Madison School District Staff Cannot Lie or Deceive Parents About Gender Transitions at School

WILL: WILL sued MMSD for violating parental rights with gender identity policy The News: Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington issued an injunction last week in a WILL parental rights lawsuit that forbids Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) employees from lying or deceiving parents about the gender identity that their child may have adopted at school. The lawsuit … Continue reading Madison School District Staff Cannot Lie or Deceive Parents About Gender Transitions at School

UW-Madison fires back at Dane County for proposing online classes, sending students home

Kelly Meyerhofer: The best way to reduce the number of infections, Blank said, is “not by issuing press releases calling for students to leave, but to partner in developing collaborative solutions for the benefit of all residents.” She warned that the county is unlikely to see a rapid decline in cases until agencies with jurisdiction … Continue reading UW-Madison fires back at Dane County for proposing online classes, sending students home

Madison estimated to lose 400 students this fall; continuing to seek a new school building via 2020 tax & spending increase

Scott Girard: Ruppell estimated Monday that the district would see a 400-student drop in enrollment this school year, though that won’t be finalized until the state certifies enrollment numbers in early October. That’s up nearly 350 students from the estimated drop of 51 pre-COVID, which is why the district implemented a hiring freeze over the … Continue reading Madison estimated to lose 400 students this fall; continuing to seek a new school building via 2020 tax & spending increase

Dane County digging in for a fight over in-person class ban

Nick Viviani: ane County officials are hunkering down for a fight over its health department’s order barring in-person instructions in local schools, including religious and private ones, for most students. “The order for schools is lawful and we will defend it vigorously, because the reason Public Health put it in place is worth fighting for—the … Continue reading Dane County digging in for a fight over in-person class ban

Madison School District plans to apply for waivers from some state requirements

Scott Girard: The Madison Metropolitan School District plans to apply for a series of waivers from state requirements later this month for the 2020-21 school year. On the same day as students began the school year virtually, administrators told the School Board about three waivers they plan to request — as long as the board … Continue reading Madison School District plans to apply for waivers from some state requirements

Taking Stock of 2020 with Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

Madison School Board Member Ali Muldrow (WORT-FM): Today, Wednesday host Ali Muldrow spends the hour with Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway to take stock and openly discuss issues facing the city, with the input of listener callers. It’s a wide-ranging conversation that covers topics like racial injustice in Wisconsin, the mayor’s opinion of the Madison Police Department … Continue reading Taking Stock of 2020 with Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

Dane County Executive Writes to Close University of Wisconsin On Campus Classes

Dane County Executive asks @UWMadison to send everyone home from UW Housing and increase testing, quarantine space, and contact tracing on campus. “The University made the decision to proceed with holding classes this fall despite recommendations from local and national experts” pic.twitter.com/XHTQec2RVu — Will Cioci (@wjcioci) September 9, 2020 Letter: page 1 and page 2 … Continue reading Dane County Executive Writes to Close University of Wisconsin On Campus Classes

Madison’s new grading policy will only let students fall through the cracks

Jillian Ludwig: The implications of this grading floor are even more important considering that MMSD is known to have a significant racial achievement gap. There is a stark difference between a grade of 0% and 50%, and it has value. By getting rid of this important distinction, the district risks letting students fall further through the cracks … Continue reading Madison’s new grading policy will only let students fall through the cracks

A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes

Rabail Chaudhry, George Dranitsaris, Talha Mubashir, Justyna Bartoszko and Sheila Riazi: Increasing COVID-19 caseloads were associated with countries with higher obesity (adjusted rate ratio [RR]=1.06; 95%CI: 1.01–1.11), median population age (RR=1.10; 95%CI: 1.05–1.15) and longer time to border closures from the first reported case (RR=1.04; 95%CI: 1.01–1.08). Increased mortality per million was significantly associated with … Continue reading A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes

Private schools, parents ask Supreme Court to block Dane County health order that limits in-person classes

Bruce Vielmetti: It notes that schools spent months developing detailed plans, per earlier county orders, to safely reopen. Tseytlin also argues that the statute defining local health officials’ duties says they can inspect schools, but reserves the right to close them to the head of the state Department of Health Services. In a response to … Continue reading Private schools, parents ask Supreme Court to block Dane County health order that limits in-person classes

Parents Press For Dane County Schools To Teach In-Person During Pandemic

Shamane Mills: Dane County parents upset over online instruction at schools that were intending to hold classes in-person are speaking out following a recent emergency order by the local health department, which restricted all public and private schools to virtual instruction for grades 3-12 because of COVID-19. Parents and their children carried signs outside city … Continue reading Parents Press For Dane County Schools To Teach In-Person During Pandemic

Fall 2020 Madison School District Referenda Notes & Links

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

“Public schools keep collecting tax revenue regardless of whether school opens on time.”

Hannah Stoll: I was supposed to go back to class next week, but the public school I attend won’t open even for remote learning for three weeks. Its classrooms will be shut for at least another two months. My twin sister and younger brother, who attend a Jewish school in a Boston suburb, are going … Continue reading “Public schools keep collecting tax revenue regardless of whether school opens on time.”

In Person School Begins (Appleton, not Madison)

Happy first day of school from this Wisconsin education reporter!!! I’m starting my day at Lincoln Elementary in Appleton, and I’m STOKED to be back chatting with kiddos, teachers and parents as I work to chronicle a school year that’s sure to be unlike any other. pic.twitter.com/e5Ym1wwTlT — Sami West (@BySamanthaWest) September 1, 2020 Related: Catholic … Continue reading In Person School Begins (Appleton, not Madison)

Madison Council member catches heat for reposting flyer that called on protesters to ‘f— s— up’

Dean Mosiman: Ald. Max Prestigiacomo, who has represented the student-dominated 8th District since winning a special election to fill a vacancy in April, posted the flyer circulating online on his Facebook page after the shooting in Kenosha. “Madison stands with Kenosha,” reads the flyer promoting protests Sunday and Monday. “F—- Kenosha PD. F—- Madison PD. … Continue reading Madison Council member catches heat for reposting flyer that called on protesters to ‘f— s— up’

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul files briefs in support of Dane County emergency school closures

Elizabeth Beyer: In his briefs, Kaul states, “For over a century, Wisconsin has maintained a public health infrastructure that empowers local health officials to be a critical line of defense, barring public gatherings and swiftly taking any actions that are reasonable and necessary to suppress spreading diseases. That is precisely what Dane County did here, … Continue reading Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul files briefs in support of Dane County emergency school closures

(Some) Madison Governance Rhetoric on University of Wisconsin Governance Plans

Kelly Meyerhofer: Blank defended the decision to reopen campus at a faculty committee meeting on Monday, saying UW-Madison will nearly double the number of tests administered within the county and add 35 contact tracers to the county’s ranks. The number of tests UW-Madison plans to administer — up to 8,000 weekly, covering roughly 15% to … Continue reading (Some) Madison Governance Rhetoric on University of Wisconsin Governance Plans

PublicHealthMDC requiring all Dane County schools to begin grades 3-12 virtually

Public Madison & Dane County: This remains a critical time for Dane County to decrease the spread of COVID-19, keep people healthy, and maintain a level of transmission that is manageable by health care and public health systems. While research on school-aged children continues to emerge and evolve, a number of systematic reviews have found … Continue reading PublicHealthMDC requiring all Dane County schools to begin grades 3-12 virtually

Many (Madison) area private schools offering in-person learning this fall

Scott Girard: As the 2020-21 school year approaches, private schools are taking advantage of smaller enrollments and fewer buildings to plan in-person learning while area public schools are focusing on virtual learning. And since the Madison Metropolitan School District announced July 17 it would start the year entirely virtually, some private schools are seeing an increase in … Continue reading Many (Madison) area private schools offering in-person learning this fall

Governance: Priorities and OUtcomes in Madison

Logan Wroge: Zirbel-Donisch said the plan is to have the condoms paid for by outside-partner organizations. While most four-year University of Wisconsin System colleges offer free condoms, doing so in Wisconsin high schools remains relatively rare. The state Department of Public Instruction estimated in 2016 that 6.9% of high schools in the state provided free … Continue reading Governance: Priorities and OUtcomes in Madison

The University of Wisconsin Madison Loses an Open Records Lawsuit

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

Vaccination data review in Dane County Schools

Chris Rickert: The Madison public schools with the highest percentages of students on personal conviction waivers four years ago have seen those percentages fall. Marquette Elementary School on the Near East Side had 13.8 percent of students, or 30, on the waivers. As of last school year, that percentage was 8.0 percent. O’Keeffe Middle School, … Continue reading Vaccination data review in Dane County Schools

Madison School District Superintendent “Reverts to the Mean”….

Via a kind reader’s email. Despite spending double the national average per student and delivering disastrous reading results – for years – Madison’s Superintendent pushes back on school accountability: The Wheeler Report (PDF): Dear Legislators: Thank you for your efforts to work on school accountability. We all agree that real accountability, focused on getting the … Continue reading Madison School District Superintendent “Reverts to the Mean”….

Madison: The most racist city in the U.S.?

Sarah Blaskey and Phil Gasper:

MADISON, WIS., has a reputation as one of the most liberal cities in the country. It is also possibly the most racially unequal.
In early October, Race to Equity–a Madison-based initiative started by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families–released a report detailing racial disparities in Madison, and more broadly in Dane County, Wis. The findings are staggering.
The Race to Equity researchers expected the numbers compiled for racial disparities in Dane County to be similar or slightly better than the national averages. After all, Madison has long prided itself on having quality public education, good jobs, access to health care and human services programs, a relatively high standard of living and, in general, a progressive outlook on social, economic and political questions.
But while living standards for the white population in Dane County are higher than the national average, for the Black population, the opposite is true. On every indicator, with only two exceptions out of 40 measures, statistics collected in Dane County demonstrated equal or higher racial disparities between whites and Blacks than the national averages.

Related: The failed battle over the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school and our disastrous reading scores.

Comments & Links on Madison’s Latest Teacher Union Agreement

Andrea Anderson:

Under the new contracts clerical and technical employees will be able to work 40-hour work weeks compared to the current 38.75, and based on the recommendation of principals, employees who serve on school-based leadership teams will be paid $20 per hour.
Additionally, six joint committees will be created to give employees a say in workplace issues and address topics such as planning time, professional collaboration and the design of parent-teacher conferences.
Kerry Motoviloff, a district instructional resource teacher and MTI member, spoke at the beginning of the meeting thanking School Board members for their collective bargaining and work in creating the committees that are “getting the right people at the right table to do the right work.”
Cheatham described the negotiations with the union as “both respectful and enormously productive,” adding that based on conversations with district employees the contract negotiations “accomplished the goal they set out to accomplish.”

Pat Schneider:

“Madison is in the minority. Very few teachers are still under contract,” said Christina Brey, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council. Fewer than 10 of 424 school districts in the state have labor contracts with teachers for the current school year, she said Wednesday.
And while Brey said WEAC’s significance is not undermined by the slashed number of teacher contracts, at least one state legislator believes the state teacher’s union is much less effective as a resource than it once was.
Many school districts in the state extended teacher contracts through the 2011-2012 school year after Act 10, Gov. Scott Walker’s law gutting collective bargaining powers of most public employees, was implemented in 2011. The Madison Metropolitan School District extended its teacher contract for two years — through the 2013-2014 school year — after Dane County Judge Juan Colas struck down key provisions of Act 10 in September 2012.
The contract ratified by the members Monday will be in effect until June 30, 2015.

Andrea Anderson:

On Thursday, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty emailed a letter to Cheatham and the School Board warning that a contract extension could be in violation of Act 10.
Richard Esenberg, WILL president, said he sent the letter because “we think there are people who believe, in Wisconsin, that there is somehow a window of opportunity to pass collective bargaining agreements in violation of Act 10, and we don’t think that.”
If the Supreme Court rules Act 10 is constitutional all contracts signed will be in violation of the law, according to Esenberg.
Esenberg said he has not read the contract and does not know if the district and union contracts have violated collective bargaining agreements. But, he said, “I suspect this agreement does.”

Pat Schneider:

The contract does not “take back” any benefits, Matthews says. However, it calls for a comprehensive analysis of benefits that could include a provision to require employees to pay some or more toward health insurance premiums if they do not get health care check-ups or participate in a wellness program.
Ed Hughes, president of the Madison School Board, said that entering into labor contracts while the legal issues surrounding Act 10 play out in the courts was “the responsible thing to do. It provides some stability to do the important work we need to do in terms of getting better results for our students.”
Hughes pointed out that the contract establishes a half-dozen joint committees of union and school district representatives that will take up issues including teacher evaluations, planning time and assignments. The contract calls for mediation on several of the issues if the joint committees cannot reach agreement.
“Hopefully this will be a precursor of the way we will work together in years to come, whatever the legal framework is,” Hughes said.
Matthews, too, was positive about the potential of the joint committees.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty:

WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg warns, “The Madison School Board is entering a legally-gray area. Judge Colas’ decision has no effect on anyone outside of the parties involved. The Madison School Board and Superintendent Cheatham – in addition to the many teachers in the district – were not parties to the lawsuit. As we have continued to say, circuit court cases have no precedential value, and Judge Colas never ordered anyone to do anything.”
He continued, “If the Madison School District were to collectively bargain in a way that violates Act 10, it could be exposed to litigation by taxpayers or teachers who do not wish to be bound to an illegal contract or to be forced to contribute to an organization that they do not support.” The risk is not theoretical. Last spring, WILL filed a lawsuit against the Milwaukee Area Technical College alleging such a violation.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s letter to Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF).
The essential question, how does Madison’s non-diverse K-12 governance model perform academically? Presumably, student achievement is job one for our $15k/student district.
Worth a re-read: Then Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
…..
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

Terry Flores

Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.

Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.

The Dichotomy of Madison School Board Governance: “Same Service” vs. “having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district”.

The dichotomy that is Madison School Board Governance was on display this past week.
1. Board Member TJ Mertz, in light of the District’s plan to continue growing spending and property taxes for current programs, suggests that “fiscal indulgences“:

Tax expenditures are not tax cuts. Tax expenditures are socialism and corporate welfare. Tax expenditures are increases on anyone who does not receive the benefit or can’t hire a lobbyist…to manipulate the code to their favor.

be applied to certain school volunteers.
This proposal represents a continuation of the Districts’ decades long “same service” approach to governance, with declining academic results that spawned the rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.
2. Madison’s new Superintendent, Jennifer Cheatham introduced her “Strategic Framework” at Wednesday’s Downtown Rotary Club meeting.
The Superintendent’s letter (jpg version) (within the “framework” document) to the Madison Community included this statement (word cloud):

Rather than present our educators with an ever-changing array of strategies, we will focus on what we know works and implement these strategies extremely well. While some of the work may seem familiar, having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district. This is what it takes to narrow and eliminate gaps in student achievement.

The Madison School Board’s letter (jpg version) to the community includes this statement:

Public education is under sustained attack, both in our state and across the nation. Initiatives like voucher expansion are premised on the notion that public schools are not up to the challenge of effectively educating diverse groups of students in urban settings.
We are out to prove that wrong. With Superintendent Cheatham, we agree that here in Madison all the ingredients are in place. Now it is up to us to show that we can serve as a model of a thriving urban school district, one that seeks out strong community partnerships and values genuine collaboration with teachers and staff in service of student success.
Our Strategic Framework lays out a roadmap for our work. While some of the goals will seem familiar, what’s new is a clear and streamlined focus and a tangible and energizing sense of shared commitment to our common goals.
The bedrock of the plan is the recognition that learning takes place in the classroom in the interactions between teachers and students. The efforts of all of us – from school board members to everyone in the organization – should be directed toward enhancing the quality and effectiveness of those interactions.
There is much work ahead of us, and the results we are expecting will not arrive overnight. But with focus, shared effort and tenacity, we can transform each of our schools into thriving schools. As we do so, Madison will be the school district of choice in Dane County.

Madison School Board word cloud:

Related: North Carolina Ends Pay Boosts for Teacher Master’s Degrees; Tenure for elementary and high-school teachers also eliminated

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed a budget bill Friday that eliminates teacher tenure and–in a rare move–gets rid of the automatic pay increase teachers receive for earning a master’s degree.
The legislation targets a compensation mechanism that is common in the U.S., where teachers receive automatic pay increases for years of service and advanced degrees. Some research has suggested those advanced degrees don’t lead to improved teaching.
Although a few other states have talked about doing away with the automatic pay increase for advanced degrees, experts say North Carolina is believed to be the first state to do so.
The budget bill–which drew hundreds of teachers to the Capitol in protest earlier this week–also eliminates tenure for elementary and high-school teachers and freezes teacher salaries for the fifth time in six years.
It comes as states and districts across the country are revamping teacher evaluations, salaries and job security, and linking them more closely to student performance. These changes have been propelled, in part, by the Obama administration and GOP governors.

The challenge for Madison is moving away from long time governance structures and practices, including a heavy (157 page pdf & revised summary of changes) teacher union contract. Chris Rickert’s recent column on Madison’s healthcare practices provides a glimpse at the teacher – student expenditure tension as well.
Then Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 Madison Rotary speech offers important background on Madison’s dichotomy:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

“Budget Cuts: We Won’t Be as Bold and Innovative as Oconomowoc, and That’s Okay”.

Madison School District’s Teacher Union Bargaining Update

Matthew DeFour:

Matthews said a few proposals gave him “heartburn,” such as one that would allow the district to dismiss someone who had been on medical leave for two years. A proposal converting workloads from four class periods and one study hall to 25 hours per week could also give the district latitude to shorten class periods and increase each teacher’s number of classes, he said.
One change that Matthews said could be easily resolved is a proposal from both sides to make Unity health insurance available to employees. The district wants to be able to choose Physicians Plus, which it currently offers, or Unity, while MTI wants the district to offer both.
The union’s proposal seeks to reverse some of the changes that were negotiated before Act 10 took effect in 2011. They include giving teachers control over their time during Monday early release and deleting a clause that allows the district to require up to 10 percent health insurance premium contributions.

Madison Teachers’, Inc. Solidarity eNewsletter (PDF):

Last Monday’s Board of Education meeting brought a pleasant surprise. With nearly every chair and all standing room taken in the McDaniels’ Auditorium by MTI members in red solidarity shirts or AFSCME members sporting their traditional green, those present erupted in applause when Board of Education member Ed Hughes announced that Board members (who arrived 40 minutes late because of the length of their prior meeting) had agreed to bargain with MTI and AFSCME over Contract terms for 2013-14.
Governor Walker’s Act 10, which forbid public sector bargaining (except over limited wage increases) has been set aside by Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas who ruled that Act 10 violated the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and equal protection, in response to MTI’s lawsuit.
Honoring a vote majority of 76% in Madison and 68% in Dane County, Mayor Soglin and County Executive Parisi have negotiated contracts through June 2015 with City and County employees.
Now the Madison Board of Education has seen the light. Negotiations in the District are to commence today. MTI members should stay in contact with their elected leaders and via MTI’s webpage (www.madisonteachers.org) as regards the Contract ratification process.

Wisconsin School Finance Reform Climate: 16% Health Care Spending Growth & Local Lobbying

Jason Stein & Patrick Marley:

The state health department is requesting $675 million more from state taxpayers in the next two-year budget to maintain services such as Wisconsin’s health care programs for the poor, elderly and disabled, according to budget estimates released Thursday.
That figure, included in a budget request by the state Department of Health Services, shows how difficult it will be for the next governor to balance a budget that already faces a $2.7 billion projected shortfall over two years.
One of the chief reasons the state faces the steep increase in costs is because federal economic stimulus money for health care programs will dry up before the 2011-’13 budget starts July 1.
That scheduled decrease in funding would come even as high unemployment lingers, driving many families into poverty and keeping enrollment in the programs relatively high. State Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake said the state needs to find a way to keep health care for those who need it.
“People need this program in a way many of them never expected to,” she said.
But maintaining health programs at existing levels could cost even more than the $675 million increase over two years – a 16% jump – now projected in the budget request, which will be handled by the next governor and Legislature.

Dane County Board Urges State Action on School Reform 194K PDF via a TJ Mertz email:

This evening the Dane County Board of Supervisors enthusiastically approved a resolution urging the Wisconsin Legislature to make comprehensive changes in the way schools are funded. The Board encouraged the Legislature to consider revenue sources other than the local property tax to support the diverse needs of students and school districts.

“I hear over and over again from Dane County residents that investing in education is a priority, said County Board Supervisor Melissa Sargent, District 18, the primary sponsor of the resolution. “However, people tell me they do not like the overreliance on property taxes to fund education – pitting homeowners against children,” she added.

For the last 17 years, the state funding formula has produced annual shortfalls resulting in program cuts to schools. In 2009-2010, cuts in state aid resulted in a net loss of over $14 million in state support for students in Dane County, shifting the cost of education increasingly to property taxpayers. More and more districts are forced to rely on either program cuts or sometimes divisive referenda. In fact, voters rejected school referendums in five districts Tuesday, while just two were approved.

“The future of our children and our community is dependent on the development of an equitable system for funding public education; a system the recognizes the diverse needs of our children and does not put the funding burden on the backs of our taxpayers, said Madison Metropolitan School
Board member Arlene Silvera. “I appreciate the leadership of the County Board in raising awareness of this critical need and in lobbying our state legislators to make this happen,” she said.

Jeffery Ziegler a Member of the Marshall Public School District Board of Education and Jim Cavanaugh, President of the South Central Federation of Labor, both emphasized the need to get the attention of state officials in statements supporting the resolution. Ziegler described how state inaction has forced Board Members to make decisions that harm education.

State legislators can apparently decide to just not make the tough decisions that need to be made. School boards have a responsibility to keep our schools functioning and delivering the best education they can under the circumstances, knowing full well that those decisions will have a negative effect on the education of the children in their community.

Cavanaugh observed that the consensus that reform is needed has not led to action and pointed to the important role local governmental bodies can play in changing this by following the lead of the Dane County Board

“Legislators of all political stripes acknowledge that Wisconsin’s system for funding public schools is broken. Yet, there doesn’t appear to be the political will to address this very complicated issue. Perhaps they need a nudge from the various local units of government.”

In passing this resolution, Dane County is taking the lead on a critical statewide issue. Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) board member Thomas J. Mertz said that WAES thanked the Dane County Board and said that WAES will seek similar resolutions from communities around the state in the coming months.

“All around Wisconsin districts are hurting and we’ve been working hard to bring the need for reform to the attention of state officials,” said WAES board member Thomas J. Mertz. “Hearing from local officials might do the trick,” he concluded.

Gubernertorial candidates Tom Barrett (Clusty) and Scott Walker (Clusty) on education.
The current economic climate certainly requires that choices be made.
Perhaps this is part of the problem.
Finally, The Economist on taxes.

Madison School District Global Academy Resolution

236K PDF:

A consortium of school districts including: Belleville, Middelton Cross Plains, Mt. Horeb, Oregon, McFarland, Verona Area, Madison and Wisconsin Heights are actively and energetically seeking partnerships with business, academic and manufacturing sectors in the Dane County region in an effort to create and staff what is referred to as The Global Academy. The Global Academy will be a hybrid secondary / post-secondary learning environment designed primarily for high school juniors and seniors from the consortium districts. The Global Academy will provide specialized and advanced training in the following areas that culminate in two year or four year degrees: Architecture and Construction, HealthScience, InformationTechnology, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Rationale:
Regional, national and global need for specialized and advanced skills, along with growing competition for jobs that require those skills from advanced and developing countries is changing the curriculum landscape for high schools in the United States. In Wisconsin, public high schools are making valiant efforts to respond to this need, but struggle to do so given revenue caps and shrinking budgets. Neighboring school districts produce similar programs that are barely sustainable and represent an inefficient duplication of programs and services. A consortium of school districts providing specialized and advanced programs, pooling resources, talent and students is a much more viable and sustainable method ofproviding educational programs that prepare students for 21st Century career opportunities. Additionally, partnering with business, manufacturing and academic sectors will add expertise, latest trend information and greatly increased opportunities for obtaining certifications, advanced standing and credits in institutions of higher learning.

Swine flu vaccinations likely to be offered in Dane County public schools

Gayle Worland:

In Dane County, vaccinations for the H1N1 virus likely will be offered to students at public schools this fall — but stay tuned for details.
The Dane County Immunization Coalition — a broad group of health providers that also includes school district representatives — will meet Tuesday to discuss logistics for administering the vaccine, which isn’t expected to arrive here until mid- or late-October, said Judy Aubey of the Madison-Dane County Public Health Department.
The coalition, Aubey said, will look to guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine who should be first in line for immunizations, which are given in two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Unlike the seasonal flu vaccine, which traditionally focuses on the old and the young, the priority groups for H1N1 immunizations include pregnant women, adults in regular contact with infants under 6 months old, health care workers and children and young adults ages 6 months through 24 years.
So schools could be key players, Aubey said. “There are 80,000 kids in Dane County schools and we certainly don’t have the numbers to carry this ourselves,” she said. “We are going to need help.”
Since April, the Madison school district has been communicating closely with the health department on swine flu issues, and that partnership will continue into the fall and beyond, said Freddi Adelson, health services coordinator for the district.

The Madison School District’s 2009 Strategic Planning Team

Members include:
Abplanalp, Sue, Assistant Superintendent, Elementary Schools
Alexander, Jennifer, President, Chamber of Commerce
Atkinson, Deedra, Senior Vice-President, Community Impact, United Way of Dane County
Banuelos, Maria,Associate Vice President for Learner Success, Diversity, and Community Relations, Madison Area Technical College
Bidar-Sielaff, Shiva, Manager of Cross-Cultural Care, UW Hospital
Brooke, Jessica, Student
Burke, Darcy, Elvehjem PTO President
Burkholder, John, Principal, Leopold Elementary
Calvert, Matt, UW Extension, 4-H Youth Development
Campbell, Caleb, Student
Carranza, Sal, Academic and Student Services, University of Wisconsin
Chandler, Rick, Chandler Consulting
Chin, Cynthia, Teacher, East
Ciesliewicz, Dave, Mayor, City of Madison
Clear, Mark, Alderperson
Cooper, Wendy, First Unitarian Society
Crim, Dawn, Special Assistant, Academic Staff, Chancellor’s Office, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dahmen, Bruce, Principal, Memorial High School
Davis, Andreal, Cultural Relevance Instructional Resource Teacher, Teaching & Learning
Deloya, Jeannette, Social Work Program Support Teacher
Frost, Laurie, Parent
Gamoran, Adam Interim Dean; University of Wisconsin School of Education
Gevelber, Susan, Teacher, LaFollette
Goldberg, Steve, Cuna Mutual
Harper, John, Coordinator for Technical Assistance/Professional Development, Educational Services
Her, Peng,
Hobart, Susie, Teacher, Lake View Elementary
Howard, James, Parent
Hughes, Ed, Member, Board of Education
Jokela, Jill, Parent
Jones, Richard, Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Juchems, Brian, Program Director, Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools
Katz, Ann, Arts Wisconsin
Katz, Barb, Madison Partners
Kester, Virginia, Teacher, West High School
Koencke, Julie, Information Coordinator MMSD
Laguna, Graciela, Parent
Miller, Annette, Community Representative, Madison Gas & Electric
Morrison, Steve, Madison Jewish Community Council
Nadler, Bob, Executive Director, Human Resources
Nash, Pam, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools
Natera, Emilio, Student
Nerad, Dan, Superintendent of Schools
Passman, Marj, Member, Board of Education
Schultz, Sally, Principal, Shabazz City High School
Seno, Karen,Principal, Cherokee Middle School
Sentmanat, Jose, Executive Assistant to the County Executive
Severson, Don, Active Citizens for Education (ACE)
Steinhoff, Becky, Executive Director, Goodman Community Center
Strong, Wayne, Madison Police Department
Swedeen, Beth, Outreach Specialist, Waisman Center
Tennant, Brian, Parent
Terra Nova, Paul, Lussier Community Education Center
Theo, Mike, Parent
Tompkins, Justin, Student
Trevino, Andres, Parent
Trone, Carole, President, WCATY
Vang, Doua, Clinical Team Manager, Southeast Asian Program / Kajsiab House, Mental Health Center of Dane County
Vieth, Karen, Teacher, Sennett
Vukelich-Austin, Martha, Executive Director, Foundation for Madison Public Schools
Wachtel, Lisa, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
Zellmer, Jim, Parent
Much more here.
The Strategic Planning Process Schedule [PDF]

Madison school cafeterias have “impressive” safety records

Melanie Conklin:


While there’s no controlling what happens once kids get their hands on the food, some of the safest public places to buy meals are Madison school cafeterias.
A review of Madison-Dane County Health Department records of Madison school cafeteria inspections showed that school scores were far better than the average restaurant score. Out of 164 Madison cafeteria inspections, 49 resulted in a perfect score of zero and 115 found no critical violations.
To put that in perspective, the average score for restaurants hovers around 20, and anything above 50 is viewed as troublesome. Madison school cafeterias averaged 3.3 over the past four years. The worst school score — Spring Harbor Middle School with a score of 22 in 2005 — was on par with restaurants. And the next two years Spring Harbor scored a perfect zero.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Remarks at a Dane County Public Affairs Council Event

Watch the 70 minute presentation and discussion or listen to this 29MB mp3 file

I took a few notes (with apologies for their brevity):

Dan Nerad:

Revisit strategic plan in January with local stakeholders. Preferred to lead with strategic plan but budget came first.
Hopes (MMSD) literacy programs are maintained.
He wants to listen to the community.
The District’s mission is teaching and learning.
The District has several strengths and some notable weaknesses, including achievement gaps.
Schools have a broader mission than workforce development, including helping students be good people.
Achievement gap is a significant issue. There is a compelling need to face an issue that affects Madison’s viability. These are not quick fix kind of issues. We need to talk more openly about this.
If I speak openly, I hope that people will be supportive of public education.
He wishes to reframe conversation around improvements for all students.
Five areas of discussion:

  1. 4k community conversation
  2. SLC grant (More here). Use the grant to begin a conversation about high schools. The structure has been in place for over 100 years. Discussed kids who are lost in high school.
  3. Curriculum can be more workforce based. Green bay has 4 high schools aligned with careers (for example: Health care).
  4. Revisit school safety
  5. Curriculum
    – safety plan and response system
    – schools should be the safest place in the community
    – technology is not the complete answer
    math task force; Madison high school students take fewer credits than other Wisconsin urban districts
    – reaffirms notable math achievement gap

  6. Fine Arts task force report: Fine arts help kids do better academically,

Erik Kass, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services:

Discussed budget gaps.
Plans to review financial processes.
He previously worked as a financial analyst.
Goal is to provide accurate, honest and understandable information.

Jonathan Barry posed a useful question (46 minutes) on how the current MTI agreement prohibits participation in alternative programs, such as Operation Fresh Start (“nobody shall educate that is not a member of Madison Teachers”). Barry mentioned that a recent United Way study referenced 4,000 local disconnected youth (under 21). This topic is relevant in a number of areas, including online learning and credit for non-MMSD courses. This has also been an issue in the local lack of a 4K program.

Dane County, WI Schools Consider MAP Assessement Tests After Frustration with State WKCE Exams
Waunakee Urges that the State Dump the WKCE

Andy Hall takes a look at a useful topic:

From Wisconsin Heights on the west to Marshall on the east, 10 Dane County school districts and the private Eagle School in Fitchburg are among more than 170 Wisconsin public and private school systems purchasing tests from Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit group based in the state of Oregon.
The aim of those tests, known as Measures of Academic Progress, and others purchased from other vendors, is to give educators, students and parents more information about students ‘ strengths and weaknesses. Officials at these districts say the cost, about $12 per student per year for MAP tests, is a good investment.
The tests ‘ popularity also reflects widespread frustration over the state ‘s $10 million testing program, the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.
Critics say that WKCE, which is used to hold schools accountable under the federal No Child Left Behind law, fails to provide adequate data to help improve the teaching methods and curriculum used in the classrooms.
They complain that because the tests are administered just once a year, and it takes nearly six months to receive the results, the information arrives in May — too late to be of use to teachers during the school year.
The testing controversy is “a healthy debate, ” said Tony Evers, deputy state superintendent of public instruction, whose agency contends that there ‘s room for both WKCE and MAP.
….
“It ‘s a test that we feel is much more relevant to assisting students and helping them with their skills development, ” said Mike Hensgen, director of curriculum and instruction for the Waunakee School District, who acknowledges he ‘s a radical in his dislike of WKCE.
“To me, the WKCE is not rigorous enough. When a kid sees he ‘s proficient, ‘ he thinks he ‘s fine. ”
Hensgen contends that the WKCE, which is based on the state ‘s academic content for each grade level, does a poor job of depicting what elite students, and students performing at the bottom level, really know.
The Waunakee School Board, in a letter being distributed this month, is urging state legislators and education officials to find ways to dump WKCE in favor of MAP and tests from ACT and other vendors.

The Madison School District and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research are using the WKCE as a benchmark for “Value Added Assessment”.
Related:

Where to Educate Your Child? Madison Area is #2

Via a reader’s email: David Savageau (Contributing Editor of Expansion Management Management):

Three out of 10 of us either work in an educational institution or learn in one. Education eats up 8% of the Gross National Product. Keeping it all going is the biggest line item on city budgets. Whether the results are worth it sometimes makes teachers and parents–and administrators and politicians–raise their voices and point fingers.
In the 1930s, the United States was fragmented into 130,000 school districts. After decades of consolidation, there are now fewer than 15,000. They range in size from hundreds that don’t actually operate schools–but bus children to other districts–to giants like the Los Angeles Unified District, with three-quarters of a million students.
Greater Chicago has 332 public school districts and 589 private schools within its eight counties. Metropolitan Los Angeles takes in 35 public library systems. Greater Denver counts 15 public and private colleges and universities. Moving into any of America’s metro areas means stepping into a thicket of school districts, library systems, private school options and public and private college and universities.

Here are some of their top locations:

  1. Washington, DC – Arlington, VA
  2. Madison, WI
  3. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham
  4. Baltimore -Towson
  5. Akron, OH
  6. Columbus, OH
  7. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
  8. Syracuse, NY
  9. St. Louis, MO
  10. Ann Arbor, MI

The Madison area has incredible resources for our children. The key of course, is leveraging that and being open to working effectively with many organizations, something Marc Eisen mentioned in his recent article. Madison’s new Superintendent has a tremendous opportunity to leverage the community from curricular, arts, sports, health/wellness, financial and volunteer perspectives.
Related:

The Capital Times:

The Madison area, which includes all of Dane County as well as immediately adjoining areas, was awarded A+ for class size and spending per pupil in public schools, and for the popularity of the city’s public library.
The greater Madison area scored an A for being close to a college town and for offering college options.
Private school options in the greater Madison area were graded at B+.
There has been some confusion in the response to the rankings because they lump together numerous school districts — urban, suburban and rural.

Channel3000:

The engineering-based program is just one example of the district’s willingness to bring college-level learning to his high school students. That effort appears to be paying off nationally, WISC-TV reported.
“It reinforces that what we’re trying to do as a district and as an area is working,” said Granberg. “And it’s getting recognized on a national level, not just a local or state level.”
“This is not a community that accepts anything but the best and so that bar is always high,” said Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Art Rainwater.
Rainwater also credits the ranking to teacher development programs.
“We spend an awful amount of time and an awful amount of effort working with our teachers in terms of how they deliver instruction to individual children,” said Rainwater.
He said the school district will continue to improve techniques, focusing on the needs of every student.

Concessions Made in Advance of MTI Negotiations by a Majority of the Madison School Board

It will be interesting to see how voters on February 20 and April 3 view this decision by a majority of the Madison School Board: Should the Board and Administration continue to give away their ability to negotiate health care benefits ($43.5M of the 2006/2007 budge) before MTI union bargaining begins? Read the 2005 MMSD/MTI … Continue reading Concessions Made in Advance of MTI Negotiations by a Majority of the Madison School Board

Pam Cross-Leone Seat 3 Madison Board of Education

Since 1992, Pam Cross-Leone has quietly, effectively and tirelessly worked as a parent volunteer in the Madison schools. Pam welcomed the homeless children at Emerson Elementary, working to make them part of the school in every way. When Sherman Middle School and East High School experienced the problems that come with rapid changes in students … Continue reading Pam Cross-Leone Seat 3 Madison Board of Education

Announcement from Madison School Board President Johnny Winston, Jr. (and the 04 / 07 elections)

Via a Johnny Winston, Jr. MMSD email: It is with great humility that I announce that I have been elected to serve as President of the Madison School Board. I am honored to have the opportunity to provide leadership to our school district and community. Serving as President is the culmination of part of a … Continue reading Announcement from Madison School Board President Johnny Winston, Jr. (and the 04 / 07 elections)

Affordable Health Care: Four Wisconsin Proposals

A forum hosted by Progressive Dane and The Edgewood College Human Issues Program. Thursday, April 6th 6:30 to 8:30 at Edgewood College’s Anderson Auditorium, in the Predolin Humanities Center. Access to health insurance has become a national crisis, but there are bold, creative proposals to fix it. Please join us to hear four great proposals … Continue reading Affordable Health Care: Four Wisconsin Proposals

MMSD and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County Expand Mentoring Program

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County are expanding the SOL Mentor Program to Leopold Elementary and Cherokee Middle Schools. The SOL Mentor Program continues to serve Latino, Spanish-speaking students at Frank Allis Elementary and Sennett Middle Schools and aims to match an additional 75 students with adult volunteers … Continue reading MMSD and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County Expand Mentoring Program

For Deaf People Like Me, Mask Mandates Impose Never-Ending Isolation

Brad Kirby: I was born with hearing loss in both ears. Since the age of six, I have worn hearing aids. Being hearing-impaired has been a huge life disadvantage. For example, as a child I couldn’t hear the whistle while trying to play sports, and continued playing until I see people laughing or trying to … Continue reading For Deaf People Like Me, Mask Mandates Impose Never-Ending Isolation

Mandates, Quality of life and outcomes

Sometimes the best way to evaluate COVID policies and discourse is to tune out the punditry and just spend time looking at CDC data on deaths and hospitalization. Look how few people are dying in a post-vaccine world under 75 and even under 65.https://t.co/kHiNQf9smG https://t.co/7JJmpgOZr4 pic.twitter.com/FCl9HlX07H — Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 18, 2021 Notes and … Continue reading Mandates, Quality of life and outcomes

Pennsylvania high court throws out mask mandate for schools

Mark Scolforo: They upheld a lower-court decision that the mandate was imposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s acting health secretary without legal authorization. The practical impact of the decision will depend on what the justices say in the written opinion or opinions they will issue in the case and which schools and school districts impose … Continue reading Pennsylvania high court throws out mask mandate for schools

A Review Of The Covid Panic: Starting With Taleb’s January 2020 Frenzy & Ending In Our New Concentration Camps

William Briggs: This is update CIX. Let’s summarize, shall we? My first post on the panic was 27 January 2020: “Taleb Chastises Calm Journalist, Advises Precautionary Panic To Coronavirus“. Taleb almost at once became a shrinking, shrieking hersteric. Which I should have, but did not see, would have become the default position among Experts and … Continue reading A Review Of The Covid Panic: Starting With Taleb’s January 2020 Frenzy & Ending In Our New Concentration Camps

McFarland schools no longer requiring COVID close contacts to quarantine

Scott Girard McFarland School District students considered close contacts of a person who tests positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine. The School Board unanimously approved the change to COVID-19 protocols Monday. For most schools in Dane County, students who are considered close contacts and are unvaccinated are required to quarantine for 14 … Continue reading McFarland schools no longer requiring COVID close contacts to quarantine

Mandates for thee but not for me: “I just decided that if anyone came up that I didn’t know, I would put my mask on,” Fauci replied.

Andrew Stiles: Dr. Anthony Fauci was spotted Tuesday nightwithout a mask while he attended journalist Jonathan Karl’s book party at Café Milano, the élite Washington, D.C., bistro frequented by Hunter Biden’s corrupt business partners. “As gawkers tried to snap pictures of [Fauci] indoors not wearing a mask, America’s doc would put it on and take it off depending … Continue reading Mandates for thee but not for me: “I just decided that if anyone came up that I didn’t know, I would put my mask on,” Fauci replied.

Mandates for thee but not for me

This is Rhode Island @GovDanMcKee last night at a Gala — just hours after he extended The State of Emergency in Rhode Island for the sole purpose to keep children masked in schools. Fact: the V doesn’t prevent transmission. Where is our General Assembly?#abuse #UNMASKOURCHILDREN pic.twitter.com/419q0U32Br — Jody Stone (@TheStonesEG) November 14, 2021 Related: Dane … Continue reading Mandates for thee but not for me

COVID-19 pandemic puts spotlight on ‘outdated’ infection control practices

Amy Norton: Where did the droplet/airborne distinction come from? It was based on observations regarding proximity. Most respiratory viruses, including the flu, are usually passed among people in relatively close contact. But then there are pathogens like the measles virus, which can also infect people at greater distances: A U.S. measles outbreak in the 1990s, … Continue reading COVID-19 pandemic puts spotlight on ‘outdated’ infection control practices

COVID-19 pandemic puts spotlight on ‘outdated’ infection control practices

Amy Norton: Where did the droplet/airborne distinction come from? It was based on observations regarding proximity. Most respiratory viruses, including the flu, are usually passed among people in relatively close contact. But then there are pathogens like the measles virus, which can also infect people at greater distances: A U.S. measles outbreak in the 1990s, … Continue reading COVID-19 pandemic puts spotlight on ‘outdated’ infection control practices

Civics: Voters Are Done With COVID-19 and Pandemic-Powered Officials

JD Tuccille: Americans have shifted back to favoring a more hands-off approach for government in addressing the nation’s problems after a rare endorsement of a more active role last year,” Gallup reported in mid-October. “Last year marked only the second time in Gallup’s 29-year trend that at least half of Americans endorsed an active role for … Continue reading Civics: Voters Are Done With COVID-19 and Pandemic-Powered Officials

The Great Barrington Declaration One Year On

Phil Magness and Phillip W. Magness: From October 2-4, 2020, the American Institute for Economic Research hosted a small conference for scientists to discuss the harms of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and maybe hint at a path back to normal life. Organized by Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta, and Jay Bhattacharya, the conference made a scientific case for shifting … Continue reading The Great Barrington Declaration One Year On

Uncontrolled Spread: Science, Policy, Institutions, Infrastructure

Future: One thing’s for sure — with this COVID crisis, we’re at an inflection point between old and new technology — whether it’s in how we make vaccines, or how we apply the fields of synthetic biology and genetic epidemiology in public health response. So now’s the time to look both backward, and forward, to … Continue reading Uncontrolled Spread: Science, Policy, Institutions, Infrastructure

A new study suggests that almost half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have mild or asymptomatic cases.

David Zweig: At least 12,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19 this month, as the country inches through its latest surge in cases. But another worrying statistic is often cited to depict the dangers of this moment: The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States right now is as high as it has been since the beginning of February. It’s even … Continue reading A new study suggests that almost half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have mild or asymptomatic cases.

Mechanisms of airborne transmission

Chia C. Wang, Kimberly A. Prather,, Josué Sznitman, Jose L. Jimenez, Seema S. Lakdawala, Zeynep Tufekci, Linsey C. Marr: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted controversies and unknowns about how respiratory pathogens spread between hosts. Traditionally, it was thought that respiratory pathogens spread between people through large droplets produced in coughs and through contact with contaminated … Continue reading Mechanisms of airborne transmission

Mandates and Masks Commentary

Emily Files Hamilton Superintendent Paul Mielke believes his district is following CDC recommendations. “It still came across as a ‘recommend’ and we are strongly recommending [masks,]” Mielke says. “So we’re actually matching their language. If they would have said schools should mandate, we would have looked at that.” Still, Mielke says the masking decision was … Continue reading Mandates and Masks Commentary

K—12 Governance Priorities & Effectiveness

Contrast the experience of schoolchildren in the Netherlands—no mask mandates or distancing for kids <12, ever—to the widespread US belief that we absolutely must mask kindergartners all day in school for their safety. You owe it to yourself to read the entire thing, I promise. pic.twitter.com/QrLaJSRph5 — Genève Campbell (@bergerbell) August 23, 2021 Related: Catholic schools will sue … Continue reading K—12 Governance Priorities & Effectiveness

Pandemic Learning: Large Increase In Virtual Charter And Homeschooling Enrollment Raises Questions

Steven Potter: A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum found huge increases in student enrollment in virtual charter and homeschooling last year. We discuss what that means for students, parents and school districts. Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees). Molly … Continue reading Pandemic Learning: Large Increase In Virtual Charter And Homeschooling Enrollment Raises Questions

“schools that went strictly remote experienced a 42 percent increase in disenrollment….”

NY Times: An analysis by N.W.E.A., a nonprofit that provides academic assessments, for example, found that Latino third graders scored 17 percentile points lower in math in the spring of 2021, compared to the typical achievements of Latino third graders in the spring of 2019. The decline was 15 percentile points for Black students and … Continue reading “schools that went strictly remote experienced a 42 percent increase in disenrollment….”

Fear of COVID-19 in Kids Is Getting Ahead of the Data

Lucy McBride: A recent peer-reviewed study in Britain of nearly 260,000 children (1,700 of whom showed symptoms) reminds us that for most kids, a coronavirus infection will manifest as the common cold—if anything. Also reassuring is that only 4.4 percent of children diagnosed with COVID-19 in this study had symptoms after 28 days (and 1.8 percent after … Continue reading Fear of COVID-19 in Kids Is Getting Ahead of the Data

The Science of Masking Kids at School Remains Uncertain

David Zweig: Many of America’s peer nations around the world — including the U.K., Ireland, all of Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy — have exempted kids, with varying age cutoffs, from wearing masks in classrooms. Conspicuously, there’s no evidence of more outbreaks in schools in those countries relative to schools in the U.S., … Continue reading The Science of Masking Kids at School Remains Uncertain

The “noble government lies of COVID 19”

Kerrington Powell and Vinay Prasad: Later in 2020, Fauci participated in a second noble lie. In December, he explained in a phone interview with then–New York Times reporter Donald McNeil that he had been moving the target estimate for herd immunity based in part on emerging studies. But he also said: When polls said only about half of all … Continue reading The “noble government lies of COVID 19”

COVID Cases Fell 40% in the UK After Restrictions Were Lifted

Jon Miltimore: Weeks later, however, we have an abundance of empirical evidence that show the prognosticators were once again wrong. Cases did not double or quadruple as Ferguson had predicted. Nor did cases “surge,” as many had warned. On the contrary, cases fell—a lot. Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled Notes and … Continue reading COVID Cases Fell 40% in the UK After Restrictions Were Lifted

Germany’s largest newspaper BILD apologizes for harming society over its coverage of the covid-19 pandemic during the past 18 months

Daniel Levi: In a 5-minute YouTube video, BILD editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt said:“Millions of children in this country, for whom we are all responsible as a society, I would like to say what our Federal Government and our Chancellor have not dare to say so far: We ask your forgiveness. We ask your forgiveness for a … Continue reading Germany’s largest newspaper BILD apologizes for harming society over its coverage of the covid-19 pandemic during the past 18 months

On lagging learning during 2020-2021

McKinsey: Our analysis shows that the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year.” Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. … Continue reading On lagging learning during 2020-2021

Commentary on mask requirements in taxpayer supported K-12 schools

Elizabeth Beyer: The DeForest, Middleton-Cross Plains, Monona Grove, Mount Horeb, Stoughton, Verona and Wisconsin Heights school districts have not yet made a decision regarding mask requirements in school buildings for the 2021-22 school year. Most of the Dane County districts that responded to requests for comment said they plan to finalize safety plans in August. … Continue reading Commentary on mask requirements in taxpayer supported K-12 schools

Small California school districts will refuse to follow mask mandate

Joe Hong: Some school officials are flouting the updated state rules, saying students will be allowed to return to the classroom with or without a mask. California’s smallest school districts say they will refuse to send kids home for not wearing a mask despite a new state mandate.  Superintendents in these tight-knit and typically more … Continue reading Small California school districts will refuse to follow mask mandate

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

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

Comparing 2020-2021 online vs in person student climate

Bruce Murphy: The study also found a significant racial difference in the percent of students getting full-time, in-person instruction: nationally an average of 75% of non-Hispanic white students were getting in-person instruction as of April versus 63% of Black students and 59% of Hispanic students. In 43 states, access to in-person learning was higher for … Continue reading Comparing 2020-2021 online vs in person student climate

Wisconsin Supreme Court Declares Racine School Closure Order Invalid

WILL: The News: The Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously declared that an order from the City of Racine’s public health officer closing all schools, public and private, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is invalid and lacked proper legal authority. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed an original action to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on November 19, on … Continue reading Wisconsin Supreme Court Declares Racine School Closure Order Invalid

Inside the risky bat-virus engineering that links America to Wuhan: China emulated US techniques to construct novel coronaviruses in unsafe conditions.

Rowan Jacobsen: In 2013, the American virologist Ralph Baric approached Zhengli Shi at a meeting. Baric was a top expert in coronaviruses, with hundreds of papers to his credit, and Shi, along with her team at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, had been discovering them by the fistful in bat caves. In one sample of … Continue reading Inside the risky bat-virus engineering that links America to Wuhan: China emulated US techniques to construct novel coronaviruses in unsafe conditions.

At Height of the 1918 Pandemic, NYC and Chicago Schools Stayed Open. Here’s Why

Sarah Pruitt: But for social and educational reformers, it wasn’t enough that children attend school—they also needed to stay safe and healthy when they got there. Schools were renovated and reorganized to allow better ventilation in classrooms and ensure access to fresh drinking water. Beginning in the 1890s, many cities launched medical inspection programs, with … Continue reading At Height of the 1918 Pandemic, NYC and Chicago Schools Stayed Open. Here’s Why

Closing the world’s schools caused children great harm; Governments are going shockingly little to help

The Economist: The immense harm this has done to children’s prospects might be justified if closing classrooms were one of the best ways of preventing lethal infections among adults. But few governments have weighed the costs and risks carefully. Many have kept schools shut even as bars and restaurants open, either to appease teachers’ unions, … Continue reading Closing the world’s schools caused children great harm; Governments are going shockingly little to help

The pandemic has been a catastrophe for school children. But it could inspire reforms to make schools more efficient

The Economist: n the first three months of the pandemic Shawnie Bennett, a single mother from Oakland in California, lost her job and her brother, who died of covid-19. Grief made the trials of lockdown more difficult—including that of helping her eight-year-old daughter, Xa’viar, continue her schooling online. In November Ms Bennett signed her daughter … Continue reading The pandemic has been a catastrophe for school children. But it could inspire reforms to make schools more efficient

Covid Proved the C.D.C. Is Broken. Can It Be Fixed?

Jeneen Interlandi: Scientists there had been far too slow to detect the virus, to develop an accurate diagnostic test for it or to grasp how fast it was mutating. Their advisories on mask-wearing, quarantine and ventilation had been confusing, inconsistent and occasionally dead wrong. And during the Trump administration, agency leaders stood by while politicians … Continue reading Covid Proved the C.D.C. Is Broken. Can It Be Fixed?

Civics: Only 40% of Voters Think Dr. Fauci Told the Truth About Virus Research

Rasmussen: The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 40% of Likely U.S. Voters believe Fauci has told the truth about U.S. government funding for so-called “gain-of-function” virus research. Forty-six percent (46%) of voters believe Fauci has not told the truth about U.S. funding of such research, and 15% are not sure. … Continue reading Civics: Only 40% of Voters Think Dr. Fauci Told the Truth About Virus Research

“Facts” were facts, until the facts suddenly changed.

Maximilian Forte: The documentary itself establishes its lead questions at the outset. Nico Sloot, described as an international entrepreneur, acts as the main voice in the film and our lead detective. What struck me from the start was how he framed the central problem that provoked his investigative journey: when would herd immunity be achieved? … Continue reading “Facts” were facts, until the facts suddenly changed.

“We do not find any correlations with mask mandates”

Emily Oster, Rebecca Jack, Clare Halloran, John Schoof, Diana McLeod: This paper reports on the correlation of mitigation practices with staff and student COVID-19 case rates in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts during the 2020-2021 school year. We analyze data collected by the COVID-19 School Response Dashboard and focus on student density, ventilation upgrades, and … Continue reading “We do not find any correlations with mask mandates”

Politics vs Students in Racine

Libby Sobic: Wisconsin parents have spent the last year scrambling to help cover learning loss created by the pandemic. For students living in Racine, any learning loss is particularly harmful considering the district was a low-performing school district prior to the pandemic. Despite this unfortunate reality, local leaders in Racine continue to purposefully confuse parents … Continue reading Politics vs Students in Racine

Report: State-level test scores improve the more school choice options are given

Bethany Blankley: As school choice bills continue to make their way through state legislatures, a report on student achievement published by the University of Arkansas’s Department of Education Reform argues that the more educational options are afforded parents, the better statewide test results are. “We find that higher levels of school choice are significantly associated … Continue reading Report: State-level test scores improve the more school choice options are given

The teachers union chief finally says schools can open—next fall.

Wall Street Journal: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Thursday hopped onto the caboose that has already left the station. “There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week,” the teachers’ union chief declared in a speech. That’s nice of her to say now that nearly all school … Continue reading The teachers union chief finally says schools can open—next fall.

School Reopenings, Mobility, and COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from Texas

Charles J. Courtemanche, Anh H. Le, Aaron Yelowitz & Ron Zimmer: This paper examines the effect of fall 2020 school reopenings in Texas on county-level COVID-19 cases and fatalities. Previous evidence suggests that schools can be reopened safely if community spread is low and public health guidelines are followed. However, in Texas, reopenings often occurred … Continue reading School Reopenings, Mobility, and COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from Texas

They moved for in-person school during the pandemic. Now they must decide: Stay or go?

Hannah Natanson: In pursuit of in-person learning this year, Stephanie Koski of Oregon transferred legal guardianship of her 16-year-old son to his aunt — then sent the teen to live in Texas. Lyra Elder uprooted her husband, son and daughter from their home outside Portland, Ore., and took them to a cabin in Homer, Alaska, … Continue reading They moved for in-person school during the pandemic. Now they must decide: Stay or go?

S.F. seniors might go back to school for only one day before term ends. Parents are furious

Jill Tucker: When the teachers union over the weekend announced the “exciting news” that San Francisco’s high school seniors will get a chance to go back to classrooms starting Friday, they left out details about the plan, including that students might only be back for just one day. In addition, the class of 2021 won’t … Continue reading S.F. seniors might go back to school for only one day before term ends. Parents are furious

Taxpayer supported Wisconsin K-12 Analytics, including enrollment changes

Steve Sharp: The Wisconsin Policy Forum is reporting that Wisconsin’s K-12 school enrollment is down by more than 25,000 students for the 2020-21 school year, one of many far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that may warrant a response from state and local policymakers. The information is contained in the findings of a new interactive … Continue reading Taxpayer supported Wisconsin K-12 Analytics, including enrollment changes

“Democrat Party obeisance to the AFT and NEA”

Jason Reilly: Cal­i­for­nia, which is the most pop­u­lous state and cur­rently has the low­est per capita Covid rate in the coun­try, also has the high­est per­cent­age of school dis­tricts that re­main en­tirely vir­tual. Teach­ers unions have used the pan­demic to de­mand more money and more-gen­er­ous ben­e­fits. They know that mil­lions of Amer­i­cans can’t re­turn to … Continue reading “Democrat Party obeisance to the AFT and NEA”

Teacher union CDC influence

Jon Levine: The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February. The powerful teachers union’s full-court press preceded the federal agency putting the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms, emails between top CDC, AFT and … Continue reading Teacher union CDC influence

the failure of state institutions during the pandemic

Yascha Mounk: What has the pandemic told us about the state of our political institutions and the state of our economic institutions? Have you changed your mind about what’s working, or what’s not working, in light of the experience we’ve had over the last months? Tyler Cowen: Let’s focus on the United States. Our early response, … Continue reading the failure of state institutions during the pandemic

Widespread coronavirus surveillance testing at schools is a bad idea

Tracy Beth Hoeg,, Monica Gandhi and Lillian Brown First, classrooms have thankfully been found — in studies examining schools in multiplestates — to be places of limited disease transmission, compared with communities at large. The rate of transmission within schools from individuals who test positive has been estimated to be on the order of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent (and this includes people … Continue reading Widespread coronavirus surveillance testing at schools is a bad idea