Texas Education AGency (DPI) investigative report cites (open Meetings) misconduct, recommends replacement of HISD board

Jacob Carpenter: Texas Education Agency officials have recommended that a state-appointed governing team replace Houston ISD’s locally elected school board after a six-month investigation found several instances of alleged misconduct by some trustees, including violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act, inappropriate influencing of vendor contracts and making false statements to investigators. The recommendation and … Continue reading Texas Education AGency (DPI) investigative report cites (open Meetings) misconduct, recommends replacement of HISD board

Open Meetings And School Board Governance: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling

Wisconsin Supreme Court: ¶27 Applying these principles, we conclude that CAMRC was a committee created by rule under Wis. Stat. § 19.82(1). First, it qualifies as a “committee” for purposes of the open meetings law because it had a defined membership of 17 individuals upon whom was conferred the authority, as a body, to review … Continue reading Open Meetings And School Board Governance: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling

Should MMSD Board Follow Open Meetings Laws or Change Them?

In her posting, “Westside Land Purchase – was public if you were interested“, Marisue Horton suggests that I, as chair of the Madison School Board’s Legislative Committee “start making recommendations for change. Start changing the process instead of sitting around and bitching about it.” I am not suggesting that we need new processes. Like Lawrie … Continue reading Should MMSD Board Follow Open Meetings Laws or Change Them?

Madison schools test limits of open government with private board member meetings

Chris Rickert: Individually or in pairs, Madison School Board members spend hours each year in private “board briefings” with Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, discussing matters soon to come before the full board for votes that must be held in public. Cheatham instituted the briefings after she was hired in 2013, and district administrators and some board … Continue reading Madison schools test limits of open government with private board member meetings

Civics: Elections, Open Records and Special Interest Spending Commentary

Dan O’Donnell: Recently released emails reveal that last May, Racine Mayor Cory Mason emailed his fellow Democrat mayors in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and Kenosha to set up a virtual meeting during which “the Elections Planning Grant will be discussed.” That grant—from CTCL—was ultimately awarded to the five cities, which were dubbed “The Wisconsin Five.” … Continue reading Civics: Elections, Open Records and Special Interest Spending Commentary

Reading Meetings

Mark Seidenberg: Reading researcher and author Dr. Mark Seidenbergtalks with people working to improve literacy outcomes in the US and other countries. Teachers, school system administrators, activists, parents—and readers!—confront the hard questions about how to address low literacy outcomes, especially among children with other risk factors, such as poverty and development conditions such as dyslexia. Dr. Molly … Continue reading Reading Meetings

How the School Reopening Debate Is Tearing One of America’s Most Elite Suburbs Apart

Norene Malone: It was mid-August. The playgrounds of Brookline, Massachusetts, had finally reopened, and so the news spread fast. Sharon Abramowitz had resigned from the school committee. If a lab wanted to manufacture a school committee member to help the 7,800-student Brookline School District through the COVID crisis, it probably would’ve ended up with Abramowitz. … Continue reading How the School Reopening Debate Is Tearing One of America’s Most Elite Suburbs Apart

Quincy Local Refuses to Endorse Massachusetts Teachers Association Reopening Statement

Mike Antonucci: The Massachusetts Teachers Association has been active since the COVID-19 shutdown — surveying members, holding meetings and issuing guidelines and policies. The state union hasn’t been shy about providing bargaining instructions to local affiliates, some of which go beyond the standard problems associated with reopening. Last week the MTA board of directors approved a policy statement, … Continue reading Quincy Local Refuses to Endorse Massachusetts Teachers Association Reopening Statement

Madison City Council members warned about illegal meetings

: In a memo to council members on Wednesday, which mentions a local political party but doesn’t name Progressive Dane, May wrote, “I was deeply disturbed to hear reports this week that seven or eight alders met privately to discuss matters on the City Council agenda. Such meetings almost certainly involve negative quorums on some … Continue reading Madison City Council members warned about illegal meetings

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

Taxpayer supported Dane County Board joins the Madison School Board in ignoring open meeting laws

Chris Rickert: Groups of Dane County Board members have since 2014 been meeting privately and without any public notice to discuss government business — a practice that echoes private caucus meetings the liberal-dominated board has conducted in years past. Meetings between the board’s leadership and leaders of some of its key committees, first reported by … Continue reading Taxpayer supported Dane County Board joins the Madison School Board in ignoring open meeting laws

Open Records vs the taxpayer funded Madison school board

Chris Rickert: Nicki Vander Meulen, who was elected to the board in 2017 and serves as the board’s clerk, said that in response to the union’s push, district administrators in a private “board briefing” Monday with her and another board member said acceding to the union’s demand would set a “bad precedent.” “That’s virtually telling … Continue reading Open Records vs the taxpayer funded Madison school board

The University of Wisconsin Madison Loses an Open Records Lawsuit

Kelly Meyerhofer: A Dane County circuit judge recently ruled that UW-Madison broke the state’s public records and open meetings laws — violations that may cost the university more than $40,000. UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health failed to turn over records relating to how a committee awarded millions of dollars from an endowment for … Continue reading The University of Wisconsin Madison Loses an Open Records Lawsuit

Madison schools superintendent pens open letter following Whitehorse incident, calls for action

Negassi Tesfamichael: In an open letter to the community released Thursday morning, Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham acknowledged that the district “cannot be silent” on issues of racial justice. The letter comes eight days after media reports surfaced regarding an alleged assault at Whitehorse Middle School. In that incident, which is still being investigated … Continue reading Madison schools superintendent pens open letter following Whitehorse incident, calls for action

City of Madison Initiative Demonstrates Lack of Transparency: MOST fails to provide public with information and access to meetings and records

Anna Welch and Mckenna Kohlenberg: In the five years since the group’s inception, MOST has not given the public notice of its meetings times, dates, locations, and agendas, allowing little to no oversight. According to an internal document from a 2014 meeting, MOST formalized an “Action Team” that began meeting twice a month starting July … Continue reading City of Madison Initiative Demonstrates Lack of Transparency: MOST fails to provide public with information and access to meetings and records

Local Newspaper Adds Sunshine to Madison Schools Budget Process via an Open Records Request…

Molly Beck Even so, “I don’t think they followed the law,” Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council president Bill Lueders said after reviewing minutes from the meetings. “I think they interpreted the (open meetings law) exemption overbroadly. The idea of an open meetings law is that exemptions are supposed to be for extraordinary circumstances and narrowly … Continue reading Local Newspaper Adds Sunshine to Madison Schools Budget Process via an Open Records Request…

Voucher schools should be more open

Sarah Karon:

Back in 1990, when Milwaukee launched the nation’s first publicly funded voucher program, participating schools could enroll no more than 49 percent voucher students. These schools were considered private, because the majority of their students paid private tuition.
Fast-forward to 2013.
Now, more than half of Milwaukee’s 110 voucher schools have at least 95 percent of students on publicly funded vouchers. In one-fifth of these schools, every student receives a voucher.
Yet because voucher schools are still classified as “private,” they can — and do — ignore Wisconsin’s open records and meetings laws. It’s a double standard that undermines transparency and shields information from parents and the public.

Madison Urban League Meeting Closed, Unless its Open

Samara Kalk Derby:

A meeting Wednesday to discuss the minority achievement gap in the Madison district will be closed to the media, even if that means kicking School Board members out, the organizer said Monday.
The Urban League of Greater Madison invited Madison School Board members to its meeting facilitated by an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, but if four board members attend, it would be considered a quorum of the school board and need to abide by the open meetings law.
Four of the seven school board members confirmed with the State Journal Monday that they plan to attend the meeting.
“We’ll have to kick one of them out,” said Urban League President Kaleem Caire, laughing. “I’m serious.”

An Open Letter to the Wisconsin Read To Lead Task Force on Implementing Common Core Academic Standards; DPI: “Leading Us Backwards”

Dan Gustafson, PhD 133K PDF, via a kind email from the Wisconsin Reading Coalition:

WRC recommends reading the following open letter from Madison neuropsychologist Dan Gustafson to the Governor’s Read to Lead task force. It reflects many of our concerns about the state of reading instruction in Wisconsin and the lack of an effective response from the Department of Public Instruction.
An Open Letter to the Read-To-Lead Task Force
From Dan Gustafson, PhD
State Superintendent Evers, you appointed me to the Common Core Leadership Group. You charged that the Leadership Group would guide Wisconsin’s implementation of new reading instruction standards developed by the National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
It is my understanding that I was asked to join the group with the express purpose of bringing different voices to the table. If anything, my experience with the group illustrates how very far we need to go in achieving a transparent and reasoned discussion about the reading crisis in Wisconsin.
DPI Secretly Endorses Plan Created by Poor Performing CESA-7
I have grave concerns about DPI’s recent announcement that Wisconsin will follow CESA-7’s approach to implementing the Common Core reading standards. DPI is proposing this will be the state’s new model reading curriculum.
I can attest that there was absolutely no consensus reached in the Common Core group in support of CESA-7’s approach. In point of fact, at the 27th of June Common Core meeting, CESA-7 representative Claire Wick refused to respond to even general questions about her program.
I pointed out that our group, the Common Core Leadership Group, had a right to know about how CESA-7 intended to implement the Common Core Standards. She denied this was the case, citing a “non-disclosure agreement.”
The moderator of the discussion, DPI’s Emilie Amundson, concurred that Claire didn’t need to discuss the program further on the grounds that it was only a CESA-7 program. Our Common Core meeting occurred on the 27th of June. Only two weeks later, on July 14th, DPI released the following statement:
State Superintendent Evers formally adopted the Common Core State Standards in June 2010, making Wisconsin the first state in the country to adopt these rigorous, internationally benchmarked set of expectations for what students should know and are expected to do in English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards guide both curriculum and assessment development at the state level. Significant work is now underway to determine how training will be advanced for these new standards, and DPI is currently working with CESA 7 to develop a model curriculum aligned to the new standards.
In glaring contrast to the deliberative process that went into creating the Common Core goals, Wisconsin is rushing to implement the goals without being willing to even show their program to their own panel of experts.
What Do We Know About Wisconsin/CESA-7’s Model Curriculum?
As an outsider to DPI, I was only able to locate one piece of data regarding CESA-7’s elementary school reading performance:
What Claire did say about her philosophy and the CESA-7 program, before she decided to refuse further comment, was that she did not think significant changes were needed in reading instruction in Wisconsin, as “only three-percent” of children were struggling to read in the state. This is a strikingly low number, one that reflects an arbitrary cutoff for special education. Her view does not reflect the painful experience of the 67% of Wisconsin 4th graders who scored below proficient on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
As people in attendance at the meeting can attest, Claire also said that her approach was “not curriculum neutral” and she was taking a “strong stand” on how to teach reading. Again, when I pressed her on what these statements meant, she would only reference oblique whole language jargon, such as a belief in the principal of release from instruction. When I later asked her about finding a balance that included more phonics instruction, she said “too much emphasis” had been given to balanced literacy. After making her brief statements to the Common Core group, she said she had already disclosed too much, and refused to provide more details about the CESA-7 program.
Disregarding Research and Enormous Gains Made by other States, Wisconsin Continues to Stridently Support Whole Language
During the remainder of the day-long meeting on the 27th, I pressed the group to decide about a mechanism to achieve an expert consensus grounded in research. I suggested ways we could move beyond the clear differences that existed among us regarding how to assess and teach reading.
The end product of the meeting, however, was just a list of aspirational goals. We were told this would likely be the last meeting of the group. There was no substantive discussion about implementation of the goals–even though this had been Superintendent Evers’ primary mandate for the group.
I can better understand now why Emilie kept steering the discussion back to aspirational goals. The backroom deal had already been made with Claire and other leaders of the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA). It would have been inconvenient to tell me the truth.
WSRA continues to unapologetically champion a remarkably strident version of whole-language reading instruction. Please take a look at the advocacy section of their website. Their model of reading instruction has been abandoned through most the United States due to lack of research support. It is still alive and well in CESA-7, however.
Our State Motto is “Forward”
After years of failing to identify and recommend model curriculum by passing it off as an issue of local control, the DPI now purports to lead. Unfortunately, Superintendent Evers, you are now leading us backward.
Making CESA-7 your model curriculum is going to cause real harm. DPI is not only rashly and secretly endorsing what appears to be a radical version of whole language, but now school districts who have adopted research validated procedures, such as the Monroe School District, will feel themselves under pressure to fall in line with your recommended curriculum.
By all appearances, CESA-7’s program is absolutely out of keeping with new Federal laws addressing Response to Intervention and Wisconsin’s own Specific Learning Disability Rule. CESA-7’s program will not earn us Race to the Top funding. Most significantly, CESA-7’s approach is going to harm children.
In medicine we would call this malpractice. There is clear and compelling data supporting one set of interventions (Monroe), and another set of intervention that are counter-indicated (CESA-7). This is not a matter of opinion, or people taking sides. This is an empirical question. If you don’t have them already, I hope you will find trusted advisors who will rise above the WSRA obfuscation and just look at the data. It is my impression that you are moving fast and receiving poor advice.
I am mystified as to why, after years of making little headway on topics related to reading, DPI is now making major decisions at a breakneck pace. Is this an effort to circumvent the Read-To-Lead Task Force by instituting new policies before the group has finished its scheduled meetings? Superintendent Evers, why haven’t you shared anything about the CESA-7 curriculum with them? Have you already made your decision, or are you prepared to show the Read-To-Lead that there is a deliberative process underway to find a true model curriculum?
There are senior leaders at DPI who recognize that the reading-related input DPI has received has been substantially unbalanced. For example, there were about five senior WSRA members present at the Common Core meetings, meaning that I was substantially outnumbered. While ultimately unsuccessful due to logistics, an 11th hour effort was made to add researchers and leadership members from the Wisconsin Reading Coalition to the Common Core group.
The Leadership Group could achieve what you asked of it, which is to thoughtfully guide implementation of the Common Core. I am still willing to work with you on this goal.
State Superintendent Evers, I assume that you asked me to be a member of the Leadership Group in good faith, and will be disappointed to learn of what actually transpired with the group. You may have the false impression that CESA-7’s approach was vetted at your Common Core Leadership Group. Lastly, and most importantly, I trust you have every desire to see beyond destructive politics and find a way to protect the welfare of the children of Wisconsin.
Dan Gustafson, PhD, EdM
Neuropsychologist, Dean Clinic

View a 133K PDF or Google Docs version.
How does Wisconsin Compare: 2 Big Goals.
Wisconsin Academic Standards

Wisconsin Teacher Content Knowledge Requirement Comparison

Maury County schools to open Monday as budget impasse continues

Nicole Young:

Schools will be open in Maury County on Monday, but the system’s future is uncertain as the school board and county commission continue to disagree on a budget.
School Board Chairman Shay Daniels and Director of Schools Eddie Hickman met with the county mayor and chairman of the Maury County Commission for about two hours Friday afternoon to discuss options for the district, Daniels said.
“We knew the commission was meeting on Monday so it makes sense for schools to be in session that day,” Daniels said. “We hope the outcome of the commission meeting will allow us to use reserve fund money to balance our budget and move forward.”
The Monday meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m., will mark the fifth time the Maury County Commission has seen the schools budget. The school board has submitted three different budgets at past meetings. The current budget proposal has been shot down twice.

Primary cancelled for Detroit school board as no candidates file to run for open seats

Jonathan Oosting:

It’s been a tough year for the Detroit Board of Education.
So tough, it appears nobody wants the job.
The Detroit News reported this weekend that not a single candidate has filed to run for two open seats on the 11-member board. As a result, the race will not appear on the city’s Aug. 3 primary ballot.
But really, can you blame potential candidates for seeking other opportunities?
The popularity of the board hit perhaps an all-time low last month when then-president Otis Mathis resigned amid allegations he fondled himself during meetings with Superintendent Theresa Gueyser. He’s since been charged criminally.

Steamboat Springs School Board Settles Open Meeting Lawsuit with Newspaper

Jack Weinstein:

The Steamboat Springs School Board formally accepted a lawsuit settlement offer from the Pilot & Today on Monday.
The settlement was tentatively approved by board members last month on the heels of a March ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals that the previous School Board violated the state’s Open Meetings Law by not properly announcing the intention of its executive session at a Jan. 8, 2007, meeting. As a result of the ruling and settlement offer, the district will pay $50,000 of the newspaper’s attorney fees and release the transcripts from the illegal meeting.
The motion to accept the settlement offer was approved 4-1 on Monday, with a couple of board members expressing satisfaction that the lawsuit is now behind them. Board member John DeVincentis was the only dissenting vote, but he wasn’t the only one displeased with the outcome.

Mathmetician The Best Job in the US; Madison Math Task Force Community Meetings Tonight & Tomorrow

Sarah Needleman:

Nineteen years ago, Jennifer Courter set out on a career path that has since provided her with a steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs. Now, her occupation — mathematician — has landed at the top spot on a new study ranking the best and worst jobs in the U.S.
“It’s a lot more than just some boring subject that everybody has to take in school,” says Ms. Courter, a research mathematician at mental images Inc., a maker of 3D-visualization software in San Francisco. “It’s the science of problem-solving.”
The study, to be released Tuesday from CareerCast.com, a new job site, evaluates 200 professions to determine the best and worst according to five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress. (CareerCast.com is published by Adicio Inc., in which Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. holds a minority stake.)
The findings were compiled by Les Krantz, author of “Jobs Rated Almanac,” and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and Mr. Krantz’s own expertise.
According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions — indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise — unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren’t expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching — attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.
The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job’s median income and growth potential. Mathematicians’ annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount.


Parents and citizens have another opportunity to provide input on this matter when Brian Sniff, Madison’s Math Coordinator and Lisa Wachtel, Director of Madison’s Teaching & Learning discuss the Math Report at a Cherokee Middle School PTO meeting on January 14, 2009 at 7:00p.m.

Open Letter to BOE Re. High School Redesign

Dear BOE, Hi, everyone. We are writing to share a few thoughts about Monday night’s Special Meeting on the High School Redesign and SLC grant. We are writing to you and copying the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent — rather than writing to them and copying you — in order to underscore our belief that you, … Continue reading Open Letter to BOE Re. High School Redesign

The status quo in education is not acceptable

Hoppy Kercheval:

It’s understandable that friends and admirers of former state school superintendent Jorea Marple are upset with her firing.
Marple spent a lifetime in public education in West Virginia, and she built strong relationships.
The board did not help its case by potentially running afoul of the state’s open meetings law when it dismissed Marple two weeks ago.
On Thursday, the board held a special meeting, allowed Marple supporters to vent, and then cured any legal question with a do-over of Marple’s firing.
Her dismissal is apparently a result of a clash of ideas between Marple, school board president Wade Linger, and others on the board over how to respond to the independent audit of the school system released nearly a year ago.

Highland Park, MI School board activist seeks removal of districts’ emergency financial managers

Chastity Pratt Dawsey:

Highland Park school board member Robert Davis is asking the state attorney general to remove the emergency financial managers running the Highland Park and Detroit public school districts.
Davis, who has successfully sued public bodies for violating legal procedures of the Open Meetings Act, claims that Gov. Rick Snyder skipped several steps when he appointed the managers Wednesday.
Davis expects Attorney General Bill Schuette to deny his argument. Schuette’s office provides legal representation for emergency financial managers.

NM unions complain about teacher evaluation plan

Associated Press:

Three New Mexico teachers unions are complaining the state Public Education Department has failed to consult parents and teachers as it crafts a new teacher evaluation system.
The state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and the Albuquerque Education Assistants Association sent a letter Friday to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The letter claims the state didn’t include any teachers nominated by the American Teachers Federation on its evaluation task force.
The letter also says parents and school board members weren’t included and that the task force violated the Open Meetings Act by meeting without public notice.

Walker should take bulls-eye off the backs of teachers

Paul Fanlund:

Gesturing like a conductor, the Van Hise Elementary teacher exhorted her third-graders for answers while deftly involving a special-needs youngster.
I was in class as part of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools’ “principal for a day” program, and I recall thinking: This would be a really tough job to do well day after day.
Teachers have always impressed me, apparently a lot more than they do Scott Walker.
The Republican governor continues to wage his cynical campaign against labor unions representing teachers and other public employees. The conflict rumbles on, with a judge ruling last week that the legislative vote to extinguish collective bargaining rights violated the state’s open meetings law.
The collateral damage to the morale and reputations of Wisconsin’s 60,000 or so classroom teachers seems of no concern to Walker and his allies inside and outside the state.
In fact, based on recent Walker press releases, teachers and teachers unions remain a prime target. In terms of there being a bulls-eye on teachers’ backs, just consider last week.

Idaho K-12 Reform Plans Included Bargaining Transparency

Maureen Dolan:

Under the proposed plan, all new educators will have two-year contracts with raises and bonuses based on student achievement. Teachers with seniority will not be protected from workforce reduction layoffs, and collective bargaining will be limited to salary and wage-related benefits.
“We think that gives the local elected school board more control over the staff and the people that work in their schools,” Luna said.
The plan further requires that once agreements between local teachers unions and school boards are reached, they must be published online immediately by school districts. In addition, collective bargaining negotiations for those contracts must take place during open meetings, with parents, teachers and the public able to observe.
The state will publish a fiscal report card for every district showing per-pupil spending, how much of a district’s budget is going into the classroom, how much is spent on administration and how each district compares to other districts in the state.
Funding for the reform package aligns with the governor’s proposed K-12 public schools budget of $1.2 billion, and includes a multi-year spending strategy using revenue from some cost-saving measures to pay for other programs.

How Does a School Board Enforce Policy?

Charlie Mas:

It’s a simple question, isn’t it? The Board Directors, if asked, all claim (rather indignantly) that they DO enforce policy. The state auditor says they don’t. I can’t find any evidence that indicates that the Board enforces policy. More than that, I can’t even think of HOW the Board enforces policy.
No Board member alone can speak for the Board. So no Board member, on their own, can direct the superintendent to do anything. So if an individual Board member, such as Director Martin-Morris, were to discover that a policy, such as Policy B61.00 which requires the superintendent to provide annual reports on District programs, wasn’t being followed because there is no report on the Spectrum program, what could he do about it? I suppose he could ask the superintendent, pretty please, to provide the report, but what if she didn’t? He could not, on his own, compel her compliance with the policy.
If the Board, as a group, wanted to enforce a policy, such as Policy C54.00 which requires the superintendent to get input from the community before assigning a principal to an alternative school, they would have to meet to do it. Any meeting of a quorum of Board members would be subject to the Open Meetings Act, and would require the posting of an agenda in advance and minutes afterward. There are no minutes from any meeting that describe the Board as taking action to enforce policies.

Seattle School District Citizen Lawsuit Update: New Student Assignment Plan

via a Dan Dempsey email, 7/25/2010 483K PDF

The first finding of the Audit Report is “The Seattle School District did not comply with state law on recording meeting minutes and making them available to the public”. Id., p. 6. The auditor found: “We determined the Board did not record minutes at retreats and workshops in the 2008 – 2009 school year. Id. These retreats and workshops were held to discuss the budget, student assignment boundaries, school closures and strategic planning”. [Emphasis Supplied] Id., p. 6. The school board’s decisions regarding student assignment boundaries and school closures are the subject of the Commissioner’s ruling denying review in the Briggs and Ovalles discretionary review proceedings and in this original action.
The Auditor described the effect of these violations to be: “When minutes of special meetings are not promptly recorded, information on Board discussions is not made available to the public”. Id., p. 6. The Auditor recommended “the District establish procedures to ensure that meeting minutes are promptly recorded and made available to the public.” Id., p. 6. The District’s response was: “The District concurs with the finding and the requirement under OPMA that any meeting of the quorum of the board members to discuss district business is to be treated as a special or regular meeting of the OPMA.” Id. p. 6. Thus, the school board admits the Transcripts of Evidence in the Ovalles and Briggs appeals contains no minutes of the discussions relating to student assignments and school closures, even though the law required otherwise. Additionally, there is no indication of what evidence the school board actually considered with regard to the school closures and the new student assignment plan at retreats and workshops devoted to these specific decisions.
The fifth finding of the Auditor’s Report was: “5. The School Board and District Management have not implemented sufficient policies and controls to ensure the District complies with state laws, its own policies, or addresses concerns raised in prior audits”. Id., p. 25. In a section entitled “description of the condition” the report states: “In all the
areas we examined we found lax or non-existent controls in District operations. …” Id., p. 25. With regard to the Open Meetings Act the Auditor noted continuing violations of state law and that “the District did not develop policies and procedures to adequately address prior audit recommendations.” Id, at p. 27.

Related: Recall drive for 5 of 7 Seattle School Board members.

Secret straw poll guided Madison School Board deliberations

Gayle Worland:

Madison School Board members used a secret straw poll, conducted via e-mail, to guide their deliberations over how to close a nearly $30 million budget hole for next year.
The move has raised questions about whether the board violated the state open meetings law by coming to agreement on decisions before taking a public vote.
“In my opinion it violates the spirit of the open-meeting procedures, if not the exact letter,” said Peter Fox, executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
But board president Arlene Silveira defended the process, saying the board sought to make its handling of the 2010-11 budget as transparent as possible. With more than 200 potential budget cuts proposed by district administrators, the board needed a way to streamline the process of reviewing the cuts, she said.

Information wants to be free

Alice Herman: For individuals and organizations seeking state records, Wisconsin law is clear: the state guarantees public access to government business, barring “exceptional cases,” and identifies a lack of transparency as “generally contrary to the public interest.” Despite the fact that the public right to state information is baked into Wisconsin legal code, freedom of … Continue reading Information wants to be free

Mckenna Kohlenberg: Why transparency is needed in Madison’s superintendent hiring process, and how to do it

Mckenna Kohlenberg: My concern stems from recent Board actions that I find concerning enough to warrant this stern message. As local press has noted (here too), the Board’s recent activities suggest a troublesome pattern of skirting, if not outright violating, open meetings and public records laws. Wisconsin law requires school boards, like other local public … Continue reading Mckenna Kohlenberg: Why transparency is needed in Madison’s superintendent hiring process, and how to do it

Madison’s school board vacancy

Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick: Thus, I actively participated when MMSD crafted the Behavior Education Plan (BEP). Indeed, I was the person who suggested that it should carry that name instead of simply MMSD’s Discipline policy, because moving away from zero tolerance also requires MMSD to actively engage in teaching children with challenging behaviors how to behave properly. … Continue reading Madison’s school board vacancy

Madison school board’s chickens are roosting

David Blaska: Tony Gallli, dean of the Madison’s broadcast journalists at WKOW-TV27, asked our favorite candidate for Madison School Board Seat #4: Any concerns over using a live feed into the MMSD auditorium Monday evening to satisfy the Open Meetings requirement, as the school board met in a room closed to the public? Blaska answered: … Continue reading Madison school board’s chickens are roosting

City of Madison Initiative Demonstrates Lack of Transparency

Anna Welch and Mckenna Kohlenberg: Local watchdogs and litigators say a City of Madison initiative and its multiple committees should provide the public with greater transparency. In a unanimous 2017 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that committees created by local governmental bodies in Wisconsin are themselves governmental bodies subject to the state’s open meetings … Continue reading City of Madison Initiative Demonstrates Lack of Transparency

After New Orleans students expelled in ‘fake weed’ case, advocacy groups take legal action

Chad Calder: Two advocacy groups have taken legal action in Orleans Parish Civil District Court against the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts over the expulsions of two students seen on campus surveillance video smoking what appeared to be — but what they say was not — marijuana. The Louisiana Justice Institute has asked for … Continue reading After New Orleans students expelled in ‘fake weed’ case, advocacy groups take legal action

Public Information and Tonight’s Land Purchase Vote

Tonight the Board of Education will vote on approving the purchase of land in the proposed plat of Linden Park located along Redan Road on the west side of Madison. The Board will vote on approving the purchase of 8.234 acres for the price of $535,258.83. One provision of the agreement requires the District to … Continue reading Public Information and Tonight’s Land Purchase Vote

Board of Education’s 2005-06 evaluation of superintendent: next steps

On October 31, the Human Resources Committee of the Madison Board of Education reviewed a memo from Juan Jose Lopez, the chair of the committee. According to the memo, the Board developed goals for the 2005-06 evaluation of the superintendent during its recent closed sessions to evaluate his performance between 2002 and now. If so, … Continue reading Board of Education’s 2005-06 evaluation of superintendent: next steps

Health Talks Won’t Be Secret

Jason Shepherd wrote about the nature of the Madison School District’s joint committee with MTI (Madison Teachers Inc.)regarding health care costs. Initially, according to Shepherd, Madison School Board President Carol Carstensen said that “the open meeting law does not apply to the committee”. KJ Jakobsen, a parent studying the District’s health insurance costs, wants to … Continue reading Health Talks Won’t Be Secret

Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool

The current music education upheaval at Sherman Middle School is about what Madison values for our children’s education, such as academic music education during the school day and who makes those decisions. It is not about money, because teacher allocations will be needed to teach the 8th hour same as during the school day. Making … Continue reading Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool

A parent’s account of how the relatively well-staffed education team at the Seattle Times failed to hold the school district accountable.

Alexandra Olins: On March 11, 2020, a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) was the first large school district in the country to close. First, we were told there would be no school during the closure because the district couldn’t distribute laptops to everyone — despite … Continue reading A parent’s account of how the relatively well-staffed education team at the Seattle Times failed to hold the school district accountable.

Law firm calls on Sun Prairie to reject race-based ‘community conversation’ groups

Chris Rickert: Conservative law firm calls on Sun Prairie to reject race-based ‘community conversation’ groups A conservative, Milwaukee-based law firm on Wednesday called on the city of Sun Prairie and its school district to cancel plans to host race-based “affinity” groups as part of their effort to address issues of race, diversity and inclusion. The … Continue reading Law firm calls on Sun Prairie to reject race-based ‘community conversation’ groups

The Geography of COVID-19

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox: The problem is not density per se but rather the severe overcrowding associated with poverty in high density areas. Overcrowded physical proximity often includes insufficiently ventilated spaces such as crowded public transit, elevators, and employment locations, especially high-rise buildings, which often have windows that cannot be opened. Overcrowded bars, restaurants, and other … Continue reading The Geography of COVID-19

Potential lawsuit over Madison West High Racial Segregation Policies

WILL: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a letter, Monday, to Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent, Dr. Carlton Jenkins, urging the school district to address the racial segregation employed at Madison West High School for Zoom conversations on current events. This is the second occasion in the last year where WILL has warned … Continue reading Potential lawsuit over Madison West High Racial Segregation Policies

Civics: The Leading Activists for Online Censorship Are Corporate Journalists

Glenn Greenwald: While I share the ostensible motive behind the bill — to stem the serious crisis of bankruptcies and closings of local news outlets — I do not believe that this bill will end up doing that, particularly because it empowers the largest media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC to dominate the process and … Continue reading Civics: The Leading Activists for Online Censorship Are Corporate Journalists

Teacher resistance is a disaster for the most vulnerable.

David Brooks: Private and some public schools are already operating safely all around the country, with little evidence that attendance is spreading the virus. The third fact is that teachers unions don’t seem to have adjusted to the facts. In Washington, Chicago and elsewhere, unions have managed to shut down in-class instruction. The Chicago public … Continue reading Teacher resistance is a disaster for the most vulnerable.

Commentary on Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: “Madison’s status quo tends to be very entrenched.”

Scott Girard: “The problem was we could not get the teachers to commit to the coaching.” Since their small success, not much has changed in the district’s overall results for teaching young students how to read. Ladson-Billings called the ongoing struggles “frustrating,” citing an inability to distinguish between what’s important and what’s a priority in … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: “Madison’s status quo tends to be very entrenched.”

Civics: Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor

Glenn Greenwald: The New York Post is one of the country’s oldest and largest newspapers. Founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, only three U.S. newspapers are more widely circulated. Ever since it was purchased in 1976 by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, it has been known — like most Murdoch-owned papers — for right-wing tabloid sensationalism, … Continue reading Civics: Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor

Frustrated Middleton-Cross Plains parent group calls (school board) recall effort a ‘last resort’

Elizabeth Beyer: She said the curriculum offered to students was not intended to be delivered digitally and her children now have online meetings with their teachers for five hours each week compared to 30 hours of live teaching prior to the pandemic. “We need to give parents options so those who feel safe sending their … Continue reading Frustrated Middleton-Cross Plains parent group calls (school board) recall effort a ‘last resort’

Fall 2020 Madison School District Referenda Notes & Links

Taxpayers have long supported the Madison School District’s far above average spending, while tolerating our long term, disastrous reading results. The district has placed substantial tax and spending increase referendums on the November, 2020 Presidential ballot. A presenter [org chart] further mentioned that Madison spends about $1 per square foot in annual budget maintenance while … Continue reading Fall 2020 Madison School District Referenda Notes & Links

Free Expression of Professors and Its Prudential Limits

Conversable Economist: About a century ago, there was a tussle in higher education policy about the freedom of professors to express opinions. Academic tenure was not yet well-established, and so the prospect of professors being fired because they openly disagreed with someone in academic or political power were quite real. In 1915, the “General Report … Continue reading Free Expression of Professors and Its Prudential Limits

Colleges Face A No-Win Dilemma: To Cut Or Not to Cut Tuition?

Chronicle: Amid all the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic for higher education, two things are becoming clear. Most students yearn to come back to campus in the fall, in spite of the risks. And if, instead, students wind up receiving online instruction come September, they don’t want to pay full tuition. These two factors are … Continue reading Colleges Face A No-Win Dilemma: To Cut Or Not to Cut Tuition?

“The (taxpayer supported Madison School) district paid for $11,607.45 in legal fees as part of the settlement, but did not admit any wrongdoing.

Scott Girard: An open records lawsuit filed anonymously against the Madison Metropolitan School District last fall was settled in May after the district released the records sought. A “John Doe” filed the lawsuit against the district last November represented by attorney Tom Kamenick, the president and founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project. “My client and I are … Continue reading “The (taxpayer supported Madison School) district paid for $11,607.45 in legal fees as part of the settlement, but did not admit any wrongdoing.

LA Schools Go Online, but Seattle and others Say No

Danny Westneat: So Los Angeles announced an “unprecedented commitment” of $100 million in emergency funding to get all students who need them both devices and internet access for continuing their educations online this year. Compare to what school leaders have been saying here. Seattle Public Schools “won’t transition to online learning,” Superintendent Denise Juneau tweeted last week. “2 things … Continue reading LA Schools Go Online, but Seattle and others Say No

Christina Gomez Schmidt and Wayne Strong for Madison School Board

Wisconsin State Journal: With a pandemic closing schools, protesters disrupting board meetings and a new superintendent starting June 1, the Madison School District needs stability and experience. That’s what Christina Gomez Schmidt, seeking Seat 6, and Wayne Strong, running for Seat 7, will provide on the Madison School Board. The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board … Continue reading Christina Gomez Schmidt and Wayne Strong for Madison School Board

“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 … Continue reading “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.”

School Helps Top Testers Bring Home the Bacon for Lunar New Year

Sixth Tone: A Shanghai-based women’s rights group is planning to propose a new parental leave policy for the city that would extend time off for new parents and include mandatory leave for fathers, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Wednesday. The Shanghai Women’s Federation — the municipal branch of China’s quasi-official women’s rights group — said Wednesday that … Continue reading School Helps Top Testers Bring Home the Bacon for Lunar New Year

Madison School District superintendent finalists visit this week

Scott Girard: The three finalists to be the next leader of the Madison Metropolitan School District will visit the city this week. Their “Day in the District” will begin at 8 a.m. with meetings with community and staff groups until 11, followed by lunch with students until noon. The afternoon will include school visits, meetings with the … Continue reading Madison School District superintendent finalists visit this week

Critical Thinking is Nothing Without Knowledge

DJ Buck: Among high school students, I’ve seen puzzled looks in response to the mention of Adolf Hitler, segregation, Thomas Jefferson, the Cold War, Aristotle and the Bill of Rights—among other things. This shocking lack of knowledge has a noxious effect on student thought. Take a question I gave during a video assignment: to which … Continue reading Critical Thinking is Nothing Without Knowledge

Commentary on 2020 Madison School Board Election Candidates

Scott Girard: For the past seven months, Strong has been a program associate with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Strong said in an interview Thursday he considers school safety and racial disparities in discipline and achievement to be the top issues facing MMSD. “We have to make sure that our schools are safe … Continue reading Commentary on 2020 Madison School Board Election Candidates

Commentary on the Madison School Board’s Superintendent Search Finalists

Scott Girard: The finalists are: •Matthew Gutierrez, the superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District in Seguin, Texas. He is a former interim and deputy superintendent in the Little Elm Independent School District and received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Texas Tech, according to the district’s announcement. •Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, an assistant professor of … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School Board’s Superintendent Search Finalists

Mission vs. Organization: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

This meeting was held at Lakeview public library. Asking attendees to leave would have been a violation of the Madison Public Library’s rules of use, which require that “meetings be free and open to the general public at all times.” pic.twitter.com/BRgxOnbSmk — Chan Stroman (@eduphilia) December 13, 2019 It was nonetheless made quite apparent that … Continue reading Mission vs. Organization: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

How the Collapse of Local News Is Causing a ‘National Crisis’

Julie Bosman: School board and city council meetings are going uncovered. Overstretched reporters receive promising tips about stories, but have no time to follow up. Newspapers publish fewer pages or less frequently or, in hundreds of cases across the country, have shuttered completely. All of this has added up to a crisis in local news … Continue reading How the Collapse of Local News Is Causing a ‘National Crisis’

Madison School District facilities plan recommends selling Downtown administrative building

Logan Wroge: The plan suggests that within the next two years, the district begin to identify potential buyers for the building and search for a new location that “meets our operational and instructional support needs, has sufficient parking, is near public transportation, and is somewhat centrally located.” The building — renamed in 1990 for longtime … Continue reading Madison School District facilities plan recommends selling Downtown administrative building

Superintendents’ group should spend more time on academics, next leader says

Jeffrey Solochek: “In the last two years, we have had very little conversation at our meetings about student achievement,” said Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning, who assumes the leadership post in July. “We need to bring it back into balance.” Browning noted the state has taken an increasing tough line with schools that do not … Continue reading Superintendents’ group should spend more time on academics, next leader says

Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

2013: What will be different, this time? Incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Madison Rotary Talk. December, 2018: “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” 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end … Continue reading Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

“Yes, to Year Around School” Podcast Transcript (Not in the Madison School District)

Scoot Milfred and Phil Hands: Usual mumbo-jumbo, we do on this podcast. Why don’t we invite in today some experts to talk about our topic which is around school. Which Madison is finally going to give a try this fall to experts. I know very well we have all hands on deck here. We have … Continue reading “Yes, to Year Around School” Podcast Transcript (Not in the Madison School District)

The other problem with cultural codes in a meritocracy

Daniel Drezner:: Based on my own conversations, it would seem that most traditional D.C. wonks look at most of the Trump family and see a bunch of wealthy, not-very-bright boors who do déclassé things like eat their steaks well-done and with ketchup. Indeed, there is a whole conservative genre defending the Trumps for some of … Continue reading The other problem with cultural codes in a meritocracy

Math and the Best Life — an Interview With Francis Su

Kevin Hartnett: Math conferences don’t usually feature standing ovations, but Francis Su received one last month in Atlanta. Su, a mathematician at Harvey Mudd College in California and the outgoing president of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), delivered an emotional farewell address at the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the MAA and the American Mathematical … Continue reading Math and the Best Life — an Interview With Francis Su

“The Plight of History in American Schools”

Diane Ravitch writing in Educational Excellence Network, 1989: Futuristic novels with a bleak vision of the prospects for the free individual characteristically portray a society in which the dictatorship has eliminated or strictly controls knowledge of the past. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the regime successfully wages a “campaign against the Past” by banning … Continue reading “The Plight of History in American Schools”

David Graeber’s The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

Cory Doctorow: The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy is only 180 pages long — three essays, an introduction and an afterword — but I made more than 80 notes as I read it, underlining passages and dog-earing pages I wanted to come back to and/or read aloud to … Continue reading David Graeber’s The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

Advanced Curriculum Review in the Madison School District

As we begin the next portion of the presentation, I want to remind you of the three overarching goals in the Strategic Framework. Our Annual Report, which was distributed a few months ago, addressed and detailed progress around our first goal stating that every student is on track for graduation. Tonight’s presentation represents our first … Continue reading Advanced Curriculum Review in the Madison School District

MTI Preserves, Gains Contracts Through June, 2016

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): Last fall, MTI asked the District to bargain Contracts for multiple years. They refused, and a Contract was negotiated for the 2014-15 school year. After hundreds of MTI members, sporting their MTI red shirts, attended two school board meetings in late May, the Board … Continue reading MTI Preserves, Gains Contracts Through June, 2016

The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life

Radhika Nagpal:

As a young faculty member at Harvard, I got asked such questions a lot. Why did you choose this career? How do you do it? And I can’t blame them for asking, because I am scared by those myths too. I have chosen very deliberately to do specific things to preserve my happiness, lots of small practical things that I discovered by trial and error.
So when asked by graduate students and other junior faculty, I happily told them the things that worked for me, mostly in one-on-one meetings over coffee, and a few times publicly on panels. Of course, I said all these things without any proof that they lead to success, but with every proof that they led me to enjoy the life I was living.
Most people I talked to seemed surprised. Several of my close friends challenged me to write this down, saying that that I owed it to them. They told me that such things were not done and were not standard. That may be true. But what is definitely true, is that we rarely talk about what we actually do behind the scenes to cope with life. Revealing that is the scariest thing of all.
I’ve enjoyed my seven years as junior faculty tremendously, quietly playing the game the only way I knew how to. But recently I’ve seen several of my very talented friends become miserable in this job, and many more talented friends opt out. I feel that one of the culprits is our reluctance to openly acknowledge how we find balance. Or openly confront how we create a system that admires and rewards extreme imbalance. I’ve decided that I do not want to participate in encouraging such a world. In fact, I have to openly oppose it.

Celebration of Teaching: Ten Exceptional Urban Teachers – See more at: http://schoolmattersmke.com/celebration-of-teaching-ten-exceptional-urban-teachers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=celebration-of-teaching-ten-exceptional-urban-teachers#st

School Matters Milwaukee:

These are those educators.
2013 Early Career Award Winner: Lauren Boyd
Lauren Boyd has been a second-grade teacher at Milwaukee College Preparatory School-38th Street Campus for two years (as of 3/13). She earned her certification for teaching through the Urban Education Fellows’ licensure program at Mount Mary University, where she also completed her master’s in education.
According to Principal Maggie Olson, Lauren was chosen by Ms. Olson to attend lead teacher meetings at Schools That Can Milwaukee. Ms. Boyd is very engaged with her learners, and her students show strong growth on MAP testing in math and reading. Lauren also demonstrates other positive instructional traits: “…superior classroom management skills…strong classroom culture…open to feedback and seeking support…builds wonderful relationships with (her students’) families.”

Criticism and rebuttal: The main arguments regarding core curriculum

The Des Moines Register:

Here are arguments made by critics of the core curriculum, and responses from the Branstad administration:
CRITICISM: Although critics object to government telling them what their kids must learn, they also complain that the common core was developed by two private membership organizations through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws that government agencies must follow.
RESPONSE: “The common core standards were developed by a coalition of states led by governors and state school chiefs through their membership in the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-eight states took part, drawing on the expertise of content specialists, teachers, school administrators and parents. The process was open for public comment, and more than 10,000 comments were received. The standards were created for voluntary adoption in states through their own unique processes. In Iowa, the standards were discussed and adopted by the State Board of Education at public meetings in 2010.”

Dutch iPad Schools Seek to Transform Education

Marco Evers:

Plenty of schools use iPads. But what if the entire education experience were offered via tablet computer? That is what several new schools in the Netherlands plan to do. There will be no blackboards or schedules. Is this the end of the classroom?
Think different. It was more than an advertising slogan. It was a manifesto, and with it, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs upended the computer industry, the music industry and the world of mobile phones. The digital visionary’s next plan was to bring radical change to schools and textbook publishers, but he died of cancer before he could do it.
Some of the ideas that may have occurred to Jobs are now on display in the Netherlands. Eleven “Steve Jobs schools” will open in August, with Amsterdam among the cities that will be hosting such a facility. Some 1,000 children aged four to 12 will attend the schools, without notebooks, books or backpacks. Each of them, however, will have his or her own iPad.
There will be no blackboards, chalk or classrooms, homeroom teachers, formal classes, lesson plans, seating charts, pens, teachers teaching from the front of the room, schedules, parent-teacher meetings, grades, recess bells, fixed school days and school vacations. If a child would rather play on his or her iPad instead of learning, it’ll be okay. And the children will choose what they wish to learn based on what they happen to be curious about.
Preparations are already underway in Breda, a town near Rotterdam where one of the schools is to be located. Gertjan Kleinpaste, the 53-year-old principal of the facility, is aware that his iPad school on Schorsmolenstraat could soon become a destination for envious — but also outraged — reformist educators from all over the world.
And there is still plenty of work to do on the pleasant, light-filled building, a former daycare center. The yard is littered with knee-deep piles of leaves. Walls urgently need a fresh coat of paint. Even the lease hasn’t been completely settled yet. But everything will be finished by Aug. 13, Kleinpaste says optimistically, although he looks as though the stress is getting to him.

“We have every ingredient here (Madison) to be successful”

A. David Dahmer:

“I definitely see myself as being a highly accessible superintendent. Every person I meet, they’re getting my contact information,” says new Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. “I’m easy to find and very open to hearing from everyone. [I’m] not just open, but seeking out those opportunities [to interact].”
Cheatham, who was recently the chief of instruction for Chicago Public Schools, started her job as MMSD superintendent on April 1 and is in the midst of a structured 90-day entry plan that includes three phrases — transitioning, listening and learning, and planning. In the coming months, she will be gathering community input and developing a multi-year strategy with measurable goals.
“I want authentic opportunities to talk with the people that we serve –parents, community members, families,” Cheatham tells The Madison Times from her office in the Doyle Administration Building in downtown Madison. “What are less important to me are opportunities for people to just hear me talk like at public appearances. I will do them on occasion, because I want to get the word out on what we’re up to in response to what I’m hearing from people. But I really want to know what people are thinking and feeling. I’m really seeking out those two-way conservations during my entry phase.”
Cheatham is currently in the listening and learning phase where she is meeting with a variety of stakeholders to discuss the district’s goals and to better understand the district’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities for improvement. This phase is critical in that it will be the time period in which she hears broadly from students, teachers, staff, principals, parents, community members, and others.
Cheatham is in the process of holding four “community days” (see sidebar below) as part of her ongoing entry plan. The first one was held April 18 at Madison East High School. The community day includes meetings with teachers and staff, discussions with students, a student-led tour, a neighborhood walk, and a forum for parents and community members. “Over the next couple of months, I want to learn more about and fine tune a strategy on how we can get parents more involved with the students,” Cheatham says. “I want to learn more about how parents have engaged in the past — what has worked and what hasn’t worked. I’m not quite sure what our strategy is going to be yet, but I know that we’re going to need one.”
Cheatham has visited 14 schools in a little over 2 weeks, and is planning on keeping up that pace.
“I’ve had some really substantial visits to schools — not just meet and greets. I’ve been really pleased with the honesty and frankness of those conversations with teachers, staff, and principals,” Cheatham says. “On the positive side, I’m learning that there are extremely committed people in the district. The quality of principals, by and large, has been strong. I’ve talked to teachers and seen them in action in their classrooms and have been pretty pleased with what I’ve seen. I’ve seen the willingness to do the hard work it will take to address our challenges.”

The Madison School Board Elections; setting the record straight

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email

March 6, 2013
Dear Madison Leaders.
As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. While I will not, as a nonprofit leader, speak about the merits of individual candidates, we are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring during the debates. The question of all the candidates has been largely narrowed to, “Did you support Madison Prep or did you not?”…as if something was horribly wrong with our charter school proposal, and as though that is the most important issue facing our school children and schools.
While the Urban League has no interest in partaking in the squabbles and confusion that has unfortunately come to define public conversation about our public schools, we do want to set the record straight about deliberations on Madison Prep that have been falsely expressed by many during this campaign, and used to dog individuals who supported the school proposal more than one year ago.
Here is how things transpired.
On May 9, 2011, Steve Goldberg of the CUNA Mutual Foundation facilitated a meeting about Madison Prep, at my request, between Madison Teacher’s Incorporated President, John Matthews and me. The meeting was held in CUNA’s cafeteria. We had lunch and met for about an hour. It was a cordial meeting and we each discussed the Madison Prep proposal and what it would take for the Urban League and MTI to work together. We didn’t get into many details, however I was sure to inform John that our proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school (non-MTI) was not because we didn’t support the union but because the collective bargaining agreement was too restrictive for the school model and design we were proposing to be fully implemented, and because we desired to recruit teachers outside the restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement. We wanted to have flexibility to aggressively recruit on an earlier timeline and have the final say on who worked in our school.
The three of us met again at the Coliseum Bar on August 23, 2011, this time involving other members of our teams. We got into the specifics of negotiations regarding the Urban League’s focus on establishing a non-instrumentality school and John’s desire to have Madison Prep’s employees be a part of MTI’s collective bargaining unit. At the close of that meeting, we (Urban League) offered to have Madison Prep’s teachers and guidance counselors be members of the collective bargaining unit. John said he felt we were making progress but he needed to think about not having MTI represent all of the staff that are a part of their bargaining unit. John and I also agreed that I would email him a memo outlining our desire to work with MTI, and provide the details of what we discussed. John agreed to respond after reviewing the proposal with his team. That memo, which we have not released previously, is attached [336K PDF]. You will see clearly that the Urban League initiated dialogue with MTI about having the teacher’s union represent our educators.
John, Steve and I met for a third time at Perkins restaurant for breakfast on the West Beltline on September 30, 2013. This time, I brought representatives of the Madison Prep and Urban League Boards with me: Dr. Gloria Ladson Billings, John Roach and Derrick Smith. It was at the close of this meeting that John Matthews told all of us that we “had a deal”, that MTI and the Urban League would now work together on Madison Prep. We all shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Our team was relieved.
Later that evening, I received calls from Matt DeFour, a reporter with the Wisconsin State Journal and Susan Troller of The Capital Times. They both asked me to confirm what John had told them; that we had a deal. I replied by confirming the deal. The next day, The Capital Times ran a story, Madison Prep and MTI will work together on new charter school. The State Journal ran an article too, Prep School agrees to employ union staff. All was good, or so we thought.
Unfortunately, our agreement was short-lived. The very next day after the story hit the newspapers, my team and I began receiving angry letters from social workers and psychologists in MMSD who were upset that we did not want to have those positions represented by MTI. We replied by explaining to them that our reasoning was purely driven by the fact that 99% of the Districts psychologists were white and that there were few social workers of color, too. For obvious reasons, we did not believe MMSD would have success hiring diverse staff for these positions. We desired a diverse staff for two reasons: we anticipated the majority of our students to be students of color and our social work and psychological service model was different. Madison Prep had a family-serving model where the school would pay for such services for every person in a family, if necessary, who needed it, and would make available to families and students a diverse pool of contracted psychologists that families and students could choose from.
That Monday evening, October 3, 2011, John Matthews approached me with Steve Goldberg at the School Board hearing on Madison Prep and informed me that his bargaining unit was very upset and that he needed to have our Physical education teacher be represented by MTI, too. Our Phy Ed model was different; we had been working on a plan with the YMCA to implement a very innovative approach to ensuring our students were deeply engaged in health and wellness activities at school and beyond the school day. In our plan, we considered the extraordinarily high rates of obesity among young men and women of color. However, to make the deal with MTI work, that evening I gave MTI the Phy Ed teaching position.
But that one request ultimately became a request by MTI for every position in our school, and a request by John Matthews to re-open negotiations, this time with a mediator. At first, we rejected this request because we felt “a deal is a deal”. When you shake hands, you follow through.
We only gave in after current school board president, James Howard, called me at home to request that the Urban League come back to the negotiating table. James acknowledged not feeling great about asking us to do this after all we had been through – jumping through hoop after hoop. If you followed the media closely, you would recall how many times we worked to overcome hurdles that were placed in our way – $200K worth of hurdles (that’s how much we spent). After meeting with MMSD leadership and staff, we agreed to come back to the table to address issues with MTI and AFSCME, who wanted our custodial and food service workers to be represented by the union as well. When we met, the unions came to the negotiation with attorneys and so did we. If you care to find out what was said during these negotiations, you can request a transcript from Beth Lehman, the liaison to the MMSD Board of Education who was taking official notes (October 31 and November 1, 2011).
On our first day of negotiations, after all sides shared their requests and concerns, we (ULGM) decided to let AFSCME represent our custodial and food service staff. AFSCME was immediately satisfied, and left the room. That’s when the hardball towards us started. We then countered with a plausible proposal that MTI did not like. When we couldn’t get anywhere, we agreed to go into recess. Shortly after we came back from recess, former MMSD Superintendent Dan Nerad dropped the bomb on us. He shared that if we now agreed to have our staff be represented by MTI, we would have to budget paying our teachers an average of $80,000 per year per teacher and dedicating $25,000 per teacher to benefits. This would effectively increase our proposal from $15M over five years to $28M over five years.
Why the increased costs? For months, we projected in our budgets that our staff would likely average 7 years of teaching experience with a Master’s degree. We used the MTI-MMSD salary schedule to set the wages in our budget, and followed MMSD and MTI’s suggestions for how to budget for the extended school day and year parts of our charter school plan. Until that day, MMSD hadn’t once told us that the way we were budgeting was a problem. They actually submitted several versions of budgets to the School Board, and not once raising this issue.
Superintendent Nerad further informed us that MMSD was going to now submit a budget to the Board of Education that reflected costs for teachers with an average of 14 years’ experience and a master’s degree. When we shockingly asked Nerad if he thought the Board of Education would support such a proposal, he said they likely would not. We did not think the public would support such a unusual request either. As you can imagine, we left the negotiations very frustrated. In the 23rd hour, not only was the run we thought we had batted in taken away from us in the 9th inning, we felt like our entire season had been vacated by commissioners.
When we returned to our office that afternoon, we called an emergency meeting of the Urban League and Madison Prep boards. It was in those meetings that we had to make a choice. Do we completely abandon our proposal for Madison Prep after all we had done to see the project through, and after all of the community support and interests from parents that we had received, or do we go forward with our original proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school and let the chips fall where they may with a vote by the Board? At that point, our trust of MMSD and MTI was not very high. In fact, weeks before all of this happened, we were told by Nerad in a meeting with our team and attorneys, and his staff and attorneys, that the Board of Education had voted in closed session to unilaterally withdraw our charter school planning grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They reversed this decision after we informed them we would file a lawsuit against them. We were later told that a certain Board member was pushing for months to have this done. Then, after months of not being able to get certain board members to meet with us, Marj Passman, decided to meet with me alone in my office. During that meeting, she told me that we (ULGM) didn’t have the votes for Madison Prep and that we were never going to get the school approved. She the offered to donate her personal funds to Madison Prep, if we pulled our proposal and decided to do a private school instead. I told her that I appreciated her offer, but declined.
After finally meeting with all seven board of education members, both the Madison Prep and ULGM boards decided unanimously that we must in good conscience go forward, put the needs and future of our children first, and reintroduce the non-instrumentality proposal to the School Board. You know the rest of the story.
Over the next 45 days, we (ULGM) were categorically painted as an anti-union conservative outfit who proposed a flawed school model that divided Madison and threatened to join the Scott Walker effort to eliminate unions. We were made to be the great dividers (not the achievement gap itself) and me, “an Angry Black Man”. Lost in the debate were the reasons we proposed the school in the first place – because so many children of color were failing in our schools and there was no effective strategy in place to address it even though the school system has known about its racial achievement gap since it was first document by researcher Naomi Lede for the National Urban League in 1965. That gap has doubled since then.
Ironically, two of the people behind the attacks on ULGM were Ben Manski and TJ Mertz. They were uniquely aligned in their opposition to Madison Prep. John Matthews even weighed in on video with his comments against us, but at least he told a story that was 80% consistent with the events that actually transpired. Watch the video and listen to the reason he gave for why he didn’t support Madison Prep. He didn’t call us union haters or teacher bashers. He knew better. So why all the fuss now? Why have those who knew exactly what went on in these negotiations not told the true story about what really happened with Madison Prep? Why has a charter school proposal been made the scapegoat, or defining lever, in a school board race where there are so many other more important issues to address?
If all it takes to win a seat on the school board now is opposition to charter schools, rather than being someone who possesses unique experiences and qualifications to serve our now majority non-white and low-income student body and increasingly challenged schools, we should all worry about the future of our children and public schools.
So, for those who were unaware and those who’ve been misleading the public about Madison Prep and the Urban League, I hope you at least read this account all the way through and give all of the candidates in this school board election the opportunity to win or lose on their merits. Falsehoods and red herrings are not needed. They don’t make our city or our school district look good to the observing eye. Let’s be honest and accurate in our descriptions going forward.
Thank you for reading.
We continue to move forward for our children and are more determined than ever to serve them well.
Strengthening the Bridge Between Education and Work
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Main: 608.729.1200
Assistant: 608.729.1249
Fax: 608.729.1205
Invest in the Urban League
Urban League 2012 Third Quarter Progress Report

The Memorandum from Kaleem Caire to John Matthews (Madison Teachers, Inc)

Date: August 23, 2011
To: Mr. John Matthews, Executive Director, Madison Teachers, Inc.
From: Kaleem Caire, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison
cc: Mr. Steve Goldberg, President, CUNA Foundation; Mr. David Cagigal, Vice Chair, Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM); Ms Laura DeRoche-Perez, Charter School Development Consultant, ULGM; Mr. David Hase, Attorney, Cooke & Frank SC
Re: Discussion about potential MTl-Madison Prep Relationship
Greetings John.
I sincerely appreciate your openness to engaging in conversation about a possible relationship between MTI and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. We, ULGM and Madison Prep, look forward to determining very soon what the possibilities could be.
Please accept his memo as a means to frame the issues.

  1. The Urban League of Greater Madison initially pursued a non-instrumentality public charter school
    focused on young men to, first and foremost, eliminate the academic and graduate gaps between young people of color and their white peers, to successfully prepare greater percentages of young men of color and those at-risk for higher education, to significantly reduce the incarceration rate among young adult males of color and to provide an example of success that could become a learning laboratory for
    educators, parents and the Greater Madison community with regard to successful ly educating young men, regardless of th eir race or socio-economic status.

  2. We are very interested in determining how we can work with MTI while maintaining independence with regard to work rules, operations, management and leadership so that we can hire and retain the best team possible for Madison Prep, and make organizational and program decisions and modifications as necessary to meet the needs of our students, faculty, staff and parents.
  3. MTl’s collective bargaining agreement with the Madison Metropolitan School District covers many positions within the school system. We are interested in having MTI represent our teachers and guidance counselors. All other staff would not be represented by MTI.
  4. The collective bargaining agreement between MTI and Madison Prep would be limited to employee wages and benefits. Madison Prep teachers would select a representative among them, independent of Madison Prep’s leadership, to serve as their union representative to MTI.

I look forward to discussing this with you and members of our teams, and hearing what ideas you have for the
relationship as well.
Kaleem Caire,
President & CEO

336K PDF Version
jpg version
Related Links:

Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School
(Rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board).
Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman on “the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment.“.
John Matthews, Madison Teachers, Inc.
Kaleem Caire, Madison Urban League
The rejected Studio Charter School.
Union politics.
2013 Madison School Board Elections.
Update: Matthew DeFour’s article on Caire’s message:

Lucy Mathiak, who was on the board in 2011, also didn’t dispute Caire’s account of the board action, but couldn’t recall exactly what happened in the board’s closed sessions.
“Did (the Urban League) jump through many hoops, provide multiple copies of revised proposals upon request, meet ongoing demands for new and more detailed information? Yes,” Mathiak said. “It speaks volumes that Madison Prep is being used to smear and discredit candidates for the School Board and used as a litmus test of political worthiness.”
Matthews said the problems with Madison Prep resulted from Caire’s proposal to hire nonunion staff.
“What Kaleem seems to have forgotten, conveniently or otherwise, is that MTI representatives engaged in several discussions with him and several of his Board members, in attempt to reach an amicable resolution,” Matthews said. “What that now has to do with the current campaign for Board of Education, I fail to see. I know of no animosity among the candidates or their campaign workers.”
Passman and other board members who served at the time did not return a call seeking comment.

Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes

Call me crazy, but I think a record of involvement in our schools is a prerequisite for a School Board member. Sitting at the Board table isn’t the place to be learning the names of our schools or our principals.
Wayne Strong, TJ Mertz and James Howard rise far above their opponents for those of us who value School Board members with a history of engagement in local educational issues and a demonstrated record of commitment to our Madison schools and the students we serve.

Notes and links on Ed Hughes and the 2013 Madison School Board election.
I’ve become a broken record vis a vis Madison’s disastrous reading results. The District has been largely operating on auto-pilot for decades. It is as if a 1940’s/1950’s model is sufficient. Spending increases annually (at lower rates in recent years – roughly $15k/student), yet Madison’s disastrous reading results continue, apace.
Four links for your consideration.
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

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.

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
3rd Grade Madison School District Reading Proficiency Data (“Achievement Gap Plan”)

The other useful stat buried in the materials is on the second page 3 (= 6th page), showing that the 3rd grade proficiency rate for black students on WKCE, converted to NAEP-scale proficiency, is 6.8%, with the accountability plan targeting this percentage to increase to 23% over one school year. Not sure how this happens when the proficiency rate (by any measure) has been decreasing year over year for quite some time. Because the new DPI school report cards don’t present data on an aggregated basis district-wide nor disaggregated by income and ethnicity by grade level, the stats in the MMSD report are very useful, if one reads the fine print.

Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
How many School Board elections, meetings, votes have taken place since 2005 (a number of candidates were elected unopposed)? How many Superintendents have been hired, retired or moved? Yet, the core structure remains. This, in my view is why we have seen the move to a more diffused governance model in many communities with charters, vouchers and online options.
Change is surely coming. Ideally, Madison should drive this rather than State or Federal requirements. I suspect it will be the latter, in the end, that opens up our monolithic, we know best approach to public education.

The End of Pens: Is handwriting worth saving?

Julia Turner:

The answer is less obvious than you might think. Sure, you are familiar with your own scrawled to-do lists, or the brief missives you leave on the kitchen counter for houseguests or your spouse. Perhaps you take notes by hand in meetings (though if you’re like me you consult them only sporadically after the fact). But when was the last time you filled a page of foolscap–or Mead college rule, for those of us who’ve never been quite sure what foolscap is–with lines and lines of unbroken lettering, trying to express an argument or make a developed point? When was the last time you used pen and ink for writing, and not just for jotting?
The Missing Ink, from British novelist Philip Hensher, makes the case that it has probably been too long. Subtitled “The Lost Art of Handwriting,” the book is an ode to a dying form: part lament, part obituary, part sentimental rallying cry. In an age of texting and notes tapped straight into tablets, we are rapidly losing the art and skill it takes to swiftly write, with a pen, a sentence that is both intelligible and attractive. The time devoted to teaching handwriting in elementary schools around the globe has dwindled. Hensher opens his book with the plaintive question: “Should we even care? Should we accept that handwriting is a skill whose time has now passed? Or does it carry with it a value that can never truly be superseded by the typed word?”

Parents, teachers fear growing pains at Badger Rock charter school

Matthew DeFour:

Madison’s newest charter school opened in a state-of-the-art green building this fall, but parents and teachers are already worried there isn’t enough room for additional students next year.
It’s not that the classrooms at Badger Rock Middle School are cramped — they’re more spacious than most others in the district. But parents and teachers say there just aren’t enough rooms to serve the needs of the school.
The principal had to negotiate with the building owner to carve out an area for private meetings between teachers, parents and students. The nurse’s clinic doubles as a teacher break room. And when the number of students increases from 100 to 150 next year, a grade level will move into what is now the art and science room.
“When they planned out the building they said, ‘We have this great idea and it looks like this,'” said Tom Purnell, the parent of twin seventh-graders at Badger Rock. “Do I want to send my kids where the vision is or where the reality is?”

Sunshine Review: Madison School District

The good

  • 2011-2012 budget information is provided, but previous budgets are not available.
  • Budget gap and tax impact options are provided.[1]
  • School board members and their individual contact information are listed.[2]
  • School board meetings and minutes are posted.[3]
  • Administrative officials in differing departments are listed.[4]
  • Recent budget information is provided.[5]
  • Some information is provided on contracts and employment.[6]
  • Audits are posted.[7]
  • Recent statewide test results are posted.[8]
  • Background check information is briefly reviewed in the employment tasks information.[6]

[edit]The bad
Does not archive past budgets.
No public records information is provided.
[edit]School board
The school board is comprised of a superintendent and “such other officers as the legislature shall direct.” The superintendent is appointed by the state legislature in the same manner as members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The superintendent can hold office for 4 years.[9] According to the state constitution the board of education may not prevent a non−union teacher from speaking of a bargaining issue at an open meeting, as was ruled in the U.S. Supreme Court case Madison School District v. Wisconsin Employment Commission.[10]

I support the Sunshine review initiative. However, the last paragraph, regarding the Superintendent, is of course incorrect.

The science and politics of reading instruction

Mark Liberman:

Just out: Mark Seidenberg, “Politics (of Reading) Makes Strange Bedfellows”, Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Summer 2012. The article’s opening explains the background:
In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker created the Read to Lead Task Force to develop strategies for improving literacy. Like many states, Wisconsin has a literacy problem: 62% of the eighth grade students scoring at the Basic or Below Basic levels on the 2011 NAEP; large discrepancies between scores on the NAEP and on the state’s homegrown reading assessment; and a failing public school system in the state’s largest city, Milwaukee. The task force was diverse, including Democratic and Republican state legislators, the head of the Department of Public Instruction, classroom teachers, representatives of several advocacy groups, and the governor himself. I was invited to speak at the last of their six meetings. I had serious misgivings about participating. Under the governor’s controversial leadership, collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public service employees were eliminated and massive cuts to public education enacted. As a scientist who has studied reading for many years and followed educational issues closely I decided to use my 10 minutes to speak frankly. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of my remarks.
From the beginning of those remarks:

Much more on Mark Seidenberg, here.

Madison’s Collective Bargaining to “Handbook” Transition: Status Quo, or ? Intrade?

Matthew DeFour:

Madison will be looking to its own collective bargaining agreement as well as handbooks adopted by other districts and input from employees, Nadler said. Unlike previous collective bargaining discussions, however, School Board meetings on the subject will be held in open session.
Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews, who in 45 years has had a hand in expanding the collective bargaining agreement from four to 157 pages, has been emphasizing since Act 10 passed that everything in the agreement has been jointly agreed upon by the School Board and union.
“Instead of collective bargaining it’s going to be meet and confer,” Matthews said. “We have really 50 years of developing things together that make the school system work.”
Don Severson, president of a conservative watchdog group and MTI critic, sees the handbook as an opportunity for the district to break away from MTI’s influence over school operations. He wants a middle school to be able to hire a math teacher from outside the district with math certification, for example, rather than be forced to hire a district teacher who meets minimum requirements but lacks such certification.
“They need to keep in mind that the only thing the union has any involvement or responsibility for is negotiating salary,” Severson said.

Related: Current 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. Collective Bargaining Agreement (PDF) and Concessions before negotiations (“Voluntary Impasse Resolution Procedure“)
I suspect that 90% of the existing collective bargaining agreement will end up in the District’s “Handbook“. Perhaps someone might setup a prediction @ Intrade on this matter.
Conversely, some Districts will think differently and create a far different and more appealing world for some teachers.
New Wisconsin School District Handbooks take effect.

Administration Memo on the Madison Superintendent Search

Dylan Pauly, Legal Services:

Dr. Nerad recently announced his retirement effective June 30, 2013. Consequently, over the next few months this Board will be required to begin its search for the next District leader. While some members of the Board were Board members during the search that brought Dr. Nerad to Madison, many were not. A number of members have asked me to provide some background information so that they may familiarize themselves with the process that was used in 2007. Consequently, I have gathered the following documents for your review:
1. Request for Proposals: Consultation Services for Superintendent Search, Proposal 3113, dated March 19, 2007;
2. Minutes from Board meetings on February 26,2007, and March 12,2007, reflecting Board input and feedback regarding draft versions ofthe RFP;
3. Contract with Hazard, Young and Attea;
4. A copy of the Notice of Vacancy that was published in Education Week;
5. Minutes from a Board meeting on August 27, 2007, which contains the general timeline used to complete the search process; and,
6. Superintendent Search- Leadership Profile Development Session Schedule, which reflects how community engagement was handled during the previous search.
It is also my understanding that the Board may wish to create an ad hoc committee to handle various procedural tasks related to the search process. In line with Board Policy 1041, I believe it is appropriate to take official action in open session to create the new ad hoc. I recommend the following motion:

Dave Zweiful shares his thoughts on Dan Nerad’s retirement.
Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.

The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.

Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.

Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.

Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.