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Badger Rock Middle School Contract

Madison School District.

Notes and links on the Badger Rock Middle School Madison Style charter school (largely subject to the same teacher work rules and costs as the rest of the taxpayer supported Madison School District).

A majority of the Madison School District rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.

The University of Wisconsin “charter czar” can approve “independent charter schools” in Madison. One City Learning operates under this model.

As charter renewal looms, Badger Rock Middle School pledges to improve its performance

Doug Erickson:

A small, environmental-themed charter school in Madison with a substandard academic record is facing heightened School Board scrutiny as its charter comes up for renewal.

Badger Rock Middle School, 501 E. Badger Road, opened in 2011 amid great enthusiasm for its emphasis on urban agriculture, environmental sustainability and project-based learning. Last month, though, it landed in the “fails to meet expectations” category on the latest round of state-issued report cards.

The school’s overall accountability score, which takes into account such things as test scores, student academic progress and college and career readiness, was the lowest of the 45 district schools that received ratings.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham this week called Badger Rock an “under-performing” school but said it “has incredible potential to be an excellent school.” She said she is leaning toward recommending a charter renewal of three years. That’s less than the five-year contract sought by school leaders, but the recommendation still should be seen as a vote of “confidence and hope,” Cheatham said.

The School Board is expected to vote on the issue Monday. Wright Middle School, the district’s oldest charter school, also is to be up for discussion the same night, but for a very different reason. Its leaders say they want to drop the school’s charter status.

The designation no longer makes sense for them, they say, as Wright has operated for many years as a traditional district school. The change in designation would have little effect on day-to-day school operations, district officials said.
Badger Rock

A charter school is a publicly funded school that does not have to adhere to many of the state laws governing traditional public schools. The intent is to foster innovation and experimentation and to give students more choices.

Madison has three charter schools. In addition to Badger Rock and Wright, there’s the dual-language Nuestro Mundo Community School. Each is an “instrumentality” of the district, meaning the district authorizes the school, employs the staff and retains ultimate authority.

Madison’s K-12 world lacks governance diversity. Many cities, including Minneapolis, offer families diverse school options.

Wright developed from the largely aborted “Madison Middle School 2000” project.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School several years ago.

Madison’s Badger Rock Middle School Achievement Analysis

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF):

BRMS was founded to empower its students to thrive as citizens, entrepreneurs, leaders, collaborators, and innovators, working to restore the natural world and to better the cultural environment while creating just, nourishing, and sustainable communities. Today, BRMS embraces this through an urban agriculture lens and a philosophy of participatory, place-based learning through real-life, inquiry-driven projects designed by students and teachers emphasizing social change within the local community. Currently, there are 75 students attending BRMS (36% Hispanic, 25% African American, 17% bi- or multiracial, 17% white, 37% ELL, 27% SPED, and 75% low-income).

On October 24th, BRMS submitted their charter renewal application. Upon receipt, the MMSD Charter Review Committee scored the application using the publically available renewal rubric. Ultimately, BRMS was found to have areas that did not meet expectations. In early November, the MMSD Chief of Staff met with school leadership and governing council members to share the feedback and next steps for resubmission.

On Number 17th, BRMS resubmitted their charter renewal application based on the feedback given on the original submission. The Charter Review Committee scored the final applications again. Summary conclusions are below.

Much more on Badger Rock Middle School.

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

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF):

Issue: The charter contracts for Badger Rock Middle School (BRMS) and James C. Wright Middle School (Wright) expire on June 30, 2016. Per respective contracts, the Board is required to make a decision whether or not to renew Wright’s contract at least six months before the contract’s expiration and BRMS’ contract at least three months before the contract’s expiration. As a result, the Board discussed both charter schools’ performance and future plans on December 7, 2015 to support final action to renew the contracts at the Regular Meeting on December 14, 2015.

Background: In November 2013, MMSD adopted a new charter school renewal process that requires charter schools and their governing bodies to prepare an evidence-based report detailing the implementation, efficacy and plan for the future term across six domains 1) Purpose and Vision, 2) Governance, 3) Teacher and Learning, 4) Operations, 5) Fiscal Management, 6) Legal Compliance. Given that the process was successful in supporting the Board’s renewal of Nuestro Mundo’s charter, we implemented the same process to support the renewal of BRMS and Wright. On February 12, information about the timeline for review and action by the Board was shared via the Weekly Update. In June and September, MMSD administration met with school leadership and governing council members to share the timeline and process for completing the term reports. Schools submitted first drafts of their term reports which were then reviewed by MMSD administration in October. Thereafter, MMSD administration provided feedback to support schools’ refinement of their reports. The final reports were then used to create executive summaries for the Board of Education to support final recommendations on renewal of the charter contracts. On December 4, per request of a Board member, the full term reports were shared with the Board.

If the Board approves the motion to renew contracts for BRMS and Wright, the contracts for each school will be revised to reflect clear expectations we have for improvement over the upcoming year (see detail in Analysis section below). There will also be certain modification we will need to make to reflect changes in state laws since the contracts were last negotiated, including changes to governance structures. The contracts will come back to the Board prior to the required April 1 finalization date. We anticipate providing ample time to the Board for review and consideration.

Much more on Wright Middle School (Originally conceived as “Madison Middle School 2000“) and Badger Rock Middle School.

Madison School District slides: Badger Rock Middle School:

Student Achievement
The first goal in the district’s Strategic Framework is for every student to be on-track to graduate as measured by key milestones which include proficiency and growth in literacy and mathematics as measured by MAP. Badger Rock showed positive trends in the percent of students meeting growth targets from 2012-2015, increasing annually in nearly all subgroups and is above the national average for growth. Overall proficiency, however, has seen a decrease over the last several years with the exception of a significant increase for students with disabilities. Note that some significant changes in proficiency and growth trends in certain subgroups may result from small numbers of students in those groups, an example being the change in reading proficiency for multiracial students.

While the results in MAP math growth vary, the percentage of students meeting growth targets is still far above the national average. While we have seen some incremental improvement overall in math proficiency, we’ve seen a decline in proficiency levels for African America students.

Looking at the data in a different way, the BRMS Governance Council compared fall to spring growth targets for BRMS students to MMSD middle schools overall. This comparison showed BRMS students outpacing MMSD middle school students each year in meeting math growth targets 2012-2015 as well as in meeting reading growth targets in 2014-2015.

Additionally, BRMS students have shown growth from year to year, outpacing MMSD middle school students in math growth target spring to spring 2012-2015 and in reading growth target spring to spring for 2014-2015.

and Wright Middle School:

Student Achievement
The first goal in the district’s Strategic Framework is for every student to be on-track to graduate as measured by key milestones which include proficiency and growth in literacy and mathematics as measured by MAP. While Wright showed some decline in the percent of students meeting MAP reading growth targets from 2012-2015, they are still above the national average and for almost all student groups. While improvement in reading proficiency has been incremental overall, there has been a more positive trajectory for African American students, which is a focus group for the school.

The trends in MAP math growth 2012-2015 varied but the school is above the national average and for most student groups. Trends for MAP proficiency across subgroups did not change significantly from 2012-2015; it is mostly flat or slightly down.

Wright examined students’ academic progress in comparison to the national average MAP reading RIT score. Graph 1 shows that overall and in all but one racial/ethnic groups for the past three years, an increasing percentage of Wright students outpace the national average MAP reading RIT score.

Graph 2 shows that overall and among economically disadvantaged students, an increasing percentage of Wright students outpace the national average for the past three years. Sixteen percent (16%) of Wright’s ELL students have met or surpassed the national average MAP RIT score in the last two years, while Wright’s students with identified disabilities showed a decrease (from 7% to 5%) in the percentage of students at or above the national average MAP RIT score.

Madison’s “charter” schools operate within the constraints of the legacy government schools. Unlike other districts, Madison has not offered significant governance model diversity, nor parental choice within the District. Perhaps that will change one day, given its long term, disastrous reading results.

The rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School would have operated independently, that is outside of the governance and teacher union contract requirements.

A Look at Madison Badger Rock Middle School

On a recent school day, sixth-grader Cassidy Wimmer places surveyors’ flags in spots where runoff water from the Beltline, other roads and parking lots flows toward the wetlands of Indian Springs south of Madison.
She and her classmates are part of a field biology class at Badger Rock Middle School and they’re learning a hands-on lesson about water quality and the environment in the neighborhood that surrounds their school.
“It’s interesting to see where the water travels,” she says. “It probably has a lot of pollution in it.”
Meanwhile, other students from Badger Rock are studying an enormous burr oak tree, and estimating its age. Still other sixth-graders are helping move a giant compost pile toward a community garden at their school that they help tend. Their lesson today is on improving soil to nourish growing plants, and learning the ideal ratio of carbon to nitrogen to create the best compost.

Badger Rock Middle School Proposal

Badger Rock Middle School Planning Committee 1.8mb PDF:

Superintendent Nerad, President Cole and Members of the Board,
Please accept this detailed proposal for Badger Rock Middle School, a project based charter school proposed for South Madison, which focuses on cultural and environmental sustainability. As you know, our charter school concept is part of the larger Resilience Research Center project spearheaded by the Madison based Center for Resilient Cities (CRC), bringing urban agriculture, community wellness,sustainability and alternative energy education to South Madison and the MMSD community.
We are proud of the work we have been able to accomplish to date and the extraordinary encouragement and support we have gotten from the neighborhood, business and non-profit community, local and national funders, and MMSD staff and Board. We are confident that Badger Rock Middle School, with its small class size, collaborative approach, stewardship and civic engagement model, will increase student achievement, strengthen relationships and learning outcomes for all students who attend, while also offering unparalleled opportunities for all MMSD students and faculty to make use of the resources, curriculum and facility.
Our stellar team of educators, community supporters, funders and business leaders continues to expand. Our curriculum team has created models for best practices with new templates for core curriculum areas. Our building and design team has been working collaboratively with architects Hoffman LLC, the Center for Resilient Cities and MMSD staff on building and site plans. In addition, outreach teams have been working with neighborhood leaders and community members, and our governance team has been actively recruiting a terrific team for the governing board and our fundraising team has been working hard to bring local and national donors to the project. In short, we’ve got great momentum and have only begun to scratch the surface of what this school and project could become.
We are submitting the proposal with a budget neutral scenario for MMSD and also want to assure you that we are raising funds to cover any contingencies that might arise so that additional monies from MMSD will not be needed. Our planning grant from DP! has recently been approved, seeding the school $175,000 in planning grant monies immediately, with another $175, 000 to arrive before the school opens in August 2011.
We ask for your full support of this proposal and the creation of Badger Rock Middle School. BRMS will surely be a centerpiece and shining star of MMSD for years to come.
Thanks for your consideration.
Badger Rock Middle School Planning Committee

New Madison middle school (Badger Rock) will provide innovative outdoor education

Kirsten Joiner:

Just before the holiday break, the Madison School District approved the Badger Rock Middle School. This is big and exciting news for Madison, and I hope it sounds a new tone for education in the city.
It is not new news that Madison’s school district has been struggling to maintain its national reputation for innovation and excellence. During the past two budget cycles, the district has suffered deep funding cuts and the loss of millions of dollars. And over the past five years, families have been migrating to surrounding school districts — and to private schools.
But visionary leadership and innovative charter schools such as Badger Rock may just be the answer.
The philosophy for Badger Rock is cutting edge and simultaneously a throwback to classical education. Students learn from their environment. It is a setting and style that would make Aldo Leopold proud, and that ties local curriculum to Wisconsin’s deep-seated environmental roots.

As far as I can tell, local school budgets have grown annually for decades. Ms. Joiner is referring to reductions in the increase. Spending growth slowed this year and will likely do so in the future. The Madison School District’s “Budget Amendments and Tax Levy Adoption for 2010-11” mentions 2010-2011 revenues (property taxes, redistributed state and federal taxes and grants) of $423,005,653, up from $412,219,577 in 2008-2009. The document’s 2009-2010 revenues are $489,487,261, which seems unusual. Enrollment has remained flat during the past few years (details here).

Madison School Board Approves Badger Rock Charter Middle School: “Could Cost More Than Expected”


new one-of-a-kind charter school in the city of Madison could soon become a reality, but an error in crunching numbers may mean more of a burden for city taxpayers.
The error was found just a few weeks ago, and it could put taxpayers on the hook for an additional $380,000 over the next five years.
But proponents of the proposed Badger Rock charter school have been scrambling to find ways to trim costs. And despite the bigger budget numbers, they said they hope the Madison School Board sees the bigger picture and not just dollar signs.
The year-round, agriculture- and green-based school on Madison’s southwest side would start with 50 students in sixth grade. The school would add grades seven and eight in the following two years, for a total of 150 students.
Support for the school has been great until what’s being called a “hiccup” two weeks ago.

As part of the conditions that passed, the board must execute a contract with the school no later than April 1 to operate it for a five-year period. Board member Lucy Mathiak added a sentence saying the contract shall define the district’s financial obligations for each of the five years and shall contain language limiting the district’s financial liability. Mathiak’s amendment passed 6-1.

Much more on Badger Rock here.
It would be interesting to see how the funding/review/political model compares with the ill-fated Studio School proposal and, how current public schools might fare as a “startup” today.

Vision for charter middle school project taking shape; Badger Rock Approval Materials for the Madison School Board

Dan Simmons

It will be a year-round middle school. And an urban farm. And a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. And a neighborhood center. And an office space. And a home for small business.
Planners of the Resilience Research Center development have firmed up their vision and timeline for the nearly 4-acre parcel planned to start taking shape in January on the South Side, near the intersection of East Badger and Rimrock roads.
Now they’re working with the city on a somewhat complicated task: Zone this!
“I don’t know of many other projects that have this type of mix with commercial uses and a school on one site,” said Heather Stouder of the city’s planning division.

Much more on the proposed Badger Rock Middle School here
Complete 6.3MB Badger Rock Proposal.

Madison School District has more than 35 school gardens, chickens and all

Abbey Machtig

This rural patch on Madison’s West Side is one of more than 35 school gardens around the Madison School District, including Lapham, Midvale and Crestwood Elementary schools, Badger Rock Middle School and East and West High Schools. 

Although school is out for the summer, the gardens are far from empty. A network of volunteers and employees help with garden maintenance, and summer camps give students a chance to get outside. The summer camp at Spring Harbor Middle School, currently in session, hosts more than 80 students between the ages of 10 and 14 over the summer. 

Getting your hands dirty 

School gardens aren’t just a place for students to burn off excess energy. By getting their hands dirty outside, students are developing critical learning skills, said Dave Ropa, a science teacher at Spring Harbor and the school’s greenhouse and garden coordinator.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Toki Middle School (Madison) eighth-grader Matthew Brock wins All-City Spelling Bee

Howard Hardee:

After outlasting 45 fellow students in a war of words that played out over three hours, Matthew Brock won first place at Saturday’s All-City Spelling Bee.

Brock, 14, is an eighth-grader at Toki Middle School. He had his eye on the top prize after taking third place in the 2018 contest and falling to fourth last year, he said after the bee at Madison Area Technical College’s Mitby Theater.

“I read a lot and I practiced the study list,” he said. “Every time I see a word I don’t know, I look up the definition and try to understand whatever the context may be.

After second-place finisher Vincent Bautista stumbled over “euphonious,” Brock spelled it correctly and sealed his victory by getting “dolomite” right, too.

Brock will now move on to the Badger State Spelling Bee, scheduled for March 7 in Mitby Theater. The state champion will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee held in May in National Harbor, Maryland.


A comparison of Teacher Tenure in the Madison School District

Amber Walker:

To determine where the most experienced teachers work in the Madison School District, the Cap Times analyzed staff data from the 2016-2017 school year collected by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. DPI’s all-staff report catalogs salary, position, experience level and demographic data of all faculty and staff in the state’s public schools.

The analysis found Madison’s most experienced teachers work at Metro High, the school housed inside the Dane County Jail. The five teachers at Metro High School have an average of 19.4 years of teaching experience. Badger Rock Middle School on Madison’s south side had the least experienced teachers with an average of 6.5 years in the classroom. Across the district, the average teacher has 12.18 years of experience. Statewide, the average is 14 years. The Cap Times excluded teachers who were not assigned to one school from our analysis.

Commentary on Charter & Traditional Public Schools

Dave Zweifel:

Lafer’s report details how Rocketship teaches only basics like reading and math with “live” teachers, while the rest of the curriculum is taught online. There are no art, music or gym classes.

The teachers are recent education school grads who have volunteered for a couple of years with Teach for America, a private national program that was modeled after the Peace Corps, but aimed at American schools in poor and troubled neighborhoods.

Like many recently formed charter school companies, Rocketship uses the savings from its educational model to expand its schools throughout the country. Meanwhile, one of its directors runs a for-profit company that provides thousands of educational materials to the schools.

Indeed, it’s these kind of behind-the-scenes financial relationships that have raised eyebrows throughout the educational community.

To be sure, charter schools can be public schools if the school districts set them up to be accountable to the board and administrators. Madison has established three such charters — Wright Middle School, Badger Rock and Nuestro Mundo — that appear to have had good results experimenting with different educational methods and providing a different academic focus.

Related: The rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Commentary on Madison’s School Climate

Alan Talaga:

I think the Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial board is generally pretty fair. The editorials, mostly written by editor Scott Milfred, come from a fiscally-conservative, socially-liberal perspective. While I often disagree with their views, I admire their principled stance on marriage equality and transparency in all levels of government.

Sometimes the State Journal spills ink tilting at windmills like suggesting Walker and legislative Republicans were seriously going to consider redistricting reform, even when the latest round of redistricting gave the GOP a 10-year lock on control of the Assembly. Other times, they dilute their message a bit by trying a bit too hard to be even-handed.

However, those attempts at even-handedness go out the window when it comes to teachers’ unions, with Madison Teachers Inc. as the State Journal’s primary target. I, myself, have many criticisms of MTI, but the editorial board has handpicked them to be public employee boogeyman number one.

I would think that the elimination of almost every single teacher’s union in the state would make for a less tempting target, but this editorial board still feels a need to take weird potshots at MTI.

A couple of weeks ago, the State Journal ran an editorial in support of year-round schools, which is a good idea that I wholly support. But then much of the editorial suggested that MTI was the reason we don’t have any year-round school programs in Madison.

“Badger Rock Middle School is a good example of why the district should insist on more options with its teachers,” it read. “Badger Rock is a charter school that employs union teachers, so it follows the traditional school calendar.”

This seemed odd to me, as I had never read anything about MTI being opposed the idea of year-round schools. Obviously, I remember their opposition to Madison Prep, but that’s involved a ton of issues.

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?”

Middle school students to showcase Girls’ Biz at Women’s Expo

Dennis Punzel:

When Sarah Buob moved from Rockford, Ill., to Madison last year, one of her first moves was to join the Wisconsin Women’s Entrepreneurs South Central Chapter.
As a freelance graphic artist, she figured it would be the best way to make some business contacts and develop some friendships along the way.
It didn’t take long for her to realize her daughter Quinn could accomplish much the same thing by joining the Girls’Biz program co-sponsored by the WWE and the Girls Scouts of America-Badgerland Council.
“I thought it would be good for Quinn because she didn’t know anybody up here either,” Buob said. “She liked the fact that she could make some money, make some friends and learn a little bit about business and make some money on top of it.”

Badger Rock charter school plan hits hurdle

Matthew DeFour:

Madison School District officials are warning that the group financing a building for the city’s newest charter school is short of its fundraising goal, and families are wondering if their children will be in another temporary location in the fall.
The organization building an environmental campus that will include Badger Rock Middle School is “100 percent confident” it will be able to secure $1.1 million in loans and raise about $340,000 over the next two months.
Also, the construction manager for the project said Tuesday the building will be completed by July 31, in time for the school’s second year of operation.
“Although administration doesn’t share their confidence, we fully agree that there is sufficient time to finish this project if there is an increased sense of urgency on the job site in the very near future,” Superintendent Dan Nerad wrote in a memo to the Madison School Board last week.
Nerad briefed the board on the matter Monday night.

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

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

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

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

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


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

Madison Public Schools: A Dream Deferred, Opportunity Denied? Will the Madison Board of Education Hear the 40-year long cries of its Parents and Community, and Put Children and Learning before Labor and Adults?

Kaleem Caire, via email:

December 10, 2011
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison’s public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it’s not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.
Some days, it has felt like we’re desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who’ve been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children’s education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
Our proposal for Madison Prep has certainly touched a nerve in Madison. But why? When we launched our efforts on the steps of West High School on August 29, 2010, we thought Madison and its school officials would heartily embrace Madison Prep.We thought they would see the school as:
(1) a promising solution to the racial achievement gap that has persisted in our city for at least 40 years;
(2) a learning laboratory for teachers and administrators who admittedly need new strategies for addressing the growing rate of underachievement, poverty and parental disengagement in our schools, and
(3) a clear sign to communities of color and the broader Greater Madison community that it was prepared to do whatever it takes to help move children forward – children for whom failure has become too commonplace and tolerated in our capital city.
Initially, the majority of Board of Education members told us they liked the idea and at the time, had no problems with us establishing Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality – and therefore, non-union, public school. At the same time, all of them asked us for help and advice on how to eliminate the achievement gap, more effectively engage parents and stimulate parent involvement, and better serve children and families of color.
Then, over the next several months as the political climate and collective bargaining in the state changed and opponents to charter schools and Madison Prep ramped up their misinformation and personal attack campaign, the focus on Madison Prep got mired in these issues.
The concern of whether or not a single-gender school would be legal under state and federal law was raised. We answered that both with a legal briefing and by modifying our proposal to establish a common girls school now rather than two years from now.
The concern of budget was raised and how much the school would cost the school district. We answered that through a $2.5 million private gift to lower the per pupil request to the district and by modifying our budget proposal to ensure Madison Prep would be as close to cost-neutral as possible. The District Administration first said they would support the school if it didn’t cost the District more than $5 million above what it initially said it could spend; Madison Prep will only cost them $2.7 million.
Board of Education members also asked in March 2011 if we would consider establishing Madison Prep as an instrumentality of MMSD, where all of the staff would be employed by the district and be members of the teacher’s union. We decided to work towards doing this, so long as Madison Prep could retain autonomy of governance, management and budget. Significant progress was made until the last day of negotiations when MMSD’s administration informed us that they would present a counter-budget to ours in their analysis of our proposal that factored in personnel costs for an existing school versus establishing a modest budget more common to new charter schools.
We expressed our disagreement with the administration and requested that they stick with our budget for teacher salaries, which was set using MMSD’s teacher salary scale for a teacher with 7 years experience and a masters degree and bench-marked against several successful charter schools. Nevertheless, MMSD argued that they were going to use the average years of experience of teachers in the district, which is 14 years with a master’s degree. This drove up the costs significantly, taking teacher salaries from $47,000 to $80,000 per year and benefits from $13,500 to $25,000 per year per teacher. The administration’s budget plan therefore made starting Madison Prep as an instrumentality impossible.
To resolve the issue, the Urban League and Board of Madison Prep met in November to consider the options. In doing so, we consulted with every member of MMSD’s Board of Education. We also talked with parents, stakeholders and other community members as well. It was then decided that we would pursue Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality of the school district because we simply believe that our children cannot and should not have to wait.
Now, Board of Education members are saying that Madison Prep should be implemented in “a more familiar, Madison Way”, as a “private school”, and that we should not have autonomy even though state laws and MMSD’s own charter school policy expressly allow for non-instrumentality schools to exist. There are presently more than 20 such schools in Wisconsin.
What Next?
As the mountains keep growing, the goal posts keep moving, and the razor blades and rose bushes are replenished with each step we take, we are forced to ask the question: Why has this effort, which has been more inclusive, transparent and well-planned, been made so complicated? Why have the barriers been erected when our proposal is specifically focused on what Madison needs, a school designed to eliminate the achievement gap, increase parent engagement and prepare young people for college who might not otherwise get there? Why does liberal Madison, which prides itself on racial tolerance and opposition to bigotry, have such a difficult time empowering and including people of color, particularly African Americans?
As the member of a Black family that has been in Madison since 1908, I wonder aloud why there are fewer black-owned businesses in Madison today than there were 25 years ago? There are only two known black-owned businesses with 10 or more employees in Dane County. Two!
Why can I walk into 90 percent of businesses in Madison in 2011 and struggle to find Black professionals, managers and executives or look at the boards of local companies and not see anyone who looks like me?
How should we respond when Board of Education members tell us they can’t vote for Madison Prep while knowing that they have no other solutions in place to address the issues our children face? How can they say they have the answers and develop plans for our children without consulting and including us in the process? How can they have 51 black applicants for teaching positions and hire only one, and then claim that they can’t find any black people to apply for jobs? How can they say, “We need more conversations” about the education of our children when we’ve been talking for four decades?
I have to ask the question, as uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, “Would we have to work this hard and endure so much resistance if just 48% of white children in Madison’s public schools were graduating, only 1% of white high school seniors were academically ready for college, and nearly 50% of white males between the ages of 25-29 were incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision?
Is this 2011 or 1960? Should the black community, which has been in Madison for more than 100 years, not expect more?
How will the Board of Education’s vote on December 19th help our children move forward? How will their decision impact systemic reform and seed strategies that show promise in improving on the following?
Half of Black and Latino children are not completing high school. Just 59% of Black and 61% of Latino students graduated on-time in 2008-09. One year later, in 2009-10, the graduation rate declined to 48% of Black and 56% of Latino students compared to 89% of white students. We are going backwards, not forwards. (Source: MMSD 2010, 2011)
Black and Latino children are not ready for college. According to makers of the ACT college entrance exam, just 20% of Madison’s 378 Black seniors and 37% of 191 Latino seniors in MMSD in 2009-10 completed the ACT. Only 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors completing test showed they had the knowledge and skills necessary to be “ready for college”. Among all MMSD seniors (those completing and not completing the test), just 1% of Black and 7% of Latino seniors were college ready
Too few Black and Latino graduates are planning to go to college. Of the 159 Latino and 288 Black students that actually graduated and received their diplomas in 2009-10, just 28% of Black and 21% of Latino students planned to attend a four-year college compared to 53% of White students. While another 25% of Black and 33% of graduates planned to attend a two-year college or vocation program (compared to 17% of White students), almost half of all of all Black and Latino graduates had no plans for continuing their education beyond high school compared to 27% of White students. (Source: DPI 2011)
Half of Black males in their formative adult years are a part of the criminal justice system. Dane County has the highest incarceration rate among young Black men in the United States: 47% between the ages of 25-29 are incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision. The incarceration phenomena starts early. In 2009-10, Black youth comprised 62% of all young people held in Wisconsin’s correctional system. Of the 437 total inmates held, 89% were between the ages of 15-17. In Dane County, in which Madison is situated, 49% of 549 young people held in detention by the County in 2010 were Black males, 26% were white males, 12% were black females, 6% were white females and 6% were Latino males and the average age of young people detained was 15. Additionally, Black youth comprised 54% of all 888 young people referred to the Juvenile Court System. White students comprised 31% of all referrals and Latino comprised 6%.
More importantly, will the Board of Education demonstrate the type of courage it took our elders and ancestors to challenge and change laws and contracts that enabled Jim Crow, prohibited civil rights, fair employment and Women’s right to vote, and made it hard for some groups to escape the permanence of America’s underclass? We know this is not an easy vote, and we appreciate their struggle, but there is a difference between what is right and what is politically convenient.
Will the Board have the courage to look in the faces of Black and Latino families in the audience, who have been waiting for solutions for so long, and tell them with their vote that they must wait that much longer?
We hope our Board of Education members recognize and utilize the tremendous power they have to give our children a hand-up. We hope they hear the collective force and harmony of our pleas, engage with our pain and optimism, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the proposal we have put before them, which comes with exceptional input and widespread support, is approved on December 19, 2011.
Madison Prep is a solution we can learn from and will benefit the hundreds of young men and women who will eventually attend.
If not Madison Prep, then what? If not now, then when?
Monday, December 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
Madison Metropolitan School District
Doyle Administration Building Auditorium
545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Contact: Laura DeRoche Perez,
Phone: 608-729-1230
Write the School Board and Tell Them to “Say ‘Yes’, to Madison Prep!”
Madison Prep 2012!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Fax: 608-729-1205
Autonomy: MMSD now says they are concerned that Madison Prep will not be accountable to the public for the education it provides students and the resources it receives. Yet, they don’t specify what they mean by “accountability.” We would like to know how accountability works in MMSD and how this is producing high achievement among the children it serves. Further, we would like to know why Madison Prep is being treated differently than the 30 early childhood centers that are participating in the district’s 4 year old kindergarten program. They all operate similar to non-instrumentality schools, have their own governing boards, operate via a renewable contract, can hire their own teachers “at their discretion” and make their own policy decisions, and have little to no oversight by the MMSD Board of Education. All 30 do not employ union teachers. Accountability in the case of 4K sites is governed by “the contract.” MMSD Board members should be aware that, as with their approval of Badger Rock Middle School, the contract is supposed to be developed “after” the concept is approved on December 19. In essence, this conversation is occurring to soon, if we keep with current district practices.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): MMSD and Madison Teachers, Incorporated have rejected our attorney’s reading of ACT 65, which could provide a path to approval of Madison Prep without violating the CBA. Also, MTI and MMSD could approve Madison Prep per state law and decide not to pursue litigation, if they so desired. There are still avenues to pursue here and we hope MMSD’s Board of Education will consider all of them before making their final decision.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.

Madison Preparatory Academy Finance Discussion with the Madison School Board

Madison School District 60K PDF:

The review of resources moving forward to be allocated for Madison Prep need further conversation for Administration to gain further direction. At the February 28, 2011 meeting dealing with Madison Prep differing ideas were talked about by various individuals as to the best way to deal with Madison Prep. In order to better understand the direction the board would like administration to head financially with this school, an understanding of what has been done in the past is necessary.
When the finances were completed for Badger Rock, they were put together with the express direction of the majority of the Board that they should break even and not cause reductions in other areas of the district budget. This was accomplished by transferring resources from Sennett Middle School specifically as those kids were moved from Sennett to Badger Rock. This worked for Badger Rock because they defined an attendance area, and agreed that 80% or 40 kids would be from the Sennett attendance area.
For Madison Prep, the issue of transfer becomes more difficult as they will technically pull students from all of our Middle School attendance areas. The amount of funds we are able to segregate for transfer with this model are much less if we are under the same circumstances where we should have a program that breaks even or doesn’t cause reductions in other areas of the budget.

What cuts? Madison schools OK

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Alarmists in Madison suggest Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget proposal will decimate public education.
But Superintendent Dan Nerad’s proposed 2011-2012 budget for Madison School District tells a different story.
Under Nerad’s plan, unveiled late last week, the Madison district would:

That’s not to suggest Madison schools are flush with money. Gov. Walker, after all, is trying to balance a giant state budget deficit without raising taxes or pushing the problem further down the road. Walker has proposed cuts to most state programs, including aid to public schools.

Madison School Board to reconsider ag charter school: Badger Rock

Matthew DeFour:

As the Madison School Board prepares to take a second shot Monday at approving an agriculture-themed charter school on Madison’s South Side, board members remain divided on what was once thought to be a slam-dunk proposal.
“I’m sold on the concept; I’m not sold on the budget,” board member Lucy Mathiak said Friday. “I don’t see anyone being jolly about spending $700,000 a year for 50 kids.”
Badger Rock Middle School, expected to open next fall with 50 sixth-graders mostly from the Sennett Middle School attendance area, has a projected budget shortfall of $43,000 for 2011-12, with a projected budget of $668,600. The gap is projected to grow to $134,000 in the charter school’s third year, when it has 150 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and is expected to cost $1.37 million to run.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad 1.3MB PDF::

On February 16,2010, MMSD received BRMS’s Planning
Grant and Executive Summary of its proposed charter school. On August 16, 2010, the DPI approved the Planning Grant and provided BRMS with an award of $200,000.
(Please see communication from DPI attached as Appendix A).
The proposed charter school will be located on 4 acres of property on the grounds of the
Badger Resilience Center in South Madison. The designated site is adjacent to a 7 acre
Madison park that will also be used to foster BRMS’ philosophy of cultural and
environmental sustainability. The site also currently has a working farm, a community
center, a cafe and a gardening and sustainability operation run by Growing Power.
In addition to the previously referenced planning grant, funding for BRMS, including a
school endowment, is being spearheaded by the Center for Resilient Cities. BRMS
reports that “close to a million dollars” has been committed to the project and these, and
future, funds are being provided by private contributors.
BRMS notes that the research-based instructional strategies upon which their pedagogy
will be established are Environmental-Based Education (EBE) and Place -Based
Education (PBE). As noted in BRMS Executive Summary, both EBE and PBE have
been subject to numerous research efforts and have demonstrated positive results for
involved students, and in particular, students at the middle school level. EBE in
particular is also consistent with PI 8.01 which mandates that “environmental education
objectives and activities shall be integrated into the kindergarten through grade 12
sequential curriculum plans.” BRMS also proposes a “year-round” school which would
not increase the number of instructional days, but would lessen the traditional threemonth
summer break.
BRMS has established numerous partnerships with community agencies. These
agencies are detailed in the Executive Summary and Detailed Proposal (See
Appendices B and D)

Much more on the proposed Badger Rock Middle School Charter initiative here.

The honeymoon’s over: After two years at helm, Madison school chief Nerad struggling

Susan Troller

For months, there was nothing but enthusiastic buzz surrounding the proposal to start a green charter school in Madison. The organizers of Badger Rock Middle School have broad support throughout the community and have meticulously done their homework. The school district administration was enthusiastic about the school’s focus on urban agriculture, and School Board members, who have the ultimate vote, were too.
Then, just days before the board was expected to give its final approval, the school district released new figures showing it would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to staff and operate the new school. This was a reversal from earlier projections that showed Badger Rock would bring no extra costs to the district.
In the current era of pinched budgets and dreary financial prospects, this revelation threw a monkey wrench into the process and caused the board to delay final consideration of the project until later this month.
“I had planned to come in here tonight to vote for this most innovative project,” board member Marj Passman said during the Nov. 29 meeting. “But at the last minute the Badger Rock people and the board were both hit broadside with new information that raises a lot of last-minute questions.”

Much more on Dan Nerad, here. Watch a recent video interview.

Badger Rock charter school decision delayed after Madison School Board learns of cost errors

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School Board on Monday delayed approval of an agriculture-themed charter school by two weeks after learning the school could cost the district about $318,000 more than previously thought.
The board had been told Badger Rock Middle School, estimated to cost $596,000 in the 2011-12 school year, would be cost-neutral, but that prediction was based on erroneous information provided by district officials earlier this year. Superintendent Dan Nerad apologized for the error during Monday night’s board meeting.
Erik Kass, assistant superintendent for business services, said his staff told the planning team for Badger Rock in February that it could budget $596,000 for the school.
But the district failed to account for an additional $310,000 needed to create 3.9 new positions in the district to accommodate the new school. The district also determined the school’s proposed utilities budget was $8,000 too low.

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

Kaleem Caire, via email:

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

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

Proposed Madison Charter School Receives Major Grant

Channel3000, via a kind reader:

Minutes before the Badger Rock Middle School planning team presented its final proposal to the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education Thursday, supporters received news that they had been awarded a planning grant from the Department of Public Instruction in the amount of $200,000.
The proposed Badger Rock Middle School, which would open in the fall of 2011 on Madison’s south side, would be a year-round charter school and be part of a larger Resilience Research Center project spearheaded by the Madison-based Center for Resilient Cities.
The Resilience Research Center project is designed to be a four-acre campus with a working farm, a neighborhood center, café, adjacent city park and the proposed school.

Madison School District appears to be softening stance toward charter schools

Susan Troller, via a Chris Murphy email:

When teachers Bryan Grau and Debora Gil R. Casado pitched an idea in 2002 to start a charter school in Madison that would teach classes in both English and Spanish, they ran into resistance from school administrators and their own union. Grau and his cohorts were asked to come up with a detailed budget for their proposal, but he says they got little help with that complex task. He recalls one meeting in particular with Roger Price, the district’s director of financial services.
“We asked for general help. He said he would provide answers to our specific questions. We asked where to begin and again he said he would answer our specific questions. That’s the way it went.”
Ruth Robarts, who was on the Madison School Board at the time, confirms that there was strong resistance from officials under the former administration to the creation of Nuestro Mundo, which finally got the green light and is now a successful program that is being replicated in schools around the district.
“First they would explain how the existing programs offered through the district were already doing a better job than this proposal, and then they would show how the proposal could never work,” says Robarts. “There seemed to be a defensiveness towards these innovative ideas, as if they meant the district programs were somehow lacking.”
The Madison School District “has historically been one of the most hostile environments in the state for charter schools, especially under Superintendent Rainwater,” adds John Gee, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Charter Schools.

Related: the now dead proposed Madison Studio Charter and Badger Rock Middle School.
Madison continues to lag other Districts in terms of innovative opportunities, such as Verona’s new Chinese Mandarin immersion charter school.

Madison Charter “School pitch looks promising”

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial, via a kind reader’s email:

Bold plans for a new kind of middle school in Madison deserve encouragement and strong consideration.
The proposed Badger Rock Middle School on the South Side would run year-round with green-themed lessons in hands-on gardens and orchards.
The unusual school would still teach core subjects such as English and math. But about 120 students would learn amid a working farm, local business and neighborhood sustainability center.
Money is tight in this difficult economy. And the Madison School Board just committed to launching an expensive 4-year-old kindergarten program in 2011.
But organizers say Badger Rock wouldn’t cost the district additional dollars because private donors will pay for the school facility.

Commentary on Charter Schools in the Madison School District

Madison School Board Vice President Lucy Mathiak:

On Monday, the Board of Education will have a presentation by the planning group that is proposing an environmentally-focused project-based charter middle school. The Badger Rock Middle School is the first charter proposal to come before the board since the Studio School debacle a few years back. From what we are hearing in the community, it is not likely to be the last (more on that later).
Proposed Charter: Badger Rock Middle School
What we will be deciding now: The board will be asked to approve the group’s initial proposal, which will form the basis of a planning grant application to the Department of Public Instruction. If the planning grant is awarded, the group will carry out additional work necessary to develop and design the charter school in greater detail, and develop a proposal that would come before the board requesting approval of the creation of the school and its charter.

More Outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad Reflections

Matthew DeFour

Q: Given a chance to oversee the Madison Prep debate again, would you have done anything differently?
A: My approach was I was attempting to make that work as an instrumentality of the district, and costs were prohibiting that. In terms of it being a non-instrumentality proposal, there were two big problems there. One was the fact that contractually it wasn’t permissible. The other area was the need for accountability to the public body and the governing board.
Q: So what would you have done differently?
A: I’ve looked into myself quite a bit on that and I don’t know what that is.
Q: So you think you were decisive enough?
A: Let other people judge that. But if I didn’t have an interest in looking at a program like Badger Rock Middle School and other innovative program designs, we wouldn’t have spent the time we did on Madison Prep. We put considerable effort into trying to find alternative ways to work that out and the reality of it is that it didn’t work out.

Much more on the Madison Superintendent position, here.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

A Look at Madison’s Use of Value Added Assessment

Lynn Welch:

In the two years Madison has collected and shared value-added numbers, it has seen some patterns emerging in elementary school math learning. But when compared with other districts, such as Milwaukee, Kiefer says there’s much less variation in the value- added scores of schools within the Madison district.
“You don’t see the variation because we do a fairly good job at making sure all staff has the same professional development,” he says.
Proponents of the value-added approach agree the data would be more useful if the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction were to establish a statewide value-added system. DPI is instead developing an assessment system to look at school-wide trends and improve instruction for individual students.
But some question whether value-added data truly benefits all students, or is geared toward closing the gap between high- and low-performing students.
“Will the MMSD use new assessments…of students’ progress to match instruction levels with demonstrated learning levels?” asks Lorie Raihala, a Madison parent who is part of a group seeking better programming for high-achieving ninth- and 10th-graders at West High School. “So far the district has not done this.”
Others are leery of adding another measurement tool. David Wasserman, a teacher at Sennett Middle School and part of a planning group pushing to open Badger Rock Middle School, a green charter (see sidebar), made national news a few years ago when he refused to administer a mandatory statewide test. He still feels that a broad, student-centered evaluation model that takes multiple assessments into account gives the best picture.
“Assessment,” he says, “shouldn’t drive learning.”

Notes and links on “Value Added Assessment“, and the oft-criticized WKCE, on which it is based, here.

Wisconsin lawmakers should allow parents to direct redistributed K-12 billion$ from American Rescue Plan

Institute for Reforming Government, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin, Federation for Children School Choice, Wisconsin Action ExcelinEd in Action, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy Badger Institute, FreedomWorks and Building Education for Students Together:

Dear Governor Evers, Speaker Vos, Majority Leader LeMahieu, and State Superintendent Stanford Taylor,

At last Thursday’s Joint Education Committee hearing on how to spend the American Rescue Plan’s billions of dollars in supplemental funding for K-12 education, a common, bipartisan theme emerged: policymakers in Wisconsin must find ways to help students who have fallen behind, failed courses, and gone missing. In response, our organizations are calling on lawmakers, to the greatest extent possible, to utilize the American Rescue Plan’s $1.5 billion in new K-12 funding to support course access for struggling students. This could:

1. Allow parents to choose the courses that best fit the needs of their children at the school they currently attend.

2. Fund after school, summer school, and other courses that meet each child’s individual needs and help them get caught up and ready to excel.

3. Ensure accountability by allowing only course providers—including other traditional public, private, or public charter schools, dual enrollment courses through universities or technical colleges, or other private providers such as tutors—to receive full payment only if the student successfully completes the course.

Wisconsin K-12 At a Crossroads: Before the pandemic, our reading scores were below the national average. Wisconsin’s racial achievement gaps consistently rank near the largest in the nation. The K-12 system simply prevented too many students from realizing the American Dream.

Our organizations are deeply concerned that COVID-19 has exacerbated the achievement gap while simultaneously lowering outcomes across the board, even for many students who once earned solid A’s. More troubling, Wisconsin public school enrollment has dropped by 25,000 in a single year. While some of those students simply fled schools that were closed in favor of private options that were teaching in person, many others are simply missing. For those who are logging into virtual learning, failure rates are skyrocketing. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel survey of 60 school districts in Wisconsin concluded that 90% of the districts had higher failure rates than the year prior. Around one in three students at Milwaukee Public Schools, according to the district, failed the fall semester. At Wausau Public Schools, around one in four middle school and high school students failed a course (a quadruple increase from the prior year).

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Wis. teachers respond to challenges of budget repair bill

Taylor Nye:

The big news back in my small, rural southeast Wisconsin hometown is that the high school and middle school have a few new teachers. Every time I run into someone from back home, they have to tell me, “Did you hear about the new science/math/Spanish teacher?” Unfortunately, teachers in my hometown and around Wisconsin are not retiring because it’s their time. What we are seeing are effects from Gov. Scott Walker’s Budget Tyranny Bill, and small and large school districts alike will continue to face large turnover in the foreseeable future.
When Walker tried to slash union’s bargaining rights, he opened a legal can of worms. With all the actions that are being brought against his administration over the legality of his moves, it’s difficult to remember that Wisconsin’s teachers are left between a rock and a hard place as long as his measures stand. The educators who are now retiring likely didn’t consider leaving their school systems until it became clear that he was going to put his bill into effect. They have two choices: Take whatever they can get out of early retirement now, or stay on and wait to see what retirement benefits, if any, the unions will be able to bargain for in the future. In addition, there is another worry about continuing to teach — no one knows how expansive future layoffs will be.

Mathcounts National Championship

Tara Bahrampour:

It wasn’t quite a Miss America pageant, but it had a gusto of its own. To the beat of rock music, more than 200 middle schoolers in T-shirts adorned with pi symbols or jokes about binary numbers jogged into a Crystal City hotel conference hall yesterday, waving and holding up signs identifying their home states.
The 57 teams — from every state, plus the District, the U.S. territories and military or State Department schools around the world — had spent the day vying for the MathCounts national championship, and they were about to find out which four-member team had won.

Madison area middle schools that participated included Hamilton (Madison), Jefferson (Madison), Eagle (Fitchburg), Badger Ridge (Verona) and Madison Country Day School (Waunakee). Mathcounts website.