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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 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)…..

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.

The Most Diverse Cities Are Often The Most Segregated

Nate Silver:

When I was a freshman at the University of Chicago in 1996, I heard the same thing again and again: Do not leave the boundaries of Hyde Park. Do not go north of 47th Street. Do not go south of 61st Street. Do not go west of Cottage Grove Avenue. 1

These boundaries were fairly explicit, almost to the point of being an official university policy. The campus police department was not committed to protecting students beyond the area,2 and the campus safety brochure advised students not to use the “El” train stops just a couple of blocks beyond them unless “traveling in groups and during the daytime.”

What usually wasn’t said — on a campus that brags about the diversity of its urban setting but where only about 5 percent of students are black — was that the neighborhoods beyond these boundaries were overwhelmingly black and poor. The U. of C. has, for many decades, treated Hyde Park as its “fortress on the South Side,” and its legacy of trying to keep its students within the neighborhood — and the black residents of surrounding communities out — has left its mark on Chicago.

Related: the expansion of Madison’s least diverse schools, despite long term disastrous reading results and the rejection of the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school.

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


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…..

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does.

Alvin Chang:

Think about your elementary school. 

If you attended an American public school, chances are you went to that school because your family lived in that school’s attendance zone. You probably didn’t think twice about it.

We tend to assume these are neutrally drawn, immutable borders. But if you take a step back and look at the demographics of who lives in each attendance zone, you’re faced with maps like this.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, despite space in nearby facilities.

Commentary on Madison Schools’ Quietly spending taxpayer’s $4M

Logan Wroge:

The plan didn’t become publicly available until Friday afternoon, when the meeting agenda was posted online.

Does the analysis include space in other facilities? The District expanded some of its least diverse schools (Van Hise and Hamilton) several years ago, when space was available in other nearby schools.

The Madison school district is planning a substantial tax and spending increase referendum in 2020.

Perhaps these funds might support those requirements.

Madison taxpayers spend far more than most K-12 school districts, yetwe have long tolerated disastrous reading results

Two Madisons: The Education and Opportunity Gap in Wisconsin’s Fastest Growing City

Will Flanders:

At Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), there exist two distinct school systems.

Despite its economic growth, low-income families in Madison are more likely to stay poor for their entire lives.

While 60% of white students at MMSD are proficient or higher on the Forward exam, only 9.8% of African Americans are proficient. This achievement gap is worse than Milwaukee Public Schools.

While Hispanic proficiency is higher than that for African Americans, large gaps remain.

21% of African Americans and 18% of Hispanic students in MMSD do not graduate from high school within five years compared to just 6% of white students.

African American and low-income students are more likely to be in schools with significantly higher numbers of police calls.

Due to caps and restrictions, school choice is very limited in Madison. Unless your family has money. More than 4,300 children attend 31 private schools in Madison, primarily outside of the voucher program.

Related: Police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006.

Madison taxpayers recently funded expansion of our least diverse schools.

“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”.

I am currently the reading interventionist teacher at West High School.

I’ve been there for 4 years. Previous to that I’ve been in the school district as a regular ed teacher for about 20 years. I started in the early 90s.

I have (a) question I want to ask you guys. What district-wide systems are in place as we use our map data to monitor the reading student achievement?

Student by student, not school by school but also school by school and provide support for the school the teachers and the students that need it.

And especially to help students who score in the bottom percentiles who will need an intervention which is significantly different than differentiation.

I was (a) TAG coordinator (talent and gifted coordinator) for 4 years at Hamilton and I have extensive background with the talent and gifted and differentiation training.

( and teaching of teachers). Now I’m in interventionist and they are significantly different we need interventions to serve the lowest scoring kids that we have.

Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here:

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students.

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group).

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.

They have High attendance. They have been in the same (you know) feeder school they have not had high mobility. There is no excuse for 12 of my students to be reading at the first second or third grade level and that’s where they’re at and I’m angry and I’m not the only one that’s angry.

The teachers are angry because we are being held accountable for things that we didn’t do at the high school level. Of those 24 students, 21 of them have been enrolled in Madison for four or more years.

Of those 24 students one is Caucasian the rest of them identify as some other ethnic group.

I am tired of the district playing what I called whack-a-mole, (in) another words a problem happens at Cherokee boom we bop it down and we we fix it temporarily and then something at Sherman or something at Toki or something at Faulk and we bop it down and its quiet for awhile but it has not been fixed on a system-wide level and that’s what has to change.

Thank you very much.

Madison taxpayers have long spent far more than most K-12 school districts, now between 18 and 20k per student, depending on the district documents one reviews.

The Whiter, Richer School District Right Next Door

Adam Harris:

The Democratic presidential debates, when they have turned to education, have so far focused on busing, college affordability, and school safety. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, notably, veered away from busing to talk about modern segregation during the second slate of debates, but only for a moment. But the schools trapped within these isolating, segregating borders will require more sweeping solutions to break free of them.

Related: Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, yet we have long tolerated disastrous reading results. This despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Need Extra Time on Tests? It Helps to Have Cash

Jugal Patel:

From Weston, Conn., to Mercer Island, Wash., word has spread on parenting message boards and in the stands at home games: A federal disability designation known as a 504 plan can help struggling students improve their grades and test scores. But the plans are not doled out equitably across the United States.

In the country’s richest enclaves, where students already have greater access to private tutors and admissions coaches, the share of high school students with the designation is double the national average. In some communities, more than one in 10 students have one — up to seven times the rate nationwide, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

In Weston, where the median household income is $220,000, the rate is 18 percent, eight times that of Danbury, Conn., a city 30 minutes north. In Mercer Island, outside Seattle, where the median household income is $137,000, the number is 14 percent. That is about six times the rate of nearby Federal Way, Wash., where the median income is $65,000.

Students in every ZIP code are dealing with anxiety, stress and depression as academic competition grows ever more cutthroat. But the sharp disparity in accommodations raises the question of whether families in moneyed communities are taking advantage of the system, or whether they simply have the means to address a problem that less affluent families cannot.

Related: Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, yet we have long tolerated disastrous reading results. This despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Researcher: School boundaries and segregation are linked

Roger McKinney:

He said each instance where schools are rezoned can be an opportunity to address segregation. He said very few districts draw bad boundaries that exacerbate racial segregation.

He said many studies show that the achievement gap between black and white students is closed when schools are desegregated and the gap widens when they are segregated. The achievement gap has been a persistent issue in Columbia Public Schools.

“School districts desegregate when it seems to be badly needed,” Monarrez said. “Desegregation involves more travel. This is sort of the price of desegregating the school.”

He said it’s a trade-off that districts can consider.

“The only way to desegregate schools is to make people travel farther,” he said. Monarrez said districts seem to think about these issues when they’re drawing boundaries.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

You find, for example, an obsessive attention to what today we would refer to as ‘literacy’ and ‘critical thinking skills’”

Jeff Sypeck:

But when you look at the manuscripts, the classroom texts, and the teaching methods of the early Middle Ages, you find habits and practices that I think would warm the hearts of pretty much everybody in this room. You find, for example, an obsessive attention to what today we would refer to as “literacy” and “critical thinking skills.” We find a true love of learning—even more admirably, a love of language, the nuts and bolts of language: how language works, how you put words together, how you put sentences together, how you communicate with other educated people. And you find that underlying all of this is an incredible sense of purpose, a real sense of mission. Thanks to the efforts of the monks of this era, within a generation or two, literacy was spreading, old books were being copied and preserved at unprecedented rates, and new books were being written for educational use.

So there are really a few things to discuss here this morning: What was this educational curriculum and where did it come from? And also, what made it so successful in such an uncertain and illiterate era?

The answers to those questions contain real lessons for those of us who teach writing, composition, and literature, and in the end I think they leave us with further interesting questions to ponder as well.

Hamilton is Madison’s least diverse (Madison K-12 statistics) middle school, yet, we recently expanded it.

“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”

Some Madison schools sign on to Black Lives Matter event that calls for dumping police

Chris Rickert:

Some Madison schools will participate next year in a Black Lives Matter event that features a call to “fund counselors, not cops” — despite the School Board’s decision this week to keep police officers in the Madison School District’s four main high schools.

Hamilton Middle School said in an email to community members Thursday that it would participate in Black Lives Matter at School week Feb. 4-8. “Other schools in Madison” are also participating in the event, according to the email.

The BLM at School movement began in 2016, according to the group’s website, and its first “week of action” was in February of this year. In addition to cutting funding for school-based police officers — commonly known as educational, or school, resource officers — the movement’s other three goals are to:

End “zero tolerance” discipline and implement more restorative justice programs.

Hire more black teachers.
Mandate black history and ethnic studies in K-12 curriculum.
Andrew Waity, president of the Madison teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., said in a Friday email that “MTI members have been interested in participating in this event for a while and first brought it forward last year.”

But that “does not change our existing position of support for Educational Resource Officers in (Madison School District) high schools,” he said. “We believe that it is the responsibility of the district and (the Madison Police Department) to develop a contract that defines the roles and responsibilities of these officers.”

Hamilton is Madison’s least diverse (Madison K-12 statistics) middle school, yet, we recently expanded it.

“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”

K-12 Housing climate: Minneapolis vs Shorewood Hills

Henry Grabar:

“Large swaths of our city are exclusively zoned for single-family homes, so unless you have the ability to build a very large home on a very large lot, you can’t live in the neighborhood,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told me this week. Single-family home zoning was devised as a legal way to keep black Americans and other minorities from moving into certain neighborhoods, and it still functions as an effective barrier today. Abolishing restrictive zoning, the mayor said, was part of a general consensus that the city ought to begin to mend the damage wrought in pursuit of segregation. Human diversity—which nearly everyone in this staunchly liberal city would say is a good thing—only goes as far as the housing stock.

It may be as long as a year before Minneapolis zoning regulations and building codes reflect what’s outlined in the 481-page plan, which was crafted by city planners. Still, its passage makes the 422,000-person city, part of the Twin Cities region, one of the rare U.S. metropolises to publicly confront the racist roots of single-family zoning—and try to address the issue.

“A lot of research has been done on the history that’s led us to this point,” said Cam Gordon, a city councilman who represents the Second Ward, which includes the University of Minnesota’s flagship campus. “That history helped people realize that the way the city is set up right now is based on this government-endorsed and sanctioned racist system.” Easing the plan’s path to approval, he said, was the fact that modest single-family homes in appreciating neighborhoods were already making way for McMansions. Why not allow someone to build three units in the same-size building? (Requirements on height, yard space, and permeable surface remain unchanged in those areas.)

Shorewood Hills rejects low income apartments (2010).

Shorewood Hills is part of the Madison School District.

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

Finally, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, one of which supports Shorewood Hills (Hamilton Middle School). 18.8% of Hamilton’s student population are classified as low income, according to the Madison School District – far below the organization’s average.

The High Price for a Free Education

Ni Dandan:

It’s been an exhausting summer for Yu Xi and her son, Fengfeng, but ultimately a successful one. The 6-year-old will start his first year at one of Shanghai’s best public primary schools this month — to the relief of his parents, for whom securing Fengfeng’s seat in the classroom has cost them sleepless nights and millions of yuan. “It’s been driving me crazy,” says Yu.

Like many middle-class parents in China’s big cities, Yu and her husband prepared for this summer years in advance. In 2015, they paid 2.6 million yuan (then around $400,000) for a 30-square-meter apartment in Lujiazui, an area of Shanghai better known for its glitzy waterfront skyscrapers than for its decades-old housing. It was an extortionate fee for a small, dilapidated property; a few streets away, more comfortable apartments sold for much less money. But Yu’s flat boasted one crucial advantage: It was located in the school district where the family hoped to enroll Fengfeng.

China’s middle class is expected to rise from 430 million people today to 780 million people by the mid-2020s. A substantial proportion of them are young, urban families anxious to guarantee a bright future for their children. A good education is key to realizing that dream, but the quality of public education in even the most developed Chinese cities remains highly variable. Consequently, reasonably wealthy parents are spending huge sums of money on xuequfang — school-district homes — in urban areas renowned for educational prowess. Children registered as residents of such homes are more likely to be placed in nearby schools.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, which happen to reside among the more expensive real estate in the city.

$pending more on Bricks and Mortar in the Madison School District?

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

Build a new neighborhood elementary school in or near the South Allis attendance area, south of the Beltline, to serve all of the South Allis area and a portion of the Leopold area.

Invite Verona, Oregon, and McFarland to join with MMSD to rationalize the south border to better serve all communities.


Build a new neighborhood elementary school on MMSD’s Sprecher Road site, located east of I-90, for enrollment growth in Kennedy and Elvehjem.

Relocate Nuestro Mundo (314 w/ waiting list) to Allis, a larger, better, district- owned school building. End the lease agreement.

Most Allis Main and Allis East students are closer to Elvehjem, could attend a new south school, or Elvehjem and/or options for Schenk, Glendale, or a possible new Sprecher Road school.

Invite McFarland to work with MMSD to rationalize the border near Yahara Hills to better serve all communities.


Build a new elementary in the Allied Drive area (on the Allied side of Verona Road) with a broader attendance area (or magnet area). Invite Verona to join MMSD in a study of the southern border to better serve all communities.

For new developments on the far west side, plan ahead – purchase land suitable for an elementary school, plan to build a new elementary in 7-10 years depending on actual enrollment growth. MMSD might, depending on actual enrollment growth, require a new middle school in the far west area in 10-15 years.

There was a brief, failed attempt to close Lapham Elementary school in 2007.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, despite nearby underutilized school space.

Madison has long spent more than most taxpayer funded school districts, yet we have tolerated disastrous reading results for decades.

The Two-Board Knot: Zoning, Schools, and Inequality

Salim Furth:

Old Town Road traces a choppy, swerving path that marks the southern edge of Trumbull, Connecticut. It is shaded by maples and oaks that frame the sensible New England homes of an affluent suburb. Across the double yellow lines of Old Town Road are similar homes in the city of Bridgeport, one of the poorest places in Connecticut.

Last July, Trumbull’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved a zoning change to allow a 202-unit apartment complex to replace a vacant office building a few blocks away from Old Town Road. Key to getting approval was that the apartment building was designed with only one- and two-bedroom units; the developer estimates that only 16 school-age children will live among the 202 new units.1 For Trumbull’s residents, eager to maintain their school district’s third-in-the-state ranking,2 a larger influx of potentially poor students might have been a deal-breaker.

According to Zillow’s estimate, the three-bedroom house at 1230 Old Town Road could sell for $287,000. Across the street in Bridgeport, a very similar home at 1257 Old Town Road is worth only $214,000. The Zillow interface helpfully informs the prospective buyer that any children living at 1230 Old Town Road have the right to attend Frenchtown Elementary School, rated 9 out of 10 by GreatSchools. Children on the south side of the street attend the Cross School, which rates a 2,3 and is part of the worst municipal school district in the state, according to the state’s own ranking.4

Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model rejected the proposed indepedent Madison Preparatory IB Charter School. This, despite spending more than most (now nearly $20,000 per studentf) and tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Will Chicago Close Another 50 Schools?

Sarah Karp and Becky Vevea :

Chicago Public Schools has lost 32,000 students over the last five years, nearly the same enrollment drop as in the 10-year period leading up to the closures of 50 elementary schools in 2013. Those missing students could fill 53 average-sized Chicago schools.

This massive enrollment decline comes as a self-imposed five-year moratorium on school closings lifts in 2018. Despite that, political observers and CPS insiders said they are not betting on Mayor Rahm Emanuel closing 50 more schools — at least not all at once.

They say if Emanuel opts to close more schools, they hope he does it more slowly and over time. In fact, that’s already underway, despite the moratorium. Since 2013, CPS has quietly shuttered more than a dozen schools, many of them charter schools.

The school system must announce by Dec. 1 any proposed closures for its more than 600 schools. Officials have already indicated they will recommend closing only a handful of schools for next year, the first without the moratorium.

Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model has not addressed boundary or school diversity in decades.

Commentary on Madison Taxpayer Funded Schools’ PTO Budgets and Activity

Chris Rickert:

Allis Elementary currently has no active PTO and its fundraising when it did have one last year was “very, very little,” according to interim principal Sara Cutler. Allis’ percentage of economically disadvantaged students last year was 67.9, according to state Department of Public Instruction data, or higher than the district percentage of 46.1. Allis’ non-white population is 77 percent, higher than the district’s 57.1 percent.

The PTO for Huegel Elementary, with an economically disadvantaged population of 41.4 percent, has an annual budget of around $22,000 a year, according to PTO co-treasurer Tony Parisi. The PTO for Schenk Elementary, whose percentage of poor students is 63.5, has an annual budget of about $6,000, according to president Heather Daniels.

The Lowell Community Organization, the PTO-like group for Lowell Elementary, where I’ve had at least one child enrolled since 2009, has a proposed budget this year of about $14,500. Budgets over the past five years have been in the $8,000 to $14,000 range, according to LCO treasurer Kerry Martin. Lowell’s rate of economically disadvantaged students is 37.3 percent.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools (Van Hise Elementary and Hamilton Middle), while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison School District “Capacity Report”

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

1. Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. One elementary school and no middle or high schools had a Third Friday enrollment above their calculated capacity as currently configured.

2. Eighteen of the 32 elementary schools, three of the 12 middle schools, and one of the five high schools had a Third Friday enrollment above the ideal 90% of capacity.

A recent tax and spending increase referendum funded the expansion of our least diverse schools: Van His elementary and Hamilton Middle Schools.

Enrollment projections (PDF).

Madison Middle School Academic Performance and Variation…

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

“Inconsistency in grading and academic expectations between the middle schools may contribute to difficulty in transitioning to high school. The differences between the feeder middle schools are significant.”

– MMSD Coursework Review, 2014

A recent tax increase referendum funded the expansion of Madison’s least diverse middle school: Hamilton.

We’ve long spent more than most, now about $18,000 per student annually, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Worth a deep drive: Madison measures of academic progress (MAP) results….

School District Economic Segregation

Fault Lines

The chasms between our school districts are growing wider. Today, half of America’s children live in high-poverty school districts, where they are more likely to experience poor health, be exposed to violence, and attend schools in decaying buildings. This is not always due to a lack of resources in the area, however; often, these high-poverty districts border affluent areas where better-off students benefit from greater funding.

In 1974, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case Milliken v. Bradley that actually strengthened the hand of segregationists: the justices held that integration plans may not be enforced across school district borders. This outcome cleared the way for district borders to be used as lawful tools of segregation.

Because property taxes play such an important role in school funding, well-off communities have an interest in school district borders that fence off their own neighborhoods from lower-wealth areas and needier students—and most states’ laws allow this kind of self-segregation.

ironically, Madison is currently expanding its least diverse school: Hamilton.

Real Estate Activity Around Madison Middle Schools

“I want to live in the Hamilton/Van Hise attendance area.” I’ve heard that statement many times over the years. I wondered how that desire might be reflected in real estate activity.

Tap for a larger view. xlsx version.

Happily, it’s easy to keep up with the market using the Bunbury, First Weber, Restaino or Shorewest apps. For the middle schools, I’ll use the First Weber app iOS Android. Next week, I plan to take a look at elementary schools using the Restaino app. I also hope to dive into property tax variation.

Tap the search link on your iPhone, iPad or Android with the First Weber app installed. You can then interact with the data and properties.

Black Hawk Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Cherokee Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Hamilton Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Jefferson Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

O’Keeffe Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Sennett Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Sherman Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Toki Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Whitehorse Middle School Attendance Area Search. Stats.

Madison’s median household income is $53,933 ($31,659 per capita).

Finally, Madison, via a 2015 referendum, is expanding Hamilton, its least diverse middle school.

** As always, much of the property information beneath these statistics is entered by humans. There may be an occasional mistake… 🙂

Responding to Ed Hughes

Dave Baskerville (7 April 2016)

Mr. Ed Hughes, Member, MMSD Board 4/7/16

Ed, I finally got around to reading your “Eight Lessons Learned” article in the 3/9/16 edition of CT. Interesting/thanks. As you know from our previous discussions, we have similar thinking on some of the MMSD challenges, not on others. For the sake of further dialogue and to continue your tutorial style (‘learned’, ‘not learned’) without my trying to be either facetious or presumptious., let me comment as follows:

LESSON ONE. “It’s Complicated”. Certainly agree, but not an excuse for catching up with the rest of the First World. Did you learn that? Challenges which you rightly say are ’multiyear and multipronged’ become far more complicated when there is not a clearcut, long term direction for a company or system. It seems that every responsible board of private/public or NGO institutions has that responsibility to the CEO (read Superintendant).

You talk of improvement (kaizen), but “better” for the status quo alone is not enough when we have been falling behind for several generations. What you apparently did not learn is that with our global rankings and radical changes in technology and the future world of work, serious transformation of our system is needed?

LESSON TWO. “No Silver Bullet”. There can be 1~3 long term goals, but agree, 426 WI school districts need to figure out in their own ways how to get there. (And where things are measured, they are more often done. Dare you provide, as 300 HSs around the country and 14 in WI have done, the PISA tests for all of our MSN 15 years olds. $15,000 per HS, and indeed, does that ever prod Supt’s, and citizens to set their goals long term and higher! And execute!)

LESSON THREE. “Schools Are Systems”. Agree with Gawande that “a system-wide approach with new skills, data-based, and the ability to implement at scale” is needed. Look at Mayo Clinic where my wife and I spend too much of our time! As you say, a significant cultural shift is required. But what you did not learn is what he said later: “Transformation must be led at the top”. That means clearly articulating for the CEO, staff and public the long term destination point for rigorous achievement and the quantitative means to measure. You did not learn that it does not mean getting involved in the vast HOW of ‘defining the efforts of everyone’, innovation, implementation and details. A good CEO and her team will handle all of that.

LESSON FOUR. “Progress Requires Broad Buy-in”. True. Yet, are you not as a Board getting way into the nitty gritty issues, while at the same time not having a clear long term goal with a Scorecard that not only educators can comprehend but all of us citizens? You did not learn that much of strategy and most all of tactics is not a Board’s prerogative to dwell in/muck around in. But the responsibility to articulate a few goals and a scorecard to vigorously monitor for the broader public is a critical constituency responsibility for the MMSD and the broader buy-in.

LESSON FIVE. “Buy-in can’t be bought”. Agree, many business values are not relevant in education.. But to me , what was not learned from the Zukerberg:Newark disaster was rather that you cannot transform a poorly performing system by simply pouring many more resources and monies into it and enabling/enhancing the status quo. (Believe now in San Francisco, Zuckerberg has learned that as well.)

LESSON SIX. “No substitute for Leadership”. Certainly. That’s why I give you folks a rough time! But your reference to a balance of ‘the best system’ and’ teacher /staff commitment’ is valid. Very much mutually needed for global achievement. And you certainly should be discussing those with Jen, as she sees fit.. But it’s not primarily your Board responsibilities. Again to repeat, by mucking around too much in those Supt. Management, and tactical areas and completely missing the long term, measurable goals/ direction, you have not learned the most critical Board role as I outlined in Lesson One above. In addition where management meets political or union road blocks to substantial progress towards those goals, boards must often step in.

And I would add in most institutions, charisma does not transfer. Milt McPike was a great leader that I’m sure considerably improved the achievement levels at East HS. But is not the Purgolders back to mediocre? If the MMSD Board would have had a transformed system with very clear long term goals for East with a PISA Scorecard that involved the public, I’m betting Milt’s accomplishments would be being built on. If we lose Jen in the next few years, I fear likewise. (Or better, you really challenge her with some 20 year global targets, get out of the way, and maybe she’ll stay with us that long.)

LESSON SEVEN. “Improvement Takes Time”. Of course. But you have simply not learned a sense of urgency. Finland, South Korea, Japan, Shanghai-China, etc….are not going to just watch and wait for 20 years our MMSD kids to catch up. They are all forthrightly after further improvement. Those countries unlike you MMSD Board Members really believe/expect their kids can be trained with the best in the world. Very high expectations! You look at where investment in the world is made…where in the USA millions of jobs lack needed skilled people….why over 65% of the UW-MSN doctoral/ post doc students in almost all of the critical science, engineering and math courses are non-Americans. You have not learned, ED, that a long term direction AND urgency must go together!

LESSON EIGHT. “Incremental progress is good progress”. Agree, lurching about in goals/system approach is not good. A “sustainable school…and coherent approach guided by a system-wide vision…” is good. But as said above, you’ve not learned that your ‘incremental progress’ is not enough! The MMSD approach essentially does not recognize the global job market our kids will walk into. Does not recognize that 20 years hence 65% of the careers now do not exist. ( So only major achievement/competency in the basics {MATH, Science, Reading} will provide some assurance of good work/salaries/further trainability during their lifetime.) That with todays transformation of technology, STEM and blue collar jobs as well as universties will definitely require those kinds of skills for social mobility and self-sufficiency.

That’s it for now. See you at the Club, give me a call if you wish to discuss further,
And either way, best regards,

Dave Baskerville (608-259-1233)

Much more on Ed Hughes, here.

Unfortunately, Madison’s monolithic, $17K+ per student system has long resisted improvement. We, as a community have tolerated disastrous reading results for decades, rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school and astonishingly, are paying to expand our least diverse schools (Hamilton middle and Van Hise elementary) via a 2015 referendum….

Further reading, from 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.


Two of the most popular — and most insidious — myths about academically gifted kids is that “they’re all rich, white kids” and that, no matter what they experience in school, “they’ll do just fine.” Even in our own district, however, the hard data do not support those assertions.
When the District analyzed dropout data for the five-year period between 1995 and 1999, they identified four student profiles. Of interest for the present purpose is the group identified as high achieving. Here are the data from the MMSD Research and Evaluation Report from May, 2000:

Group 1: High Achiever, Short Tenure, Behaved
This group comprises 27% of all dropouts during this five-year period.
Characteristics of this group:

Finally, a few of these topics arose during a recent school board member/candidate (all three ran unopposed this spring) forum. MP3 audio.

Change is hard and our children are paying a price, as Mr. Baskerville notes.

Why the Atlanta superintendent wants to close successful schools

Molly Bloom:

Atlanta school Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s plan to turn around the struggling school system calls for closing schools that, by Atlanta standards, are succeeding and merge those students with now-failing schools.

The closures will allow her to replace hundreds of teachers, bring in new leaders and save money by closing half-empty schools. District officials says the goal is to improve education for thousands of Atlanta children.

In addition to closing three schools, Carstarphen has also proposed hiring charter school groups to run five low-performing schools.

But her plan doesn’t make sense to some parents.

“Why would you close a school that’s improving?” asked Antonia Mickens, whose daughter attends one of the schools up for closure.

Meanwhile Madison is expanding its least diverse middle school: Hamilton.

A rather remarkable chart from the Madison School District Admini$tration

Tap for a larger version (view the complete pdf slide presentation).

I am astonished that the Madison School District’s administration published this chart. Why not publish the change in redistributed state (and federal) tax dollars over time as a percentage of total spending, along with academic outcomes?

This chart displays Madison’s redistributed state tax dollar receipts from 1995 to 2011-2012 (more here and here):

Further, this (PDF) enrollment document is a surprise after the community (small percentage voting) passed a rather large facility expansion referendum in early 2015. These funds include the expansion of Madison’s least diverse school: Hamilton Middle School.

“Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary schools and one of the 12 middle schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above their calculated capacities.”

Somewhat ironically, Madison has unused capacity in a number of schools, yet a successful Spring, 2015 referendum will spend another $41M+ to expand certain schools, including some of the least diverse such as Hamilton Middle School.

Madison School District (PDF):

Key Findings
1. Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary schools and one of the 12 middle schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above their calculated capacities.
2. Thirteen of the 32 elementary schools, two of the 12 middle schools, and one of the five high schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above the ideal 90% of capacity.

Portland Schools’ Proposed Boundary Changes

Laua Frazier:

Twenty out of 29 of the district’s K-8s have too few students in the middle grades, making it challenging to offer the same level of programming middle schools can, the district found. The district also has 11 schools that are over-crowded and nine that are under-enrolled.

The district developed performance indicators to show the impact of each proposal. Both would drop the number of over-crowded and under-enrolled schools to one. The percentage of students attending over-crowded schools would decline from 20 percent to 1 percent.

Madison is currently expanding one of its least diverse schools – Hamilton Middle School.

Madison Staffing Per School

Rather interesting data from the District’s latest $413,703,424 2015-2016 budget document.

The budget document includes total spending and a good amount of detail.

Tap for a larger view.

Van Hise and Hamilton are Madison’s least diverse schools, yet the District plans to expand their facilities. The staffing differences are rather illuminating, particularly when one considers the effectiveness of increased adult counts…

A PDF version is also available. The District document includes a few per school spending data points. It would be useful to see total spending per school.

Commentary on Madison Schools’ Governance, Priorities & Spending

David Blaska

Voters just approved a $41 million spending referendum. Now the Madison Metro School District says it needs to cut $10.8 million to cover a deficit. This is after rewarding its unionized teachers and support staff with a 2.5% pay increase in the budget approved late last year.

Who is running this store? Hint: It ain’t the Koch Brothers.

The cuts will require eliminating 110 positions, mostly teachers. How does this help minority achievement?

The school board rushed to ratify union contracts four years ago while protesters were still camping overnight in the State Capitol. The district scheduled a special meeting on a Saturday morning with only the minimally required public notice. I attended that meeting, but the public — the three of us who found the meeting — were not allowed to speak. The contract required no teacher contribution to their generous health insurance coverage.

School districts that took advantage of Act 10 are not laying off teachers.

Madison is paying for this folly by collecting teachers union boss John Matthews’ dues for him. Some of that money finds its way back to finance the school board members’ election campaigns. Sweet deal for the union, wormy apples for the students and their families, self-tapping screws for the taxpayers.

I continue to find it fascinating that Madison plans to expand two of its least diverse schools: Hamilton and Van Hise, despite capacity elsewhere and the District’s long term disastrous reading results.

Commentary on Madison’s April 7, 2015 Maintenance Referendum; District spending data remains MIA

Molly Beck:

If approved, the referendum would raise property taxes about $62 on the average $237,678 Madison home for 10 years. The district is still paying off $30 million in referendum debt for the construction of Olson and Chavez elementary schools in the late 2000s, according to the district. The final payment, for the Olson project, is due in 2026.

The aggressive school district campaign to get the word out to voters about the proposal and a community group that has been knocking on doors advocating for its passage have largely been met with very little opposition.

“It’s really quiet,” said board vice president James Howard. “I guess we’ll just have to wait until April 7 to find out” whether it has community support.

Board member T.J. Mertz, who has worked closely with the pro-referendum nonprofit Community And Schools Together, said the board has received about a half-dozen emails questioning the increase in property taxes.

“But there is no organized opposition,” Mertz said. “Whether that’s a function of apathy, the political culture of Madison or the lack of a strong Republican Party (in the city), or whether this is a popular measure, it’s impossible to read in the absence of no organized opposition,” adding that there also has not been a conservative school board candidate in about six years.

The proposal comes at a time when the school district faces at least a $12 million gap in its $435 million operating budget for the 2015-16 school year. The maintenance work and $2 million in technology costs also included in the proposal would ease pressure on the district’s budget, Mertz said.

I emailed Michael Barry to confirm Ms. Beck’s $435,000,000 Madison Schools’ budget number, which is 8% or $32,000,000 higher than the previously discussed $402,000,000 2014-2015 budget. I’ve not heard from Mr. Barry.

That said, pity the poor citizen who wishes to determine total spending or changes over time using the District’s published information.

Pat Schneider:

At a forum this week on the referendum projects, many in the crowd on the city’s near west side focused on property taxes and “what we’re doing to save money,” Silveira said Tuesday in a meeting with the Capital Times editorial board.

“People get confused. They think if we pass the referendum, we won’t have the gap on the operating side,” said Silveira, the current president of the school board who is retiring at the end of her term next month.

In fact, cuts in state funding will contribute to a shortfall that, if voters approve the referendum bond sale, would demand a property tax increase next year of up to nearly 5.2 percent to balance the budget, about 1 percent of which would be due to spending approved by the referendum.

Those projects to expand crowded schools, add accessibility and update mechanical systems, as listed in this article about referendum advocacy and detailed on a school district web page.

Wisconsin State Journal:

The State Journal editorial board endorses this reasonable request.

Madison’s per-pupil spending on schools is more than $1,000 above the state average of about $12,000. That’s mostly due to operational costs, including higher pay and benefits for employees.

Madison property taxes are high, too. That’s partly because the state sends less aid to Madison, based on a formula that penalizes communities with higher property value.

But when it comes to construction, the Madison School District has been conservative. The district with nearly 50 schools and 28,000 students has built only three new schools in the last 45 years.

Moreover, Madison’s debt per student is the lowest among all of the school districts in Dane County, and half the state average, according to district figures. At the same time, interest rates are incredibly low.

The proposed maintenance tax & spending referendum includes plans to expand two of the District’s least diverse schools: Van Hise & Hamilton.

Only 20 Percent Turnout Expected Statewide for Tuesday’s Election.

Commentary on tension in the Madison Schools over “One Size Fits All” vs. “Increased Rigor”

Maggie Ginsberg interviews Brandi Grayson:

Can you give an example of what you’ve described as “intent versus impact?”

The Behavior Education Plan that the [Madison Metropolitan] school district came up with. The impact is effed up, in so many words, and that’s because the voices that are most affected weren’t considered. It’s like standing outside of a situation and then coming in and telling people what they ought to do and should be doing, according to your experience and perspective, which is totally disconnected from the people you’re talking to and talking at. In order to come up with solutions that are effective, they have to come from the people who are living in it. When I first heard about this Behavior Education Plan, I immediately knew that it was going to affect our kids negatively. But people sitting on that board thought it was an amazing idea; we’ll stop suspensions, we’ll stop expulsions, we’ll fix the school-to-prison pipeline, which is all bullcrap, because now what’s happening is the impact; the school is putting all these children with emotional and behavioral issues in the same classroom. And because of the lawsuit with all the parents suing for advanced placement classes and resources not being added, they’ve taken all the introduction classes away. They can’t afford it. So then our students who may need general science or pre-algebra no longer have that. So then they take all these students who aren’t prepared for these classes and throw them in algebra, throw them in biology and all together in the same class. And you know it’s very intentional because if you have a population of two percent Blacks at a school of two thousand and all the Black kids are in the same class, that is not something that happens by random. And then you have kids like my daughter, who is prepared for school and can do well in algebra, but she’s distracted because she’s placed in a class with all these kids with IEP issues who, based on the Behavior Education Plan, cannot be removed from the classroom. So what does that do? It adds to the gap.

Speaking of education, you’ve mentioned the critical need to educate young Black kids on their own history.

Our children don’t know what’s happening to them in school, when they are interacting in these systems. Whether it’s the system of education, the justice system, the human services system, the system within their own families—that’s programming them to think they’re inferior. We have to educate our kids so they know what they’re dealing with. In Western history, we’re only taught that our relevance and our being started with slavery, but we know as we look back that that’s a lie. That we are filled with greatness and magnificence and if our children can connect the link between who they are and where they’ve come, then they can discover where they’re going. But with that disconnection, they feel hopeless. They feel despair. They feel like this is all life has to offer them and it’s their fault and there’s no way out. We have to begin to reprogram that narrative at kindergarten on up. We have to teach our children the importance of reading and knowledge and educating yourself and not depending on the education of the system because it’s already biased, based on the very nature of our culture.

Related: Brandi Grayson.

Talented and gifted lawsuit

English 10

High School Redesign

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results. This is the core issue, one that has simmered for decades despite Madison spending double the national average per student.

Ironically, the April, 2015 Madison schools tax increase referendum includes a plan to expand two of the least economically diverse schools:

Van Hise Elementary / Hamilton Middle

Problem: With enrollment numbers on the rise, this combination elementary/middle school exceeded capacity in 2013 and 2014. Because the building is designed for a smaller student enrollment, simply adding classroom space is not a solution.

Proposed Solution: Relocating the library to the center of the building and dividing it into elementary and middle school spaces will free up seven classroom-sized spaces currently used for library activities. Est. Cost: $3,151,730 – View Plan Details.

Candidates agree education is at crossroads

Madison School Board candidates Juan Jose Lopez and Lucy Mathiak look at what is happening in schools here in very different ways, but on at least one issue they are in complete agreement: Public education here and throughout the Badger State is at a critical crossroads.
But the two candidates vying for School Board Seat No. 2, which Lopez has held since 1994, have quite distinct notions about the nature of the challenges facing the Madison Metropolitan School District.
By Susan Troller, The Capital Times, March 21, 2006


Standards, Accountability, and School Reform

This is very long, and the link may require a password so I’ve posted the entire article on the continued page.
Standards, Accountability, and School Reform
by Linda Darling-Hammond — 2004
The standards-based reform movement has led to increased emphasis on tests, coupled with rewards and sanctions, as the basis for “accountability” systems. These strategies have often had unintended consequences that undermine access to education for low-achieving students rather than enhancing it. This article argues that testing is information for an accountability system; it is not the system itself. More successful outcomes have been secured in states and districts, described here, that have focused on broader notions of accountability, including investments in teacher knowledge and skill, organization of schools to support teacher and student learning, and systems of assessment that drive curriculum reform and teaching improvements.