparities in out-of-school suspensions for black students, an issue he talked about often during his campaign.

“I’m going to continue my efforts with that and see what I can do to help to reduce those disparities and just make sure that all of our kids are getting a good, quality education,” he said.

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

April, 2020 election results.




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Longer-Term Prospects of Coronavirus Response: Bigger State, Higher Taxes



Tom Fairless and Jason Douglas:

When the crisis is over, “it will be very hard for any government not to increase spending on health,” and to fund new areas such as medical research and vaccine production, said Mr. Travers.

A similar shift happened after the depravations of World War II, when countries like the U.K. pushed up taxes to finance sweeping new social-safety nets, including universal health-care programs.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School Board offers feedback on K-5 literacy plan



Scott Girard:

Staff began working on the new curriculum adoption last year, following a 2018 needs assessment that showed a “need for materials K-5 that have a structured phonics component, are standards aligned and are more culturally and linguistically responsive, historically accurate and inclusive,” according to Monday’s presentation.

The steps since have included forming focus groups made up of staff and families, a pilot in five kindergarten classrooms and regular Review Committee meetings.

Staff plan to soon begin a request for proposals process and implement sample lessons in selected grades later this year. In December 2020 or January 2021, they expect to make a recommendation to the School Board and have a board vote, with implementation that fall following staff training.

Kvistad told the board staff had learned from the last materials adoption a decade ago, noting that “materials are different now,” as is support for teachers.

“We found ourselves moving too fast, I think, around implementation that we couldn’t learn from what we did and adjust moving on,” she said.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




The CARES Act and Wisconsin’s K-12 Climate



CJ Szafir and Libby Sobic:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act provides $2.2 trillion of relief for those impacted by COVID. Of this, CARES allocates about $30 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. Soon, Wisconsin will need to make decisions on how to spend the huge influx of federal funds on its education.

Analysis: WILL’s CJ Szafir and Libby Sobic explain the two main pots of money in the CARES Act that Governor Tony Evers and local school districts can soon access from the U.S. Department of Education. Szafir and Sobic make recommendations on how Wisconsin policymakers can tailor the federal money to meet the needs of our state during the COVID crisis. Opportunities exist to immediately do the following:

  • Provide teachers with resources for improved distance learning

  • Defray the cost of online education to schools and low-income families

  • Encourage summer learning camps and literacy programs so students are more prepared for 2020-2021 school year

  • Purchase supplies to sanitize and clean school buildings

  • Help graduating high school seniors who have to take remedial college courses next year

Why It Matters: Schools and communities are facing significant challenges right now. Many Wisconsin schools, across all sectors, were not prepared to switch to distance learning with such short notice. They must work to ensure students will still receive meals and help families access resources like broadband and devices to do schoolwork. These problems jeopardize student learning and risk further widening the racial achievement gap, already the largest in the country. The CARES Act was passed to provide relief and assistance to combat the impact of COVID so the allocation of K-12 dollars must be considered quickly, collaboratively, and transparently.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools




How NYC moved the country’s largest school district online during the coronavirus pandemic



Lauren Feiner:

On March 6, New York City high school principal Matt Willie was already preparing for the worst. After watching a news report that said the city’s Department of Education was preparing to close public schools amid the coronavirus crisis, Willie texted his assistant principal: “Prepare for the apocalypse.”

Willie said his school, University Neighborhood High School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was about as prepared as he could hope, having started disaster prep about a week before the DOE gave its final judgement. During that time, Willie and his staff took inventory of in-school laptops, surveyed students about whether they had devices and internet connections at home (“just in case”) and had already distributed some laptops to students whose parents said they were no longer comfortable sending them to school. 

But when the DOE finally announced school closures, staff still had to scramble. The decision came down on a Friday, upending the school’s plans to ask students to sign out laptops from their third-period teachers.

I suggested to several Madison Superintendents that teachers and staff receive a stipend to purchase and maintain an internet connected device (cellular iPad would be my choice) and begin to interact with everyone using this device. Further, Apple’s assistive efforts are substantial.

This occurred during Infinite Campus evaluation and implementation meetings. I wonder what the teacher/staff utilization data looks like today?

Infinite Campus – or similar – was for many years an expensive, missed opportunity.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has apparently made little progress online– in 2020.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School District looks to make virtual learning flexible, no ‘harm’ to grades amid COVID-19 pandemic



Logan Wroge:

Madison students will have flexibility in their virtual school day schedule, teachers will hold remote office hours, and assessments during online learning will not “harm” a students’ grades.

After three weeks out of class following an order for all Wisconsin schools to close to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Madison School District on Monday is launching its virtual learning plan designed to supplement missed classroom time, which could last until the end of the school year.

But when the district’s 27,000 students make the switch to virtual school, things will look quite different, from the number of hours a day spent learning to how students interact with teachers.

I suggested to several Madison Superintendents that teachers and staff receive a stipend to purchase and maintain an internet connected device (cellular iPad would be my choice) and begin to interact with everyone using this device. Further, Apple’s assistive efforts are substantial.

This occurred during Infinite Campus evaluation and implementation meetings. I wonder what the teacher/staff utilization data looks like today?

Infinite Campus – or similar – was for many years an expensive, missed opportunity.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has apparently made little progress online– in 2020.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison’s No-Bid $30,000 Contract to Burns/Van Fleet (?)



No bid contracting by our taxpayer supported Madison School District:

a $30,000 no-bid contract to “Burns/Van Fleet” for 25 days of services to help in the new superintendent transition. (The superintendent search contract to BWP Associates was $32,000 plus expenses.) The Mike Hertting memo on the item touts this outfit as having “over 50 years of collective experience,” but it lacks much of an internet footprint other than this skimpy website: https://burnsvanfleet.com and a Columbus, OH telephone number.

A few questions that the School Board might ask:

  1. is the work that’s being outsourced within the job description of someone already on payroll (in this case, Jane Belmore and Mike Hertting), and
  2. (2) who benefits internally from favor-trading and/or influence-building by steering business outside (especially on a no-bid basis).

– via a kind reader.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates



On January 21, 2020, I sent this email to board@madison.k12.wi.us

Hi:

I hope that you are well.

I write to make an open records request for a list of invitees and participants in last week’s “community leader and stakeholder” meetings with the (Superintendent) candidates.

Thank you and best wishes,


Jim

Hearing nothing, I wrote on February 13, 2020:

Has my open records request gone missing?

School Board member Cris Carusi emailed me, twice that day, kindly following up on this request.

I received an email on February 18, 2020 from Barbara Osborn that my “request has been shared with our legal department”.

I received this response from Sherrice M Perry on March 13, 2020:

Dear Mr. James Zellmer,

Please accept this email as the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (the “District”) response to your public records request for “a list of invitees and participants in last week’s ‘community leader and stakeholder’ meetings with the candidates.” Attached below are the records that are most responsive to your request.

With regard to the requested records, the District redacted portions of the attached records consistent with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA; 34 CFR 99.3 et seq.) and Wis. Stat. § 118.125(1)(d). The requested records contain “personally identifiable information.” Pursuant to FERPA, “personally identifiable information” is defined as “information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the record relates” or “information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.” (34 CFR 99 3). According to these definitions, the District determined that the redacted documents contain information regarding very small populations (e.g. one or two students) from a distinct group or affiliation and thus, a “reasonable person in the school community” could identify the students who were referenced in the record. Nonetheless, by providing you the record with only limited redactions, the District is in full compliance with Wis. Stat. 19.36(6).

Please note: The denials, in the form of the redacted material referenced above, are subject to review in an action for mandamus under Wis. Stat. 19.37(1), or by application to the local district attorney or Attorney General. See Wis. Stat. 19.35(4)(b).

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the District’s Public Information Officer, Timothy LeMonds, at (608) 663-1903.

PDF Attachment.

Much more on the 2019 Madison School District Superintendent Search, here.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

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

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

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

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

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




As long as Montgomery County fails to teach children to read, it will have gaps



Karin Chenoweth:

In the words of the report, Montgomery County’s curriculum does “not include the necessary components to adequately address foundational skills.”

If you’re not immersed in these issues, you might not recognize just how scathing this language is. Montgomery County fails to do what just about all cognitive scientists and most reading researchers agree is critical to ensuring that children learn to read.

In addition, the report said that MCPS provided little to no support for students to build the vocabulary and background knowledge necessary for students to read well as they proceed through the grades. That doesn’t mean that teachers aren’t doing their best with what they have. But for decades the county has failed to provide a coherent, research-based curriculum that would mean that teachers don’t have to spend endless evening and weekend hours writing and finding materials. “Teachers should not be expected to be the composers of the music as well as the conductors of the orchestra,” the report said, quoting an educator.

In the wake of that report, Montgomery County adopted new curriculums for elementary and middle school that may help children to build vocabulary and background knowledge through the elementary and middle school years.

But if students don’t learn how to get words off the page efficiently and smoothly, huge numbers of children will continue to struggle academically. And there is little evidence that Montgomery County is providing teachers with either the knowledge or the materials to help them teach their students to read. Nor is the county ensuring that principals understand how to support teachers as they learn to improve reading instruction.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

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

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

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

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

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary



Scott Girard:

Tuesday afternoon, he spent 15 minutes taking questions from the press and another 15 minutes answering questions from seven students at Glendale Elementary School, where the press conference was held.

“There is some division in the community, so we’ve got to bridge that gap,” Gutiérrez said. “There is some division between the Doyle center and our campuses, we’ve got to bridge that gap. There is some division between departments in central administration, we’ve got to bridge that gap.

“My goal is to work to unify the community, the school district, so that we can all begin moving in the same direction and focusing on what matters; that is the 27,000 students within this organization.”

Logan Wroge:

On closing academic achievement gaps, Gutierrez said he wants to understand what the district has in place to support “rigorous, relevant, quality instruction.”

He added he wants to focus on early literacy and making sure students are reading at grade level.

“We’ve seen small gains but not what we have hoped to see with the investment of people and resources,” Gutierrez said about academic outcomes.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

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

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

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

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

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School Board eyes $317M facilities referendum, $33M operating referendum



Logan Wroge:

The Madison School Board signaled support Monday for a $317 million facilities referendum and a $33 million operating referendum, setting up the board to finalize the ballot questions later this month for the November election.

With several options on the table, board members expressed broad support for a slightly larger facilities referendum that would include more money for projects focused on sustainability and energy efficiency. Additionally, the board gravitated toward a smaller operating referendum than had been proposed.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” board member Kate Toews said during an Operations Work Group meeting. “Investing in kids is the future; investing in the climate is the future.”

Scott Girard:

Board members also indicated support for a slight increase in the capital referendum Monday, from the $315 million that has been discussed in the past up to $317 million. The additional $2 million would go toward sustainability projects not in the initial amount, which includes funding for renovations to the four comprehensive high schools, a new south-side elementary school and moving Capital High School into a single location in the Hoyt school building.

MMSD chief financial officer Kelly Ruppel said it made sense financially given the payoff of sustainability projects within 12 to 13 years.

“(An additional $2 million) literally does not change our estimated mill rate impact for the average homeowner a penny,” Ruppel said. “It barely changes, in pennies, the (total yearly) impact on the average homeowner.”

Notes, links and some data on Madison’s planned 2020 referendum.

“Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a recent 2020 referendum presentation.

Projected enrollment drop means staffing cuts coming in Madison School District

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




The Misguided Progressive Attack on Charters



Conor Williams:

Charter schools used to be a bipartisan education reform, but Democrats have turned against it of late. Many of their complaints are bad-faith projections—criticism for problems that aren’t unique to charters but endemic throughout the public education system.

Take the objection that charters are an insufficiently transparent use of public dollars. In rolling out his education policy last May, Bernie Sanders charged that “charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies.” His campaign website promises he’ll make charters “comply with the same oversight requirements as public schools” and impose a moratorium on public funding for expanding charters. In an August interview with Education Week, Pete Buttigieg said “we want to see considerably more oversight” of charter schools.

Charters are governed differently from traditional district schools—usually, but not always, they sit outside of school-district control. Though for-profit charter schools exist in some states, the overwhelming majority are run by nonprofit organizations overseen by boards of directors, operating under contracts granted by a local or state authority.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.

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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School Board candidate forums begin this weekend, continue throughout March



Scott Girard:

Voters will have several opportunities this month to hear from candidates for Madison School Board beginning this weekend.

The East Side Progressives will hold a forum Sunday, March 8, at Lake Edge Lutheran Church, 4032 Monona Drive. It’s the first of four forums currently planned for the month before the Tuesday, April 7, election.

In the two contested races, Wayne Strong is challenging incumbent Nicki Vander Meulen for Seat 6 and newcomers Chris Gomez Schmidt and Maia Pearson are facing off to take over Seat 7 from Kate Toews, who is not running for re-election. Savion Castro is running unopposed for a one-year term in Seat 2, to which he was appointed last summer after Mary Burke resigned from the board.

[Pearson, Gomez Schmidt advance to general election for Madison School Board Seat 6]

Each of the elections is at large, so any eligible voter can vote for all of the seats on the ballot.

The March 8 forum, which begins at 3 p.m., will feature candidates talking about their vision for meeting the district’s challenges followed by a “speed dating” format offering the chance to meet each candidate in a small-group setting, according to the Facebook event. All five candidates plan to attend.

March 17, the Cap Times will host a forum with questions asked of the five candidates by education reporter Scott Girard and Simpson Street Free Press managing editor Taylor Kilgore. That forum will begin at 7 p.m. in the East High School auditorium, 2222 E. Washington Ave.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

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

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

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

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

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison School District High School “Grade Flooring” continues….



NBC 15:

Under a new pilot program the lowest grade students could get on assignments is 40 or 50 percent, not a zero.

Studies show freshman year is the most important year in high school and Geoffrey D. Borman, UW-Madison Education Policy Professor, said it can make or break you.

The modern A-F grading system has been around since the 1900’s.

It’s an evaluation performance of students that MMSD officials said is outdated.

MMSD is currently using the 0 to 100 percentage grading system, but high school teachers are trying out a new grade scale making forty or fifty percent– the new zero. In other words, a student could simply not turn in their assignment and still get credit.

“The grade scale itself is something I think not all students are accustomed to,” Geoffrey D. Borman, UW-Madison Education Policy Professor said.

Borman said one of the fears students face their freshman year is letter grades and failing early can have severe consequences.

…….

“Rather than coddling them we’re giving a little bit of a boost to them to support them and allow them to make a more successful transition,” he said. 

NBC15 spoke to parents who did not want to go on camera, but said they feel this grade scale is “dumbing it down” and only encourages students to be lazy in school.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




A Conversation About the Science of Reading and Early Reading Instruction with Dr. Louisa Moats



Kelly Stuart & Gina Fugnitto:

Dr. Louisa Moats: The body of work referred to as the “science of reading” is not an ideology, a philosophy, a political agenda, a one-size-fits-all approach, a program of instruction, nor a specific component of instruction. It is the emerging consensus from many related disciplines, based on literally thousands of studies, supported by hundreds of millions of research dollars, conducted across the world in many languages. These studies have revealed a great deal about how we learn to read, what goes wrong when students don’t learn, and what kind of instruction is most likely to work the best for the most students.

Collaborative Classroom: What is your perspective on the current national discussion about the science of reading? For example, Emily Hanford of American Public Media has done significant reporting that has really elevated the conversation.

Dr. Louisa Moats: These days I have moments when I feel more optimistic. Emily Hanford’s reports have been the catalyst sparking our current national discussion.1 A growing number of states are confronting what is wrong with the way many children are being taught to read. I’m inspired by the dialogue and courage of the people who know enough about the science of reading to offer a vigorous critique of those practices, programs, and approaches that just don’t work for most children. I am also optimistic about the recent report out from the National Council on Teacher Quality. There’s an increasing trend of new teachers being trained in the components of reading, and I think that many veteran educators are open to deepening their learning.

However, there’s still a long way to go. In general our teaching practice lags far behind what the research tells us. We consolidated the research on what it takes to teach children to read way back in the early 1990s, and yet today a majority of teachers still haven’t been given the knowledge or instruction to effectively teach children to read.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

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

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

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

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

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




“The achievement rate has gotten worse. The failure rate of kids has gotten worse. We would keep thinking that we were solving the problem, the United Way and all of these organizations jump on it, but it doesn’t change a thing.”



Steven Elbow:

The problem, some say, is that disparities impact a population that has little political or economic clout. And white people, who control the levers of commerce and government, address only pieces of an interconnected web of issues that include child development, education, economics and criminal justice.

Brandi Grayson co-founded Young, Gifted and Black and now runs Urban Triage, an organization that provides educational support, teaches parenting skills and promotes wellness to help black families become self-sufficient.

She said elimination of racial disparities would require a seismic shift in attitude throughout society, which would take years, maybe generations. In the meantime, she said, government has to enact policies that enforce equitable treatment of people in housing, health care, education, employment and criminal justice.

“In Dane County there have been no policy changes,” she said. “Just a lot of talk, a lot of meetings, a lot of conversation and a lot of money given to organizations that do community engagement or collect data. What’s the point of that investment if we already know what it is?”

She said initiatives consistently fail because society at large hasn’t called out the root cause of the disparities: racism.

If white people felt that the problem was worth solving, she said, they’d do something about it. For example, blacks are way more likely to experience infant mortality, low birth weight, early death, hypertension and a raft of other health conditions, much of that due to lack of access to health care.

David Blaska:

What’s Madison’s answer?

Teaching responsibility instead of victimhood? Demanding performance, not excuses? 

ARE YOU KIDDING? !!! This is Madison, where the answers are: More money, more baffling programs, more guilt, rinse and repeat. The Capital Times reports:

County officials and local nonprofits are hoping to reverse the trend with a new program that provides intensive mentoring for youthful offenders, which showed promise during a pilot program last year.

At $250,000 from the United Way and $100,000 from the county, the program would serve up to 49 kids — that’s $7,000 a kid for those who didn’t take math. As for the Policy Werkes, we’re siding with a neighbor who ventured, on social media:

If it isn’t stray bullets it is out-of-control 4,000-pound missiles. Next time you vote, consider how many chances a particular judge tends to give juveniles before applying the maximum extent of the law or creatively applies a deterrent.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

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

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

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

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

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.


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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Madison West High’s microschool shows attendance, credit improvements for students



Scott Girard:

A Madison Metropolitan School District microschool for West High School students at risk of not graduating has shown improved attendance and credit achievement for its participants, according to a presentation to the School Board Monday.

The microschool opened in November at the Taft Street Boys and Girls Club of Dane County location with 22 girls in grades 10 and 11 in attendance. It was modeled on a similar school created in spring 2018 for 13 La Follette High School boys, who attended a school at the Life Center on Madison’s southeast side.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




The Cost-effectiveness of Public and Private Schools of Choice in Wisconsin



Corey DeAngelis:

The United States invests over $660 billion for K-12 education, or over $13,000 per student, each year, on average.1 Real education expenditures in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled in the past half century without consistent improvements in student outcomes (Hanushek, 1997, 2015a, 2015b; Hanushek & Lindseth, 2009, 2010). Because education dollars are scarce resources, and because students’ academic success is important for society, it’s vital to examine which education sector delivers the most “bang for the buck.”

In theory, private schools and public charter schools might be more cost-effective than traditional public schools because of competitive pressures (Friedman,

Theoretically, it is possible that private schools and public charter schools have stronger financial incentives to spend scarce education dollars efficiently than traditional public schools because schools of choice must attract their customers (Friedman,

Voucher

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




‘No school is perfect’: Student suing Baraboo district reflects on her ‘safer’ Madison school



Kelly Meyerhofer:

Baraboo School District officials said in court filings that police were contacted about the locker room note and that the district conducted a “thorough” investigation. They said students wearing inappropriate clothing are required to remove the items once staff is made aware. The district also said it now contracts with a company to screen music played at school events.

Bullying, assault

Banks’ mother became a district employee during her daughter’s eighth-grade year. She hoped her presence would change the dynamic but said she was stymied by administrators’ resistance. When she complained about behavior targeted specifically toward her daughter, administrators accused Banks of being a bully, the suit alleges.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Hidden Segregation Within Schools Is Tracked in New Study



Sarah Sparks:

Eliminating racial segregation can be a little like playing whack-a-mole: Instead of going away, too often it just finds a new outlet.

A massive new study of North Carolina classrooms over nearly 20 years finds that as racial segregation between schools went down, the racial isolation within the classrooms inside those schools went up. This class-level isolation can limit black and Hispanic students’ access to challenging courses and hamstring district efforts to encourage the broader social and academic benefits of diversity.

In a working paper released earlier this month, Duke University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill researchers looked at data on the number of white, black, and Hispanic students in every class in the Tarheel State’s K-12 traditional and charter public schools. The researchers focused on English and math classes in grades 4, 7, and 10 during the 1997-98, 2005-06, and 2012-13 school years, a time when the state’s Hispanic student population grew from 3 percent of all students to 14 percent. They defined segregation as the degree to which the racial makeup of classrooms departed from the racial composition of all public school students in the county.

Segregation within schools accounted for up to 40 percent of all racial segregation in North Carolina, which has been a bellwether for national efforts to integrate schools. The study’s findings suggest this “hidden segregation” can become a problem for the very districts focused on making their overall schools more diverse.

“Within-school segregation is significant. Ignore this at your peril,” said Charles Clotfelter, who co-authored the study with Duke colleagues Helen Ladd and Mavzuna Turaeva, and Steven Hemelt of UNC-Chapel Hill, at a summit here by the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, part of the American Institutes of Research.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




K-12 Governance, Spending and Student Learning: As audit looms, Boston schools brace for more bad news



James Vaznis:

By many measures, the Boston schools are in crisis. Graduation rates dropped last year, while the gap between Black and white students earning diplomas more than doubled. The state last fall ordered the school district to ramp up improvement efforts at nearly three dozen low-performing schools. A Globe review revealed that fewer than one in four graduates at several Boston high schools earned college degrees. The school system’s buildings are deteriorating, and school officials can’t even keep bathrooms stocked with soap and toilet paper.

As the state wraps up its first comprehensive review of the Boston system in a decade, local officials are bracing themselves — and the public — for more bad news. Mayor Martin J. Walsh, whose administration has examined a draft of the findings, warned on public radio last week that the final version is “not going to be a real pretty report.”

The low performance of the Boston school system is propelling a growing number of state officials and other advocates to call on Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to take decisive action, even a state takeover of the entire system. Just last week, a statewide advocacy organization representing Black and Latino families pleaded with Riley and the state education board to act swiftly and aggressively.

“Mayor Walsh and Superintendent [Brenda] Cassellius do not deserve more trust or more time,” Keri Rodrigues, founding president of Massachusetts Parents United, told the state education board members. “How much longer is the state going to accept Boston’s excuses for its inability to fix its schools? How many more children do we have to lose before you take this seriously?”

Many in Boston, though, believe state receivership would be a mistake.

“I don’t even want to say the word ‘receivership’ — that would be the worse thing that could happen,” said Ruby Reyes, director of the Boston Education Justice Alliance, a coalition of Boston students, parents, and educators, characterizing the state’s record on receivership as poor. “State oversight hasn’t been helpful. I think state assistance should be resources.”

Meanwhile: Outsourcing Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School District Governance (while spending more, for less).

2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




An interview with Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes



Henry Sanders:

This week, Henry welcomes Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes to talk about growing up on the North Side, hiring a new superintendent, the changing role of police in schools and more.

Meanwhile: Outsourcing Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School District Governance (while spending more, for less).

2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: What the Green New Deal Could Cost a Typical Household



Kent Lassman, Daniel Turner:

Regardless of the GND architects’ intentions, this paper examines the some of the major tradeoffs associated with taking significant portions of the GND seriously. What would it mean to actually implement significant portions of the proposal? Can we understand the effects at a household level in different regions of the country?

To that end, the following analysis examines the transformation of electricity production, transportation, elements of shipping, and construction in 11 representative states that implementation of the GND would necessitate. It requires a considerable number of assumptions that we share in order to allow readers to come to their own conclusions about the merits of the GND compared to alternative uses of scarce societal resources.

The sum of our analysis is not favorable for the GND’s advocates—or for the typical household budget. At best, it can be described as an overwhelmingly expensive proposal reliant on technologies that have not yet been invented. More likely, the GND would drive the American economy into a steep economic depression, while putting off-limits affordable energy necessary for basic social institutions like hospitals, schools, clean water and sanitation, cargo shipments, and the production and transport of the majority of America’s food supply.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Commentary on the growth of redistributed Wisconsin K-12 tax & spending



David Blaska:

Governor Evers vetoed another middle class tax cut this week. The bill that passed with bipartisan support in the Assembly last week would have:

• Reduced nearly $250 million in income taxes for middle and lower income levels by increasing the sliding scale standard deduction by 13.2% for each filer. This would have resulted in an average savings of $106 per filer.

• Reduced personal property taxes for manufacturers.

• Paid off $100 million in general obligation debt.

• Add to the “rainy day” fund bringing the total to nearly $1 billion.

Governor Evers should have signed the bill that returns surplus dollars back to the taxpayers and pays down debt. Thanks to good budgeting and a growing economy, we have grown a sizable surplus and Wisconsin’s families should reap in our economic windfall. But for the second time this session, the governor is refusing to help middle and lower income taxpayers in Wisconsin and is intent on increasing government spending. …

The conservative budget that Governor Evers signed into law last year made the largest investment in K-12 schools in actual dollars and doubled the current funding for student mental health programs. Not one legislative Democrat voted for the budget that increased support for our schools.

The regular session of the state Assembly has concluded. We will likely return in May to attempt to override gubernatorial vetoes.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




‘Unlearning whiteness’ in the Madison schools



David Blaska:

The school lesson plan is chaos

“[We] talk about race as if it was every race but whiteness. How can we support you, elevate your work around actually talking about white culture in our schools and how teachers can start doing this work of, like, unlearning whiteness.” 

  — Madison school board member Ananda Mirilli on the district’s Black Excellence Coalition, Madison Board of Education 1:58:52 into the meeting.

Once again, the Madison school board proved Monday (02-24-2020) that it cannot keep order at its own meetings. No wonder there is chaos in the classroom.

School board members had to huddle around president Gloria Reyes to be heard as the usual suspects stormed the stage of the Doyle administration building and chanted their slogans. “Don’t arrest us; arrest the police.” This being Madison’s public schools, the disrupters were not arrested. As for the police, it was a close vote.

At issue was a $35,000 appropriation to continue policing special events such as athletic contests and dances. It barely passed, 4 to 3 (Ali Muldrow, Ananda Mirilli, and Nicki Vander Meulen voting no). Roll the tape, Lester:

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2013 – 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience.




Civics & K-12 Opportunity: AOC Admits She Got Her Goddaughter Into a Bronx Charter School



Billy Binion:

This isn’t the first time that AOC has inadvertently made the case for school choice. At an October rally for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), she shared that her family left the Bronx for a house in Westchester county, so that she could attend a higher-quality school. “My family made a really hard decision,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “That’s when I got my first taste of a country who allows their kids’ destiny to be determined by the zip code they are born in.” 

The congresswoman has correctly diagnosed the problem. Whether or not a student is able to attend a decent public school too often turns on the neighborhood he or she happens to grow up in. It’s a reality that briefly dominated the national conversation during the recent college admissions scandal, which saw wealthy celebrities paying to have their children receive rigged acceptances to elite universities. Comparisons were immediately drawn to the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, who received a five-year prison sentence for using her father’s address to ensure that her children could attend the superior elementary and middle schools nearby.

As AOC recognized in her speech at the Sanders rally, such a dilemma is only possible when the system hinges on a zip code. But isn’t that a problem that school choice can help fix?

If her experience is any guide, the congresswoman should say yes. But school choice has become strangely polarizing in recent years, as many Democratic leaders forcefully repudiate charters.

A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school (2011).

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Is this the best Madison’s (taxpayer supported) public schools can do?



David Blaska:

Today’s blog excerpts Kaleem Caire’s social media thread in the wake of his letter, co-signed by other local black leaders, expressing disappointment that Matthew Gutierrez of Texas was chosen as new superintendent of Madison WI schools over their preferred candidate, Taylor Eric Thomas of Georgia. Caire expresses frustration over the virulent Progressive Dane/Madison Teachers Inc. faction of Madison progressivism that defeated him for school board last year.

Other signatories were Pastor Marcus Allen, Ray Allen, Ruben Anthony, Pastor Joseph Baring,  Carola Gaines, Pastor Alex Gee, Greg Jones, Kirbie Mack, Vanessa McDowell, John Odom, Teresa Sanders and Yolanda Shelton Morris.

Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick is the very woke, Derail the Jail enemy of police in schools, ally of Ali Muldrow, Brandi Grayson, Freedom Inc., et cetera.

Yet another example of how identity politics is roiling education here in Madison and nationwide. 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2013 – 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience.




The New “Causal” Research on School Spending is Not Causal



Jay Greene:

Some researchers and journalists have become very excited about a new set of studies that claim to find a causal relationship between increasing school spending and improving student outcomes.  These folks acknowledge that the vast majority of earlier research found no relationship between additional resources and stronger results, but that research was purely observational.  Perhaps school systems with weaker outcomes tend to get a larger share of increased spending, creating the false impression that more money doesn’t help.  That is, perhaps bad outcomes often cause more money, not the other way around.

There is a new wave of research that claims to find the causal relationship between school spending and student outcomes and those new results are much more positive.  The problem is that the new research pretty clearly falls short of having strong causal research designs.  Instead, the new research just seems to be substituting different non-causal methods with a different potential direction of bias for the old ones.

The new “causal” studies generally come in two types — regression discontinuity (RD) studies of bond referenda and instrumental variable (IV) analyses of court-ordered spending increases.  While RD and IV designs can produce results that approximate a randomized experiment and can be thought of as causal, the RD and IV studies in this new literature generally fail to meet the requirements for those designs to effectively approximate randomized experiments.  That is, the new “causal” research on school spending is not really causal.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




$35K contract for police at school events turns into heated debate, protests Monday



Scott Girard:

A $35,000 contract not initially up for discussion at the Madison School Board meeting Monday night ended up the most hotly debated topic among board members.

The contract with the city of Madison provides for up to $35,000 paid to the Madison Police Department in 2020 for officers to provide security, safety and crowd control services at extracurricular events like well-attended sporting events and graduation.

The contract passed on a 4 to 3 vote over shouts from Freedom Inc. activists and after an amendment to redirect the funding to community organizations was offered and later removed without a vote. Board members Savion Castro, Cris Carusi, Gloria Reyes and Kate Toews voted in favor; Ananda Mirilli, Ali Muldrow and Nicki Vander Meulen voted against.

Logan Wroge:

Following the vote, about a dozen opponents of the contract chanted over board members as they discussed other items on the agenda, saying the decision to continue staffing special events, such as sporting events and graduate ceremonies, with police officers could disproportionately affect minority students.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




“We know best”: Authoritarianism’s Fatal Flaw



Zeynep Tufekci:

Authoritarian blindness is a perennial problem, especially in large countries like China with centralized, top-down administration. Indeed, Xi would not even be the first Chinese ruler to fall victim to the totality of his own power. On August 4, 1958, buoyed by reports pouring in from around the country of record grain, rice, and peanut production, an exuberant Chairman Mao Zedong wondered how to get rid of the excess, and advised people to eat “five meals a day.” Many did, gorging themselves in the new regime canteens and even dumping massive amounts of “leftovers” down gutters and toilets. Export agreements were made to send tons of food abroad in return for machinery or currency. Just months later, perhaps the greatest famine in recorded history began, in which tens of millions would die because, in fact, there was no such surplus. Quite the opposite: The misguided agricultural policies of the Great Leap Forward had caused a collapse in food production. Yet instead of reporting the massive failures, the apparatchiks in various provinces had engaged in competitive exaggeration, reporting ever-increasing surpluses both because they were afraid of reporting bad news and because they wanted to please their superiors.

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Black community leaders share concerns about Madison School District’s superintendent hire, call process ‘flawed, incomplete’



Scott Girard:

A letter signed by 13 black community leaders in Madison expresses concerns about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s hiring of Matthew Gutiérrez to be its next superintendent.

The concerns include how much larger and more diverse MMSD is than Gutiérrez’s current Seguin Independent School District in Texas, student performance scores in Seguin and a “flawed, incomplete” process that “lacked substantive input from the Black Community.”

“We are dissatisfied with the process and how the input of the Black Community was minimized, if considered at all,” the letter reads. “Given the differences between Madison and Seguin, we expected a greater and broader background of experience, skills and abilities that would move the Madison District further in cultural competency, social justice, and academic outcomes for black students.

“Dr. Gutiérrez is woefully lacking in all of these categories.”

The signers are Pastors Alex Gee, Marcus Allen and Joseph Baring; Kaleem Caire, Ruben Anthony, Teresa Sanders, Vanessa McDowell, Carola Gaines, Yolanda Shelton Morris, John Odom, Kirbie Mack, Greg Jones and Ray Allen.

The letter was emailed to the School Board Thursday.

MMSD announced Gutiérrez as its hire Jan. 24. He was one of three finalists who visited the district last month to meet with community leaders and hold a public forum. The interviews included closed sessions with the School Board and with some minority community leaders.

During the press conference announcing his hire, School Board president Gloria Reyes said it was a “unanimous decision” of the board to hire Gutiérrez during a Jan. 17 closed session meeting pending contract negotiations.

“Whoever the choice, there will be those who with good intention say our selection wasn’t their first choice,” Reyes said at the press conference. “This is the kind of passion toward education that makes our community strong and we are thankful for that.”

Logan Wroge:

In her letter, Reyes said Gutierrez was selected as a result of “the most transparent and community-involved hiring process” ever undertaken by the district. As elected officials, it is the board’s responsibility to make the final decision, she said.

The black community leaders were critical of how the Seguin district scored on a Texas school performance report in 2018, with a higher proportion of Seguin schools rated below average compared with Texas schools at large.

Gutierrez became superintendent in Seguin, which is in the San Antonio metro area, in August 2017. It was his first job as a permanent superintendent in an 18-year educational career, all of which has been spent in Texas.

Moving forward, Reyes called for a unified approach of “keeping students at the center of everything we do.”

“As is with most larger districts, we are replete with distancing mechanisms and labels that serve to divide us,” Reyes said in her letter. “This is not a time of division, particularity when considering that (the school district) is making history in hiring the first superintendent of color as its leader.”

Kaleem Caire:

Just because we disagree with the Board of Education’s choice for Superintendent doesn’t mean we are being divisive. If the reference here is referring to perceived division along racial lines because Mr. Guettierez is Latino and we are Black, well, several Latino leaders who were a part of the same community interview that Madison’s African American Pastors arranged (and that I was present for as well) also felt that Dr. Guettierez was not the most qualified finalist candidate for the position. We also felt that the finalist candidate pool did not yield the caliber of candidate that our school district needs overall. Many of us felt Dr. Thomas was the most qualified candidate; however, some of us preferred that the Board of Education reopen the search process and try again. Furthermore, the only time many of us were involved in the hiring process was when local Black Ministers requested that we have the opportunity to meet the finalist candidates. This Board did not come to us. Given our collective experience and background in education in Madison (and some of us nationally), you would think the MMSD Board of Education would have thought to include us in this unprecedented community involved process. If you wonder why we are concerned, read the piece I wrote in last month’s Madison365: https://madison365.com/why-black-people-in-madison-are-impatientand-should-be/. This isn’t about Mr. Guettierez race. Instead, it is about our concern for the present and future of our children – and yours.

Onward.

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its