Get Off the Bus: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the life of Ms. Rosa Parks

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition is inviting all local citizens to share in a brief ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott. The ceremony will be held on Monday, December 5, 2005 at 12 noon in the lobby of the Madison Municipal Building (215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.). It … Continue reading Get Off the Bus: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the life of Ms. Rosa Parks

West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

Here is a synopsis of the English 10 situation at West HS. Currently — having failed to receive any reply from BOE Performance and Achievement Committee Chair Shwaw Vang to our request that he investigate this matter and provide an opportunity for public discussion — we are trying to get BOE President Carol Carstensen to … Continue reading West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

Letter to Performance and Achievement Committee

The following letter was hand delivered to Shwaw Vang a week ago, and email copies were sent to the Board, Superintendent Rainwater, and Assistant Superintendent Pam Nash. There so far has been no response. A follow up email was sent yesterday to the Performance and Achievement Committee again asking that they look into why the … Continue reading Letter to Performance and Achievement Committee

Milwaukee Schools Superintendent Review

http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/nov05/373715.aspAlan Borsuk: But issues facing MPS, including budget constraints, school closings and a recent decision by an arbitrator on a teacher contract that was widely unpopular among teachers, have subjected Andrekopoulos to increased heat. The issues have underscored the way the board is frequently divided into two factions, with five members consistently supporting Andrekopoulos and … Continue reading Milwaukee Schools Superintendent Review

Carol Carstensen’s Message to PTO Presidents

Madison Board of Education President Carol Carstensen: Subject: Nov. 21 Update Parent Group Presidents: BUDGET FACTOID: The school district has been under revenue caps since 1993 when all school district budgets were frozen and then permitted to increase only by an amount per pupil each year (this year it is $250). That amount approximates a … Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Message to PTO Presidents

Bush Administration Grants Leeway on ‘No Child’ Rules

By Nick Anderson Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, November 22, 2005; A01 The Bush administration has begun to ease some key rules for the controversial No Child Left Behind law, opening the door to a new way to rate schools, granting a few urban systems permission to provide federally subsidized tutoring and allowing certain states … Continue reading Bush Administration Grants Leeway on ‘No Child’ Rules

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

A different student viewpoint of West High

This was forwarded to the West High listserve with the request that it be posted as part of the current discussion about changes at West High. When I read the anonymous email from a current West freshman who is defined as “talented and gifted,” I could not help but feel that I should write about … Continue reading A different student viewpoint of West High

MMSD: Shutting out the public

Isthmus, November 11, 2005, reports on the refusal of the MMSD administration and Board of Education to release details on a land purchase for a new school. Isthmus posted the full article and supporting documents in the Document Feed of thedailypage.com. Here are excerpts: Jim Zellmer doesn’t know whether buying land for a new elementary … Continue reading MMSD: Shutting out the public

The Budget: Same Service = Cost to Continue = Baseline

Jim Zellmer, and others have taken the district to task for having a “same service” budget – alledging that nothing changes as a consequence. But let’s clarify the use of some terms. The district uses the term “same service” to estimate the next year’s costs – the city and county do the same thing, but … Continue reading The Budget: Same Service = Cost to Continue = Baseline

Poverty & Education, Wednesday, October 26, Overture Center

The volunteers of the schoolinfosystem blog invite everyone in the community to our second forum “Poverty and Education,” Wednesday, October 26, 2005 7:00p.m. in the 3rd floor Wisconsin Studio of the Overture Center, 201 State St. Presenters will be: – Tom Kaplan: Associate Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty; – Mary Kay Baum: … Continue reading Poverty & Education, Wednesday, October 26, Overture Center

A Few Notes on the Superintendent’s Evaluation & Curriculum

Several writers have mentioned the positive news that the Madison Board of Education has reviewed Superintendent Art Rainwater for the first time since 2002. I agree that it is a step in the right direction. In my view, the first responsibility of the Board and Administration, including the Superintendent is curriculum: Is the Madison School … Continue reading A Few Notes on the Superintendent’s Evaluation & Curriculum

Mr. Mom’s – Due Process Must Happen

It is no longer a secret that Mr. Mom’s Transportation Services currently faces significant challenges. Probably the biggest challenge for this small, local, minority owned business came from the school board last spring (2004). Mr. Mom’s and Badger Bus services were denied district transportation contracts. Our community was angered by this. In 2004, the Board … Continue reading Mr. Mom’s – Due Process Must Happen

More on East / West Task Forces

Sandy Cullen: Elementary schools considered most at risk are Emerson, Lapham and Lowell – which are at or below 67 percent of their capacity for students – as well as Lindbergh, Cohen said. “We’re rallying around Lindbergh,” he said, adding that the school serves “probably the most fragile” population of low-income and minority families, including … Continue reading More on East / West Task Forces

High Quality Teaching make the difference

Young, Gifted and Black, by Perry, Steele and Hilliard is a little gem of a book. (Hereafter, YGB). The subtitle is “Promoting High Achievement Among African-American Students”. Though specifically addressing African-American kids, the descriptions and proscriptions proposed can be applied to all – important, given the continual poor showing of U.S. students generally on international … Continue reading High Quality Teaching make the difference

Secrets of Success: America’s system of higher education is the best in the world. That is because there is no system

The Economist via Tom Barnett: Wooldridge says three reasons account for this: 1) the Fed plays a limited role, unlike in a France or Germany; 2) schools compete for everything, including students and teachers; and 3) our universities are anything but ivory towers, instead being quite focused on practical stuff (Great line: “Bertrand Russell once … Continue reading Secrets of Success: America’s system of higher education is the best in the world. That is because there is no system

“Crash” and the MMSD – Race Relations at the Intersection

A few months ago, I saw the movie “Crash” on a recommendation from Barbara Golden, founder and leader of MAFAAC. This movie has an ensemble cast and I highly recommend that you see this movie when it comes out on DVD. The movie talks in depth about race relations, stereotyping and racism. The subject of … Continue reading “Crash” and the MMSD – Race Relations at the Intersection

Soda Marketers To Reduce School Sales

American Beverage Association: Under the new policy, the beverage industry will provide: Elementary Schools with only water and 100 percent juice. Middle Schools with only nutritious and/or lower calorie beverages, such as water, 100 percent juice, sports drinks, no-calorie soft drinks, and low-calorie juice drinks. No full-calorie soft drinks or full-calorie juice drinks with five … Continue reading Soda Marketers To Reduce School Sales

Update on Future of Ridgewood Apartments

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 … Continue reading Update on Future of Ridgewood Apartments

School Climate at an LA South Central High School

Michael Winerip: Teachers rarely know the full story behind their students, and this is particularly so at Locke, in South Central, one of the city’s poorest and toughest areas. “So much goes on away from school,” says Ms. Levine, who loses students to homelessness, pregnancy, work, drugs and jail. She never knows which ones will … Continue reading School Climate at an LA South Central High School

Guest Editorial to the Simpson Street Free Press

Dear Editor: Thank you for your comments regarding the reductions in Madison Metropolitan School District’s 4th and 5th grade elementary strings program and other Fine Arts programs. I personally know the importance of the strings program. I played the violin many years ago as a student at Lindbergh Elementary School. I continue to support Fine … Continue reading Guest Editorial to the Simpson Street Free Press

Sam Dillon, NY Times: For Parents Seeking a Choice, Charter Schools Prove More Popular Than Vouchers

CLEVELAND – When Ohio enacted a pilot program of school vouchers here a decade ago, David Brennan, an Ohio businessman, quickly founded two schools for voucher students. Three years later, with voucher programs under attack, Mr. Brennan closed the schools and reopened them as charter schools, another educational experiment gaining momentum at the time.

Goodbye, Class See You in the Fall: Looping in Ardsley NY Public Elementary School

The New York Times July 11, 2005 Goodbye, Class. See You in the Fall. By ALAN FINDER ARDSLEY, N.Y. – Even though it was his last day of kindergarten, Zachary Gold, a bright, enthusiastic 6-year-old, said he wasn’t scared about moving up to the rigors of first grade. Unlike most kindergartners at the Concord Road … Continue reading Goodbye, Class See You in the Fall: Looping in Ardsley NY Public Elementary School

I Voted Yes to Privately Fund Two West High Soccer Teams

At its June 27, 2005 meeting, the Partnership Committee listened to a request from West High School parents (Friends of West High School Soccer) to fundraise money for an additional 2 soccer teams this fall. A committee member made a motion to allow parents to fundraise the money and that motion passed unanimously. The entire … Continue reading I Voted Yes to Privately Fund Two West High Soccer Teams

Cap Times Editorial Supports Kobza on Use of $240K

The Capital Times: Newly elected Madison School Board member Lawrie Kobza was wise to move to use $240,000 in money made available by insurance savings to revive Lincoln Elementary School’s Open Classroom Program and to restore “specials” – music, art and gym classes at the elementary schools – to their regular sizes. And the board … Continue reading Cap Times Editorial Supports Kobza on Use of $240K

Capital Times Editorial: Board backs school quality

Newly elected Madison School Board member Lawrie Kobza was wise to move to use $240,000 in money made available by insurance savings to revive Lincoln Elementary School’s Open Classroom Program and to restore “specials” – music, art and gym classes at the elementary schools – to their regular sizes. And the board majority was right … Continue reading Capital Times Editorial: Board backs school quality

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on WI Budget Debate over Funding Public K-12 Schools

How far can schools stretch their dollars? Education funding is central to budget debate in Madison By ALAN J. BORSUK and AMY HETZNER, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel aborsuk@journalsentinel.com Posted: June 18, 2005 Let’s say your parents base your budget for gasoline for the year on $1.75 a gallon. The next year, Mom and Dad say, … Continue reading Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on WI Budget Debate over Funding Public K-12 Schools

There is Something Seriously Wrong with Music Education in MMSD

Suzy Grindrod writes that Madison school bureaucrats’ decisions are short-sighted and are Stringing the kids along So they make the arts unworkable in early elementary school, they gut the incredibly successful elementary strings program, they remove band and orchestra from core curriculum in middle school … and then they are going to complain that there … Continue reading There is Something Seriously Wrong with Music Education in MMSD

Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool

The current music education upheaval at Sherman Middle School is about what Madison values for our children’s education, such as academic music education during the school day and who makes those decisions. It is not about money, because teacher allocations will be needed to teach the 8th hour same as during the school day. Making … Continue reading Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool

Needed: New Opportunities and Directions for the School District

On May 24th, the Madison School Board participated in the democratic process by involving local citizens in its budgetary process by putting forth a referendum. Regardless of how you voted, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the issues, weigh in on the debate and cast your ballot the way you saw … Continue reading Needed: New Opportunities and Directions for the School District

Sports, Music, Academics – Last Minute Proposals Stressful: Need Big Picture with all the Pieces

(The Capital Times, Strings to play on in city’s schools by Lee Sensenbrenner) reported that I “…admitted to calling Winston “a jock,” but said she meant the board was favoring athletics while it dealt with budget cuts..” Not exactly with the name-calling, but I have been critical of the District Administration’s handling of cuts to … Continue reading Sports, Music, Academics – Last Minute Proposals Stressful: Need Big Picture with all the Pieces

Homeschooling & The World is Flat

I mentioned to a few friends recently that I think the Madison School’s “same service” budgeting approach (year after year) needs to be replaced by a new, largely curriculum based process that recognizes globalization, changing demographics and the fact that we should not simply compare our performance and curricula with those of Racine, Green Bay … Continue reading Homeschooling & The World is Flat

Open Letter to the Community Regarding Strings

Dear Community Members: Thank you for your heartfelt comments regarding the 4th & 5th grade strings program. I know first hand about the program. I was a strings program participant at Lindbergh Elementary School in 1977. I know that strings are a very beloved program within our district. However, I don’t believe that our community … Continue reading Open Letter to the Community Regarding Strings

American Association for the Advancement of Science Report on Math and Science Learning

New AAAS Report Explores How Schools Improve Math and Science Learning A System of Solutions: Every School, Every Student Ten U.S. school districts have achieved significant improvement in science and mathematics performance by developing ambitious programs that set high standards and then closely tracking what works and what doesn’t work in helping students learn, according … Continue reading American Association for the Advancement of Science Report on Math and Science Learning

School Daze – Answers to funding questions are elusive

This is an e-mail sent to the Madison CARES listserve. Enjoy. By DENNIS A. SHOOK – Freeman Staf (April 16, 2005) The hardest question on any test for a state legislator is what should be done to fund education? Some legislators would answer “nothing” while others would answer “whatever it takes.’” But common sense tells … Continue reading School Daze – Answers to funding questions are elusive

Additional School on the Leopold School Site Facts

This information was provided to school board members via public information department · Leopold Elementary School is overcrowded, and will become more and more overcrowded. The school’s capacity is 655 students; 668 students currently attend the school. In five years the school is projected to have a minimum of 750 students and as many as … Continue reading Additional School on the Leopold School Site Facts

5 Reasons Why the Madison School Board Should Continue the Elementary Strings Program

In the May 24 referendum for the operating budget, voters will determine whether the Madison schools will have an additional $7.4 million to spend next year and for all the years thereafter. Superintendent Art Rainwater and the management team issued a cut list in March. According to Rainwater, the board should cut the programs, staff … Continue reading 5 Reasons Why the Madison School Board Should Continue the Elementary Strings Program

String Orchestra Festival Soars Despite District Administration Annual Assault

The annual string festival is a reminder of how wonderful music education is, and of how important this is for our children’s education. This annual spring event is also a reminder of how badly the existing School Board is failing our children. Lawrie Kobza, school board candidate for Seat 6, wrote, “Fourth and fifth grade … Continue reading String Orchestra Festival Soars Despite District Administration Annual Assault

Sensenbrenner on the April 5, 2005 School Board Elections

Lee Sensenbrenner has been busy, posting several articles today on the April 5, 2005 Madison School Board Elections (Vote! – find your polling place here: Madison | Fitchburg | Maple Bluff | Shorewood | Town of Madison) Seat 6: Lawrie Kobza vs. Bill Clingan Seat 7: Carol Carstensen vs. Lawrence Winkler Money, Power and the … Continue reading Sensenbrenner on the April 5, 2005 School Board Elections

Referendum means it’s time for finger pointing

I received this message from Brian Grau, a teacher from LaFollette who recently visited his hometown of Racine, who like Madison is going to referendum. Enjoy! The Journal Times, Racine, WI, 3/24/05 Referendum means it’s time for finger pointing By Jeff Ruggaber Hey Racine! It’s that time again. Time to complain about money spent on … Continue reading Referendum means it’s time for finger pointing

Board Scares Parents-Threatens All District Can Teach Kids for $13,000+ is Reading and Math: Yet MMSD Board Has No Budget, Keeps $2 Million for Extracurr. Sports, Increases Admin. Budget $1.5 Million in Two Years, Turned Away $10+ Million Fed. Rdg. Grant

This is not the headline of an article in The Onion. Rather, as the Astronauts on the Apollo Mission said, “Houston, we have a problem.” After 10 years of continually reducing services to our children and community . . . long past the time that we can solve our revenue cap problems by being more … Continue reading Board Scares Parents-Threatens All District Can Teach Kids for $13,000+ is Reading and Math: Yet MMSD Board Has No Budget, Keeps $2 Million for Extracurr. Sports, Increases Admin. Budget $1.5 Million in Two Years, Turned Away $10+ Million Fed. Rdg. Grant

We need a new School Board

Carol Carstensen�s recent letter to the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal (�Carstensen replies to Robarts�) illustrates the choices before the public in this spring�s school board elections. Many of these choices revolve around the core question of whether one can support progressive ideals and challenge the board�s go along and get along status quo. … Continue reading We need a new School Board

FOIA, Blogshine Sunday & Madison School Board Election

Freeculture.org sponsored blogshine Sunday, a day when news organizations run stories and editorials in support of public access to government information. The internet has substantially improved citizen’s ability to see who is funding elected officials directly and indirectly. The Madison City Clerk conveniently posts campaign finance information on their website. I took a quick look … Continue reading FOIA, Blogshine Sunday & Madison School Board Election

School Board Candidates Respond to Questions About TAG Programming

The following was passed along by Kristin Meyer who attended the Northside candidates forum. Kristin asked the candidates about their position on supporting TAG services/support during ongoing budgetary shortfalls, and summarizes below the responses from each candidate. She reports that there was also a statement related to how the TAG program has already taken cuts … Continue reading School Board Candidates Respond to Questions About TAG Programming

School Board Candidates’ Forum – March 1, 2005

On March 1, 2005, the Northside Planning Council held an excellent, well run and informative school board candidates’ forum at Warner Park in Madison, WI. Candidates for Seat 6 (Bill Clingan – incumbant and Lawrie Kobza) and Seat 7 (Carol Carstensen – incumbant and Larry Winkler) answered a wide variety of questions on many topics. … Continue reading School Board Candidates’ Forum – March 1, 2005

Budget Time: Madison School District’s Credibility

The credibility of the Madison Metropolitan School District comes into serious question with the public when Board of Education members and district staff present erroneous information through the media to the public. Recent examples include: May, 2005 Special Election Costs:1. Bill Keys, President of the Board of Education, on the TV Channel 27 early morning … Continue reading Budget Time: Madison School District’s Credibility

Ford Foundation Funding Arts Infused Education – Supporting Partnerships

The Ford Foundation is one organization that is investing in efforts to integrate the arts into classroom instruction in urban schools. Read Ford Foundation: Deep In the Arts of Texas . Madison Schools have a fine arts curriculum with standards and benchmarks in place. In addition to fine arts curricula, Madison’s public school children attend … Continue reading Ford Foundation Funding Arts Infused Education – Supporting Partnerships

My Views of the Proposed Leopold Expansion

On March 28, the Madison School Board will cast the final vote on the proposed referendum for $14.5M to build a second school on the Leopold Elementary School site. The proposed “paired” school will open its doors to students in September of 2007 and will house up to 550 Kindergarten through second grade students and … Continue reading My Views of the Proposed Leopold Expansion

MMSD’s Kurt Keifer on the Administration’s Boundary Plans

Kurt Kiefer via email: I’m writing in response to your questions from last week re: boundary change options. Tim Potter, research analyst on my staff who is handling all of the GIS work on the project, provided the details. a) Leopold at 1040 students. I seem to recall the original plan was 800? (it’s now … Continue reading MMSD’s Kurt Keifer on the Administration’s Boundary Plans

School Board Governance Lacking – Fine Arts

Let the School Board know how you feel about the following at comments@madison.k12.wi.us. Monday, February 7, 2005, I spoke before the School Board during public appearances. The purpose of my statement was to speak about my concern re. the School Board’s ongoing inaction regarding the fine arts curriculum. During the past six years, there have … Continue reading School Board Governance Lacking – Fine Arts

Direct Reading Instruction

One of the only bright spots appeared to be the Lewis Lemon elementary school. With a student body that was 80 percent nonwhite and 85 percent poor, the school recorded some of highest scores in Rockford on statewide tests. On a reading test, Lemon’s third graders trailed only those from a school for the gifted.
Lemon’s principal, Tiffany Parker, had accomplished all this by embracing a method of teaching reading known as “direct instruction.” Intended to address the needs of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, direct instruction provides teachers with scripted lessons, heavy on drilling and repetition, that emphasize phonics – that is, learning words by sounding them out…
In the last several months, however, Ms. Parker and Lewis Lemon have collided with Dr. Thompson and his agenda for reform. Instead of serving as beacons for what is possible, the school and its principal have been portrayed as impediments to progress. The superintendent recently transferred Ms. Parker to a middle school, and has begun phasing out direct instruction in favor of an approach known as balanced literacy.
In that respect, the battle in Rockford is a microcosm of the debate nationally over how to teach reading, particularly to at-risk and minority children. Advocates of balanced literacy – including school officials in New York City who installed it several years ago – insist that it splits the difference between the highly traditional style of direct instruction and the progressive “whole language” method that eschews phonics and spelling. The handful of pupils who actually need intensive drilling in phonics can receive it as an “intervention.”
In the academy and the pages of education journals, the dispute can proceed at the level of competing theories and studies. Telescoped down into a school of 400 children in a city of 150,000, the argument cannot help but be personal and emotional.

San Diego Superintendent Alan Bersin & No Child Left Behind

Eduwonk: Haven’t yet had your fill of political shenanigans in California? Then keep an eye on San Diego where one of the nation’s longest serving urban superintendents is facing political trouble. National implications as this episode shows what can happen when push comes to shove on NCLB. Superintendent Alan Bersin is poised to reorganize several … Continue reading San Diego Superintendent Alan Bersin & No Child Left Behind

At a Frontier of School Reform, Getting Millions, Seeking More

JACKSON, Ky., Dec. 3 – As New York City schools celebrate the findings by a court-appointed panel that could bring them $5.6 billion more every year, the schools under the sawed-off mountains here in the heart of coal country tell a hopeful but cautionary tale of what may lie ahead. Once the Kentucky Supreme Court … Continue reading At a Frontier of School Reform, Getting Millions, Seeking More

JUDGING THE QUALITY OF K-12 MATHEMATICS EVALUATIONS

On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness: Judging the Quality of K-12 Mathematics Evaluations (2004) Curricula play a vital role in educational practice. They provide a crucial link between standards and accountability measures. They shape and are shaped by the professionals who teach with them. Typically, they also determine the content of the subjects being taught. Furthermore, because … Continue reading JUDGING THE QUALITY OF K-12 MATHEMATICS EVALUATIONS

Life Way After Head Start – Innovative PreSchool Programs Have Decades Long Effects for Low Income and Minority Children

Madison’s preschool leaders are advocating for an innovative K-4 program that involves a public/private partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District, City of Madison and Madison preschools. There are proposed options that will build upon current preschool programs and entry into public school. As the article below states, innovative pre-school programs can have decades long … Continue reading Life Way After Head Start – Innovative PreSchool Programs Have Decades Long Effects for Low Income and Minority Children

Closing a Madison school is possible

“Madison School District parents could face a difficult community discussion next spring over whether to close one of the district’s 30 elementary schools. Superintendent Art Rainwater said Thursday that all options, including closing a school, must be considered to deal with an expected shift in student population from the city’s East and North sides to … Continue reading Closing a Madison school is possible

Carstensen & Clingan to run again

An article in the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday, November 16, reports that Carol Carstensen and Bill Clingan will run for re-election to the school board. A lively debate during school board elections will help shape better policies and improve programs for Madison�s children. A lively debate, of course, requires a candidate to challenge the … Continue reading Carstensen & Clingan to run again

A Mother’s View on MMSD Expansion’s of Safe Haven

On October 8, 2004, Isthmus newspaper ran a story about how the Madison Schools replaced two not-for-profit after school day care programs with its own “Safe Haven” programs run by the Madison School-Community Recreation department. Jane Sekulski, a mother whose child was in a displaced program, provides her responses to the article. This letter is … Continue reading A Mother’s View on MMSD Expansion’s of Safe Haven