Barb Williams wrote:
I’m glad Jason Shepard questions MMSD’s public display of self-congratulation over third grade reading test scores. It isn’t that MMSD ought not be proud of progress made as measured by fewer African American students testing at the basic and minimal levels. But there is still a sigificant gap between white students and students of color–a fact easily lost in the headlines. Balanced Literacy, the district’s preferred approach to reading instruction, works well for most kids. Yet there are kids who would do a lot better in a program that emphasizes explicit phonics instruction, like the one offered at Lapham and in some special education classrooms. Kids (arguably too many) are referred to special education because they have not learned to read with balanced literacy and are not lucky enough to land in the extraordinarily expensive Reading Recovery program that serves a very small number of students in one-on-on instruction. (I have witnessed Reading Recovery teachers reject children from their program because they would not receive the necessary support from home.)
Continue reading Barb Williams: Letter to the Isthmus Editor on 3rd Grade Reading Scores
Given this and the probability of three spending referendums this spring, I would like to see the Madison School District’s finance folks publish the following information (in html, on their web site):
The District’s sources and uses of funds over the past 10 years, including:
- total spending (education, special ed, services, staff/admin, other)
- Employment numbers (teachers, staff, part time, mscr)
- revenues (by source: grants, local taxes, state & federal funds), fees
- Student counts, including low income changes, special ed and population changes across the district (from school to school)
- Supporting numbers, notes and comments to the data.
This type of detailed, background information would be rather useful to all Madison citizens as we contemplate further increases in education spending. There’s been some discussion of eliminating the deduction for state & local taxes for federal tax purposes. IF that happens, there will be quite a blowback from places like Wisconsin that have relatively high taxes.
Several recent articles highlight the ongoing problem of state & local taxes growing faster than Wisconsin personal income:
- Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Alliance released a study that forecasts 2005 property taxes will go up more than 6 percent. They also forecast that the local school portion of property taxes will go up 7.3%. They also found that property taxes will account for 4.1% of Wisconsin taxpayer’s personal income. (via JR Ross)
- Unsurprisingly, The Taxpayer Bill of Rights continues to be discussed in Madison. This will continue to be a hot button issue as long as state and local spending continues to rise faster than personal incomes (there will be a reckoning unless the economy grows faster…., here’s an example: Judy Wagner, 65, a Milwaukee substitute teacher, said her property taxes were forcing her to postpone her retirement. Her property tax bill had risen from about $3,000 in 2000 to just under $4,700 now, she said.
“My options are to work until I’m 75 or 80 or sell my home and move south like three of my friends have,” she said.) Via Patrick Marley & Steven Walters.
- This will help, to some degree, though we must create a more robust environment for tax paying entrepreneurs. True statewide, 2 way broadband (not the current slow DSL and cable modem services) and a much simplified tax/paperwork process would be a great start.
June Kronholz summarizes the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment, which finds that:
The percentage of top-achieving math students in the nation is about half that of other industrialized countries, and the gap between scores of whites and minority groups — who will make up an increasing share of the labor force in coming decades — is enormous.
Here’s the report.
Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater sent me an email today regarding this paper. Here’s his email:
I received a copy of your email to Diane Mayerfeld regarding reading in the Madison Schools. I would like to set straight the misinformation that is contained in the document that you included with your email. First the Milwaukee Public Schools have not performed better on the fourth grade WKCE test that Madison. The report cites “School Facts 03” as the source. The numbers in that publication show that in Madison 80% of our fourth graders scored proficient and advanced on the test and that only 63% of Milwaukee”s fourth graders scored proficient and advanced. I am not sure how such an error could have occurred in the document that you produced since the numbers in the report are very clear. An examination of the DPI WINNS website shows the same numbers.
I find this type of inaccuracy extremely disturbing since inaccurate numbers were also used in the Wisconsin State Journal editorial regarding the Reading First grant. The editorial states that Lincoln’s third grade reading scores have declined since 2001, when in fact, they have steadily increased. The editorial writer had the chart showing the increase in performance before her when she wrote the editorial.
There are always legitimate disagreements that can be made over many of the decisions that the District makes. However, using inaccurate and clearly wrong data to make those arguments should never be acceptable.
The Performance Series Report also indicates that there was a choice between Reading Recovery and the programs approved under the Reading First grant for funding. That assertion is not accurate. Reading Recovery was not part of the issue at all. The choice was between our Balanced Literacy Core Program (CLIP) and the Reading first programs. Reading Recovery is a first grade intervention not a core program. The following explanation written by the team that actually worked on the Reading First grant and have extraordinary expertise in reading says it much better than I can.
Continue reading Art Rainwater’s Email regarding Reading First
There’s another spring race that’s worth thinking about, and checking out: Wisconsin DPI Superintendent. UW Whitewater Professor Dr. Paul Yvarra is running. Here’s his website.
I recently received a copy of the minutes of the November 3, 2004 Superintendent’s Faculty Committee meeting. During this meeting Superintendent Art Rainwater discusses a variety of topics, including the recent rejection of $2M in Reading First funds and the district’s budget. The minutes are available in this 350K pdf document. Highlights:
On Declining Federal Funds: “This situation (declining federal funds) presents a dilemma for a Superintendent – not so much for me because I’ve done what I want to do and am looking at the end of my career. But for a young, career-building Superintendent in a struggling district it would be very hard to decide whether you accept desperately needed money and compromise program, or turn it down because you know you have something better.”
“What was the reaction to the district saying no to federal money? I read a little about it in the newspaper. That was it – there was no other reaction.”
on Reading First:
“The Reading 1st grants are designed to support schools where reading is an issue. Like everthing in NCLB, they are based on a relatively sound principle but farther down the line you find something insidious about that. . .”
On No Child Left Behind:
“By the year 2013, if we have one single student in the whole district who is not proficient or advanced in reading, math and science, then our district would be designated a failure. Much research has been done by a variety of educational associations. They show that, after six years, 80% of districts will be failing. When that is the goal, people don’t take it seriously. An important part about making change is having attainable goals.”
In response to a question on the budget,”Are we headed for another $10 million in budget cuts?” Art answered, “The best case, which I believe we are heading for, is between $6-7 million. The worst case would be if the Legislature passes a property tax freeze and the Governor can’t veto it, which would result in somewhere between $15-17 million.”
We’re engaging in a bit of demand side democracy. I’ve posted a link to a page urging madison citizens to run for the school board. We take so much for granted here.
Andrew Jakowleff has posted some stunning VR scenes from Kiev as the Ukrainian people protest their recent election process.
The Madison School Board Performance & Achievement Committee met monday night, to discuss “Research-Base Underlying MMSD Mathematics Curriculum & Instruction” Here are some video clips from the meeting:
Jenny D posts a transcript of RFK’s (Robert F. Kennedy) 1965 Senate testimony on school performance:
Some may wonder, why on earth is Jenny D. wasting her time copying down 40-year-old Senate testimony? Because it so closely mirrors the conversations today about No Child Left Behind. NCLB didn’t fall out of the sky as some evil Republican plan. It was first hatched, albeit crudely, in 1965 by U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy. I think it’s important to know where we came from
RFK on standardized tests | RFK on Title 1
Here’s a 2 page pdf copy of a recent Beaver Dam mailing to all residents asking them to participate in a survey on “continuous improvement” of their public school system. Many of the questions relate to budget challenges the district is facing. [264K PDF] Beaver Dam School District Site
The WSJ Editorial page published a very useful editorial this morning on the Madison School District’s rejection of $2M in federal Reading First funds for reading improvement programs:
Taxpayers have the right to ask why the Madison School District would turn its back on a $2 million grant.
Read a number of other articles on the district’s rejection of the $2M reading first funds here.
Continue reading WSJ Opinion: Reading between the lines of rigidity
Reminder: The Madison School Board Performance & Achievement Committee will meet monday night, 11.29 @ 7:00p.m. to discuss “Research-Base Underlying MMSD Mathematics Curriculum & Instruction” Room 103 Doyle Administration building [Map].
We’ve started to ask local PTO/A organizations for a list of their view of the Madison School District Priorities. Here’s two from John Muir Elementary:
- Good morning PTO members. I am in touch with ______’s teacher about having a parents/teachers night where the a teacher or two would do a presentation on the new Math teaching theory, and how to inform parents so that we may be able to help their children at home. I hear from many parents who wish to receive this
- as a teacher, and especially as a teacher of the Arts, I am particularly concerned about the cuts that have been made in our schools. The public doesn’t realize the impact, but it is keenly felt by all staff throughout the district and Wisconsin. There will be more cuts next year.
I would encourage the PTO to invite school board members to attend a meeting, and to have them explain what has been cut or changed, and what is yet to come. Because we have a budget crisis in Wisconsin, we are losing staff, programs are being cut, teachers are being overloaded by more responsibilities. This is not going to end. We still have millions of dollars more to cut next year, and the next and the next.
The point of the meeting, besides voicing concerns about these cuts, is to have the school board talk about what the public can and should do. I believe this should be our chief priority.
Send yours to zellmer at mailbag dot com.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews on LaFollette Principal Mike Meissen’s basketball coach selection process.
John Tierney writes:
At one level, the debate is over current controversies in public education: Many parents believe that their children, mostly in elite schools, are being pushed too hard in a hypercompetitive atmosphere. But other parents are complaining about a decline in programs for gifted children, leaving students to languish in “untracked” and unstimulating classrooms. Some critics of education believe that boys especially are languishing in schools that emphasize cooperation instead of competition. No Child Left Behind, indeed.
But the basic issue is the same one raised four decades ago by Kurt Vonnegut in “Harrison Bergeron,” a short story set in the America of 2081, about a 14-year-old genius and star athlete. To keep others from feeling inferior, the Handicapper General weighs him down with 300-pound weights and makes him wear earphones that blast noise, so he cannot take “unfair advantage” of his brain.
That’s hardly the America of 2004, but today’s children do grow up with soccer leagues and spelling bees where everyone gets a prize. On some playgrounds dodge ball is deemed too traumatic to the dodging-impaired. Some parents consider musical chairs dangerously exclusionary.
Fascinating look at the tyranny of low expectations….
Lee Sensenbrenner writes:
Board President Bill Keys said any talk of closing a school is “very preliminary” and rests on enrollment forecasts for 2010.
He said, though, that it was important for people to know that a school closure is among the options the district is putting forward.
“It might be necessary,” he said, “but it’s not something that’s desirable.”
Steve Rosenblum forwarded this article and asks “Are we training our children to accept this level of monitoring….?” A few schools have begun monitoring students’ arrivals and departures using technology similar to that used to track livestock. – Matt Richtel
Sarah Carr on the growing use of private funding sources in public schools.
Jamall Abdul-Alim on the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District‘s attempt to use DVD’s for first through third graders.
“Buenos dias,” says Senor Morris, the instructor featured in the DVD set “Elementary Spanish” – a program the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District is using for the first time this year to teach Spanish to first- through third-graders.
In Spanish, the phrase means “good morning.”
But the days of Spanish instruction for students at Indian Hill may not be as good as they once were, educators say.
Last year, a teacher stood in the place now occupied by the TV set and DVD player. Budget cuts brought on by declining enrollment led district officials to say adios to Spanish teacher Mara Malloy – called Senora Malloy by her students.
She has been replaced by the DVD Spanish instruction package produced by Northern Arizona University.
The district saved thousands of dollars in Malloy’s part-time teacher salary and benefits. The DVD package cost $3,000.
But educators and students say there is a deeper cost associated with the switch from live teacher to technology that transcends dollars. They lament the lack of interaction between student and teacher, and worry that will lead to less academic success.
Reading Jason Shephard’s excellent “Robarts Gets The Treatment” made me think about what we should expect from our elected officials.
Here are my initial thoughts:
- Act Professionally
Debate is essential to our form of government. Our elected leaders should engage in and value substantive debate. Nothing engages the public more than this type of dialogue.
- Use Data to Make Decisions
There’s a reason that the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), and LAB (Legislative Audit Bureau) exist
- Communicate: Tell the Whole Story
Use the internet to converse with constituents.
- Ask Tough Questions
Ruth Robarts and Kathleen Falk seem to be two local elected officials who are willing to challenge the status quo. Shephard is correct when he refers to Robarts as “Public Ally Number 1”
I consider Russ Feingold to be nearly a perfect politician. He’s idealist, yet has classic political abilities. He’s also very smart. Idealist in terms of compaign finance and local communications, political in terms of timely, political votes (NRA and Tax Giveaway) and smart (debates: where he shows that he knows the game very well). To his credit, he’s always willing to chat and ask questions. I’m interested in hearing your views. Click comments and write.
Marcia Bastian forwarded this link to edweek’s article on Science DI.
She sees the school for the first time on her daughter’s last day, and on a late June afternoon, with a crowd around, Sheila Hutton does not see much. The halls are locked and the classrooms disassembled. The teachers are indistinguishable from the parents, all in familiar conversation with neighbors and friends. Hutton, the stranger from Washington, takes in what she can as she finds a seat in the gymnasium. Purple banners herald the athletic championships the high school has won. Shimmery silver balloons bob on their tethers. The place already is packed.
In this faraway dot on a New Hampshire map — a rural curve in the road, nearly to Canada — her daughter is graduating. Hutton scans the program listing the 37 members of the Groveton High Class of ’04. About halfway down the names, after Holmes, before Karl: Michelle Teresa Hutton, a girl with bubbly charm and a Pepsodent smile.
Via Joanne Jacobs Maria Glod’s High Achiever’s Leaving Schools Behind is also well worth reading.
David Bernhardt sent along information on Clyde Hertzman: Professor of Health Care and Epidemiology Director, Human Early Learning Partnership Co-Editor, Developmental Health and the Wealth of Nations University of British Columbia presentation November 18, 2004 @ The Waisman Conference Center (North Tower, 2nd Floor): 3:30 to 4:30p.m. Directions
Questions: contact Jane Lambert 608 265 4592 or jflamber at wisc dot edu
PDF announcement document (8.5 x 11)
Norm and Dolores Mishelow gave an informative presentation Sunday on their successful Milwaukee Barton School and 27th Street school reading programs. Background
3.7MB MP3 – ideal for your MP3 Player/iPod | Quicktime Video
Transcripts to Follow. DVD copy is also available – email me if you’d like one: zellmer at mailbag dot com
In a related matter, Madison School Board Member Carol Carstensen writes in the Wisconsin State Journal in support of the District’s recent rejection of $2m in Federal Reading First money (click below).
Continue reading Norm and Dolores Mishelow Presentation on Milwaukee’s Successful Reading Program
Click on these links to view video clips from Wednesday’s event:
Finally, here’s a 4MB MP3 audio file of the event.
In Seattle, at a recent debate on charter schools at the University of Washington, sparring was intense.
“How long do I have to allow my kids to go to the public schools?” asked Henterson S. Carlisle, a teacher whose two children attend his school in the Seattle public system. “At what point can African-American kids who are suffering in the public system have some different options?”
A few minutes later in the same debate, Catherine Ahl, president of a school board on the Kitsap Peninsula west of Seattle and an officer of the Washington League of Women Voters, argued that charter schools, which are run by private boards rather than publicly elected ones, “take away citizens’ rights to oversee the spending of tax dollars.”
“We shouldn’t divert funds to create a separate, private school system,” Ms. Ahl said.
In a somewhat related article, Milwaukee School District residents are near their annual voucher cap (15% of district students). Sarah Carr takes a look at the politics, both locally and from the Governor.
Interesting timing, given Jeff’s post below about West’s intention to drop advanced biology.
Doug Erickson on Madison Country Day School’s expansion announcement:
Madison Country Day School broke ground Thursday on a $4.8 million expansion that will add a gymnasium, a performing arts stage and 13 classrooms.
The addition, which will house the private school’s middle and high school, is expected to be done in August.
Opened in 1997 with 22 students in five lower grades, the school has grown to 252 students in grades pre- kindergarten through 10th. It reached capacity two years ago and is now using two portable buildings, said Adam de Pencier, head of school. “We’re absolutely jammed.”
The school at 5606 River Road is in the town of Westport near Waunakee. It is a non- religious, independent school that was designed to incorporate the best curriculum from around the world. The school wants to be seen as a research facility whose teaching practices can be used as a model for other public and private schools, de Pencier said.
The school was founded by Christopher Frautschi, nephew of philanthropist Jerry Frautschi, whose $205 million donation is paying for construction of the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison.
As always, there are options for people willing to spend the money. A challenging and proven curriculum is vital to our community.
I recently emailed a bit with Bill Keys, Madison School Board President, thanking him for the BOE’s support of Lapham’s English program and two school’s exploration of Singapore Math. Here’s the email message.
Continue reading The Yin & Yang of Curriculum
Meg Kissinger & Mark Johnson:
He pilloried the media.
Cosby, who was criticized for comments last spring by some who thought he was too harsh on young African-Americans, saved much of his venom for the media. Looking at the scores of reporters in the crowd, he said:
“They won’t show up again until you kill somebody. They don’t show up and write about you until your test scores are so damn low and they can prove that you’re not smart. They don’t care about you.
“We are letting TV sets raise our children,” he said. “A transformation has to take place.
Eugene Kane summarizes the visit here. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial
MP3 Audio File
Don’t be afraid to be involved – even intrusive – if you want to keep your kids off drugs, a Middleton High School student advised parents at a forum Tuesday night.
More than 250 people packed the school’s cafeteria to ask questions and get information from a panel that included school officials, social workers, students and police officers. Catherine Zdeblick also sat on the panel. Her daughter Julie, a junior at Middleton High School, died from an Oxycontin overdose in March. That death has had a big impact on the community.
Beth Wild, 18, who was a friend of Julie’s, talked about her own recovery from addiction to marijuana and Oxycontin. She told the crowd that her parents were instrumental in getting her sober because they were always there for her.
Wild, a senior at the Middleton Alternative High School, said she has been sober for 99 days, although she has been in treatment for two years.
She said that after several unhealthy relationships she finally decided to take her treatment seriously. Wearing a T-shirt that said “high on life,” Wild told the crowd, “I love life and I’m very proud of myself.”
I sent an email to Tom Vandervest, Middleton High’s principal urging him to post an html/pdf, audio and video transcript on their web site. He responded with “Our school personnel will be recording it for our use. Thanks, Tom”.
I hope that includes posting it online.
John Matthews, writing in the Wisconsin State Journal:
For many years, recognizing the value to both children and the community, Madison Teachers Inc. has endorsed 4-year-old kindergarten being universally accessible to all.
This forward-thinking educational opportunity will provide all children with an opportunity to develop the skills they need to be better prepared to proceed with their education, with the benefit of 4- year-old kindergarten. They will be more successful, not only in school, but in life.
Four-year-old kindergarten is just one more way in which Madison schools will be on the cutting edge, offering the best educational opportunities to children. In a city that values education as we do, there is no question that people understand the value it provides.
Continue reading MTI’s John Matthews on 4 Year Old Kindergarden
The George Lucas Educational Foundation just launched a new education magazine: edutopia. George Lucas, who founded the organization was recently interviewed by the magazine:
Lucas, 60, is the father of three, but his interest in education dates back to his own school experience, as a boy in Modesto.
In an interview in the premiere issue of Edutopia, Lucas said, “I had a very hard time with education, and I was never described as a bright student. I was considered somebody who could be doing a lot better than I was doing, not working up to my potential. I wish I had known some of these (new methods) back then.”
“The way we are educating is based on 19th century ideas and methods. … Our system of education is locked in a time capsule. You want to say to the people in charge, ‘You’re not using today’s tools! Wake up!”
Lee Sensenbrenner on Art Rainwater’s recent decision to turn down up to $2M in federal reading funds.
I have several comments:
1. I have no doubt that some state and federal regulations are non-sensical.
2. I have to agree with Ruth Robarts that this issue should have come before the board.
3. I find it unusual that the board has dealt recently with one or two person staffing issues, but not this up to $2M matter….
Send your thoughts to the Madison Board of Education’s email address: email@example.com
The Economist, in a pre-election series, takes a look at our education system:
Some schools are thriving; others have been left behind
AMERICA’S system of education ranges from the superb to the awful. Its universities, especially at the graduate level, are the best in the world, gaining some 60% of all Nobel prizes awarded since the second world war. Its public-school system, however, is often marked by poor teaching, dilapidated buildings and violence (although the rate of violent incidents is falling, more than 5% of schoolchildren played truant last year to avoid violence at school). Official figures say that 85% of students finish high school, but the Urban Institute and other groups estimate that nearly a third of them drop out.
The result is a popular assumption that American education from kindergarten to 12th-grade high-school graduation (K-12) is in crisis. President Bush’s main remedy, passed in 2001 with bipartisan support, is the No Child Left Behind Act, a programme promising lots of federal money ($13 billion next year) to school systems that test their students and improve their performance�and sanctions for those that do not. All in all, claims the Bush team, federal spending on K-12 education will have risen by the 2005 budget by 65%, the biggest increase since the Johnson presidency in the late 1960s.
The Democrats retort that �Every Child Left Behind� would be a better name. Echoing criticisms by the teachers’ unions and many states, John Kerry calculates that the programme has been underfunded by more than $26 billion over the past four years. He would establish a National Education Trust Fund �to ensure that schools always get the funding they need�; put a �great� (and better paid) teacher in every classroom; expand after-school activities for some 3.5m children; and offer college students a fully refundable tax credit for up to $4,000 a year of college tuition (Mr Kerry says that Mr Bush reneged on a promise to increase Pell grants, which help the poor to pay for college).
Continue reading Two Nations
Aaron Nathans on the local Milken Award.
The Wisconsin State Journal Editorial Page addresses 4 year old kindergarden:
Early childhood education works: Children in a Madison kindergarten program for 4-year- olds made substantial literacy gains during the pilot project’s first year, UW- Madison researchers say.
But if financial realities don’t prevent more kids from reaping the clear and obvious benefits of 4-year- old kindergarten, it seems that union rules will.
The pilot project, which continues this school year, served just 33 students last year at Glendale Elementary School and another 17 students at a Head Start site on Lake Point Drive. UW- Madison researchers Arthur Reynolds and Beth Graue said children in the pilot program learned letters and words faster than would be expected by maturation alone. The findings provide a strong basis for expansion of the program.
Barbara Hummel [bhummel at chorus.net]:
Courage to Teach, an important local effort to renew and support educators in Madison and Dane County, is holding a fall dinner fund-raiser Wednesday, October 27 at CUNA Mutual.
Courage to Teach (CTT) is an innovative program that has brought remarkable renewal to public educators in nearly 50 communities across the United States and Canada. Over the past two years, Bonnie Trudell and I have had the privilege of facilitating a local CTT group for 20 educators, thanks to the generous support of CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, the Foundation for Madison Public Schools, and many other businesses and individuals. The teachers who participate make a commitment of $500 themselves, in addition to giving 5 week-ends of their time over the year and a half program.
The impact of CTT on local educators was significant, as documented in the attached excerpt from the final report to CUNA Mutual Group Foundation. Participants reported steady and impressive improvements in all of the following areas:
- Amount of time spent in focused reflection of their teaching practice;
- Quality of connections with students and classroom practices;
- Strength of collegial relationships at their school sites; and
- Commitment to their educational practice.
Needless to say, we’re excited about the promise this holds for sustaining teachers in the essential task of preparing our children to become vibrant, informed future citizens and leaders of our community.
Via Bill Steinberg. Additional information: CTT 99K PDF Brochure Teacher Retention 83K PDF 02/04 Results Report to CUNA 110K PDF
Paul Burka takes an interesting look at the way the Texas Education Agency manages and calculates the dropout rate:
WHEN MY DAUGHTER FINISHED HER FRESHMAN year at Johnston High School, in Austin, where she was a student in a liberal-arts magnet program, I paid a visit to the college adviser to find out her class ranking. “She’s thirty-seventh in a class of 750,” he told me. “That’s good,” I said. “Top five percent. Good enough to get into the University of Texas.”
“Not really,” the adviser said. “We know from experience that only 250 freshmen, at most, will graduate. So think of her as thirty-seventh out of 250. That’s not in the top ten percent.”
That was bad news�both for my daughter and for the state of education in Texas. I did some quick calculations. There were around 100 freshmen in the magnet program. Presumably, almost all of them would graduate. This meant that of the remaining 650 or so students in her class�those who lived within Johnston’s regular boundaries, almost all of them Hispanic or black�fewer than 150 would graduate with their peers. If his prediction was accurate, the dropout rate at Johnston would be 67 percent. In fact, the rate was even worse: Only 223 of the original 750 graduated.
Nancy and I lived in Dallas some years ago and very much enjoyed reading the excellent Texas Monthly Magazine, where Paul Burka is the senior executive editor.
Continue reading Incomplete
Joanne Jacobs writing in Tech Central Station:
Forget the anecdotes and assumptions. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, federal education dollars are supposed to fund only programs proven effective by “scientifically based research.” That’s spotlighting a problem: A lot of what passes for education research isn’t reliable or rigorous, and many education professors aren’t keen on the scientific method.
Education has a “dirty little secret,” writes Jeffrey Mervis in the June 11, 2004 Science Magazine:
“No program has yet met that rigorous standard, because none has been scientifically evaluated and shown to be effective. (A related secret is that there’s no consensus on the type of evaluation studies that are needed.)”
Bush’s Education Department wants controlled studies, like the tests that determine whether a new drug is safe and effective. Is Panacea Z more likely to cure ignorance than Brand X? It would be nice to know before investing millions of dollars. And yet the research often provides no guidance.
Georgia Pabst on Bill Cosby’s visit to Milwaukee North on October 20, 2004 (6 to 9p.m.); 1101 W. Center St.
The gathering was announced Friday by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who worked with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Alliance of Black School Educators and the Wisconsin Black Media Association to bring about the Cosby appearance.
Barrett said he hoped the discussion would deal with the importance of education and how the community can tackle and develop solutions to educational disparities and other challenges.
Cosby first raised a national storm in May during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring an end to school segregation. He decried the lack of emphasis on education in the black community and challenged parents to greater accountability. Though he earned rebukes from some commentators, others praised him for speaking out.
Debra Dickerson covers Cosby…
Millions of illiterate people in remote, rural India could soon have access to an education, as a satellite devoted exclusively to long distance learning was launched on Monday. It is the world’s first dedicated educational satellite, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
India launched the $20 million, 2-tonne EDUSAT from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, a tiny island in the Bay of Bengal. The satellite is the heaviest ever launched by an Indian-made rocket – the new Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which cost $33 million.
About 35% of the country�s billion-plus population are illiterate, a 2001 government census showed. �India will require 10,000 new schools each year and meeting the teaching needs on such a scale [by conventional methods] will be impossible,� Madhavan Nair, chairman of ISRO, told New Scientist.
To date, India has used both of its multi-purpose INSAT satellites to provide long-distance education information alongside their telecommunications, broadcasting and weather-forecasting functions.
Interesting way to leverage technology. It it works, it will turn out to be cheap….. (and creative!) We need more of this kind of thinking.
Accelerating the best students helps them intellectually and socially, says A Nation Deceived, a new report from the University of Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports:
A new University of Iowa report seeks to debunk myths that accelerated learning for gifted students is unfair, expensive for schools and causes students to be social outcasts, gifted-education experts said Monday.
Time recites the fears about children pushed too fast, but concedes there’s evidence many very smart students are very bored.
For the smartest of these kids, those who quickly overpower schoolwork that flummoxes peers, skipping a grade isn’t about showing off. Rather, according to a new report from the University of Iowa, it can mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out from sheer tedium. “If the work is not challenging for these high-ability kids, they will become invisible,” says the lead author of the report, Iowa education professor Nicholas Colangelo. “We will lose them. We already are.”
. . . In a 2000 study for Gifted Child Quarterly, Joseph Renzulli and Sunghee Park found that 5% of the 3,520 gifted students they followed dropped out after eighth grade. Astonishingly, that’s almost as high as the 5.2% of nongifted kids who dropped out. Untold numbers of other highly intelligent kids stay in school but tune out. “When we ask exceptional children about their main obstacle, they almost always say it’s their school,” says Jan Davidson, a co-author of the new book Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds. “Their school makes them put in seat time, and they can’t learn at their own ability level.”
Via Education News.
Via Joanne Jacobs
Barb Schrank collected video & audio clips from last nights Madison School District Board of Education Meeting:
- Don Hunt: Retired West High School Art Teacher Fine Arts Statement [MP3 1.4MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Barb Schrank Fine Arts Presentation [MP3 1.6MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Mariel Wozniak Fine Arts Presentation [MP3 1.9MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Juan Lopez lecture to Ruth Robarts [MP3 2.7MB] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
- Athletic Fees Presentation [MP3] [Quicktime Video] [Transcripts: html | PDF]
Lee Sensenbrenner summarized the meeting as well.
The number of Wisconsin schools and districts that failed to make enough progress to satisfy federal law rose, according to statistics released Friday, prompting renewed concern over whether schools can meet the increasingly tough standards of the “No Child Left Behind” era.
According to state Department of Public Instruction figures, 123 schools were on the list of schools that failed to make “adequate yearly progress” – a 12.7% increase over last year.
Wisconsin DPI Report DPI Press Release (151K PDF)
Doug Erickson also covered this DPI news release.
Rafael Gomez sent me an email regarding Dr. Paul Yvarra’s dinner presentation at La Hacienda [map] next Thursday evening [9.23.2004 @ 6:00p.m.]. Yvarra is evidently planning to run for State Superintendant of DPI:
He is currently a professor in the deparment of school administration at Whitewater Univ. He is an ex-school board member at Whitewater school dist. And, he has been active on teacher training. He is running for school choice.
With this said, a dinner presentation is scheduled at La Hacienda from 6p.m to 7:30p.m. Sept. 23. There is a $10.00 donation. Please contact me at 277 83 42 if you have an interest to attend. Thank you for your attention to my note. Rafael Gomez
Fascinating look at the top 500 World Universities, from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s perspective (the UW, my alma matter is #18). Criteria and weights are based on:
We rank universities by several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, articles published in Nature and Science, articles in Science Citation Index-expanded and Social Science Citation Index, and academic performance with respect to the size of an institution.
Statistics Canada & The Economist:
TO WHAT extent is economic growth driven by the acquisition of �human capital�? Many economists have pursued the answer over the past 20 years, but without great success. Despite building and rebuilding elaborate growth models, they have failed to prove that better education and training significantly raises a country’s long-term growth. Recently, though, a Canadian team made a breakthrough. It found that, if you measure actual skills rather than educational qualifications, human capital becomes a strong predictor of economic growth.
The team identified a clear and significant association between investments in human capital in each period and a country’s subsequent growth and labour productivity. Specifically, a rise of 1% in literacy scores relative to the international average is associated with an eventual 2.5% relative rise in labour productivity and a 1.5% rise in GDP per head.
These are much clearer effects than those found in previous studies. In the three countries in the study where human capital improved the fastest between the older and the younger generations (Belgium, Finland and Italy), growth in output per worker rose much faster than average between 1960 and 1995, while in those with least improvement in skills (New Zealand, Sweden and the United States), growth was slower.
Statistics Canada: International Adult Literacy Survey: 656K PDF
Don Severson: Active Citizen’s for Education White Paper [212K PDF]:
MMSD has one of the highest per pupil costs of any school district in the state. MMSD administration proposed a FY 2004-05 budget with a $10 million shortfall in revenues to deliver the same services as that which was delivered in the 2003-04 budget year. This white paper compares MMSD administration costs, staffing levels and per pupil costs with peer school districts at Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha andRacine.
Don Severson: Active Citizens for Education’s Retention Rate White Paper: [64K PDF]
The Madison Metropolitan School District has one of the highest costs per pupil of any school district in the state ($12,500, 2004-05). Madison District officials state that the high cost per student is needed in order to achieve success in many of the important academic areas. This paper compares retention rates of the Madison School District, (the number of pupils who were not passed to the next grade level) with fourother districts: Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. Retention occurs when a student has not made progress in a prescribed course of study. A pupil is consideredretained if:
- a pupil needs an additional year to complete a prescribed program
- a pupil in grades kindergarten through eight must repeat a grade
- a pupil in high school (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior years) does nothave enough credits equal to or more than one-seventh of the district�s high school requirement
This 40K PDF compares the Madison School District with Appleton, Green Bay, Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee.
Don Severson forwarded the most recent Active Citizens for Education White Paper on the MMSD’s Community Service Fund (Fund 80) [64K PDF]:
The Community Service Fund is used as an administrative and accountingmechanism for activities such as adult education; community recreation programs, such as evening swimming pool operation and softball leagues; elderly food service programs,non-special education preschool; day care services; and other programs which are not elementary or secondary educational programs but have the primary function of servingthe community. Expenditures for these activities, including cost allocations for salaries, benefits, travel, purchased services, etc. are to be paid from this Fund to the extentfeasible. The district may adopt a separate tax levy for the Fund. Building use fees charged for utilities and other operational costs must be charged in the General Fund if nocost allocation was made for these to the Community Service Fund.
Barb Golden forwarded some information on the Madison Area Family Advisory/Advocacy Council:
MAFAAC: Closing the achievement gap through information, advocacy & support.
[67K PDF Press Release]
Don Severson forwarded this Active Citizens for Education white paper on Fund 80 [272K PDF] and related after school changes.
This site has a number of posts on the after school changes (essentially: replacing community after school partnerships with taxpayer funded MSCR programs via Fund 80. Fund 80, unlike other school expenditures is not limited by state spending caps).
The school board meets tonight (8.30.2004; 7:15p.m. in room 103) to discuss the controversy.
Send your views to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Severson forwarded this message recently
Taxpayer advocates will hold a news conference Friday, August 27th at 1:00 p.m. at the Sequoia Library, 513 South Midvale Boulevard (Midvale Plaza) to call for an audit of �Community Services Fund 80� of the Madison School District. Don Severson, president of the Active Citizens for Education (ACE), will ask for an independent audit of �Fund 80� which is used by school district officials to fund �community service programs�. The fund has come under recent scrutiny because of its growth � over 200% in four years � and its use in pushingYMCA after-school programs out of certain Madison schools. Parents of children in the after school program held a news conference this past Monday to highlight the issue. Severson will also preview a radio ad, which begins airing Friday, August 27 and is sponsored byACE, appealing to taxpayers to contact Madison school board members and district officials. The Madison School Board is holding a special meeting Monday night at 7:00 p.m. at the DoyleAdministration Building to hear concerns of parents of children in the after-school program.
Interesting thread on discovery learning, with notes from Alan Siegel’s study of videotaped Japanese Math lessons:
Discovery learning is fashionable in math reform circles, writes Seebach. The Japanese are supposed to be the models. But the Japanese teach traditionally — with “beautifully designed and superbly executed” lessons.
The videotape shows, Siegel says, that “a master teacher can present every step of a solution without divulging the answer, and can, by so doing, help students learn to think deeply. In such circumstances, the notion that students might have discovered the ideas on their own becomes an enticing mix of illusion intertwined with threads of truth.”
Amy Hetzner on Waukesha’s decision to halt early kinderdarten admissions:
The Waukesha School Board decided earlier this year to eliminate early admission for children who have not celebrated their fifth birthday by Sept. 1, arguing that the expense of testing the children outweighed the benefit for the few who got in to kindergarten.
The move puts the district at the center of a national trend that observers say is resulting in an older crop of kindergartners
Ruth’s informative diary on the Long Range Planning Committee’s inclusiveness goals provides context for C.K. Prahalad’s interesting new book: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
He is a fierce critic of traditional top-down thinking on aid, by governments and non-governmental organisations alike. They tend to see the poor as victims to be helped, he says, not as people who can be part of the solution�and so their help often creates dependency. Nor does he pin much hope on the �corporate social responsibility� (CSR) programmes of many large companies. If you want serious commitment from a firm, he says, its involvement with the poor �can’t be based on philanthropy or CSR�. The involvement of big business is crucial to eradicating poverty, he believes, but BOP markets must �become integral to the success of the firm in order to command senior management attention and sustained resource allocation.�
Learn more about the book here.
Louie Villalobos summarizes a recent study by the Arizona Department of Education:
The Arizona results showed students in immersion classes outperformed bilingual education students in every grade level between second and eighth grade in reading, language and math, based on Stanford 9 scores.
There starts to be a significant difference at the sixth-grade level, at which immersion students were more than one year ahead of the bilingual students in math.
By the eighth grade, there was at least a one-year difference in all three subjects.
“There is not a single exception,” Horne said. “It tells us that the students in English immersion do substantially better.”
Nanette Asimov, Tanya Schevitz and Carrie Sturrock summarize the Golden State’s latest 4th and 10th grade results:
Last spring, nearly 4.8 million students in grades 2 through 11 took the exam, which is considered tough because it measures the students’ knowledge of what the state says they need to know about English, math, science and history.
Statewide, 36 percent of students scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the English portion, up from 35 percent last year. The remaining students scored below par, at “basic,” “below basic” or “far below basic.”
In math, proficiency inched up from 40.5 to 41.6 percent of students in grades 2 through 7 since last year. Older students, tested in a variety of math subjects, slipped in algebra and geometry.
Only 20 percent of low-income students were proficient in English, while among wealthier students, 50 percent were proficient. The rates were identical last year.
Barb Williams forwarded this article by Diana Jean Schemo:
The data shows fourth graders attending charter schools performing about half a year behind students in other public schools in both reading and math. Put another way, only 25 percent of the fourth graders attending charters were proficient in reading and math, against 30 percent who were proficient in reading, and 32 percent in math, at traditional public schools.
Because charter schools are concentrated in cities, often in poor neighborhoods, the researchers also compared urban charters to traditional schools in cities. They looked at low-income children in both settings, and broke down the results by race and ethnicity as well. In virtually all instances, the charter students did worse than their counterparts in regular public schools.
NPR’s Talk of the Nation Audio:
What options do you have if your school says there’s no money for football, the Spanish club or student government? “Pay to pay” has become the option for an increasing number of public schools, an alternative that’s not very popular.
Claudio Sanchez reports (NPR):
Throughout Latin America, political and education officials are considering long-term plans to improve the region’s struggling public schools. Researchers recently met in the Dominican Republic to discuss education strategy. A successful public school in one of Santo Domingo’s worst neighborhoods could serve as a model for schools elsewhere in Latin America
The WSJ editorial page asks some questions about the MMSD’s
plans to cancel contracts with the YMCA and After School Inc. to run child-care programs at Frank Allis, Falk and Midvale schools. Parents and taxpayers are still waiting for a persuasive explanation from administrators and board members.
The editorial raises a number of useful questions on this topic. Read more here.
Student Photography: 117 pupils at John B. Dey Elementary School, armed with disposable cameras were sent to photograph the alphabet. Here’s a look at the project, from A to Z.
Sam Dillon writes in the NY Times:
But there was an alternative – the city could shut them down on its own and create small, new, privately managed schools to replace them. And that, Mr. Martin wrote, would bring a crucial advantage: the new schools could operate outside the Chicago Teachers Union contract.
It seemed a fire-breathing proposal, since in its entire history Chicago had closed just three schools for academic failure, and the union is a powerful force in the school system here, the nation’s third largest. But Mr. Duncan was already convinced of the need for direct intervention in many failing schools, and the business group’s proposal helped shape a sweeping new plan, which Mayor Richard M. Daley announced in June. By 2010, the city will replace 60 failing schools with 100 new ones, and in the process turn one in 10 of its schools over to private managers, mostly operating without unions. It is one of the nation’s most radical school restructuring plans.
“It’s time to start over with the schools that are nonperforming,” Mr. Daley said in an interview July 19. “We need to shake up the system.”
The schools slated for closing include 40 elementary schools and 20 high schools. In all of them, most students perform far below grade level.
Barb Williams forwarded a recent letter to the NY Times Magazine regarding the June 20, 2004 article: “It Takes a Hood” on The Harlem Project:
Of the many efforts aimed at interrupting the effects of poverty on kids’ lives, none has left me more hopeful than Paul Tough’s piece on The Harlem Project. Geoffrey Canada, to my mind, has got it right. His focus on poor black kids’ success in school, his goal to reach those least likely to succeed, and his preference for programs that emphasize accountablility are not new. But combine that with his plans for a charter school with longer days, a longer school year and a demanding curriculum (despite rifling the feathers of the teachers’ union) while having in place a network of support had me, a sometimes sad cynic, rooting him on. Maybe one day kids like Janiqua Utley will be guaranteed the kind education Canada envisions, rather than land on a waiting list. And perhaps Canada has identified what needs to be in place in order for children to imagine their own possibilities–unconstrained by their circumstances–and the means to realize them. We ought to pay very close attention. I salute Canada.
Amy Hetzner notes the interesting paradox to the current situation:
Residents in more than half of Wisconsin school districts could have ended up paying more under an all-but-dead idea to raise sales taxes to provide $1.44 billion in property tax relief, a new study says.
Milwaukee residents, in particular, could have paid $1 more in sales taxes for every 77 cents their property taxes were reduced if the plan had been in effect in 2003, claims a Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report released Friday. In all, the study found 223 school districts containing 56% of the state’s public school enrollment would pay more in sales taxes than they would save in property taxes.
The study found that taxpayers in the Madison Metropolitan School District could get $1.20 in property tax relief for every new sales tax dollar.
“What this tells me is that when I see districts like Madison and Middleton in our area and Menomonee Falls or Wauwatosa in the Milwaukee area with positive returns of $1.20 per $1 sales tax or $1.30 or $1.40, that suggest a pattern going on,” Berry said.
Steve Schultze summarizes recent comments by Governor Jim Doyle regarding Milwuaukee’s school choice program. In effect, Doyle is willing to support expansion of the choice program as long as the legislature provides more money for the public schools (it would be interesting to see the numbers behind this, along with the logic for and against).
The Madison School District has more or less standardized many computers on Microsoft’s Windows operating system software. This approach, pitched as “sensible” because “that’s what most people use” ignores the explosive growth of other technology platforms such as:
- Linux; which, ironically, the MMSD uses to run its own web servers (likely because of the ongoing security issues with Windows servers and the performance advantages linux provides). In the tech world, we speak of this as “eating your own dog food” – or not.
- Cell Phones/PDA’s, including those that run the Palm OS and Symbian
- ipod – Duke University’s approach is interesting; an ipod for all incoming freshman (the iPod, is after all a very small computer). The iPods will be used for course materials (text & mp3 audio clips, calendar items) and music, of course.
- The increasingly interesting, unix based, mac. Roger Ebert provides some examples.
- Increasingly smart network devices.
- Anyone who uses google, uses linux. Google runs what is either the largest, or one of the largest linux installations in the world. Many other very large sites also run linux.
- Nikon’s latest digital camera supports wireless networks
The MMSD technology approach also ignores the fact that much will change by the time today’s K-12 students enter the workforce. At the end of the day, the network (the internet, essentially built on unix) is truly the computer.
Finally, one of the arguments for a windows monoculture is price. Advocates argue that windows pc’s are cheaper (generally ignorning the cost of virus, worm and other TCO (total cost of ownership) issues such as ongoing security patches, software compatibility issues and network support). Some of the cheapest pc’s around are linux based “LindowsOS PC’s, starting at $278.00.
Amy Hetzner summarizes the absurd aspects of the current state school finance schemes:
For example: If a school district with a maximum levy of $1 million one year decides to levy only $900,000, that district annually would collect $25,000 less from then on. Districts that voluntarily restrict their levies one year will not be able to catch up unless they ask voters to approve a tax increase in a referendum.
Hartford High School plans to levy taxes as high as it can for the coming school year but will be able to carry over only $118,000 of the unused levy from the previous year, Tortomasi estimated.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Don Severson, who mentions that Madison per pupil spending is now $12,500):
The new figures show that the Madison district will collect property taxes of $196.2 million next year, while the MPS tax levy will be $194.8 million, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance reported.
The WSJ Editorial page, in a wide ranging piece, discussed social promotion and the utility of summer school:
That’s because the get-tough approach – flunking students – isn’t realistic: Repeating a grade does more harm than good. Such students are much more likely to cause behavior problems, skip school and eventually drop out.
And simply advancing students to the next level – called “social promotion” – with no extra help only ensures the children will fall behind even faster the next year. Wisconsin law now prohibits social promotion out of fourth and eighth grades.
With both social promotion and grade retention discredited as phony strategies that harm, not help, student achievement, summer school starts to look like a good investme
Wisconsin DPI just released statewide third grade reading test results:
- DPI Superintendant Elizabeth Burmaster’s comments: (6 page pdf)
- Sarah Carr: Still, at the state level, educators need to work on closing a persistent achievement gap between students of different races and socioeconomic classes, said Joe Donovan, state Department of Public Instruction spokesman. This year, 64% of African-American and 65% of Hispanic students scored in the top two categories, compared with 90% of white students.
Lindsey added that too many MPS schools – 18 to be exact – have fewer than half of the students reading at proficient or advanced levels.
- Lee Sensenbrenner: Marquette, a school for third- through fifth-grade students, partners with Lapham Elementary, which teaches phonics-based reading to its kindergarten through second-grade students.
- Lee Sensenbrenner writes:
Notable within the district were the two elementary schools that led the county for the percentage of students reading at the advanced level:
Shorewood Hills, drawing from affluent homes and graduate student housing on the near west side, topped the list with 70.1 percent of its students at the top level.
Second was Marquette Elementary, a near east side school where more than 28 percent of the students come from low-income homes. There, 65.7 tested at the advanced level, while another 28.6 read at the proficient level.
This approach, coupled with an individual remedial reading program called Direct Instruction, is somewhat different from the curriculum in other Madison elementary schools.
Lee Sensenbrenner on the MMSD’s recent board discussion regarding after school services (The District is attempting to replace privately funded after school services with those paid for by Madison taxpayers – via Fund 80, which is not capped by state revenue limitations.).
Ray Smith’s article on the growing property tax backlash is one of many excellent examples of why Ruth Robart’s ongoing efforts to create a more strategic & transparent Madison Schools budget process is vital. The district’s plans for 2005 referendums simply increases the urgency for a well thought out process – rather than throwing hot button fee issues against the wall and determing what sticks. Read the entire article:
Continue reading Property-Tax Rise Triggers
Thanks to the kind generosity of the civic-minded folks at Ingersoll-Rand, teachers at Boca Raton’s Don Estridge High Tech Middle School will no longer have to take attendance. Side benefit: malleable, young students will become conditioned and eager to submit their body parts for biometric identification in the future.
Obligatory stomach-churning quote:
“It’s for the teachers’ protection as well as the kids … my kids are telling everyone about it. They think it’s so high-tech, so FBI, so cool.”
In case you experience any cognitive dissonance with the sentiment above, just keep repeating the following handy mantra to yourself: “it’s for our protection, it’s for our protection, it’s for our protection…”
BTW – Don Estridge headed up the skunk works in Boca Raton that led to the 1981 IBM PC. (Estridge died in the 1985 Delta L-1011 crash at DFW airport).
“There’s a lot of latitude for teachers to do what they think is right, and there’s not a lot of commonality, consistency, across classrooms.” David Schmidt, Waukesha school superintendent in an article by Amy Hetzner.
Amy Hetzner writes that school finance reform is necessary, but no one agrees on the formula. Hetzner points out the strange nature of this issue: spending, in many cases has gone up significantly despite “spending controls”. Excellent article. Steven Walters writes a followup today on the proposed sales tax boost.
The State Journal has posted four more editorial pieces on schools:
The Wisconsin State Journal has published three related editorials on school finance issues:
I would be surprised if this round of school finance changes substantially increases the amount of money available for schools. There’s also a growing risk of problems as local districts rely completely on state/federal funding sources (filled with political schemes and deal making).
Lewis Collens reviews Shakespeare, Einstein and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education by David L. Kirp.
David Kirp’s excellent book “Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line” provides a remarkable window into the financial challenges of higher education and the crosscurrents that drive institutional decision-making. He reminds us that the coin of the realm in higher education is the quality of education and research, and he cautions that the pursuit of dollars can debase the coin of the realm.
Kirp explores the continuing battle for the soul of the university: the role of the marketplace in shaping higher education, the tension between revenue generation and the historic mission of the university to advance the public good.
The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau released its 2003-2004 Estimated State Support for School Districts (227K PDF)
This report includes information on total state aid to local school districts along with individual school district aid data. The State provided $5.286B, up from $5,081 in 2001-2002 and $5,254B in 2002-2003.
Lee Sensenbrenner writes about Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent comments regarding three possible 2005 referendums:
“Facing growing subdivisions on the city’s edges, the expiration of a maintenance fund, and state laws that annually force cuts, the Madison School Board may be looking at three referendums next year.”
State laws do not directly “force cuts”. Rather, Wisconsin has controversial state laws that control the annual rate of increase in local school spending (“revenue caps”) and teacher contract compensation growth (QEO). Indeed, there are state caps on most, but not all school spending growth.
Interestingly, according to this Active Citizens for Education document (270K PDF), Madison school spending has increased from $180M in 1993 to $308M in 2003/2004 – with revenue caps in place ($12,419/student). The document also mentions that enrollment “has stayed virtually the same during the past ten years: 24,800”.
Given the spending growth, there must be more to this than is mentioned in Lee’s article.
Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal features an editorial on the recently proposed Public School Finance Reforms:
School reformers fail math test:
Put together, this equation fails any basic math test. Even under the current limits, payroll eats around 80 percent of the money available to schools. If schools no longer limit employee cost increases but cannot get new money to cover those rising costs, where is the money coming from? Cuts to other areas? Most of the frills are already gone. More fees? Parents already fork over hundreds of dollars on top of the taxes they – and everyone else – already pay for schools. Tax swap aids pols, not schools Fatal flaw aside, any plan that uses sales taxes to help pay for schools invites a new set of problems. The task force nevertheless expects to recommend increasing the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent to generate $800 million a year.
Links and additional comments are available here.
Brendia Ingersoll on “Some say schools have gotten more violent.”
Lee Sensenbrenner on Arts in Schools supporters pressing the Board of Education to save K-12 curriculum.
Manny Fernandez provides another perspective on school crime, from Washington, DC.
He avoided trouble by sticking to the basketball court, focused on sharpening his game while walking past clusters of young men who hang out near his apartment building after school.
“We believe the arts and technology are a great tool for engaging students”, Bob Lenz, Principal of the Marin School of Art & Technology. Maggie Shiels writes about this Novato, CA school for the BBC.
Jay Matthews writes that Mathcounts lets smart middle schoolers compete to solve complex math problems.
Diana Jean Schemo writes about States’ efforts to get around the No Child Left Behind improvement requirements:
Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, every category of student at Broad Acres � including special education � must show improvement or the entire school can face penalties. But like a dozen other states, Maryland is hoping to circumvent those rules, asking to count students like Ms. Grant’s only as children of poverty, a big group that would hide any lack of academic growth.
Maryland officials say their proposals would avoid large numbers of schools being labeled “in need of improvement” when only small numbers of students are doing poorly. If changes are not made, said Nancy Grasmick, Maryland’s superintendent of schools, “there’ll be a lot of anger on the part of the community,” some of it possibly directed at the special education students.
Two fascinating posts at former SJ Mercury writer Joanne Jacobs blog:
- National Spelling Bee results, commentary from the American Literacy Union, who picketed the event (debt vs dette among other useful comments). Jackobs also writes about single mother Ashley White, a former spelling bee contestant featured in the film Spellbound.
- School Finance Post, with some interesting comments and links (California Finance and a recent Economist article).
Barb Schrank sent along this 1 page pdf file (37K) that covers the June 24, 2004 School Finance Reform Walkathon. For more info, see www.nocaps.org or contact MTI Staff Rep Doug Keillor (email@example.com).
Continue reading Walk on the Child’s Side