Our schools need a new School Board majority, one committed to open government, including transparent budgeting and decision-making, and accountability to the community.
The next board will also hire the new superintendent and handle his or her performance evaluation, something Superintendent Art Rainwater has had little of from the current majority.
We stand at a crossroads with this election. Will it be more of the same top-down, teachers union-directed governance, or independent, open-minded, responsive representation?
There are many good issues-based reasons to vote for Maya Cole and Rick Thomas, but concerns for fair process and superintendent selection stand out for me.
It will take electing them both to gain that new majority.
– Joan Knoebel, Madison
As a teacher-centered lesson ended the other morning at Midvale Elementary School, about 15 first-graders jumped up from their places on the carpeted rug and dashed to their personal bins of books.
Most students quickly settled into two assigned groups. One read a story about a fox in a henhouse with the classroom teacher, and another group, headed by a UW-Madison student teacher, read a more challenging nonfiction book about a grandmother who, as one child excitedly noted, lived to be 101.
In addition to this guided reading lesson, one boy sat at a computer wearing headphones, clicking on the screen that displayed the words as a story was read aloud to him, to build word recognition and reading stamina. Two other boys read silently from more advanced books. Another boy received one-on-one help from a literacy coach conducting a Reading Recovery lesson with him.
“I think what’s so important is that this program truly meets the needs of a variety of students, from those who are struggling to those who are accelerated,” says Principal John Burkholder.
Continue reading How can we help poor students achieve more?
East Side school plan opposed
March 19, 2007
Waving bright signs and chanting, dozens of parents, kids, and teachers converged at a School Board meeting Monday night to protest proposed budget cuts that could consolidate elementary and middle schools on the East Side.
Earlier this month, Madison school officials proposed addressing a projected $10.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget by moving Marquette Elementary students to Lapham Elementary and splitting Sherman Middle School students between O’Keeffe and Black Hawk middle school. The move would save about $800,000.
School Board members are still wrangling with at least five options to deal with the budget deficit and were presented with an alternative consolidation plan at Monday’s meeting.
But many affected students, parents and teachers came to the meeting angry about the administration’s recommendation to take students out of Marquette and Sherman, arguing it would eliminate neighborhood schools, force kids who currently walk to school to take buses, and increase class sizes.
“I really don’t want to go to Lapham,” said Kalley Rittman, a Marquette fourth-grader who was at the rally with her parents. “All the kids are going to be squished in one place.”
Currently, Kalley and her sister in third grade, Hannah, walk to Marquette, said their mother, Kit. They would have to be bused to Lapham.
Kalley was also clutching an envelope with letters from other students and teachers at Marquette, and later spoke in front of the board, telling them she created a video on the school for them to watch.
Faye Kubly said her 11-year-old son had trouble in elementary schools before he transferred to Marquette, where teachers developed a system for him to learn successfully. She and other parents called the middle school proposal a “mega middle school” and called on the state to change its funding guidelines.
Continue reading East Side school plan opposed
WSJ Endorse Thomas for Seat 3
Rick Thomas has run a successful business.
He understands the importance of serving customers. He has made decisions about which employees, equipment and services he can afford and which he can’t afford.
He also understands and appreciates schools. He has been a substitute teacher and a volunteer tutor. He is a father with a son in elementary school.
His concern for Madison schools, enlightened by his business sense, would make him a valuable addition to the School Board.
He proposes more cost-benefit analyses to weed out unsuccessful programs.
He also proposes to improve discipline in the classrooms to create an environment more conducive to learning.
In addition, he wants the School Board and administration to be more open to parents’ ideas and to more partnerships with parents, businesses and community organizations, as well as more involvement by the schools in the community, particularly through student public service projects.
While everyone is weighing in on the best way to teach our kids, I cannot get over the failure to educate youngsters about American institutions.
The more inclusive and more truthful curriculum about our nation’s history that is taught today is a vast step forward. However, when I graduated from high school I could discuss the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the the Declaration of Independence and their inherent contradictions. I knew the three branches of government and their powers.
There are some teachers who emphasize civics. A great teacher friend recently mentioned “if we’re doing such a good job with the students, why are so few people asking questions of our government?”
Over the past week, I have had several heartfelt e-mails from residents of the Lapham-Marquette neighborhood, urging me and other board members to oppose closing Lapham School. To put the e-mails in context, let us all remember that there are MANY proposals out there because EVERYTHING is on the table thanks to the $10 million structural deficit that the district faces.
For those of you who are unaware of my background, let me share with you that I have lived in the Marquette neighborhood since 1978, first as a renter and now as a home owner. My membership # at Willy St. is 10. Yes, ten. My roots go deep, as does my memory of community history. After all, I chose to live there when we had to step over drunks to get to the laundromat, and anyone could get a good dose of grease and indigestion at Dolly’s. I moved in when there were crack houses around the corner, and stayed because it was a values choice.
So where do I stand on “don’t close Lapham?” This is the gist of what I am replying to the e-mails:
I have lived in the Marquette neighborhood since 1978 and was engaged in the vigorous and divisive neighborhood debate over whether to reopen Lapham. Having opposed reopening Lapham at the time because the optimistic demographic projections seemed unsupportable, and having predicted that we would end up at exactly this point, I am now disinterested in closing it so that we can debate the issue once more in ten years. I would note that the majority of children in Lapham are still being bused from the Marquette side of the isthmus; after all these years, the school as family magnet argument has not lived up to predictions.
That said, there is a brutal bugetary reality before the district. $10 million in structural – ongoing – deficit is going to mean change for all of our schools. For that reason, I will be supporting a review of staffing levels for the current population and demographics. (I urge everyone considering the debate to look at the demographics http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/topics/stats/2006/byincome.htm for ALL of our elementary schools and understand that as a progressive I must be concerned for the schools that are functioning with high levels of poverty and inadequate staffing.)
I urge the people who are so passionate about not closing Lapham or combining the pair to be proactive about proposals that can make keeping the school open easier to support. This means finding ways to use the space for some segment of district administration or renting space to community groups or finding some other use that goes beyond the current structure. E.g., the district used to rent space to the Tenney Lapham nursery school.
This time around, it is going to take a lot more than rhetoric or advocacy for referenda to address the very real shortage of resources that we face.
A reader forwarded this: Laurie David:
At hundreds of screenings this year of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.
The producers of former vice president Al Gore’s film about global warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.
The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said.
In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other “special interests” might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn’t want to offer “political” endorsement of the film; and they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs.
Gore, however, is not running for office, and the film’s theatrical run is long since over. As for classroom benefits, the movie has been enthusiastically endorsed by leading climate scientists worldwide, and is required viewing for all students in Norway and Sweden.
Continue reading Science a la Joe Camel
Does the Bush administration want to undermine and eliminate public education?
To my amazement, I was told today that many people in education would emphatically answer yes.
What are the thoughts of people who post on or read schoolinfosystem.org?
‘Brains register’ for bright children
By Nick Hodgson, PA
Published: 11 July 2006
A register of talented pupils in England is being launched by the Government.
Head teachers at every secondary school will get letters this week asking them to register their brightest and most talented pupils with the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (Nagty), according to the BBC.
The aim is to help children from poorer backgrounds fulfil their potential.
Schools Minister Andrew Adonis said: “We must stop the terrible waste of talent when children don’t reach their full potential.
“This register will ensure they are spotted early and don’t lose out because they come from a deprived background.
“Our brightest children should be helped to reach the top and use their gifts. The pursuit of excellence which benefits the whole country should be open to children of all backgrounds, not just a privileged minority.”
The scheme will involve having specially-trained teachers in every secondary school and in groups of primary schools.
But the plans have been criticised.
Former chief inspector of schools Chris Woodhead said the problem was not identifying the bright pupils, but offering them appropriate support.
Mr Woodhead, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said: “The problem is doing something for them and if secondary schools are not doing enough for the brightest children now why are they going to do anything for them if they are on a register?”
He said if there were more grammar schools gifted children would prosper anyway because “there, bright children are educated in schools for bright children”.
The register follows research from education charity the Sutton Trust which suggested just one-in-five children from poorer homes go on to higher education compared with half of those from the top three social classes.
The Government wants schools to identify the top 5% of 11 to 19-year-olds who are eligible for Nagty membership.
I thought some of the readers might be interested in a Blog dedicated by and for those working in the Foundations of Education field. Full disclosure, my academic work as a historian is on the margins of Foundations of Education and one of the contributers, Sherman Dorn, is a friend.
Marisue, Your comments are closed so I have to open a new post. Curiously, you as one of the regular posters here complain about the influence of blogs and talk radio. I saw lots of your candidates’ supporters at the 92.1 radio forum and many of your associates, especially from the special ed bloc, post here regularly.
So what’s the beef exactly–that folks can speak their minds freely and reference materials and sources not otherwise available in the echo chamber that has until recently been our political scene here in Madison?
I am happy to have this place to debate ideas. I welcome the disagreement so long as it isn’t personal. I think that’s something alot of folks have gotten sick of with the way the current board majority functions–if you don’t fall in step, you’re attacked personally.
So let’s keep talking, posting new data, pushing for answers together–here, and hopefully before a school board dedicated to those same principles.
VOTE FOR COLE AND MATHIAK
This was a letter to the editor published in the Wisconsin State Journal, March 30, 2006
The best reason to vote for Maya Cole and Lucy Mathiak: Electing both will change the majority on the school board. Together, Maya and Lucy will restore decorum to a board now typified by bullying and rigidity. Open government, accessible to all, and transparent decision-making will be the new order. Instead of simply rubberstamping administration and union positions, Lucy and Maya will work hard to build consensus, to develop creative answers to knotty issues like budget constraints, curriculum standards, equity; and they will support their decisions with real data gleaned from outside the current echo chamber. A vast improvement over the status quo, they will also exercise genuine oversight, making the board, not the superintendent or the union president, the final arbiter of district policy.
These are women of high standards, integrity and a refreshing honesty, both deeply committed to educating our children. Please join me in voting for Cole and Mathiak on April 4th. Together, they will transform board governance by resurrecting civility, accountability and public accessibility so that our schools can best prepare all children for their and our future.
Continue reading VOTE FOR COLE AND MATHIAK
From the Wall Street Journal‘s Opinion Journal
The exodus to charter schools.
BY KATHERINE KERSTEN
MINNEAPOLIS–Something momentous is happening here in the home of prairie populism: black flight. African-American families from the poorest neighborhoods are rapidly abandoning the district public schools, going to charter schools, and taking advantage of open enrollment at suburban public schools.
Today, just around half of students who live in the city attend its district public schools. As a result, Minneapolis schools are losing both raw numbers of students and “market share.” In 1999-2000, district enrollment was about 48,000; this year, it’s about 38,600. Enrollment projections predict only 33,400 in 2008. A decline in the number of families moving into the district accounts for part of the loss, as does the relocation of some minority families to inner-ring suburbs. Nevertheless, enrollments are relatively stable in the leafy, well-to-do enclave of southwest Minneapolis and the city’s white ethnic northeast. But in 2003-04, black enrollment was down 7.8%, or 1,565 students. In 2004-05, black enrollment dropped another 6%.
Thanks for the link to the minutes of the October 31 meeting in the other thread. I found the document fascinating, and am posting it here (with the portion of the meeting devoted to expungement deleted for length reasons) for those who are following the equity task force. The discussion leading up to the charge is particularly interesting. The “continue reading” link will take you to the full minutes.
Continue reading Minutes from Board Meeting to Create the Equity Task Force
From University Communications, UW-Madison
Experts question prevalent stereotypes about autism
February 20, 2006
by Paroma Basu
As theories about autism spread like wildfire in the media and the general public, a panel of autism experts will reflect on the validity of four widely held – and potentially inaccurate – assumptions about the developmental disability.
Drawing on the latest in autism research, a psychologist, an epidemiologist, a psychiatrist and a physician will critically assess widespread stereotypes about autism during a symposium entitled “Science of Autism,” at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
“With the surge in both scientists and society turning their attention toward autism, there comes responsibility,” says Morton Gernsbacher, a Vilas Research Professor of psychology at UW-Madison and the symposium’s chair and organizer. “It behooves us as scientists to distinguish uninformed stereotypes from scientific reality and to move beyond myths and misconceptions.”
Continue reading Prevailing Wisdom on Autism Questioned
It is the Davidsons’ other, related aim that calls forth a different kind of fervor. Authors (with Laura Vanderkam) of a book called “Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Minds” (2004), they are on a mission to remedy what they are convinced is a widespread neglect of exceptionally talented children. That means challenging the American myth that they are weirdos or Wunderkinder best left to their own devices or made to march with the crowd. “By denying our most intelligent students an education appropriate to their abilities,” Jan Davidson warns a nation in the midst of a No Child Left Behind crusade, “we may also be denying civilization a giant leap forward.” Precocious children are not only avid learners eager for more than ordinary schools often provide, the Davidsons emphasize; they are also a precious – and imperiled – resource for the future. The Davidsons, joined by many other advocates of the gifted, maintain that it is these precocious children who, if handled right, will be the creative adults propelling the nation ahead in an ever more competitive world. As things stand, the argument goes, the highly gifted child is an endangered species in need of outspoken champions like the Davidsons, who are role models for the “supportive, advocating parent” they endorse.
Jan Davidson recently visited Madison. View her presentation: How to stop wasting our brightest young minds.
New Fall 2005 study from the UW-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty:
“Inequality in children’s school readiness and public funding” was authored by a team that includes local assistant professor of social work Katherine Magnuson. It asks:
There are still many questions about children’s preschool experiences and the rise in public preschool funding. Has the substantial expansion of public funding made inroads into the disparities in preschool enrollment? How good are the various types of programs—are some forms of preschool higher in quality than others? How effective are they in remedying disadvantage—do poor children who attend preschool programs really enter school better prepared to learn? Do any advantages of preschool expe-rience fade over time?
The full document is available online in PDF format at:
Wisconsin students stayed above national averages in test results released Wednesday, but a Journal Sentinel analysis of the data shows that the gap between black and white students was among the largest in the nation. In eighth-grade reading and in fourth-grade math, the gaps were larger than in any other state in the country.
By SARAH CARR
Oct. 19, 2005
Continue reading State’s learning gap still vast
When Dr. Jan Davidson spoke this week in Madison, she shared with her audience of parents, teachers, and administrators 12 low cost ideas for improving the educational opportunities of our academically advanced students.
What can schools do?
What can schools — schools that don’t have extra funds, but really care about the learning of their bright students — do?
1. Early Entrance to kindergarten — if a child is developmentally ready before the age or date specified, she can enter school early.
2. Pre-assessments are done before a unit or a course — if a student demonstrates mastery, he is able to move to a more advanced course.
3. Self-contained classes for the gifted, particularly in core curriculum subjects.
4. Multi-age, self-contained gifted classes are even more effective.
5. Subject acceleration is encouraged when a student is proficient in a particular subject.
6. Grade acceleration is encouraged when a student demonstrates proficiency in a particular grade level.
7. Opportunities for dual enrollment are available to students, e.g., taking some high school courses when a student is in middle school.
8. Advanced Placement (AP) courses and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) program are available to students.
9. Provide counselors who are trained to counsel gifted students, including advising them of talent development opportunities.
10. Work with the Talent Searches and give students credit for the credits they earn in their academic summer programs.
11. Create a school culture that values intellectual discovery and achievement, where students encourage one another to accomplish more than they would on their own.
12. Administrators and teachers who are knowledgeable about the wide range of exceptional abilities among bright students and are flexible in addressing the individual student’s learning needs.
Dr. Davidson will be posting her lecture slides online at the Genius Denied website
Student enrollment in the Madison Metropolitan School District for the 2005-06 school year is 24,490 according to the official enrollment count conducted on the third Friday in September, as required by state law. The number represents a decrease from last year of 220 students or eight-tenths of one percent.
This figure aligns with the district’s most recent projected student count — 24,524. The total enrollment is only 34 students (0.1%) lower than this projection.
“When you look at the long-term trend statistically, our district-wide student enrollment remains stable,” said Superintendent Art Rainwater. “Of concern now – and one of the reasons two community task forces are working on possible solutions — is under-enrollment in some of our schools and high enrollment in others.”
In comparison to last year, the number of elementary students (gr. K-5) is up 143, partially due to the largest kindergarten class since September 1996 – 1,957. There are 151 fewer middle school students (grades 6-8), and 212 fewer high school students (gr. 9-12).
Continue reading News Release: Madison Schools Enrollment Is 24,490
I picked up the message below from a local listserve.
Dear Members of the School Board:
I am asking you to recommend interested persons for the Finance and Operations Subcommittee on Advertising. Please send Barb Lahman, name(s), contact information and a brief bio. Meetings will be once a month and probably during the day. I’m asking for people who have good ideas, “think outside the box”, in business, marketing or related fields or anyone who might make a positive contribution to the committee.
Again, this committee is not going “debate” the idea or philosophy of advertising but hopefully give a wide range of options to the board. It would be very helpful if you made contact with the person that you nominate and ask them if their interested in serving. Please send possible names by Friday September 16th. Please contact me if you have questions. Thank you.
In addition to Ruth’s blog, I would add the question of why this is being addressed in a “special” board meeting and not the regular meeting. (Sorry – it isn’t clear from the message that the district sent on Friday, and the link to the regular board agenda is not working). And, if there are documents available related to the vote, why they are not publicly available in a timely fashion.
To be honest, I missed the impact of the message that arrived Friday morning via e-mail, so thanks to Ruth for flaggin it:
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2005
5:00 p.m. Human Resources Committee
1. Approval of Minutes dated February 7, 2005 and March 14, 2005
2. Public Appearances
There are no announcements.
4. Proposed Leave of Absence Policy for Administrators
5. Proposed Leave of Absence Agreement for Administrators
6. Other Business
There is no other business.
Doyle Administration Bldg
545 W. Dayton St.
Madison, WI 53703
6:00 p.m. Special Board of Education Meeting
1. Approval of Minutes dated August 29, 2005
2. Public Appearances
There are no announcements.
4. Equity Resource Formula
5. Board Policy 9001 – Equity
6. Proposed Equity Policy
7. Other Business
There is no other business.
Doyle Administration Bldg
545 W. Dayton St.
Madison, WI 53703
7:15 p.m. Regular Board of Education Meeting
Agenda of the Regular Meeting of the Board of Education
[NOTE: this link does not work]
Agenda may be picked up during business hours at the MMSD Public
Information Office, Room 100, Doyle Administration Bldg., 545 West Dayton
Street, Madison, WI 53703
Doyle Administration Bldg
545 West Dayton Street
Madison WI 53703
One of the issues affecting decisions on attendance boundaries for Leopold Elementary School is whether the Ridgewood Country Club Apartments, located across the street from the school, will continue to house large numbers of low income families.
The following article from The Capital Times provides an update on the ownership and future plans for the apartment complex.
Continue reading Update on Future of Ridgewood Apartments
Joan, since you don’t allow response comments to your posts, I am forced to post here.
I’m sorry that I misread your editorial comments about what you imagine the PEOPLE program and its students to be about, to constitute a larger set of questions about fairness and access to UW-Madison. So, to keep it short and sweet, here are my responses to what I take to be your two primary questions:
1) Do I believe that students with a 2.75 GPA can succeed at Madisson?
Yes. I have first-hand experience with our undergraduate population and the people who serve them, probably more than you. There are studens with 2.75 GPAs and lower who do very well at Madison; there are students who come in with 3.5 and higher GPAs who founder. SOURCE: student service workers and admissions staff at UW-Madison.
2) Do I believe that the admissions rules should be bent for students who complete the PEOPLE program?
Yes, IF that is what is happening. The article says that students must maintain a MINIMUM 2.75 GPA to stay in the program; there is no information on the average GPA of PEOPLE students admitted to UW-Madison. As quoted in my previous post, the article clearly says that PEOPLE graduates who are unlikely to succeed are not admitted. As such, I must believe that there is some judicious application of admissions criteria in borderline cases.
That said, the University of Wisconsin System has a responsibility to prepare all of its students for the world they will inherit. That world is increasingly multi-ethnic, and all students’ employment options are very much linked to employer perceptions of whether those students are culturally competent to succeed in businesses with diverse staff and customer bases. Simply put, the future employment options of our students rest on our ability to recruit and retain a diverse student body. This becomes a factor on the side of giving students the benefit of the doubt in borderline admissions cases, and has little to do with whether those students ultimately succeed or fail.
On a personal note, I salute you and your accomplishments. I worked my way through UW-Madison from the age of 17, ending with an MA and PhD in history, at the time ranked fifth in the United States (minoring in sociology, ranking first in the United States)against private and public insitutions. I know that the curriculum is rigorous. I came into the graduate program with 26 students;there were 3 of us left after the MA level. As a grad student I was a tutor and a TA, and you are rightfully proud of your achievements. However, that does not entitle you to make uninformed assertions about what high school students who are working hard to prepare for higher education are or are not likely to achieve if admitted.
I was saddened and disappointed by the tone, content, and assumptions underlying Joan’s recent post on UW-Madison’s PEOPLE program and feel a need to respond as a parent who is engaged in trying to address cultures of racism in Madison schools and as a graduate and staff member of UW-Madison. I’ve interspersed the responses with Joan’s original wording:
Continue reading A RESPONSE TO JOAN’S POST ON THE PEOPLE PROGRAM
Original URL: http://www.jsonline.com/news/state/jun05/336091.asp
NOTE: THIS LINK LEADS TO A PAGE THAT INCLUDES A CHART THAT IS NOT REPRODUCED HERE
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Does state’s method inflate graduation rate?
Wisconsin says 92% finish high school; report estimates 78% do
By SARAH CARR
Posted: June 23, 2005
A new report lambastes states across the country for using flawed, and even “irrational,” methods of calculating graduation rates that ultimately dupe the public.
The report does not criticize Wisconsin as harshly as a few other states, such as North Carolina, but it does offer an alternative method of estimating graduation rates that would put Wisconsin’s rate at 78% for the 2000-’01 school year, 14 percentage points lower than the 92% rate reported for the 2002-’03 school year.
“Every year (states) report these literally preposterous numbers,” said Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for disadvantaged students and released the report.
The report suggests that Wisconsin and many other states measure graduation rates in a manner that gives an overly rosy, distorted picture of the number of students who are actually finishing high school in the United States.
Continue reading Does Wisconsin’s method inflate graduation rate?
Little solid evidence is available to gauge whether the federal government’s multibillion-dollar Reading First initiative is having an effect on student achievement, but many states are reporting anecdotally that they are seeing benefits for their schools.
Among those benefits are extensive professional development in practices deemed to be research-based, extra instructional resources, and ongoing support services, according to an Education Week analysis of state performance reports published June 8, 2005.
Continue reading States Report Reading First Yielding Gains, Some Schools Getting Ousted for Quitting
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has sent a letter to members of the Joint Finance Committee and the Milwaukee legislative delegation outlining his concerns regarding funding for public K-12 education.
Perhaps Mayor Dave would like to take a stab at such a message?
The County Clerk web site has referendum results, by ward, for people who are interested:
Burmaster announces High School Task Force members
MADISON�State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster released a list of the members of the State
Superintendent�s High School Task Force.
The group, co-chaired by JoAnne Brandes, executive vice president, chief administrative officer,
and general counsel for Johnson Diversey Inc., and Ryan Champeau, principal of Waukesha North High
School, will hold its next meeting May 3 at the Sheraton Madison Hotel. It will look at various local
initiatives aimed at redesigning or transforming the high school experience, enhancing student learning
and engagement, and strengthening the alignment of high school with postsecondary education and
Madison Participants include:
Katie Arnesen of Madison
Steve Hartley, Director of Alternative Programs
Madison Metropolitan School District
Michael Meissen, Principal
LaFollette High School, Madison
Kendra Parks, Teacher
Memorial High School, Madison
The press release and a list of the members of the task force is on-line at: http://www.thewheelerreport.com/releases/Apr05/Apr1/0401dpihstaskforce.pdf
Despite a written agreement between Madison Teachers Incorporated and the Board of Education that aims at settling the teachers contract for 2005-07 by June 30, union executive director John Matthews and Superintendent Art Rainwater made a jovial � and unprecedented – announcement that they would delay discussion of wages and benefits until after the April 5 school board elections.
Delaying talk about pay and benefits for teachers is a puzzling step for union leader Matthews, especially given his March 17 comments that “No matter what the settlement is, it won’t be enough to reward the teachers,” Matthews said as the MTI proposal was presented Wednesday, “These are teachers, not priests and nuns who took a vow of poverty.”
Continue reading News Flash: John Matthews Is Willing to Delay Negotiations for Teachers’ Wages Until After the April 5 School Board Elections
The 3/2/05 CapTimes includes an excellent op ed piece by Ruth Robarts detailing her concerns about creating a large K-5 elementary school. http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/opinion//index.php?ntid=30501
Continue reading The Leopold Expansion
Leave it to New Yorkers to leave no sacred cows. Read on and enjoy the picture –
Gift to the City � is it Art or for the Birds? “The Crackers” is as much a public happening as it is a tasty snack, defying the domino theory. Peanut butter or cheddar cheese. They poured their hearts and souls into the project for over 26 minutes. It required three dozen crackers and spanned over nearly 23 inches along a footbridge in the park at a cost (borne exclusively by the artists) of $2.50. Is it art? You decide. The installation was completed with no permits or bureaucracy, and fed to the ducks after about a half hour. “The Crackers” is entirely for profit
View “The Crackers” and brighten your day
Clash of philosophies, direct instruction vs balanced literacy (aka whole language) in Rockford, IL discussed in NYtimes
Continue reading Direct Reading Instruction
More on the environment women face in math and the sciences with a foreword by Paul Ehrlich
Continue reading More on Women in Science and Math:It’s the Culture, Stupid
Lifting the School System
Published Letter in New York Times: October 21, 2004
To the Editor:
In “Improving Education” (letter, Oct. 16), the writer says we not only need money but also “new ideas” to improve public education. But public education has been flooded with new ideas in recent decades, and far too many children continue to leave school without a decent education.
Just as improvements to horses and buggies do not produce an automobile, so all the many improvements to public schools over recent years do not add up to the new kind of education system needed to educate children in today’s world.
Learning can be brought to the levels now needed only by basically changed relationships among students, teachers and families, in which each participant first holds himself accountable for quality performance and then the others for collaborating and support in nonbureaucratic ways.
Educational experience and research confirm that these relationships make some schools successful, even with students from difficult backgrounds. What subverts the system is the bureaucratic culture in public schools.
The current drive for more money and accountability is unlikely to reform our schools, only further entrench the existing dysfunctional public school system. Policy makers need to face this fundamental system change.
David S. Seeley
Staten Island, Oct. 18, 2004
The writer is a professor of education at the CUNY Graduate Center.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction hosts a Web site of information on Reading First, which Superintendent Rainwater said would have “injured” Madison students.
On the Web site DPI says, “Wisconsin is proud to assist teachers in the 65 Reading First schools in the areas of professional development in reading; implementation of the essential components of reading instruction; and the selection and/or administration of screening, diagnostic, progress monitoring, and outcome assessments.”
Does the DPI endorse injuring the students in 65 schools?
See more at the DPI Web site.
Here’s a copy of the statement I used to address the Long Range Planning Committee on October 18.
After my statement, discussions with and among the Committee clarified that the annual additional cost of operating a new school falls in the range of $300,000 to $400,000 annually, not $2.4 million as I had calculated. The cost isn’t so high, according to the discussion, because the district already spends money on teachers and supplies that would simply move into a new building. Even with an annual operating cost increase of $300,000, no one pointed to a specific plan to cover the expense and no backup should a referendum fail to allow spending above the state-imposed revenue cap.
The student representative on the Board acknowleged at West might be crowded but it wasn’t a major concern. [I’m sorry that I don’t remember his exactly words, but I think I have the meaning of what he said.] District officials said that more detailed five-year enrollment projections would be available on the MMSD Web site in November.
Carol Carstensen agreed with the suggestion for more hearings across the city.
From Board members’ comments at the meeting and in news reports, the Board appears ready to approve a referendum.
Continue reading Reactions to statement on new school on Leopold site
On Friday, October 15, Madison School Board members received an e-mail from Superintendent Art Rainwater announcing that the district will withdraw from a federal program known as Reading First.
In subsequent interviews with local newspapers, Rainwater estimated that the decision means forgoing approximately $2M in funds for materials to help students in the primary grades learn to read. The Cap Times
Wisconsin State Journal
Whenever the district qualifies for such federal grants, the Board votes to increase the budget to reflect the new revenues. To the best of my knowledge, the superintendent has not discussed this decision with the Performance & Achievement Committee. He has certainly not included the full Board in the decision to withdraw from Reading First.
The memo follows (click on the link below to view it or click here to view a 200K PDF):
Continue reading Madison Superintendent Declines $2M in Federal Funds Without Consulting the Board
In researching the need for the MMSD to build a new elementary school on the Leopold site, I compared an MMSD analysis of elementary school capacity with current enrollment.
Existing Madison elementary schools could accomodate more than 1,600 new students. An MMSD official says only Hawthorne is over capacity.
You can see the school-by-school analysis in the table MMSD Excess Capacity 2004.
ps. Feel free to post comments by clicking below.
Monday October 18th, 2004
7:00pm – Long Range Planning, Leopold Elementary, Gym, 2602 Post Road.
Public Hearing Relative to Constructing a Second Elementary School on the Leopold Site
The MMSD’s documents on the new school appear on the agendas of the Long Range Planning Committee.
Feel free to post comments or questions by clicking on comments.
The problem of insufficient staffing at LaFollette makes me wonder how Dr. Rainwater will find enough staff for a new school.
Here’s the beginning of an article from the WSJ:
“Tseoin Ayalew says her dreams of becoming a doctor are in jeopardy because a shortage of teachers at La Follette High School means she’s wasting 90 minutes a day in a study hall instead of taking an advanced physics or chemistry class.
“I want to get into a really good college, so I think it’s probably going to affect the scholarships,” the junior said Thursday. “They probably want to see I’m challenging myself in the science world.”
Jade Cramer, a La Follette freshman, says she’s scheduled to take two 90-minute study halls – half of the school day – beginning in November. She’s in one study hall right now, although she’d prefer to be taking a class.
“I’m trying to get rid of my study hall, but all of the classes are full,” Jade said.
Tseoin and Jade are among a growing number of La Follette students who find themselves diverted to study halls or other non-class activities this fall because, according to some students and teachers, there aren’t enough teachers.
The reason for the crunch: The school’s enrollment this fall climbed to 1,741, compared to last year’s count of 1,659, but staff levels remained virtually unchanged.”
The article continues at In study-hall limbo at LaFollette.
The Cap Times also has an article at Four block now a 3 block?
ps If you have any comments, you can click on “comment” below to post them.
“Madison East High School Principal Catherine Tillman has been relieved of her duties and reassigned to a central office position for the remainder of the school year.”
Like Tillman the newly named interim principal at East was transferred to an administrative position after serving a couple of reportedly unsuccessful years at West.
Is the change just going from one failed principal to another?
Read the story in the Wisconsin State.
by Ruth Robinson (President, Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted) and Susan Corwith (President, Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth)
Continue reading Does ‘No Child Left Behind’ Encourage All to Move Forward?