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

Molly Beck:

All students in the Madison School District would have their own tablets or notebook computers by the 2018-19 school year under a five-year, $31 million plan proposed by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. If approved, the plan would increase the district's current $1.5 million annual technology budget to $4.2 million in the 2014-15 school year to start upgrading the district's network infrastructure, upgrade or equip classrooms and libraries with new technology or computers, and provide notebook computers to all district teachers and administrators. Elementary teachers also would get tablet computers under the plan. Costs to upgrade are projected to increase each of the five years of the plan for a total of $31 million spent in that time. Afterward, the annual budget for technology would be about $7 million per year going forward. ..... Madison School Board members, who formally received the plan at their meeting Monday, were mostly optimistic about the plan. Board member T.J. Mertz questioned whether the program needed to be as extensive as it's proposed given what he said were other unmet needs in the district and given research that he called "universally disappointing" surrounding such initiatives. Mertz said in an interview after Monday's board meeting that he agrees with the majority of the investments in technology under the plan, "but then there's a third or a quarter where I think it's going overboard." As an example, Mertz said he questions whether every kindergarten student needs their own tablet computer.
Prior to spending any additional taxpayer funds on new initiatives, I suggest that the District consider (and address) the status of past expensive initiatives, including: Infinite Campus: is it fully implemented? If not, why? Why continue to spend money on it? "Standards based report cards". Connected Math. Small Learning Communities. And of course, job number one, the District's long term disastrous reading scores. Madison already spends double the national average per student ($15k). Thinning out initiatives and refocusing current spending on reading would seem to be far more pressing than more hardware.

Madison West High School Principal to Retire in 2014; Tenure included Controversial Curricular Initiatives



Madison West High School Principal Ed Holmes (PDF), via a kind reader's email. A number of controversial curricular initiatives occurred during Holmes' reign, including the implementation of "one size fits all" English 10, a parent TAG complaint, small learning communities and various "high school redesign" plans.

Exporting Education

Anya Kamenetz:

Time zones away from the quads of Cambridge, Mass., and Palo Alto, Calif., there's a curious educational evolution happening. Though the modern massive open online course movement (MOOCs) originated in North America, two-thirds of their users live abroad--in places like Rwanda, China, and Brazil. Foreign users are adapting the courses produced at Harvard, MIT, and Stanford to fit their local communities and cultures. And in the process, they're creating an entirely new education model. Instead of toiling at MOOCs alone with the dim light of a laptop, communities around the world are combining screen time with face time. In these small-group, informal, blended-learning environments, students work with the support of peers and mentors and compete online on a level playing field with the new elite of the world. "It gave me a taste of what is first world education," said Alejandra B., a 21-year-old studying business at a Catholic university in La Paz, Bolivia, and a MOOC participant in such a setting, told me.

Schooling Is Not Education!

Lant Pritchett, Rukmini Banerji & Charles Kenny:

For the last ten years, the major focus of the global education community has been on getting children into school. And that effort has been a success: most of the world's children live in countries on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary completion by 2015. But behind that progress is a problem--one that grows with each additional child that walks through the classroom door. Some children in those classes are learning nothing. Many more are learning a small fraction of the syllabus. They complete primary school unable to read a paragraph, or do simple addition, or tell the time. They are hopelessly ill-equipped for secondary education or almost any formal employment. The crisis of learning is both deep and widespread. It is a crisis for children, too many of whom leave school believing they are failures. And it is a crisis for their communities and countries, because economic analysis suggests it is what workers know--not their time in school--that makes them more productive and their economies more prosperous.

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K

Motoko Rich (NYT) Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents, giving them a distinct advantage in school and suggesting the need for increased investment in prekindergarten programs. Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate. The new research by Anne Fernald, a psychologist at Stanford University, which was published in Developmental Science this year, showed that at 18 months children from wealthier homes could identify pictures of simple words they knew -- "dog" or "ball" -- much faster than children from low-income families. By age 2, the study...

"It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won't know for probably a decade."

Valerie Strauss:

That's what Bill Gates said on Sept. 21 (see video below) about the billions of dollars his foundation has plowed into education reform during a nearly hour-long interview he gave at Harvard University. He repeated the "we don't know if it will work" refrain about his reform efforts a few days later during a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative. Hmmm. Teachers around the country are saddled every single year with teacher evaluation systems that his foundation has funded, based on no record of success and highly questionable "research." And now Gates says he won't know if the reforms he is funding will work for another decade. But teachers can lose their jobs now because of reforms he is funding. In the past he sounded pretty sure of what he was doing. In this 2011 oped in The Washington Post, he wrote:
Related: Small Learning Communities.

Mayor Paul Soglin Discusses Education Reform with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

City of Madison, via a kind reader's email:

Mayor Paul Soglin joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, other mayors and school superintendents in Washington, DC, today to discuss partnership opportunities between cities and the U.S. Department of Education to foster effective approaches to education reform. Participating city leaders are part of a new Mayors' Education Reform Task Force co-chaired by National League of Cities (NLC) First Vice President Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, MN, and NLC Second Vice President Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT. Mayors Coleman and Becker formed the task force in March 2013 to explore how cities can and should be involved in local education reform efforts. During today's meeting, task force members highlighted the growing commitment by municipal officials across the country to promoting educational achievement. "Mayors and elected officials can bring together all the stakeholders in the education conversation in their cities," said Mayor Soglin. "The perspectives from mayors of cities large to small are valuable to local and national policymakers. I'm glad we had an opportunity to talk with the Secretary and his staff about the role mayors can play in education transformation." Local leaders shared examples of city-school partnerships they have formed in their communities in areas such as school improvement, early learning, afterschool programming, and postsecondary success. "The trajectory of learning begins at birth and extends over a lifetime," said Mayor Becker, who was unable to attend the meeting. "Cities now experience an unprecedented level of collaboration and discussion in formulating specific plans for postsecondary access and success and productive out-of-school time learning." The meeting with Secretary Duncan provided mayors with an opportunity to discuss how lessons learned at the city level can inform federal education policy. Among the key issues of concern identified by the task force are:
  • Finding a "third way" in education reform that balances a commitment to accountability with a spirit of collaboration among school administrators, teachers, and cities;
  • Transforming schools into centers of community that support parent engagement and provide wraparound services to children and families;
  • Building on successful "cradle-to-career" models to develop a strong educational pipeline;
  • Securing adequate and equitable funding for local education initiatives; and
  • Promoting college access and completion.
"In this global economy, cities and towns depend on an educated workforce and schools are depending on us. We need to work together to ensure that our children graduate high school ready for postsecondary education and career success," said NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, Mayor of Avondale, AZ. "As city leaders, we have an important message that must be heard and we must be at the table in guiding federal and local education reform policies." In addition to Mayors Soglin, Coleman and Becker participants in today's meeting included: Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana; Mayor Edna Branch Jackson of Savannah, Georgia; Mayor Dwight Jones of Richmond, Virginia; Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Connecticut; Riverside (Calif.) Unified School District Superintendent Rick Miller; Gary Community School Corporations Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt; and New York City Deputy Chief Academic Officer Josh Thomases. The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
Related:

I Used To Think ... And Now I Think (Part 2)

Larry Cuban:

I published Part 1 about how my ideas about school reform have changed over the past half-century. Here is Part 2. *************************************************************************** I used to think that structural reforms (e.g., creating non-graded schools; new district and school site governance structures; novel technologies; small high schools with block schedules, advisories, and student learning communities) would lead to better classroom instruction.And now I think that, at best, such structural reforms may be necessary first steps toward improving instruction but are (and have been) seldom sufficient to alter traditional teaching practices. In teaching nearly 15 years, I had concluded that policies creating new structures (see above examples) would alter common teaching practices which, in turn, would get students to learn more, faster, and better. I revised that conclusion, albeit in slow motion, as I looked around at how my fellow teachers taught and began to examine my own classroom practices. I reconsidered the supposed power of structures in changing teaching practices after I left the classroom and began years of researching how teachers have taught following the rainfall of progressive reforms on the nation's classrooms in the early 20th century and similar showers of standards-based, accountability-driven reforms in the early 21st century.[i]

The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools

David Kirp WHAT would it really take to give students a first-rate education? Some argue that our schools are irremediably broken and that charter schools offer the only solution. The striking achievement of Union City, N.J. -- bringing poor, mostly immigrant kids into the educational mainstream -- argues for reinventing the public schools we have. Union City makes an unlikely poster child for education reform. It's a poor community with an unemployment rate 60 percent higher than the national average. Three-quarters of the students live in homes where only Spanish is spoken. A quarter are thought to be undocumented, living in fear of deportation. Public schools in such communities have often operated as factories for failure. This used to be...

Advocating Small Learning Communities

Karen Vieth:

Create Small Learning Environments With 1 out of 4 black students chronically absent in MMSD and increasing alarm over the achievement gap, it is obvious that teachers must employ culturally relevant teaching practices. These practices begin with getting to know your students and their families - a practice that necessitates smaller learning environments. According to UW professor, Alice Uldvari-Solner, "Teachers who uphold the dynamics of culturally relevant pedagogy are practicing inclusive education as they impart influential messages that each child brings value to the classroom and that each child is powerful in directing his or her own achievement." (Creating an Inclusive School, pg. 100) Unfortunately, as our students grow, the learning environments become larger and less-personalized. A primary teacher spending most of the day in a SAGE school in a classroom of 14 can get to know his students quite well. Contrast that to a high school teacher teaching five sections of 30+ kids. Individualizing the education process is seemingly impossible. Students need to feel a sense of worth and belonging. Reestablishing smaller learning communities that focus on relationships and team-work will create safety nets for students feeling lost in the crowd.
Notes and links on small learning communities, here.

Why Are We Afraid to Show Off Our Brightest Students' Work?

[Atlantic Editor: High school athletes are the pride of their communities. But if we want to inspire kids to write well, we should be putting the exemplary work of our best young high school scholars on display.] As the editor of The Concord Review, I have been glad to publish more than 1,000 exemplary high school history research papers by students from 46 states and 38 other countries since 1987. Yet I have long been aware that little "personal" essays have killed off academic expository writing in most of our schools. For generations, American children in our schools have had their writing limited to short pieces about themselves, from primary school up through their "college essays" (those little 500-word "personal" narratives). As long as English teachers have borne all the responsibility for reading and writing in the schools, the reading has been fiction, the writing personal and "creative." Lately a genre has emerged called "creative nonfiction," but that turns out to be just more solipsistic autobiography. Most of our students never read a single history book and they very rarely write a serious term paper before graduating from high school. They learn to write without learning anything beyond their own feelings and the events of their present lives, and their teachers are able to grade that work without knowing much either. Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, put it very well in August this year: "The single biggest complaint from college teachers and employers is that high school graduates cannot write as well as they need to." As a result, the member companies of the Business Roundtable have been saddled with a $3 billion bill for remedial writing courses every year, not only for their hourly hires but for their current and new salaried employees. There are a few exceptions, of course. For decades, the International Baccalaureate has required a 4,000 (16-page) Extended Essay for the Diploma, and thousands of American students have done that. Even the College Board has begun to think of a small pilot program on term papers as well. The New Common Core standards, a set of reforms that will soon be applied by most states, talk about nonfiction reading, but that category seems to include more memos, short speeches, brochures, and technical articles than anything like a complete history book. The standards also mention something about nonfiction writing, but all of the examples in the Appendix seem to be only more two-page efforts that will far from challenge the capability of our students in academic writing. By publishing Peg Tyre's story "The Writing Revolution," The Atlantic is doing a great service for our students who need to learn to do some serious academic expository writing while they are still in high school. However, I would add that students also benefit from seeing exemplary expository essays written by their peers. At The Concord Review, I've seen many examples of first-rate academic writing on historical topics. Students are startled, challenged, and inspired when they see this kind of work by people their own age. "When I first came across The Concord Review, I was extremely impressed by the quality of writing and the breadth of historical topics covered by the essays in it," one New Jersey public school girl wrote to me. "The chance to delve further into a historical topic was an incredible experience for me, and the honor of being published is by far the greatest I have ever received. This coming autumn, I will be starting at Oxford University, where I will be concentrating in Modern History." It may be objected that this is a letter from a good student. Where are the letters from struggling students? I would respond that in sports, we are quite happy to present other students with the very best public performances of their most athletic peers. But when it comes to academics, we seem afraid to show students the exemplary work of their peers, for fear of driving them away. This dichotomy has always seemed strange to me. Of course we must pay attention to our least able students, just as we must pay attention to the those who have the most difficulty in our gym classes. But it would't hurt, in my view, to dare to recognize and distribute some of our students' best academic work, in the hopes that it may challenge many others of them to put in a little more effort. Surely that is worth a try. ---------------------------- "Teach by Example" Will Fitzhugh [founder] The Concord Review [1987] Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995] National Writing Board [1998] TCR Institute [2002] 730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24 Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA 978-443-0022; 800-331-5007 www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org Varsity Academics® www.tcr.org/blog

Why Are We Afraid to Show Off Our Brightest Students?

[Atlantic Editor: High school athletes are the pride of their communities. But if we want to inspire kids to write well, we should be putting the exemplary work of our best young high school scholars on display.] As the editor of The Concord Review, I have been glad to publish more than 1,000 exemplary high school history research papers by students from 46 states and 38 other countries since 1987. Yet I have long been aware that little "personal" essays have killed off academic expository writing in most of our schools. For generations, American children in our schools have had their writing limited to short pieces about themselves, from primary school up through their "college essays" (those little 500-word "personal" narratives). As long as English teachers have borne all the responsibility for reading and writing in the schools, the reading has been fiction, the writing personal and "creative." Lately a genre has emerged called "creative nonfiction," but that turns out to be just more solipsistic autobiography. Most of our students never read a single history book and they very rarely write a serious term paper before graduating from high school. They learn to write without learning anything beyond their own feelings and the events of their present lives, and their teachers are able to grade that work without knowing much either. Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, put it very well in August this year: "The single biggest complaint from college teachers and employers is that high school graduates cannot write as well as they need to." As a result, the member companies of the Business Roundtable have been saddled with a $3 billion bill for remedial writing courses every year, not only for their hourly hires but for their current and new salaried employees. There are a few exceptions, of course. For decades, the International Baccalaureate has required a 4,000 (16-page) Extended Essay for the Diploma, and thousands of American students have done that. Even the College Board has begun to think of a small pilot program on term papers as well. The New Common Core standards, a set of reforms that will soon be applied by most states, talk about nonfiction reading, but that category seems to include more memos, short speeches, brochures, and technical articles than anything like a complete history book. The standards also mention something about nonfiction writing, but all of the examples in the Appendix seem to be only more two-page efforts that will far from challenge the capability of our students in academic writing. By publishing Peg Tyre's story "The Writing Revolution," The Atlantic is doing a great service for our students who need to learn to do some serious academic expository writing while they are still in high school. However, I would add that students also benefit from seeing exemplary expository essays written by their peers. At The Concord Review, I've seen many examples of first-rate academic writing on historical topics. Students are startled, challenged, and inspired when they see this kind of work by people their own age. "When I first came across The Concord Review, I was extremely impressed by the quality of writing and the breadth of historical topics covered by the essays in it," one New Jersey public school girl wrote to me. "The chance to delve further into a historical topic was an incredible experience for me, and the honor of being published is by far the greatest I have ever received. This coming autumn, I will be starting at Oxford University, where I will be concentrating in Modern History." It may be objected that this is a letter from a good student. Where are the letters from struggling students? I would respond that in sports, we are quite happy to present other students with the very best public performances of their most athletic peers. But when it comes to academics, we seem afraid to show students the exemplary work of their peers, for fear of driving them away. This dichotomy has always seemed strange to me. Of course we must pay attention to our least able students, just as we must pay attention to the those who have the most difficulty in our gym classes. But it would't hurt, in my view, to dare to recognize and distribute some of our students' best academic work, in the hopes that it may challenge many others of them to put in a little more effort. Surely that is worth a try. ---------------------------- "Teach by Example" Will Fitzhugh [founder] The Concord Review [1987] Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995] National Writing Board [1998] TCR Institute [2002] 730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24 Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA 978-443-0022; 800-331-5007 www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org Varsity Academics® www.tcr.org/blog

The Writing Revolution

Peg Tyre:

New Dorp's Writing Revolution, which placed an intense focus, across nearly every academic subject, on teaching the skills that underlie good analytical writing, was a dramatic departure from what most American students--especially low performers--are taught in high school. The program challenged long-held assumptions about the students and bitterly divided the staff. It also yielded extraordinary results. By the time they were sophomores, the students who had begun receiving the writing instruction as freshmen were already scoring higher on exams than any previous New Dorp class. Pass rates for the English Regents, for example, bounced from 67 percent in June 2009 to 89 percent in 2011; for the global-­history exam, pass rates rose from 64 to 75 percent. The school reduced its Regents-repeater classes--cram courses designed to help struggling students collect a graduation requirement--from five classes of 35 students to two classes of 20 students. The number of kids enrolling in a program that allows them to take college-level classes shot up from 148 students in 2006 to 412 students last year. Most important, although the makeup of the school has remained about the same--­roughly 40 percent of students are poor, a third are Hispanic, and 12 percent are black--a greater proportion of students who enter as freshmen leave wearing a cap and gown. This spring, the graduation rate is expected to hit 80 percent, a staggering improvement over the 63 percent figure that prevailed before the Writing Revolution began. New Dorp, once the black sheep of the borough, is being held up as a model of successful school turnaround. "To be able to think critically and express that thinking, it's where we are going," says Dennis Walcott, New York City's schools chancellor. "We are thrilled with what has happened there." Although New Dorp teachers had observed students failing for years, they never connected that failure to specific flaws in their own teaching. They watched passively as Deirdre De­Angelis got rid of the bad apples on the staff; won foundation money to break the school into smaller, more personalized learning communities; and wooed corporate partners to support after-school programs. Nothing seemed to move the dial. Her decision in 2008 to focus on how teachers supported writing inside each classroom was not popular. "Most teachers," said Nell Scharff, an instructional expert DeAngelis hired, "entered into the process with a strongly negative attitude." They were doing their job, they told her hotly. New Dorp students were simply not smart enough to write at the high-school level. You just had to listen to the way the students talked, one teacher pointed out--they rarely communicated in full sentences, much less expressed complex thoughts. "It was my view that these kids didn't want to engage their brains," Fran Simmons, who teaches freshman English, told me. "They were lazy."
60% to 42%: Madison School District's Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags "National Average": Administration seeks to continue its use:

Do We Still Segregate Students? Schools around the nation are 'detracking' classes, putting kids of all achievement levels in the same room. Does that sabotage higher achievers?

Julie Halpert:

WHEN ERIC WITHERSPOON became superintendent of Evanston Township High School (www site) near Chicago in 2006, he walked into a math class where all the students were black. "A young man leaned over to me and said, 'This is the dummy class.'" The kids at Evanston who took honors classes were primarily white; those in the less demanding classes were minority--a pattern repeated, still, almost 60 years after integration, across the nation. All of the Evanston kids had been tracked into their classes based on how they'd performed on a test they took in eighth grade. Last September, for the first time, most incoming freshmen, ranging from those reading at grade level to those reading far above it, were sitting together in rigorous humanities classes. When I visited, students of all abilities and backgrounds met in small groups to discuss one of the required readings, which include A Raisin in the Sun and The Odyssey. This September, most freshmen will sit side-by-side in biology classes. Mindy Wallis, the mother of a sophomore at Evanston Township High, agrees. She opposed the decision to detrack, and spearheaded a petition that advocated waiting for the results of a three-year evaluation before making changes that so substantively affected the freshman class. Angela Allyn, whose 14-year-old son just took a freshman humanities class, says her son was hungry to read more than two-thirds of The Odyssey, which was all the class required. He was encouraged by his teachers to read the entire book, but Allyn says the teachers didn't help him navigate difficult portions during class, so she had to work with him into the late hours of the night. Her son was teased by classmates, she says, for "showing off and using big words," something she believes wouldn't have occurred if he'd been grouped with a similar cohort. Detracking, she contends, focuses "on bringing the bottom up--and there's an assumption that our bright children will take care of themselves." She acknowledges that because she's seen as having "white privilege," despite the fact that she put herself through school and even occasionally had to use soup kitchens to get by, she's perceived as racist by merely making such a comment. Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, also believes that race is part of the debate: "People who support tracking are more interested in productivity and less concerned about inequality, and people who are critics tend to focus on inequality and don't spend too much time thinking about productivity." Gamoran argues that schools that want to keep ability-grouping need to do a better job with the students in the lowest tracks, but he also believes that the most capable students may not always be sufficiently challenged in mixed-ability classes. "There's no single solution," he says. "The point is to try to address the limitations of whatever approach is selected."
Links:

Paul Vallas visits Madison; Enrollment Growth: Suburban Districts vs. Madison 1995-2012





Related:Paul Vallas will be speaking at Madison LaFollette high school on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 1:00p.m. More information, here. Much more on Paul Vallas, here. Directions. Per Student Spending: I don't believe spending is the issue. Madison spends $14,858.40/student (2011-2012 budget) Middleton's 2011-2012 budget: $87,676,611 for 6,421 students = $13,654.67/student, about 8% less than Madison. Waunakee spends $12,953.81/student about 13% less than Madison. A few useful links over the past decade:

New Study Gives Small Schools Initiative a Thumbs Up

Mary Ann Giordano

The small schools initiative that has been the hallmark of the Bloomberg administration's schools policy seems to be working, a new study has found. Winnie Hu reports in The New York Times on Thursday that the study found that students who attend public high schools that have about 100 students in each grade were more likely to graduate. The continuing study is described as "one of the largest and most comprehensive reviews of the impact of small schools on learning." Its $3.5 million cost is covered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the study is conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit education research group based in Manhattan. The study found that students at small high schools were more likely to earn a diploma than students who attend larger schools, The Times reports.
Related: Small Learning Communities

Proposed Madison Prep Academy needs to show proof of effectiveness of single-gender education to get grant

Matthew DeFour:

The state Department of Public Instruction is requiring backers of the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy to provide scientific research supporting the effectiveness of single-gender education to receive additional funding. The hurdle comes as university researchers are raising questions about whether such evidence exists. In an article published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers also say single-gender education increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism. Efforts to justify single-gender education as innovative school reform "is deeply misguided, and often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence," according to the article by eight university professors associated with the American Council for CoEducational Schooling, including UW-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde. The Urban League of Greater Madison originally proposed Madison Prep as an all-male charter school geared toward low-income minorities. But after a state planning grant was held up because of legal questions related to single-gender education, the Urban League announced it would open the school next year with single-gender classrooms in the same building.
I find this ironic, given the many other programs attempted within our public schools, such as English 10, small learning communities, connected math and a number of reading programs. Related: Co-Ed Schooling Group Study Assails Merits of Single-Sex Education and from Susan Troller:
A newly published article by child development experts and neuroscientists blasting the trend toward single-sex education as "pseudoscience" won't help the cause of the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy. Neither will the continued opposition of the South Central Federation of Labor, which reiterated its opposition to the Urban League-sponsored proposal this week because teachers at the school would not be represented by a union. The Madison Metropolitan School District has a collective bargaining agreement with Madison Teachers Inc. that runs through June of 2013, and Madison Prep's plan envisions working conditions for its staff -- a longer school day and a longer school year, for example -- that differ substantially from the contract the district has with its employees. With a public hearing on the charter school scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3, the debate surrounding Madison Prep is heating up on many fronts. The Madison School Board must take a final vote giving the charter school a go or no-go decision in November. Kaleem Caire, CEO of the Urban League and a passionate proponent for the separate boys and girls academies aimed at helping boost minority youth academic performance, says he is unimpressed by an article published in the prestigious journal, Science, on Sept. 23, that says there is "no empirical evidence" supporting academic improvement through single-sex education.
Are other DPI funded initiatives held to the same "standard"? The timing of these events is certainly interesting. 14mb mp3 audio. WORT-FM conducted an interview this evening with Janet Shibley Hyde, one of the authors. Unrelated, but interesting, Hyde's interview further debunked the "learning styles" rhetoric we hear from time to time. UPDATE: The Paper in Question: The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling:
In attempting to improve schools, it is critical to remember that not all reforms lead to meaningful gains for students. We argue that one change in particular--sex-segregated education--is deeply misguided, and often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence. There is no well-designed research showing that single-sex (SS) education improves students' academic performance, but there is evidence that sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.

Julie Underwood: Starving Public Schools; a look at School Spending

UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood, via a kind reader's email:

Public schools," ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, "meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone." A better system, the organization argued, would "foster educational freedom and quality" through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this "choice"-- and vouchers "scholarships"--but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools. The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he "loved" ALEC meetings, "because I always found new ideas, and then I'd take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine." ALEC's most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state.
Related:

Wisconsin Public School Advocates to Rally at the Capitol, Saturday July 30, 3:00 PM

99K PDF, via a TJ Mertz email:

As hundreds of thousands of public school supporters gather in Washington DC the weekend of July 28 to 30, 2011, Wisconsin advocates will hold a rally in support of the Save Our Schools agenda at 3:00 PM on Saturday July 30, near the State St. entrance to the Capitol. "Public schools are under attack. There is a need for national, state, and local action in support of our schools. Wisconsin has been ground zero in this; the Save Our Schools demands from the Guiding Principles provide a great framework to build our state movement and work to expand opportunities to learn" said education activist Thomas J. Mertz. The Save Our Schools demands are:
  • Equitable funding for all public school communities
  • An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation
  • Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies
  • Curriculum developed for and by local school communities
Doing more with less doesn't work. "The time to act is now. While phony debates revolve around debt ceilings, students and teachers across the country are shortchanged. We need real reform, starting with finally fixing the school funding formula, and putting families and communities first. What child and what teacher don't deserve an excellent school?" said rally organizer Todd Price, former Green Party Candidate for Department of Public Instruction and Professor of Teacher Education National Louis University. The event will feature speeches from educators, students, parents and officials, as well as opportunities for school advocates from throughout Wisconsin to connect and organize around issues of importance in their communities.
For more information, visit: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/ and http://saveourschoolswisconsin.wordpress.com/ Related:

Was the $5 Billion Worth It? A decade into his record-breaking education philanthropy, Bill Gates talks teachers, charters--and regrets, Mea Culpa on Small Learning Communities; Does More Money Matter?

Jason Riley:

One of the foundation's main initial interests was schools with fewer students. In 2004 it announced that it would spend $100 million to open 20 small high schools in San Diego, Denver, New York City and elsewhere. Such schools, says Mr. Gates, were designed to--and did--promote less acting up in the classroom, better attendance and closer interaction with adults. "But the overall impact of the intervention, particularly the measure we care most about--whether you go to college--it didn't move the needle much," he says. "Maybe 10% more kids, but it wasn't dramatic. . . . We didn't see a path to having a big impact, so we did a mea culpa on that." Still, he adds, "we think small schools were a better deal for the kids who went to them." The reality is that the Gates Foundation met the same resistance that other sizeable philanthropic efforts have encountered while trying to transform dysfunctional urban school systems run by powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly provider. In the 1970s, the Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations, among others, pushed education "equity" lawsuits in California, New Jersey, Texas and elsewhere that led to enormous increases in state expenditures for low-income students. In 1993, the publishing mogul Walter Annenberg, hoping to "startle" educators and policy makers into action, gave a record $500 million to nine large city school systems. Such efforts made headlines but not much of a difference in closing the achievement gap. Asked to critique these endeavors, Mr. Gates demurs: "I applaud people for coming into this space, but unfortunately it hasn't led to significant improvements." He also warns against overestimating the potential power of philanthropy. "It's worth remembering that $600 billion a year is spent by various government entities on education, and all the philanthropy that's ever been spent on this space is not going to add up to $10 billion. So it's truly a rounding error."
Much more on Small Learning Communities, here.

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