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Madison's Nuestro Mundo Charter Contract Revisions

The Madison School District (PDF):

More rigorous and frequent reviews of progress (3.02, 4.04, 24) Modify student achievement goals and include more robust measures of student performance (4.01, 4.02, 4.03, Appendix 1) Clarify the admissions process, which is expressly aligned to the process used for other DLI programs (7.04)
Nuestro Mundo generally operates within the traditional District structures. Two proposed charter schools that largely wished to operate in a more independent manner - to varying degrees -, The Studio School and the Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School were rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.

Exceptional Minds School Helps Kids with Autism Find Their Niche

Maane Khatchatourian:

For the majority of young adults diagnosed with autism, finding a skilled job -- especially one in the entertainment biz -- is a pipe dream. But thanks to Exceptional Minds digital arts vocational school, it doesn't have to be. With the school's help, four autistic students in their early 20s were hired to work on post-production visual effects for "American Hustle." Arielle Guthrie, Lloyd Hackl, Patrick Brady and Eli Katz, who are in the program's third and final year, provided rotoscoping services -- the laborious process of outlining elements in key frames for digital manipulation -- from EM's Sherman Oaks, Calif., studio. One of the program's instructors, Josh Dagg, closely supervised the project, which the students worked on for five weeks on top of their full course loads. Dagg said most people with Autism Spectrum Disorders -- when they feel mentally engaged -- can focus with laser precision on a task for hours on end. Students in the program represent a wide range of individuals afflicted with a varying severity of symptoms. The students who worked on "American Hustle" had milder forms of autism. "I want them to look forward to a career of personal and professional success rather than a lifetime of people telling them that 'because you hit this particular number in this genetic lottery, you are now a glorified houseplant,' " Dagg said. "That's a very real fear for a lot of people (with autism)."

Free (UK) schools: our education system has been dismembered in pursuit of choice

Stephen Ball:

The English education system is being dismembered. Gradually but purposefully first New Labour and now the coalition government have been unpicking and disarticulating the national system of state schooling. With free schools and academies of various kinds, faith schools, studio schools and university technical colleges, the school system is beginning to resemble the patchwork of uneven and unequal provision that existed prior to the 1870 Education Act. At the same time, we are moving back to an incoherent and haphazard jigsaw of providers - charities, foundations, social enterprises and faith and community groups - monitored at arm's length by the central state. Furthermore, private providers are waiting in the wings for the opportunity to profit from running schools. Local democratic oversight has been almost totally displaced. Our relationship to schools is being modelled on that of the privatised utilities - we are individual customers, who can switch provider if we are unhappy, in theory, and complain to the national watchdog if we feel badly served - but with no direct, local participation or involvement, no say in our children's education. These changes have been pursued in the name of choice, diversity and autonomy. Some parents now have new schools to choose from for their children, but some do not. This simply depends on where you live. You may have a local academy or you may not. If you do, it might be a sponsored academy (Bexley, south-east London), a chain academy (Ark, ULT, AET), a converter academy, or a school subject to forced academisation. There are 174 free schools and you may live near one of these, but many are faith schools or have specialisms that may not suit your child. The free schools were supposed to be targeted at areas of social disadvantage but recent research by Rob Higham at the Institute of Education indicates their distribution does not reflect this aim. There is a distribution map of free schools on the DfE website.Some of these free schools already have problems - unqualified teachers, poor management - as Nick Clegg will point out in his speech on Thursday. Academies seem to display the same diversity of outcomes as the schools they replaced. If you live in a rural area you're unlikely to have much, if any, choice of school.

School first, sports second

Berkeley Faculty Association:

The Berkeley Faculty Association deplores the disruption of the university's academic mission by the occupation of Kroeber Plaza by Fox Sports TV earlier this month. The Fox Sports booths, television screens and other advertising paraphernalia were set up on a Friday, even as students and faculty were trying to attend classes and access the library and art studios. Faculty were not consulted about the event beforehand -- which was especially problematic when departments in Kroeber Hall, including the anthropology library and art practice workshops, were forced to close on Saturday due to increased traffic -- a result of poor planning and lack of adequate security. Academics were not merely interrupted but trumped by Cal Athletics and its corporate partners. This past weekend's event comes in the wake of several years of deepening faculty concern about the place of athletics at UC Berkeley. First, the construction of a $321 million, debt-financed stadium and a pattern of misinformation from Intercollegiate Athletics about revenues from tax-deductible seat sales. Then, news of the additional $124 million debt incurred to build the Simpson Student-Athlete High Performance Center, a facility available to less than 1 percent of the student body. Now, the plan to construct a new Aquatics Center, again not for the general use of the campus community, but for the exclusive use of Intercollegiate Athletics. These issues merely add to ongoing concern about the huge sums from the Chancellor's Discretionary Fund that have been used to cover yearly operating deficits of Intercollegiate Athletics -- nearly $100 million in the past decade -- and recent news that UC Berkeley still ranks last in the Pac-12 Conference in graduation success rates of students playing men's basketball ("up" from 20 percent in 2009 to the current 33 percent and next-to-last in football). We are not anti-athletics. We understand that intercollegiate competition contributes to institutional pride and plays an important role in maintaining the loyalty of students and alumni. We believe in the educational place of an athletics program that fosters student fitness, physical well-being and camaraderie. But despite scandal after scandal under different chancellors, the proper management of IA has eluded the best efforts of campus administration. The continuing conflicts between IA and the primary mission of the university -- excellence in education, research and public service -- makes us wonder whether the time has come to separate Cal Athletics -- financially, administratively and geographically -- from UC Berkeley's academic endeavors and locales.

Madison's public schools go to lockdown mode; no new ideas wanted

David Blaska:

Graphical user interface? I think not, Mr. Jobs. Mainframe is where it's at. Big and honking, run by guys in white lab coats. Smart phones? iPads? You're dreaming. Take your new ideas somewhere else. That is the Madison School Board. It has decided to batten the hatches against change. It is securing the perimeter against new thinking. It is the North Korea of education: insular, blighted, and paranoid. Just try to start a charter school in Madison. I dare you. The Madison School Board on Monday took three measures to strangle new ideas in their crib: 1) Preserving the status quo: Any proposed charter school would have to have "a history of successful practice." That leaves out several existing Madison public schools - never mind new approaches. 2) Starvation: Cap per-pupil reimbursement at around $6,500 - less than half what Madison public schools consume. 3) Encrustation: Unionized teachers only need apply. I spoke to Carrie Bonk, executive director of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association.
Related: Madison's disastrous reading results.

The rejected Studio charter school.

Minneapolis teacher's union approved to authorize charter schools.

"We are not interested in the development of new charter schools".

Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13.

Madison's disastrous long term reading results..

Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee's St. Marcus Elementary School.

Madison's School Board to Finalize "Charter School Policy"......

Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel Steve Hartley, Chief of Staff (PDF):

It is the policy of the School Board to consider the establishment of charter schools that support the DISTRICT Mission and Belief Statements and as provided by law. The BOARD believes that the creation of charter schools can enhance the educational opportunities for Madison Metropolitan School District students by providing innovative and distinctive educational programs and by giving parents/students more educational options within the DISTRICT. Only charter schools that are an instrumentality of the DISTRICT will be considered by the BOARD. The BOARD further believes that certain values and principles must be integrated into all work involving the conceptualization, development and implementation of a new charter school. These guiding principles are as follows: 1. All charter schools must meet high standards of student achievement while providing increased educational opportunities, including broadening existing opportunities for struggling populations of students; 2. All charter schools must have an underlying, research-based theory and history of successful practice that is likely to achieve academic success; 3. All charter schools will provide information to parents and students as to the quality of education provided by the charter school and the ongoing academic progress of the individual student; 4. All charter schools will ensure equitable access to all students regardless of gender, race and/or disability; 5. All charter schools must be financially accountable to the DISTRICT and rely on +' sustainable funding models; 6. All charter schools must ensure the health and safety of all staff and students; 7. All externally-developed charter schools must be governed by a governance board that is registered as a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charitable organization; 8. All charter schools must have a plan to hire, retain and recruit a highly-qualified, diverse staff; 9. All charter schools must have a clear code of student conduct that includes procedures for positive interventions and social emotional supports
Related: Matthew DeFour's article. The rejected Studio charter school. Minneapolis teacher's union approved to authorize charter schools. "We are not interested in the development of new charter schools". Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School. Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13. Madison's disastrous long term reading results.. Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee's St. Marcus Elementary School.

School Spotlight: Art program an oasis for students with special needs

Pamela Cotant:

Brenda Mueller was thrilled to have a creative outlet for her daughter, who attended a recent open art studio at the Monroe Street Arts Center for students with special needs. "Sara loves to paint," Mueller said about her daughter, who has Down syndrome. "She does a lot of painting at home." But the arts center program, called OASis, also gives the participants a chance to socialize with others, said Beth Jesion, art department head and lead art teacher. OASis will be offered through May from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on the last Friday of each month except this month when it will run Friday, March 22, due to spring break for area students. It is open to those ages 6 and up, and registration by phone is encouraged. The program is free due to a $1,000 grant from The Capital Times Kids Fund. OASis started in September, and Jesion said it will be offered again next school year. The arts center also would like to expand the program in the future such as offering it twice a month or having a day-long program, she said.

The Madison School Board Elections; setting the record straight

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email

March 6, 2013 Dear Madison Leaders. As the 2013 Madison school board race continues, we (the Urban League) are deeply concerned about the negative politics, dishonesty and inaccurate discussions that have shaped the campaign. While I will not, as a nonprofit leader, speak about the merits of individual candidates, we are concerned about how Madison Prep has become a red herring during the debates. The question of all the candidates has been largely narrowed to, "Did you support Madison Prep or did you not?"...as if something was horribly wrong with our charter school proposal, and as though that is the most important issue facing our school children and schools. While the Urban League has no interest in partaking in the squabbles and confusion that has unfortunately come to define public conversation about our public schools, we do want to set the record straight about deliberations on Madison Prep that have been falsely expressed by many during this campaign, and used to dog individuals who supported the school proposal more than one year ago. Here is how things transpired. On May 9, 2011, Steve Goldberg of the CUNA Mutual Foundation facilitated a meeting about Madison Prep, at my request, between Madison Teacher's Incorporated President, John Matthews and me. The meeting was held in CUNA's cafeteria. We had lunch and met for about an hour. It was a cordial meeting and we each discussed the Madison Prep proposal and what it would take for the Urban League and MTI to work together. We didn't get into many details, however I was sure to inform John that our proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school (non-MTI) was not because we didn't support the union but because the collective bargaining agreement was too restrictive for the school model and design we were proposing to be fully implemented, and because we desired to recruit teachers outside the restrictions of the collective bargaining agreement. We wanted to have flexibility to aggressively recruit on an earlier timeline and have the final say on who worked in our school. The three of us met again at the Coliseum Bar on August 23, 2011, this time involving other members of our teams. We got into the specifics of negotiations regarding the Urban League's focus on establishing a non-instrumentality school and John's desire to have Madison Prep's employees be a part of MTI's collective bargaining unit. At the close of that meeting, we (Urban League) offered to have Madison Prep's teachers and guidance counselors be members of the collective bargaining unit. John said he felt we were making progress but he needed to think about not having MTI represent all of the staff that are a part of their bargaining unit. John and I also agreed that I would email him a memo outlining our desire to work with MTI, and provide the details of what we discussed. John agreed to respond after reviewing the proposal with his team. That memo, which we have not released previously, is attached [336K PDF]. You will see clearly that the Urban League initiated dialogue with MTI about having the teacher's union represent our educators. John, Steve and I met for a third time at Perkins restaurant for breakfast on the West Beltline on September 30, 2013. This time, I brought representatives of the Madison Prep and Urban League Boards with me: Dr. Gloria Ladson Billings, John Roach and Derrick Smith. It was at the close of this meeting that John Matthews told all of us that we "had a deal", that MTI and the Urban League would now work together on Madison Prep. We all shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Our team was relieved. Later that evening, I received calls from Matt DeFour, a reporter with the Wisconsin State Journal and Susan Troller of The Capital Times. They both asked me to confirm what John had told them; that we had a deal. I replied by confirming the deal. The next day, The Capital Times ran a story, Madison Prep and MTI will work together on new charter school. The State Journal ran an article too, Prep School agrees to employ union staff. All was good, or so we thought. Unfortunately, our agreement was short-lived. The very next day after the story hit the newspapers, my team and I began receiving angry letters from social workers and psychologists in MMSD who were upset that we did not want to have those positions represented by MTI. We replied by explaining to them that our reasoning was purely driven by the fact that 99% of the Districts psychologists were white and that there were few social workers of color, too. For obvious reasons, we did not believe MMSD would have success hiring diverse staff for these positions. We desired a diverse staff for two reasons: we anticipated the majority of our students to be students of color and our social work and psychological service model was different. Madison Prep had a family-serving model where the school would pay for such services for every person in a family, if necessary, who needed it, and would make available to families and students a diverse pool of contracted psychologists that families and students could choose from. That Monday evening, October 3, 2011, John Matthews approached me with Steve Goldberg at the School Board hearing on Madison Prep and informed me that his bargaining unit was very upset and that he needed to have our Physical education teacher be represented by MTI, too. Our Phy Ed model was different; we had been working on a plan with the YMCA to implement a very innovative approach to ensuring our students were deeply engaged in health and wellness activities at school and beyond the school day. In our plan, we considered the extraordinarily high rates of obesity among young men and women of color. However, to make the deal with MTI work, that evening I gave MTI the Phy Ed teaching position. But that one request ultimately became a request by MTI for every position in our school, and a request by John Matthews to re-open negotiations, this time with a mediator. At first, we rejected this request because we felt "a deal is a deal". When you shake hands, you follow through. We only gave in after current school board president, James Howard, called me at home to request that the Urban League come back to the negotiating table. James acknowledged not feeling great about asking us to do this after all we had been through - jumping through hoop after hoop. If you followed the media closely, you would recall how many times we worked to overcome hurdles that were placed in our way - $200K worth of hurdles (that's how much we spent). After meeting with MMSD leadership and staff, we agreed to come back to the table to address issues with MTI and AFSCME, who wanted our custodial and food service workers to be represented by the union as well. When we met, the unions came to the negotiation with attorneys and so did we. If you care to find out what was said during these negotiations, you can request a transcript from Beth Lehman, the liaison to the MMSD Board of Education who was taking official notes (October 31 and November 1, 2011). On our first day of negotiations, after all sides shared their requests and concerns, we (ULGM) decided to let AFSCME represent our custodial and food service staff. AFSCME was immediately satisfied, and left the room. That's when the hardball towards us started. We then countered with a plausible proposal that MTI did not like. When we couldn't get anywhere, we agreed to go into recess. Shortly after we came back from recess, former MMSD Superintendent Dan Nerad dropped the bomb on us. He shared that if we now agreed to have our staff be represented by MTI, we would have to budget paying our teachers an average of $80,000 per year per teacher and dedicating $25,000 per teacher to benefits. This would effectively increase our proposal from $15M over five years to $28M over five years. Why the increased costs? For months, we projected in our budgets that our staff would likely average 7 years of teaching experience with a Master's degree. We used the MTI-MMSD salary schedule to set the wages in our budget, and followed MMSD and MTI's suggestions for how to budget for the extended school day and year parts of our charter school plan. Until that day, MMSD hadn't once told us that the way we were budgeting was a problem. They actually submitted several versions of budgets to the School Board, and not once raising this issue. Superintendent Nerad further informed us that MMSD was going to now submit a budget to the Board of Education that reflected costs for teachers with an average of 14 years' experience and a master's degree. When we shockingly asked Nerad if he thought the Board of Education would support such a proposal, he said they likely would not. We did not think the public would support such a unusual request either. As you can imagine, we left the negotiations very frustrated. In the 23rd hour, not only was the run we thought we had batted in taken away from us in the 9th inning, we felt like our entire season had been vacated by commissioners. When we returned to our office that afternoon, we called an emergency meeting of the Urban League and Madison Prep boards. It was in those meetings that we had to make a choice. Do we completely abandon our proposal for Madison Prep after all we had done to see the project through, and after all of the community support and interests from parents that we had received, or do we go forward with our original proposal of a non-instrumentality charter school and let the chips fall where they may with a vote by the Board? At that point, our trust of MMSD and MTI was not very high. In fact, weeks before all of this happened, we were told by Nerad in a meeting with our team and attorneys, and his staff and attorneys, that the Board of Education had voted in closed session to unilaterally withdraw our charter school planning grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They reversed this decision after we informed them we would file a lawsuit against them. We were later told that a certain Board member was pushing for months to have this done. Then, after months of not being able to get certain board members to meet with us, Marj Passman, decided to meet with me alone in my office. During that meeting, she told me that we (ULGM) didn't have the votes for Madison Prep and that we were never going to get the school approved. She the offered to donate her personal funds to Madison Prep, if we pulled our proposal and decided to do a private school instead. I told her that I appreciated her offer, but declined. After finally meeting with all seven board of education members, both the Madison Prep and ULGM boards decided unanimously that we must in good conscience go forward, put the needs and future of our children first, and reintroduce the non-instrumentality proposal to the School Board. You know the rest of the story. Over the next 45 days, we (ULGM) were categorically painted as an anti-union conservative outfit who proposed a flawed school model that divided Madison and threatened to join the Scott Walker effort to eliminate unions. We were made to be the great dividers (not the achievement gap itself) and me, "an Angry Black Man". Lost in the debate were the reasons we proposed the school in the first place - because so many children of color were failing in our schools and there was no effective strategy in place to address it even though the school system has known about its racial achievement gap since it was first document by researcher Naomi Lede for the National Urban League in 1965. That gap has doubled since then. Ironically, two of the people behind the attacks on ULGM were Ben Manski and TJ Mertz. They were uniquely aligned in their opposition to Madison Prep. John Matthews even weighed in on video with his comments against us, but at least he told a story that was 80% consistent with the events that actually transpired. Watch the video and listen to the reason he gave for why he didn't support Madison Prep. He didn't call us union haters or teacher bashers. He knew better. So why all the fuss now? Why have those who knew exactly what went on in these negotiations not told the true story about what really happened with Madison Prep? Why has a charter school proposal been made the scapegoat, or defining lever, in a school board race where there are so many other more important issues to address? If all it takes to win a seat on the school board now is opposition to charter schools, rather than being someone who possesses unique experiences and qualifications to serve our now majority non-white and low-income student body and increasingly challenged schools, we should all worry about the future of our children and public schools. So, for those who were unaware and those who've been misleading the public about Madison Prep and the Urban League, I hope you at least read this account all the way through and give all of the candidates in this school board election the opportunity to win or lose on their merits. Falsehoods and red herrings are not needed. They don't make our city or our school district look good to the observing eye. Let's be honest and accurate in our descriptions going forward. Thank you for reading. We continue to move forward for our children and are more determined than ever to serve them well. Onward. Strengthening the Bridge Between Education and Work Kaleem Caire President & CEO Urban League of Greater Madison Main: 608.729.1200 Assistant: 608.729.1249 Fax: 608.729.1205 www.ulgm.org www.madison-prep.org Invest in the Urban League Urban League 2012 Third Quarter Progress Report
The Memorandum from Kaleem Caire to John Matthews (Madison Teachers, Inc)
MEMORANDUM Date: August 23, 2011 To: Mr. John Matthews, Executive Director, Madison Teachers, Inc. From: Kaleem Caire, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison cc: Mr. Steve Goldberg, President, CUNA Foundation; Mr. David Cagigal, Vice Chair, Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM); Ms Laura DeRoche-Perez, Charter School Development Consultant, ULGM; Mr. David Hase, Attorney, Cooke & Frank SC Re: Discussion about potential MTl-Madison Prep Relationship Greetings John. I sincerely appreciate your openness to engaging in conversation about a possible relationship between MTI and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. We, ULGM and Madison Prep, look forward to determining very soon what the possibilities could be. Please accept his memo as a means to frame the issues.
  1. The Urban League of Greater Madison initially pursued a non-instrumentality public charter school focused on young men to, first and foremost, eliminate the academic and graduate gaps between young people of color and their white peers, to successfully prepare greater percentages of young men of color and those at-risk for higher education, to significantly reduce the incarceration rate among young adult males of color and to provide an example of success that could become a learning laboratory for educators, parents and the Greater Madison community with regard to successful ly educating young men, regardless of th eir race or socio-economic status.
  2. We are very interested in determining how we can work with MTI while maintaining independence with regard to work rules, operations, management and leadership so that we can hire and retain the best team possible for Madison Prep, and make organizational and program decisions and modifications as necessary to meet the needs of our students, faculty, staff and parents.
  3. MTl's collective bargaining agreement with the Madison Metropolitan School District covers many positions within the school system. We are interested in having MTI represent our teachers and guidance counselors. All other staff would not be represented by MTI.
  4. The collective bargaining agreement between MTI and Madison Prep would be limited to employee wages and benefits. Madison Prep teachers would select a representative among them, independent of Madison Prep's leadership, to serve as their union representative to MTI.
I look forward to discussing this with you and members of our teams, and hearing what ideas you have for the relationship as well. Respectfully, Kaleem Caire, President & CEO CONFIDENTIAL
336K PDF Version jpg version Related Links: Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School (Rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board). Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman on "the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment.". John Matthews, Madison Teachers, Inc. Kaleem Caire, Madison Urban League The rejected Studio Charter School. Union politics. 2013 Madison School Board Elections. Update: Matthew DeFour's article on Caire's message:
Lucy Mathiak, who was on the board in 2011, also didn't dispute Caire's account of the board action, but couldn't recall exactly what happened in the board's closed sessions. "Did (the Urban League) jump through many hoops, provide multiple copies of revised proposals upon request, meet ongoing demands for new and more detailed information? Yes," Mathiak said. "It speaks volumes that Madison Prep is being used to smear and discredit candidates for the School Board and used as a litmus test of political worthiness." Matthews said the problems with Madison Prep resulted from Caire's proposal to hire nonunion staff. "What Kaleem seems to have forgotten, conveniently or otherwise, is that MTI representatives engaged in several discussions with him and several of his Board members, in attempt to reach an amicable resolution," Matthews said. "What that now has to do with the current campaign for Board of Education, I fail to see. I know of no animosity among the candidates or their campaign workers." Passman and other board members who served at the time did not return a call seeking comment.

Reggio Emilia: From Postwar Italy to NYC's Toniest Preschools; Remembering the Rejected Madison Studio School (Charter)

Emily Chertoff, via a kind reader's email:

A teaching approach meant to perk up the children of war is popular at a handful of posh American schools. But wouldn't it make more sense to use it with underprivileged kids? It's relatively rare to hear a preschool described as "luxurious." But in 2007 the New York Times used just that word in praising one on the Upper East Side. What did the reporter mean, exactly? Artisanal carob cookies? Cashmere blankets at nap time? Not quite. The article was describing a school run on the principles of Reggio Emilia, an educational method that privileges beauty and art. Reggio, which is named after a town in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, often appears in the U.S. as part of the pedagogy of ultra-elite private schools -- but it was developed to help the humblest children. On April 25, 1945, Allied forces in Italy, and their counterparts in the country's transitional government, declared an end to the Mussolini regime. Some Italians marked Liberation Day by throwing parties or pouring out into the streets. The residents of one small village near Bologna celebrated by founding a school. The town of Reggio Emilia and its surrounding villages had been flattened by years of bombings and ground warfare. The Germans, who had retreated through the area, left behind tanks and ammunition in fine condition, but these were of no use to the townspeople.
Recall that the Madison Studio School (Wisconsin State Journal Article), rejected as a charter school by the Madison school board was based on the Reggio Emilia model. Related: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: "We are not interested in the development of new charter schools"

The Creepy Line

Counternotions

The technology, when packaged into a smartphone, for example, can be used to help some of those with Asperger's syndrome to read facial expressions. But it can also be used in a videotelephony app as a surreptitious "lie detector." It could be a great tool during remote diagnosis and counseling in the hands of trained professionals. But it could also be used to record, analyze and track people's emotional state in public venues: in front of advertising panels, as well as courtrooms or even job interviews. It can help overloaded elementary school teachers better decipher the emotional state of at-risk children. But it can also lead focus-group obsessed movie studios to further mechanize character and plot development. The GPU in our computers is the ideal matrix-vector processing tool to decode facial expressions in real-time in the very near future. It would be highly conceivable, for instance, for a presidential candidate to be peering into his teleprompter to see a rolling score of a million viewers' reactions, passively recorded and decoded in real-time, allowing him to modulate his speech in synchronicity with that real time feedback. Would that be truly "representative" democracy or abdication of leadership?

An Interview with Seattle's Superintendent

Seattle 21:

Seattle Public Schools faces several key challenges, including overcrowding, a new strategic plan and a February special election seeking $1.25 billion in levy renewals. Will voters support the district's vision? How does the State Supreme Court's order for the legislature to fully fund public education impact Seattle students? In studio, we talk one-on-one with Superintendent Jose Banda. And we get perspective from Seattle School Board Member Michael DeBell, Save Seattle Schools blogger Melissa Westbrook and El Centro de la Raza's Executive Director Estela Ortega.

Urban middle class boosts school diversity

Greg Toppo:

As taped piano music plays, Ashley Brown issues a stream of commands. Firm and insistent, she strides around the tiny studio and puts her third-period ballet students through their steady, rhythmic paces. What her eighth- and ninth-grade dancers may not notice is the larger ballet they're part of: the fraught, decades-old dance â?? one step forward, two steps back â?? of who goes to school where, and with whom. They're doing nothing less than integrating a city.

School Goes International With Boarding

Sophia Hollander:

A relative newcomer on New York City's private-school scene will open the city's first international high-school boarding program as it looks to boost enrollment and its reputation among elite competitors. About 40 students from at least three continents will enroll in Léman Manhattan Preparatory School this autumn, officials said. They will share studio apartments at 37 Wall Street, a luxury building several blocks from the high school building. "Certainly, the time has come--probably it's past due," said Drew Alexander, the head of school at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School. "New York City is such a tremendous destination, has such an international flavor and is such a highly sought-after location."

No Book Will Fix What's Wrong With American Parenting

Ruth Franklin:

The other day, a friend and I were walking down a crowded sidewalk when we noticed a little boy of about three. We noticed him not because he was adorable (though he was), but because he was hitting his father with a giant stick. As they passed us--the boy hitting, the father ignoring--the boy's flailing stick hit my companion. Only the boy's mother, running after them, seemed to notice. "Sorry," she flung out breathlessly, smiling. We were, of course, in Brooklyn, the epicenter of permissive parenting. A look at the landscape is enough to demonstrate that our children are running our lives--the "progressive preschools" that brighten the storefronts every few blocks, the new paint-your-own-pottery shop and "origami studio," the never-ending parade of burger joints. In the latest viral video, "Sh*t Park Slope Parents Say," a pair of insufferable hipster parents and their friends trade barbs of condescension. The only time these people are speechless is when they're trying to make plans for a date night out.

Oakland's McClymonds High is a full-service school

Jill Tucker, via a kind reader's email:

After school each day, dozens of students at Oakland's McClymonds High School crowd through a generic-looking door and into a space that offers them amenities that are few and far between in their West Oakland neighborhood. Just off the reception area of the school's new Youth and Family Center is a dance studio with wooden floors, a large mirror and a sound system. A few more steps in is the learning center with brand new computers. Toward the back is a living-room-like area with a small stage, a big-screen television and comfortable sofas for meetings or informal gatherings. A door at the end of a hallway opens to a Children's Hospital Oakland clinic waiting room. In the clinic, free medical care is available to all students and their siblings, no appointment necessary. The center is part of a growing national trend to create full-service schools for children who come from difficult family situations.
Related: Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Narrowing Madison's Achievement gap will take more than money

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Madison school chief Dan Nerad's plan to close the district's achievement gap is certainly bold about spending money. It seeks an estimated $105 million over five years for a slew of ideas -- many of them already in place or attempted, just not to the degree Nerad envisions. The school superintendent argues a comprehensive approach is needed to boost the academic performance of struggling minority and low-income students. No one approach will magically lift the district's terrible graduation rates of just 48 percent for black students and 57 percent for Latinos.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here. Related:Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.

Well worth reading: Money And School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment:
For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, "You can't solve educational problems by throwing money at them." The education establishment and its supporters have replied, "No one's ever tried." In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it. Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil--more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers' salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country. The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.
And, In Kansas City, tackling education's status quo "We're not an Employment Agency, We're a School District"

Keep KC's school board, but get it plenty of help

The Kansas City Star

No one wants to see the Kansas City School District recover just enough to regain provisional accreditation and limp along in wounded form for another decade or so. Kansas Citians are looking for an administrative structure capable of running schools that meet the state's expectations and prepare students for college and jobs. With the school district scheduled to become unaccredited on Jan. 1, the Missouri Board of Education is contemplating structural changes. Chris Nicastro, the education commissioner, has spent considerable time trying to figure out what to recommend to the board when it meets Thursday and Friday. At one point, she asked members of the Kansas City school board if they'd be willing to step aside in favor of an appointed board. Most would prefer to remain in charge. School board governance has not served Kansas City well in recent decades. Candidate choices have mostly been weak. Voter participation in elections has been abysmal. Boards have been factious and meddlesome.
Money And School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment by Paul Cioti:
For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, "You can't solve educational problems by throwing money at them." The education establishment and its supporters have replied, "No one's ever tried." In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it. Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil--more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers' salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country. The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration. The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can't be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.

Smart, Young, and Broke: White-collar workers are China's newest underclass.

Melinda Liu:

At first glance, Guo Yilei looks like a Chinese success story. Born to a poor peasant family in China's remote Gansu province, he's now a 26-year-old computer programmer in the Big Cabbage (as some call Beijing nowadays). By Chinese standards he makes decent money, more than $70 a week. When he has work, that is. It can take months to find the next job. And meanwhile, he's living in Tangjialing, a reeking slum on the city's edge where he and his girlfriend rent a 100-square-foot studio apartment for $90 a month. "When I was at school, I believed in the saying, 'Knowledge can help you turn over a new leaf,'" says Guo. "But since I've started working, I only half-believe it." Guo and an estimated million others like him represent an unprecedented and troublesome development in China: a fast-growing white-collar underclass. Since the '90s, Chinese universities have doubled their admissions, far outpacing the job market for college grads. This year China's universities and tech institutes churned out roughly 6.3 million graduates. Many grew up in impoverished rural towns and villages and attended second- or third-tier schools in the provinces, trusting that studying hard would bring them better lives than their parents had. But when they move on and apply for jobs in Beijing or Shanghai or any of China's other booming metropolises, they get a nasty shock.

KUOW Interviews with Position 6 Seattle School Board Candidates

Melissa Westbrook:

Not a complete bust but not a great interview with these candidates on The Conversation this afternoon. First, KUOW should make up its mind on the format. For District 2, the candidates were interviewed individually and for a longer period of time. (There were three of them.) For District 6, they had them all in the studio and interviewed each for a much shorter period of time but did allow them to interact. I think it would be better to have the interaction among candidates AFTER the primary and allow people more time to get to know these candidates now.

STEM: Changemakers Competition due 8/3/2011

Carnegie Corporation of New York:

Solving the world's most pressing challenges will require innovations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (also called STEM). From climate change to fiscal meltdowns, renewable energy to eradicating diseases, from food security to global and local health, the STEM disciplines are at the very center of our quest to improve our lives and the condition of our world. If we are to bring new ideas to long-standing problems and new talent to emerging opportunities, we need to educate all of our young people to higher levels of understanding in the STEM fields. Despite the heroic efforts of our nation's best teachers and principals, our schools are ill-equipped to do that: According to international comparisons, U.S. students ranked below 22 countries in science and below 30 countries in math. And yet our communities are filled with many of the world's most talented professionals in these fields. They work in hospitals, universities, and museums; biotech, engineering, and architecture firms; graphic-design and urban-planning studios; hedge funds, banks, and computer-software, gaming, and pharmaceutical companies. They just rarely directly impact our public schools.

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