Jennifer Cheatham’s Harvard Lecturer Position

Harvard Graduate School of Education: Jennifer Cheatham, Ed.M.’06, Ed.D.’10, will be joining the HGSE faculty as a senior lecturer on education and director of the Public Education Leadership Program (PELP). She was previously superintendent of the Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School District, a post she had held since 2013. Prior to that role, she had worked … Continue reading Jennifer Cheatham’s Harvard Lecturer Position

Commentary on Rhetoric: Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

David Blaska: The news media loves to imagine itself as the afflicter of the comfortable, David with his slingshot v. Goliath. “J’accuse!” in 96-point bodoni bold type. Edward R. Murrow starring down Tailgunner Joe. Bogart starting the presses in Deadline USA. Woodward and Bernstein. In Madison, too many news media “gatekeepers” just want to be … Continue reading Commentary on Rhetoric: Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

mp3 audio – Machine Transcript follows [Better transcript, via a kind reader PDF]: I’m Carousel Baird and we have a fabulous and exciting show lined up today. Such a fabulous guy sitting right across from me right here in the studio. Is Madison metropolitan school district current superintendent? She still here in charge of all … Continue reading Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

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

Paul Fanlund, in an interesting contrast to recent Isthmus articles: She said Madison should look beyond simple metrics and keep working to “create a liberating experience for students where they’re valued, where they’re seen as fully human and complex. That’s what this community needs to hold at the center as it’s making its decisions in … Continue reading 2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience

Jennifer Cheatham resigning as Madison school superintendent

Dylan Brogan: Jennifer Cheatham is expected to resign as superintendent of the Madison school district at a news conference Wednesday. Isthmus confirmed the news with three members of the Madison school board and other sources. It is not known when Cheatham, who has led the district since 2013, will step down. Rachel Strauch-Nelson, district spokesperson, … Continue reading Jennifer Cheatham resigning as Madison school superintendent

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

La Follette High parents discuss school security, fights with Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham

Karen Rivedal: More than 150 people — most of them parents, many of them worried and frustrated — filled the cafeteria at La Follette High School Tuesday night to share their concerns about school safety, security, students fighting and the student behavior code with Madison School District Superintendent Jen Cheatham and Principal Sean Storch. “It’s … Continue reading La Follette High parents discuss school security, fights with Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham

On Madison’s Lack Of K-12 Governance Diversity: “Cheatham declined to address that question”

Chris Rockert: Attendance, graduation rates and college enrollment were generally on the upswing beginning five to seven years before Hancock started moving toward selective enrollment. More to the point for Madison and West High is that improvements began happening at Hancock before Boran took over or even worked there. Regardless of who or what is … Continue reading On Madison’s Lack Of K-12 Governance Diversity: “Cheatham declined to address that question”

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham “exceeds expectations” in school board’s first evaluation

Molly Beck: Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham has “brought a fresh lens to the district,” and exceeded the School Board’s expectations, according to her first evaluation by the board. The work completed in the district under Cheatham is “moving in the right direction,” board members wrote in a seven-page evaluation. Cheatham was hired in … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham “exceeds expectations” in school board’s first evaluation

“More Rigor is Needed” – Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham; Possible?

Pat Schneider: Middle schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District have become caring environments for students, but aren’t rigorous enough to prepare them for high school academic work, says Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. “We know there are quite a few things that highly effective schools do that we have not been doing in both our middle … Continue reading “More Rigor is Needed” – Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham; Possible?

A Positive Madison Magazine Article on Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Deanna Wright: Last April, and to a remarkable amount of fanfare, Jennifer Cheatham became the superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District. From the very start, the community has opened its arms to welcome her. When I interviewed her for Madison Magazine TV last month, I was aware that the community, especially parents of color, … Continue reading A Positive Madison Magazine Article on Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Contract



630K PDF Contract between Superintendent Cheatham and the Madison School District.
The lack of Superintendent oversight was an issue during the Rainwater era. Superintendent Cheatham’s contract includes this:

14.01 At least once each year, the BOARD of Education will provide the ADMINISTRATOR with an evaluation
a. The annual evaluation shall occur in closed session.
b. Prior to the BOARD conducting the SUPERINTENDENT’S evaluation, the SUPERINTENDENT shall provide the BOARD a self-appraisal. The BOARD shall take this self-appraisal into account in conducting its evaluation
c. All forms used and report formats requested as part of the evaluation process shall be collaboratively developed and mutually agreed upon by the ADMINISTRATOR and the BOARD.
d. While individual opinions may be expressed in the evaluation process, the final written record of performance evaluations shall include only narrative statements or opinions endorsed by a majority of the BOARD. The written evaluation shall be considered confidential to the extent permitted by law

Related: A Look At Compensation Packages for Wisconsin School District Superintendents.
Yet, reading, an issue for years in the Madison School District, remains a disastrous problem.

A few “Tweets” on Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Meeting with the Wisconsin State Journal


I’m glad to see the apparent focus on doing a few things well. This is the only way forward given the District’s disastrous reading results. That said, I was disappointed when the new Superintendent largely continued the “same service” budget approach during the 2013-2014 financial discussions.
The District’s 2x per student spending (above the national average) has supported numerous initiatives, likely preventing a focus on those that are truly meaningful for our students. For example, Kerry Motoviloff noted that Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”. Steven Sinofsky’s latest is also worth reading in this context.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham proposes $31 million, five-year technology plan

Molly Beck:

All students in the Madison School District would have their own tablets or notebook computers by the 2018-19 school year under a five-year, $31 million plan proposed by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.
If approved, the plan would increase the district’s current
$1.5 million annual technology budget to $4.2 million in the 2014-15 school year to start upgrading the district’s network infrastructure, upgrade or equip classrooms and libraries with new technology or computers, and provide notebook computers to all district teachers and administrators. Elementary teachers also would get tablet computers under the plan.
Costs to upgrade are projected to increase each of the five years of the plan for a total of $31 million spent in that time. Afterward, the annual budget for technology would be about $7 million per year going forward.
…..
Madison School Board members, who formally received the plan at their meeting Monday, were mostly optimistic about the plan. Board member T.J. Mertz questioned whether the program needed to be as extensive as it’s proposed given what he said were other unmet needs in the district and given research that he called “universally disappointing” surrounding such initiatives.
Mertz said in an interview after Monday’s board meeting that he agrees with the majority of the investments in technology under the plan, “but then there’s a third or a quarter where I think it’s going overboard.”
As an example, Mertz said he questions whether every kindergarten student needs their own tablet computer.

Prior to spending any additional taxpayer funds on new initiatives, I suggest that the District consider (and address) the status of past expensive initiatives, including:
Infinite Campus: is it fully implemented? If not, why? Why continue to spend money on it?
Standards based report cards“.
Connected Math.
Small Learning Communities.
And of course, job number one, the District’s long term disastrous reading scores.
Madison already spends double the national average per student ($15k). Thinning out initiatives and refocusing current spending on reading would seem to be far more pressing than more hardware.

Jennifer Cheatham’s Chicago contingent well received in Madison

Pat Schneider:

Kelly Ruppel grew up on a dairy farm outside Racine, headed to the west coast for college and worked in Washington D.C. before moving back to the Midwest and becoming a private consultant to the embattled Chicago Public Schools system.
When she received a job offer from new Madison Schools Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, whom she met when Cheatham was a top administrator at Chicago Public Schools, she and her husband packed their bags.
Today Ruppel is Cheatham’s chief of staff, one of five top administrators hired by Cheatham with ties to Chicago since taking the reins of the Madison School District in April.
In addition to Ruppel, a former principal at Civic Consulting Alliance, they include:
Alex Fralin, assistant superintendent for secondary schools and former Deputy Chief of Schools for CPS
Rodney Thomas, special assistant to the superintendent and former director of Professional Development and Design for the Chicago Board of Education
Nancy Hanks, deputy assistant superintendent for Elementary Schools and a former Chicago public elementary school principal
Jessica Hankey, director of strategic partnerships and innovation, formerly manager of school partnerships at The Field Museum in Chicago.

Fascinating. Are these new positions, or are the entrants replacing others? 10/2013 Madison School District organization chart (PDF).
Related: “The thing about Madison that’s kind of exciting is there’s plenty of work to do and plenty of resources with which to do it,” Mitchell said. “It’s kind of a sweet spot for Jen. Whether she stays will depend on how committed the district is to continuing the work she does.”

Jennifer Cheatham takes charge of Madison schools

Catherine Capellaro:

Jennifer Cheatham doesn’t have the countenance of someone who has stepped into a maelstrom. Madison schools superintendent since April, Cheatham, 41, has already visited every school in the district and rolled out a “Strategic Framework” to tackle some of the district’s thorniest issues, including the achievement gap. So far she’s generated considerable excitement around her plans and raised hopes, even among skeptics.
Kaleem Caire has even put off plans to file a federal civil rights complaint against the district for the school board’s rejection of a charter school geared toward low-income minority students. The CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, which spearheaded the proposal, says he’s now content to play a “facilitative, supportive role” and get behind Cheatham’s plan to “bring order and structure” to the district.
“Personally, I’ve been hanging back, letting her get her space,” says Caire. “The superintendent should be the leader of education. All of us should be supporting and holding that person accountable.

Commentary on New Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s “Style”….

Paul Fanlund

he gist of her framework is hard to argue. It calls for a renewed focus on learning, a school system that makes curriculum consistent across the district and better measures student and teacher performance. In sum, it is a back-to-basics approach that does not require new money, at least for now.
Madison, of course, has been grappling with its changing demographics where many students, especially minority children, struggle academically. In shorthand, it’s called the “achievement gap,” and the approach to date has been a long list of seemingly laudable, logical programs.
Now comes Cheatham saying we don’t need more money, at least not yet, but instead we need to rebuild the foundation. Might some see that as counterintuitive, I wonder?
“It might be,” she responds. “My take is that we were adding on with a big price tag to an infrastructure that was weak. … Does that make sense? The bones of the organization were weak and we didn’t do the hard work of making sure that the day-to-day processes … were strong before deciding to make targeted investments on top of a strong foundation.”
She continues: “That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some targeted investments down the line. I suspect that will be in things like technology, for instance, which is a real challenge … and is going to have a price tag later. I need to make sure that the foundation is strong first.”
Cheatham alludes to her Chicago experience. “Having worked with lots of schools — and lots of schools that have struggled — and worked with schools targeting narrowing and closure of the achievement gap, these fundamental practices” make the biggest difference. “It’s that day-to-day work that ultimately produces results and student learning.”

We shall see. Local media have greeted prior Superintendents, including Cheryl Wilhoyte with style points, prior to the beginning of tough decision-making.
Related: The Dichotomy of Madison School Board Governance: “Same Service” vs. “having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district”.
Another interesting governance question, particularly when changes to the 157 page teacher union contract, or perhaps “handbook” arise, is where the school board stands? Two seats will be on the Spring, 2014 ballot. They are presently occupied by Marj Passman and Ed Hughes. In addition, not all members may vote on teacher union related matters due to conflict of interests. Finally, Mary Burke’s possible race for the Governor’s seat (2014) may further change board dynamics.
I hope that Superintendent Cheatham’s plans to focus the organization on teaching become a reality. Nothing is more important given the District’s disastrous reading results. That said, talk is cheap and we’ve seen this movie before.

Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s Rotary Club Talk (audio & slides): “What will be different this time?”

15mb mp3 audio.

Superintendent Cheatham’s slides follow (4MB PDF version). I hope that the prominence of Madison’s disastrous reading scores – slide 1 – indicates that this is job one for our $15,000ish/student organization.





























A few of the Superintendent’s words merit a bit of analysis:
1. “What will be different this time?” That rhetoric is appropriate for our Madison schools. I compiled a number of notes and links on this subject, here.
2. “Ready to partner with local businesses and other organizations”. Great idea. The substance of this would certainly be a change after the Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school debacle (Urban League) and, some years ago, the rejection of Promega’s kind offer to partner on Madison Middle Schools 2000.
3. Mentions “all Madison schools are diverse”. I don’t buy that. The range of student climate across all schools is significant, from Van Hise and Franklin to LakeView, Mendota and Sandburg. Madison school data by income summary. I have long been astonished that this wide variation continues. Note that Madison’s reading problems are not limited to African-American students.
4. Mentioned Long Beach and Boston as urban districts that have narrowed the achievement gap. Both districts offer a variety of school governance models, which is quite different than Madison’s long-time “one size fits all approach”.
5. Dave Baskerville (www.wisconsin2.org) asked a question about benchmarking Madison students vs. the world, rather than Green Bay and Milwaukee. Superintendent Cheatham responded positively to that inquiry. Interestingly, the Long Beach schools prominently display their status as a “top 5 school system worldwide”.
6. “Some teachers and principals have not been reviewed for as long as 7 years”. This points to the crux of hard decision making. Presumably, we are at this point because such reviews make no difference given rolling administrator contracts and a strong union umbrella (or floor depending on your point of view). Thus, my last point (below) about getting on with the hard decisions which focus the organization on job number one: reading.
Pat Schneider and Matthew DeFour summarize the Superintendent’s press release and appearance.
Finally, I found it a bit curious that the Superintendent is supporting spending (and related property tax growth) for current programs in light of the larger strategy discussed today along with the recent “expert review”. The review stated that the “Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap”
This would be a great time to eliminate some programs such as the partially implemented Infinite Campus system.
Superintendent Cheatham’s plan indicates that choices will be made so that staff and resources can focus on where they are most needed. I wholeheartedly agree. There is no point in waiting and wasting more time and money. Delay will only increase the cost of her “strategy tax“.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham cites previous lack of “long-term vision” in presenting 2013-14 budget for Madison schools

Bennet Goldstein:

Cheatham said Madison schools have already implemented a variety of initiatives to increase student achievement but have not seen “measurable improvements.”
“It isn’t for lack of working very hard and doing a lot of things at once,” she said. “I feel pretty confident the reason that hasn’t occurred is because of the lack of long-term vision.”
Cheatham recommended the board focus on strengthening existing programs and infrastructure, which would not require new expenditures.
“I want to be more strategic and thoughtful about this than how we did it in the past,” she added.

Much more on the Madison School District’s planned spending & property tax increases via the 2013-2014 budget, here.
Related: Analysis: Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap.

New Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham calls for accountability across the board in Madison School District

Pat Schneider:

Fresh off a two-month tour to observe the operations of all 48 schools, various programs, and the Madison School District’s central administrative offices, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham is promising to “ensure accountability at every level.”
Accountability as Cheatham describes it will include student achievement on standardized tests of the type that current school reform movements emphasize, but will go far beyond that to a new understanding of educators’ roles, the support they need to master them, and refined local measures of progress, she said.
“I worry that people perceive accountability as standardized test results, for example, and what I’m talking about is accountability for everybody playing well the function they are best positioned for in the service of children learning well,” Cheatham told me Thursday in an interview. “Educators at every level of the system lack clarity on what that particular function is for them.”http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2013/06/deja_vu_a_focus.php”>Accountability was one of five priority areas Cheatham identified in anEntry Plan Report released Wednesday. The others are: well-rounded, culturally responsive instruction; personal educational pathways for students; attracting, developing and retaining top-level talent; and engaging families and community members as partners.

Related: Deja Vu: A Focus on “Adult Employment” or the Impossibility of Governance Change in the Madison Schools.

Commentary on Incoming Madison Superintendent Cheatham’s First Listening Session

Joe Tarr:

Cheatham said that she believed teachers and administrators needed to be evaluated regularly and that it shouldn’t be based only on students’ test scores. She said that when she was a teacher, she once had a principal tell her to fill out her own evaluation. “I didn’t want that. I wanted someone to tell me how I was doing,” she said. “Most teacher evaluations, generally they’re using a vague checklist and they happen so sporadically that they’re not meaningful.”
“The frequency has to increase and they have to be collaborative conversations. The teacher needs to identify things he or she wants to improve on and identify goals.”
One parent said he wanted something to be done to hold parents more accountable for student performance. While Cheatham said that parent involvement is invaluable, “Of all the things within our control, I’m not sure it’s worth our time to work on parental accountability. Some parents are not going to be involved. It’s not because they don’t love their children, it’s because they’re working two jobs.”

Barry Adam:

Julie Salt has a son in kindergarten at Mendota Elementary and is an educational assistant. She told Cheatham she is concerned about some of her son’s classmates who are already noticeably behind.
“The students that are kind of prepared to do the alphabet and numbers and all that kind of stuff, obviously have had exposure (compared to) kids who have not had that experience. That makes a difference in the classroom,” Salt said. “So already there’s that gap.”
Robert Bergeron works with pre-kindergarten students at Goodman Community Center and has a daughter at East High School. He believes more of an effort needs to be made by educators at all levels to get parents involved in their child’s education.
“It can be any kind of involvement but the teachers also have a responsibility to try and get parents involved,” Bergeron said. “Sometimes, it’s communication.”

Jennifer Cheatham and community can support racial equity

Rachel Krinsky:

f you are tired of all the talk about the achievement gap in our school district, take heart. Newly appointed Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s entry plan is a promising beginning.
From racial disparities in academics to the race politics in the School Board primary election, the feeling of frustration has been palpable. The YWCA Madison suggests the reason this talk hasn’t created much tangible progress is that these issues are part of a larger system of racial inequalities. Individual strategies, action plans or initiatives are less likely to be successful if they are not part of a larger racial equity strategy.
So we are delighted to see Cheatham’s plan is based on values including commitment to equity and systemic improvement. If our community is serious about racial equity in education, we will join Cheatham in learning what kids of color need to be successful, and then making those resources and solutions the priority.
We will also consider every education-related decision and discussion with racial equity in mind. We will think holistically about Dane County’s future as a more racially diverse community and welcome and retain professionals, including educators, of color.
Let’s be part of a community-wide commitment to equity, and let’s remember that we’re doing it for the kids.

Related: And, so it continues.

Commentary on Madison’s Incoming Superintendent Cheatham

Pat Schneider:

But Cheatham, who served as what amounts to an area superintendent overseeing 25 schools and later as chief of instruction and curriculum for the entire 400,000-student, $5.1 billion-budget school system, not only got strong recommendations, she demonstrated intellect and ideas to Madison school officials, Passman said. The Madison School District, in comparison, has a $376 million budget and an enrollment of about 27,000.
Board member Mary Burke told me she wasn’t thrilled at first to be considering a candidate from the perennially troubled Chicago Public Schools. “I feel Madison is the type of district that should be able to attract people from the best school districts,” Burke said. So she used a method that had served her well in hiring situations over a career that has included executive positions in the private and public sectors: Burke and other School Board members went beyond resumes and references and contacted additional people Cheatham had worked with in the past.
“They were very consistent in terms of what they said: She’s a great instructional leader, really smart and hardworking, and the schools under her made incredible progress raising students’ level of achievement,” Burke told me.
Like the board members, I also turned to people Cheatham had worked with in Chicago to get a glimpse of how her skills and personality will dovetail with the Madison community.

Pat Schneider refers to the Madison School District’s $376,000,000 budget, yet Matthew Defour just a few days ago, put it at $394,000,000. A subsequent email from the District’s Donna Williams placed the 2012-2013 budget at $392,789,303 for approximately 27,000 students, or $14,547/student about 12% more than Chicago’s $12,750, according to Schneider’s article.
Many notes and links on Jennifer Cheatham, here.

Madison school board candidates Wayne Strong and Dean Loumos discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 3, former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos is running against retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong. The winner will replace retiring school board member Beth Moss.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison school board candidate TJ Mertz discusses superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
TJ Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and education blogger, is running unopposed after Sarah Manski dropped out of the race for Seat 5 following the February primary. Her name will appear on the ballot, but she is moving to California. Mertz will replace retiring school board member Maya Cole.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison school board candidates Greg Packnett and James Howard discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections here.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham to start April 1 after contract OK’d

Jeff Glaze: Incoming Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham will begin her new role in just a matter of weeks. April 1 is the start date specified in Cheatham’s contract, which the School Board unanimously approved Wednesday evening. The date is significantly earlier than the July 1 start date of her predecessor, Dan Nerad. School … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham to start April 1 after contract OK’d

Why did Jennifer Cheatham change jobs so often?

Michael L. Gourlie:

The hiring process for Madison School District superintendent had its strange twists, but it appears all are euphoric with first impressions of Jennifer Cheatham. Our new superintendent received the School Board’s blessing, commendations from the mayor and community support for her pedigree and ability to relate to others.
However, one question that jumped out and either was never asked or not reported is why she never held a job longer than two years since she advanced to administration from a teacher position in 2003.
It’s not as if she was upwardly mobile within one school district, but rather she switched cities and districts at every stop except the first. Madison is her fifth change of city in 10 years, according to a Friday article.
Generally candidates with this type of resume are either opportunists jumping at the next ladder rung, or they move on before their performance catches up with them.

Much more on Jennifer Cheatham, here.

Citizen Dave: If Jennifer Cheatham is right for Madison schools superintendent, just hire her already

Dave Cieslewicz:

Madison has many wonderful traits. This town’s obsession with process is not one of them.
All indications are that the one remaining choice for the Madison public schools’ new superintendent, Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, would be a great pick. I’m told by people close to the decision that the Chief Instruction Officer for the Chicago Public Schools has been the top candidate all along, and that she is a “rock star” in the education world.
There is no job harder or more important in our city than being its schools superintendent. This is a city full of education experts whose child is clearly a genius (just like them) and yet isn’t being challenged enough by their teachers. At the same time, we have a growing number of poor kids who come to school without the basics, even a good breakfast. So, the challenge is to meet the high expectations of highly educated parents, while trying to give underprivileged kids the best chance possible to succeed, all in the context of constricted budgets.
At the same time, the stakes for our whole city are enormous. Failing public schools have been the downfall of dozens of American cities.

Much more on Madison’s most recent Superintendent search, here.

An Interview with Outgoing Madison School Board Member (and President) Gloria Reyes

David Dahmer: As president, Reyes has been the face and often the spokesperson of the Madison School Board during some very trying and challenging times including the COVID-19 pandemic and the canceling of in-person classes, the hiring of new MMSD superintendent twice (Dr. Matthew Gutierrez rescinded his acceptance of the job before MMSD started over … Continue reading An Interview with Outgoing Madison School Board Member (and President) Gloria Reyes

Analysis: Madison school district’s lenient discipline policy is a dismal failure

Dave Daley: In 2013, the Madison school district had a zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior. Suspension was almost automatic for most violations. When Cheatham became superintendent that year, she was determined to bring down suspension and expulsion rates that she felt unfairly affected black students. Black students made up 62% of expulsions for the previous four … Continue reading Analysis: Madison school district’s lenient discipline policy is a dismal failure

Carlton Jenkins is named Madison’s next K-12 Superintendent

Scott Girard: Carlton Jenkins said moving to work in the Madison Metropolitan School District would be like “going home.” One of two finalists to become the district’s next superintendent, Jenkins was an associate principal at Memorial High School in 1993 and earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Throughout the day Tuesday, the Robbinsdale … Continue reading Carlton Jenkins is named Madison’s next K-12 Superintendent

Commentary on Two 2020 taxpayer supported Madison School District Superintendent Candidates

Scott Girard: Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes said in the release the district is “very fortunate to have an impressive pool of highly qualified candidates participate in this process.” “With a focus on how candidates aligned with the Leadership Profile, the Board was able to select two phenomenal finalists, both with deep roots in … Continue reading Commentary on Two 2020 taxpayer supported Madison School District Superintendent Candidates

New Jefferson Middle School (Madison) principal Sue Abplanalp ‘not afraid of change’

Pamela Cotant: When Sue Abplanalp took over as principal at Schenk Elementary School three years ago, she figured it wasn’t her last stop. “I said I’m probably good for one more school after Schenk,” said Abplanalp, recalling her conversation with then-Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Abplanalp will become principal at Jefferson Middle School on July 1. She … Continue reading New Jefferson Middle School (Madison) principal Sue Abplanalp ‘not afraid of change’

What is the place for African Americans in the ‘new’ Madison?

Blacks for Political and Social Action of Dane County, Inc.: In the midst of these challenges, the Madison Metropolitan School District heard its superintendent-designee, Matthew Gutiérrez, was rescinding his acceptance of the position to remain as superintendent of the Seguin, Texas school district. This lack of a permanent superintendent can have an incredibly negative impact … Continue reading What is the place for African Americans in the ‘new’ Madison?

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

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [May, 2020] 1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21 2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21 3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21 4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed … Continue reading Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020

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

Roger Koppl: If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you’re not paying attention to the experts. Epidemiologists tell us that if we do not hide in our houses with the door securely locked, hundreds of thousands will surely perish. Economists tell us that if we do not return immediately … Continue reading The fallen state of experts: How can governments learn from their expert failings?

Madison School Board May Retreat

Madison School Board: Meeting Objectives ● Understand Applicable Legal Statutes that pertain to School Boards ● Develop a planned strategy to successfully transition to a new leadership paradigm with the MMSD school board, superintendent, administration/staff, parents/guardians, and community creating a dynamic school community team. Legal notice and zoom link. Notes and links on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent … Continue reading Madison School Board May Retreat

Madison School District behavior plan updates would push for more alternatives to suspension

Scott Girard: After a larger overhaul a year ago, proposed updates to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Behavior Education Plan for this fall would focus on “tweaks” to language and creating more alternatives to suspensions. The updates, presented to the School Board Monday night at its Instruction Work Group meeting, would add new language related … Continue reading Madison School District behavior plan updates would push for more alternatives to suspension

Resisting Open Records Requests at the taxpayer supported Madison School District

Scott Girard: The Cap Times submitted an open records request the morning of Jan. 17, the deadline for residents to submit feedback through an online form, asking for “any and all public feedback on the Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent finalists, submitted online or via forms at the public forums, as of 8 a.m. Friday, … Continue reading Resisting Open Records Requests at the taxpayer supported Madison School District

MTI says Madison School District should reopen search, look locally for new superintendent

Scott Girard: MTI says going through an entire school year with another interim is unacceptable, though they understand that will be required for a period of time “and want clarity around who will fill that position immediately.” “However, there are too many critical issues facing our schools, staff, students, and community for us to have … Continue reading MTI says Madison School District should reopen search, look locally for new superintendent

Madison’s taxpayer support K-12 School District Governance: “Most board members didn’t find out until a week later”

Logan Wroge: On March 31, Gutierrez sent a letter to Reyes letting her know he was rescinding his acceptance of the job and explaining what led to his decision. Most board members didn’t find out until a week later during a closed session Monday night, LeMonds said. Gutierrez’s decision was publicly announced after the closed session. Castro … Continue reading Madison’s taxpayer support K-12 School District Governance: “Most board members didn’t find out until a week later”

Madison School District superintendent-hire Gutiérrez rescinds acceptance

Scott Girard: Gutiérrez was chosen from a group of three finalists in January. They each visited and held a “Day in the District” including a public question and answer session. He visited again after being given the job and a $250,000 contract in March during Seguin’s spring break. While here on that trip, Gutiérrez spoke about … Continue reading Madison School District superintendent-hire Gutiérrez rescinds acceptance

Sacramento City Schools Superintendent Aguilar Takes a Big Pay Increase While Schools Closed

Katy Grimes: In March 2019, California Globe reported Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and seven other administrators spent more than $35,000 to attend a six-day conference at the Harvard Business School, while the district teetered on the verge of insolvency, and under the threat of state takeover as it struggled with a … Continue reading Sacramento City Schools Superintendent Aguilar Takes a Big Pay Increase While Schools Closed

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

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

Karin Chenoweth: In the words of the report, Montgomery County’s curriculum does “not include the necessary components to adequately address foundational skills.” If you’re not immersed in these issues, you might not recognize just how scathing this language is. Montgomery County fails to do what just about all cognitive scientists and most reading researchers agree … Continue reading As long as Montgomery County fails to teach children to read, it will have gaps

Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary

Scott Girard: Tuesday afternoon, he spent 15 minutes taking questions from the press and another 15 minutes answering questions from seven students at Glendale Elementary School, where the press conference was held. “There is some division in the community, so we’ve got to bridge that gap,” Gutiérrez said. “There is some division between the Doyle … Continue reading Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary

The Taxpayer Supported Madison School District offers info session on Behavior Education Plan Tuesday

Scott Girard: Those with questions about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Behavior Education Plan have a chance to get them answered Tuesday. District staff will hold a session from 6-7:30 p.m. to discuss, “What is the BEP? How does it work? What should I know?” at the Goodman South Public Library, 2222 S. Park St. Speakers at … Continue reading The Taxpayer Supported Madison School District offers info session on Behavior Education Plan Tuesday

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

Scott Girard: Voters will have several opportunities this month to hear from candidates for Madison School Board beginning this weekend. The East Side Progressives will hold a forum Sunday, March 8, at Lake Edge Lutheran Church, 4032 Monona Drive. It’s the first of four forums currently planned for the month before the Tuesday, April 7, … Continue reading Madison School Board candidate forums begin this weekend, continue throughout March

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

Kelly Stuart & Gina Fugnitto: Dr. Louisa Moats: The body of work referred to as the “science of reading” is not an ideology, a philosophy, a political agenda, a one-size-fits-all approach, a program of instruction, nor a specific component of instruction. It is the emerging consensus from many related disciplines, based on literally thousands of … Continue reading A Conversation About the Science of Reading and Early Reading Instruction with Dr. Louisa Moats

“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.”

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

James Vaznis: By many measures, the Boston schools are in crisis. Graduation rates dropped last year, while the gap between Black and white students earning diplomas more than doubled. The state last fall ordered the school district to ramp up improvement efforts at nearly three dozen low-performing schools. A Globe review revealed that fewer than … Continue reading K-12 Governance, Spending and Student Learning: As audit looms, Boston schools brace for more bad news

An interview with Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes

Henry Sanders: This week, Henry welcomes Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes to talk about growing up on the North Side, hiring a new superintendent, the changing role of police in schools and more. Meanwhile: Outsourcing Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School District Governance (while spending more, for less). 2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer … Continue reading An interview with Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes

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

David Blaska: Today’s blog excerpts Kaleem Caire’s social media thread in the wake of his letter, co-signed by other local black leaders, expressing disappointment that Matthew Gutierrez of Texas was chosen as new superintendent of Madison WI schools over their preferred candidate, Taylor Eric Thomas of Georgia. Caire expresses frustration over the virulent Progressive Dane/Madison Teachers … Continue reading Is this the best Madison’s (taxpayer supported) public schools can do?

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

Scott Girard: A letter signed by 13 black community leaders in Madison expresses concerns about the Madison Metropolitan School District’s hiring of Matthew Gutiérrez to be its next superintendent. The concerns include how much larger and more diverse MMSD is than Gutiérrez’s current Seguin Independent School District in Texas, student performance scores in Seguin and a “flawed, … Continue reading Black community leaders share concerns about Madison School District’s superintendent hire, call process ‘flawed, incomplete’

Commentary on the Madison School District’s teacher climate

David Blaska: In a school district that is 18% black, 57% of students suspended from school the first semester of the current school year (2019-20) were African-American. White students, 43% of the student body, accounted for 11% of out-of-school suspensions. To school board member Ali Muldrow, the data showed more about school staff than about … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School District’s teacher climate

School board candidates reflect on school climate ahead of primary

Jenny Peek: It’s been a difficult year for the Madison school district. A barrage of high-profile incidents has taken over the narrative of what it’s like in Madison’s schools, from the use of racist language, to a teacher being arrested for attempting to produce child pornography, to issues of safety at a district middle school. The district is … Continue reading School board candidates reflect on school climate ahead of primary

Nine Area School Buildings Earn Commendable Or Better Rating On 2019 ESSA Report Card (a missing topic around Madison)

Nathan Konz: Last week, the Iowa Department of Education released the 2019 school ratings with nine of our area school buildings earning a “commendable” or better score. Each public school receives a score out of 100 based on standards laid out in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). South Central Calhoun High School was the … Continue reading Nine Area School Buildings Earn Commendable Or Better Rating On 2019 ESSA Report Card (a missing topic around Madison)

Notes and links on the Madison School District’s academic and safety climate

David Blaska: Board of education president Gloria Reyes demands “the conversation around school discipline needs to be centered on race,” according to the WI State Journal. Those who counter that school discipline needs to be centered on behavior will be asked to leave the conversation. Maybe the answer is pick out some white kids and toss them … Continue reading Notes and links on the Madison School District’s academic and safety climate

New Madison Schools superintendent’s $250K+ contract up for vote Monday

Scott Girard: The contract runs from June 1 to May 31 of the following year. The agreement would allow Gutiérrez 25 vacation days each year, 10 holidays off and up to 13 personal illness days. It will provide up to $8,500 for moving expenses as Gutiérrez and his family move from Seguin, Texas, and cover … Continue reading New Madison Schools superintendent’s $250K+ contract up for vote Monday

Madison schools’ happy talk Cheat(ham)s black kids

David Blaska: A crusader has stuck his out out of the foxhole to take on the political correctness that is destroying Madison’s public schools. We introduced him to you Blaska Policy Werkers two weeks ago. He is Peter Anderson, an environmental activist.  Peter has put up a website called “Durable Justice.” Bookmark it. (We’ll wait. Got it?) Anderson … Continue reading Madison schools’ happy talk Cheat(ham)s black kids

Guilty white teacher defends Madison school chaos

David Blaska: This trenchant observation drew a response from one Stan Endiliver, who (contrary to his intention) betrays why virtue-signaling progressives like himself are piping at-risk kids to disaster by playing the victim fife. MMSD teacher here; relax 1. If you are a parent of a student in MMSD, you have nothing to fear.[Blaska: as … Continue reading Guilty white teacher defends Madison school chaos

School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent

Scott Girard: Gutiérrez said in the release he was “honored and humbled to be selected,” touting community engagement and support to teachers, students and families as “top priorities.” “During my visit to Madison, I was extremely impressed with the high level of community involvement and how community members hold education as a top priority,” he … Continue reading School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent

Mission vs organization: leadership of the taxpayer supported ($500m+ annually) Madison School District

David Blaska: Only 8.9% of Madison’s African American high school students are proficient in English, according to 2019 ACT scores. One of every five African American students never graduate. In math, 65% of black students test below basic proficiency, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Not to worry, the district now prohibits teachers … Continue reading Mission vs organization: leadership of the taxpayer supported ($500m+ annually) Madison School District

Candidate Quotes from Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Pageant

Scott Girard: Behavior Education Plan Vanden Wyngaard: “Just like in previous districts I have been in, it appears we have a perception issue in the community.” Gutiérrez: “What I’ve seen is a rather comprehensive plan. I think it may be a little overwhelming for folks. How can we simplify that to be user-friendly, easy to … Continue reading Candidate Quotes from Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Pageant

Madison 2020 Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas appearance notes

Logan Wroge: “We have a district that is successful for a group of kids. We have a different district that’s not being successful for a group of kids,” he said of the Madison School District. “That means our organization is uniquely and excellently designed to get the results that we’re presently getting. If we keep … Continue reading Madison 2020 Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas appearance notes

No safe space for reformers at Madison’s Jefferson middle school? “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

David Blaska: “Teachers are very very afraid.” — former teacher* Parents are mobilizing for a showdown at Madison’s Jefferson middle school, which they describe as ruled by virtue-signaling administrators and out-of-control students. The flash point was on December 3 when a 13-year-old boy shot a girl with a BB gun outside from a bus window. The student … Continue reading No safe space for reformers at Madison’s Jefferson middle school? “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

Schools without discipline will fail

Peter Anderson: Jennifer Cheatham’s tenure, to a not-insignificant extent, became increasingly defined by her efforts to deflect vocal pressure from Freedom Inc., by how those efforts affected her determination to convince opinion leaders of her commitment to racial justice, and by her inability to actually reduce the black achievement gap. To reinvigorate her bona fides, she caved in … Continue reading Schools without discipline will fail

2020 Madison Tax & Spending Increase Referendum Planning: School Board Rhetoric

Scott Girard: During a board retreat Saturday to discuss strategies for both a capital and an operating referendum in April, board members generally agreed they wanted to vote in March — before board member Kate Toews’ term is over and a new board member takes her place. Toews is not running for re-election to Seat 6 … Continue reading 2020 Madison Tax & Spending Increase Referendum Planning: School Board Rhetoric

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas stresses success for ‘all students’ in Madison School District is key

Scott Girard: “My background is very much anchored on supporting all students,” Thomas said. “That’s sort of why I wake up every morning. The notion that all students are able to achieve at a high level, I truly not only believe it, but I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. I know it’s possible.” He will … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas stresses success for ‘all students’ in Madison School District is key

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard

Logan Wroge: She also highlighted the importance of having teachers know the cognitive process of how children learn to read to improve literacy outcomes. When asked about school-based police officers, a divisive topic in the Madison School District, Vanden Wyngaard said she doesn’t have a problem with police being in schools but thinks they should … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Gutiérrez hopes to be ‘uniter’ for Madison School District

Scott Girard: Are we able to be laser focused on a number of a initiatives?” Gutiérrez said. “When you really do the research, the most highly successful systems have just three or four initiatives that they’re focused on, and you can do them really well.” He also brings recent experience with one of the likely … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Gutiérrez hopes to be ‘uniter’ for Madison School District

2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Vanden Wyngaard wants to focus on social justice, equity in MMSD if selected

Scott Girard: She noted successes while she was in Albany, mentioning the graduation rate, increased attendance rate and lower disproportionality in its special education programming among them, and said maintaining the programs that helped lead to those was part of the resignation decision. “I work from a philosophy of students first, and I always will … Continue reading 2020 Madison Superintendent Pageant: Vanden Wyngaard wants to focus on social justice, equity in MMSD if selected

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

Expanding Taxpayer Supported Programs amidst long term, disastrous reading results

Scott Girard: The Madison Metropolitan School District could continue its expansion of the Community Schools program as soon as the 2021-22 school year. School Board members will receive an update on the program, which offers expanded services at four schools to help serve as a “hub” to their surrounding community, at a Monday Instruction Work … Continue reading Expanding Taxpayer Supported Programs amidst long term, disastrous reading results

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

Madison School Board races starting to emerge as filing deadline approaches

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 Madison School Board races starting to emerge as filing deadline approaches

Maia Pearson becomes first newcomer to announce 2020 Madison School Board campaign

Scott Girard: The Madison School Board seat left open by incumbent Kate Toews choosing not to run for re-election has a candidate. Maia Pearson, a Madison native who has three children in Madison schools, will run for Seat 6. She filed her declaration of candidacy and campaign registration statement with the city clerk Monday and … Continue reading Maia Pearson becomes first newcomer to announce 2020 Madison School Board campaign

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

“36 people” on madison’s 2020 superinteNdent search

Logan Wroge: “The challenges of the district are actually not completely known because of a lack of transparency in how the district is doing with respect to several critical and urgent matters,” Chan Stroman, a West Side resident and education advocate said, adding she wants to see honesty and competence in the next leader of … Continue reading “36 people” on madison’s 2020 superinteNdent search

More than 1,000 protest Madison School District in support of fired school staffer (Reading?)

Logan Wroge: The zero-tolerance approach to employees using a racial slur took effect last year under then-Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, who resigned this summer for a job at Harvard University. Reyes has said it is based on adopted policies such as one on non-discrimination. That policy doesn’t expressly forbid the use of the N-word or other … Continue reading More than 1,000 protest Madison School District in support of fired school staffer (Reading?)

“The majority of ALL 11th-grade students in Madison read and write below basic proficiency. Translated: they are functionally illiterate”

David Blaska: ACT 2019 Madison v stateIn Madison public schools, 39.7% of all 11th graders scored proficient or better the ACT english/language arts. That’s down from 45.8% three years ago (2015-16 school year). (Note: the stats just cited differ from the WI State Journal’s in today’s editions. They used grades 3-8 and 11. Blaska Policy … Continue reading “The majority of ALL 11th-grade students in Madison read and write below basic proficiency. Translated: they are functionally illiterate”

I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part.

Anthony Abraham Jack: Now, as a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I teach a course I’ve titled C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me) — borrowing the title of that still-relevant Wu-Tang Clan track — in which we examine how poverty shapes the ways in which many students make it to and through … Continue reading I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part.

Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

Steven Elbow: Some 5,000 educators from the district’s 50 schools gathered at the Alliant Energy Center Monday to start their workweek with the three-hour event, which featured Madison School District officials, a student poet and Bettina Love, a popular speaker on issues of race and education. The event highlighted the importance the district has placed … Continue reading Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

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

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

Positioning and Promotion: A Vacant Taxpayer Supported Madison School Board Seat

Negassi Tesfamichael: Some observers said the unique vacancy is a chance for a newcomer to serve. “I would really love to see another black mother on the School Board,” said Sabrina Madison, the founder of the Progress Center for Black Women. “Especially a mom who has been advocating for her kid recently around some of … Continue reading Positioning and Promotion: A Vacant Taxpayer Supported Madison School Board Seat

Lead by example: If you teach children to disrespect teachers, they will do so

Michael Cummins: aybe kids are disrespecting their teachers because adults have taught them to. If, as Muldrow asserted during her campaign, the “theme” in Madison education is “how do we blame black children, how do we hurt black children, how do we get rid of black children, how do we not listen to black children,” … Continue reading Lead by example: If you teach children to disrespect teachers, they will do so

Madison School Board eyes hiring consultant in superintendent search

Logan Wroge: In 2012, the School Board hired consultant Ray and Associates, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for $31,000 to assist in the search process to replace former Superintendent Dan Nerad. But questions around a finalist’s background left some board members at the time saying they were not fully aware of controversial issues. That finalist withdrew … Continue reading Madison School Board eyes hiring consultant in superintendent search

Madison School District taps Jane Belmore (again) to serve as interim superintendent

Negassi Tesfamichael: A familiar face will serve at the helm of the Madison Metropolitan School District for the upcoming school year. The Madison School Board on Friday named Jane Belmore, a retired MMSD teacher and administrator, to serve as the interim superintendent. Belmore will take over once current Superintendent Jen Cheatham steps down at the … Continue reading Madison School District taps Jane Belmore (again) to serve as interim superintendent

“Do Your Job:’ Pittsburgh Public Administrators Face Criticism Over School Performance (!)

Andy Sheehan: The hallways of the predominantly African American University Prep are lined with pennants and banners of colleges and universities — but the promise of a college education has gone mostly unfulfilled. Students at the 6-12 public school in the Hill District have struggled academically, with less than 17% of its middle schoolers achieving … Continue reading “Do Your Job:’ Pittsburgh Public Administrators Face Criticism Over School Performance (!)

Ethics violation alleged in Madison School Board president’s vote to keep police in schools

Logan Wroge: Three former elected officials are alleging Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes violated the body’s ethics policy when she voted in favor of a contract that would keep Madison police officers in the district’s high schools. On Tuesday, former City Council members Andy Heidt, Brenda Konkel and Andy Olsen, who also served on … Continue reading Ethics violation alleged in Madison School Board president’s vote to keep police in schools

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 K-12 Superintendent’s School Board “weekly Update” – via open records (!)

Jennifer Cheatham: Dear Board Members: As you know, we have already begun on boarding our three new board members who will be sworn in later this month. Congratulations to each of them! I want to thank TJ, Dean and James for their service to the Board all these years. I appreciate you so much…your time, … Continue reading Madison K-12 Superintendent’s School Board “weekly Update” – via open records (!)

Madison School Board eyes renewal of several partnerships despite worries of not enough success

Negassi Tesfamichael: “It’s really difficult after all of these years to look and see no academic improvement in outcomes, and it’s not because people aren’t working hard or don’t have the right intentions or all of these things,” said board member Mary Burke. “But I’d like to hear we’re looking at how we reimagine the … Continue reading Madison School Board eyes renewal of several partnerships despite worries of not enough success

Commentary on the UW School of Education and The taxpayer supported Madison school district

David Blaska: The school district lives and breathes identity politics because they teach it at UW-Madison and at all leading schools of education across the country. That includes Harvard, from which superintendent Jennifer Cheatham received her doctoral degree and at which she will grow future crops. Even at a school as left-wing as UW-Madison, its … Continue reading Commentary on the UW School of Education and The taxpayer supported Madison school district