A Discussion of School Models
Art Rainwater and Rafael Gomez. Lauren Cunningham, moderator.

Having Options in Public Education (HOPE) and www.schoolinfosystem.org

January 8, 2008 [Video / mp3 Audio]

Lauren Cunningham: [00:00:00] I would draw your attention to the stuff on your seats, in case you didn't notice when you sat on it. You've got some goodies there, please look over them.

[00:00:10] One is about the options in education; well, a couple of different forms, eventually go to the options in education.

[00:26:00] And one is a feed-back form about tonight. So at the end, we'd love for you to take a moment or two to fill that out. And we'd love to hear your thoughts on what you thought about the evening. I'm Lauren Cunningham, by the way.

[00:00:40] I'm with the Hope Coalition, which stands for having options in public education. And I'm also a parent of a teen-ager.

[00:00:53] We'll have time tonight for a discussion between our distinguished panelists. That'll be about half the time, and then hold your questions, and then the second half we'll have some Q&A time.

[00:01:10] I'll make some attempt at moderating that, make sure things keep moving along and stay focused on this topic of school options and models and so on.

[00:01:23] To introduce who our distinguished panelists are, perhaps the lesser known would be at the end of the table: Rafael Gomez, who is a counselor at both Sienna and Cherokee middle schools.

[00:01:37] He's long been had a passion for youth and education, even back to his days as a school parent many years ago in Texas. But then he decided to make a career change to become a school counselor and made his way up to Wisconsin.

[00:01:55] And he is not here representing either the schools or representing the district or any other position, but just for himself. He's been a part of a lot of different task forces and committees in the district as a result of a long history of involvement.

[00:02:14] He's also an educational consultant and is at the roots of developing an institute of pedagogical dialogues. So this topic is especially dear to his heart.

[00:02:28] And our other distinguished panelist, I think most of you know, is our superintendent, Art Rainwater, who is retiring this year. And there has been and will continue to be much more discussion of his many accomplishments in his tenure here.

[00:02:45] Most recently he was noted in a letter to the editor in the State Journal -- I believe it was yesterday -- from the dean of the school of education at UW-Madison, praising his accomplishments and that of the district in general and the board, in raising the overall graduation rates in the district during his time here, and especially for African-American students. So I think that's a great thing to know.

[00:03:14] We certainly do appreciate his time, your time being here. There is not any obligation on your part and we appreciate your giving everything to us we certainly do appreciate his efforts and hopefully we'll enjoy the benefits of what you have to offer.

[00:03:38] OK. This discussion is going to be based on the presentation he made to the board, the Performance and Achievement Committee back in October, when you talked about different school models.

[00:03:55] So for those of you who weren't able to be here for that or didn't see it online, I will give a very condensed version of that, just so you have some idea of what we're going for here.

[00:04:10] We first talked about neighborhood schools versus choice schools, very broadly. Neighborhood schools, that's what we're used to for the most part, what we think of when we think about the attendance area that you live in.

[00:04:25] Then four different kinds of choice schools, one, being a charter school. This district has two. Nuestro Middle and Wright Middle School. The second would be a magnet school. The third would be a specialty school. And the fourth would be an alternative school or alternate program.

[00:04:49] There's a little bit different flavor to each one of them. With a charter there's a separate governing body, a separate organization that enters into a charter with the state.

[00:05:04] And that's how the school is run. Charters are becoming more and more popular in the states and in the country.

[00:05:14] They're usually started for any number of different reasons: to serve a specific population, to provide certain educational opportunities for students or teachers, or provide a laboratory for developing innovative educational approaches.

[00:05:32] There could be any number of reasons why any organization might want to command and run a charter school. In the case of the magnet school, the magnet school usually can be done to have a special approach to education.

[00:05:51] It is by definition a magnet school; it is designed to reduce any element of segregation that remains in the school district.

[00:06:05] A specialty school, like Spring Harbor that we have, has content specialization, which is environmental education. And that is similar to a magnet school but without this desegregation intent.

[00:06:19] And then alternative schools or programs are usually designed for students that are not successful within the traditional school setting.

[00:06:34] So in our case, Shabazz would be an alternative school. We have other alternative programs in our district. The Work and Learn program and the Diploma Completion program.

[00:06:47] So sometimes the goal for participating in one of the schools or programs is for a student to re-enter the traditional neighborhood school, but sometimes not.

[00:07:00] That's a general description of them. If you have questions about any of that, you can probably save it for later. For now I will turn it over to Rafael.

Thanks to all of you for giving me a hearing.
Rafael Gomez: [00:07:18] Thank all of you for coming. One of the things that I really enjoyed working with the school district [inaudible]

Rafael: [00:07:39] Is your leadership and passion for education, and I care about things like that. You really have a passion for education. And one of the thing that we have pointed out here, is there a difference between a model school or a school assignment or is it the same words but would be the same?
Art Rainwater: [00:07:57] Well, I think they're part of the same process. For example right now we're in the process of doing a high school re-design. In my mind, high school design is the actual creation of what a school is going to look like. It's the process itself.

[00:08:17] The model is basically what you're creating. At the end of that, it's an outcome. Technically, you create a model when it's adopted by more than one person. And I might distinguish for those of you unfamiliar with the education jargon.

[00:08:35] We use the department of education model in a very different way, for example, than you use a model in architecture. In architecture, an architect designs and creates a very small-scale three-dimensional piece of that, that's a model in architecture.

[00:08:54] For us, a model describes a type of school or a type of program with all that makes that program unique itself. Nuestro Mundo is an example. Nuestro Mundo is a dual-immersion magnet school with Spanish and English and there are certain things that are inherent in dual-language immersion.

[00:09:21] So there's a model of dual-language immersion that says you have two languages; both languages are taught to all children. The children are native speakers.

[00:09:34] Half -- generally speaking -- half of them are native speakers in one language and half are native speakers in the other language and they are taught simultaneously together so that both become bilingual in the end.

[00:09:50] The criteria that I just described describes the model of dual-language immersion. So, to me, that's the differences there. The design is the actual process creating that criteria, the components of the school, where the model is the actual product itself.
Rafael: [00:10:11] So what I'm hearing from you is that the design is kind of setting up the structure of the model. And the model comes in and says, "Here's some criteria we're looking for." And that gives a system of control within the system. Am I hearing that correctly?
Art: [00:10:27] Well, in education, as in anything else, if you're building a Chevrolet Malibu, there are some design criteria and there are tolerances, and there's not only the way it looks but the kind of engine it has. And all those kind of things were designed by someone.

[00:10:50] The process was maybe to bring that together. But when you look at it, you see the shape of it and you look at the engine and say, "That's a Chevrolet Malibu," as compared to a saw, for example. So, you kind of think of it the same way.

[00:11:06] And most frameworks, if you look at what does exist -- Back in the day, we had some fairly large magnet school systems, where there were some very identifiable and very clear models of education involved.

[00:11:24] The one that I was involved most in was Kansas City where, for example, we had a high school that was science and math and that's what they concentrated on at that high school. And they had specialized teachers and they had all those kind of things. And we had a high school that was performing arts. And they had specialized violin teachers and those kinds of things.

[00:11:47] And so what the components were defined the model, but they were very distinguished from each other. It's kind of the same kind of thing.
Rafael: [00:11:54] And prior to getting to that component, at the math school, they had to do the design.
Art: [00:11:59] Right.
Rafael: [00:12:00] So they go together; they complement one another. So the thing is to be careful when we're talking about what the criteria are that make the model.
Art: [00:12:08] That's correct.
Rafael: [00:12:09] That's the question that rises. Now, in the Madison school district, one of the things that is uniform in the whole district is the elements, the three elements: the element of relationship, the element of learning, the element of engagement. There can be thousands of interpretations of that. Could you let us know what you want here?
Art: [00:12:32] Sure, I'll give you a little bit of history of where it came from. I'm a person who believes very much in creating frameworks that allow you to focus and stay focused on what you're doing.

[00:12:51] And so, back in probably the year 2000, 2001, we had a group of our teachers who went to Bakerville, Illinois to a conference.

[00:13:06] And they came back and met with me and they said, "You know, the person giving the conference asked a question: 'When a kid isn't being successful, what do you do? What does your school district do?'"

[00:13:22] And so they asked me, "What do we do?" And I said, "If you stop and think, we do a lot of things. We do like 500 things."

[00:13:34] And in talking about that, I realized that we probably did like 500 things. None of them were tied together and none of them made a lot of sense. They might be very good for three kids over here and four kids over there, but, as was typical, particularly in the early days of our school district, just because somebody was doing it at Senate Middle School and it was working really well at Senate Middle School didn't mean that they were doing it at [inaudible] Middle School. They would have done it their own way.

[00:14:06] One of the great joys of the Madison school district here, one of the things that I think is unique to us, is we always believe that we didn't invent it, it can't possibly be good because we would have thought of it first.

[00:14:18] Trying to move past that culture has been a challenge, to say the least, but out of that grew what we now call the educational framework which these are the three key components to.

[00:14:35] At the same time that that question was being asked, we were beginning to think about what kind of system to put in place so that we could focus everything we were doing and be sure that everything tied together.

[00:14:47] I'm a person who believes very, very strongly in systems. That's really kind of who I am. And I learned, obviously, as becomes clear from my biography, I've been doing this a long, long time. This is my 43rd year and over that time I've made a lot of mistakes and learned a few things.

[00:15:11] In today's world, we're trying to educate children. It is an extremely complex task. And it takes very complex solutions. This idea that there are simple solutions to very complex tasks may apply some places, but it certainly doesn't apply in education.

[00:15:30] And so I'm the kind of person who is always trying to find and create the relationships between all the things that we do. So as we were talking about this, about that same time, there was a major educational study done by a professor at Harvard named Ron Ferguson.

[00:15:53] And, actually, the Minority Student Achievement Network that we were part of -- I don't know if you're familiar with the organization, but the Minority Student Achievement Network is a group of now 25 schools, originally 15 schools that are very similar to us.

[00:16:10] It's us, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Evanston, Illinois; originally, Berkeley, California; Green Bay, Wisconsin is now in.

[00:16:24] It is a group of school districts like us. We jointly funded and participated in this study by Ron Ferguson about how children look at school and react to school, and from that, trying to draw conclusions about what was important about what we do.

[00:16:43] What really came out of that study that guided our work framework and really was the impetus for it was: we looked at it, and it was a very large and very well-structured survey that was given to students in grades 7-11; 41,000 students took the survey across the United States.

[00:17:06] And what resulted from that was some really kind of fundamental changes in beliefs about children, particularly African-American and Latino kids.

[00:17:20] If you looked at this survey, children, regardless of grades, regardless of income, really looked at school about the same way. About 95% of the items that they tested, looked at school the same way.

[00:17:36] The beliefs that we had had that there were kids who came to school that weren't interested in doing well really just weren't borne out. They may not be doing well, but what really was a defining difference was that 5% that was different.

[00:17:52] And when you look at what that was, it really revolved around the relationships that the adults in the school, and very specifically the teacher of the child, the relationship that they had with the child. That's where differences really came to the fore.

[00:18:13] And I'll give you an example of kind of the guiding things that we've looked at. One of the findings was, that interestingly enough, almost all the kids surveyed spent about the same amount of time working on schoolwork outside of school, with the exception of Asian girls, who I don't believe.

[00:18:36] It was incredible! I mean, everybody else spends an hour and a half; Asian girls about five hours. I mean, it was literally that startling. But everybody else spends about the same amount of time.

[00:18:48] But the survey also showed that African-American kids, for example, only complete that work about half the time. And when you look at the results of that in terms of why they say that's true, reading is an issue, and not understanding what the teacher wants is an issue.

[00:19:06] But the bottom line is, they work the same amount of time, and they're completing the work about half as much. So that's one factor.

A second factor was, what encourages that child to do well?

[00:19:24] What is it that motivates a child to do well? That is a major difference. And again, understand that this is an aggregation of everybody's thoughts. White children, black, everybody else across the scale,. For white children, the predominant factor was the demand. In other words, "Somebody demanded that I do it."

[00:19:50] For African American children, the predominant factor that motivated them was encouragement. Encouragement was important to white children also, but it was overwhelmingly important to African-American children. And demand isn't even on the scale.

[00:20:10] The third thing that we looked at, trying to put everything together, was the findings around, "What makes you admire somebody?" And we're talking about your peers now, not adults, natural peers. "What about your peers do you admire?"

[00:20:30] And for white children, it was leadership; it was those types of typical things. And it was that type too for African-American children, but it also was toughness. Toughness was a major factor.

[00:20:46] So let me put that together for you in a scenario. Think about what happens in a school. Here's a child who's worked on their homework last night and didn't get it done. And so they're going to come to school the next day, and they've got a choice. You hand in the half done homework, or you don't hand it in at all.

[00:21:07] Now, as a teacher, and this would be me, don't misunderstand me, this is exactly how I handled it in my teaching days. This didn't just happen today. This also happened yesterday and the day before.

[00:21:20] So what I say is, "You didn't get your homework again! You're lazy, you're not working! You've got to work hard and do this homework! So, F for you today." And I might have done that in front of the class.

[00:21:36] Now, when you think about a child and the relationship they have with their peers and their place with their peers; a child for whom toughness is an important component of their personality, if they want to be liked and respected by their peers, how do they react to that? They get tough. And a teacher reacts to that, and pretty soon, I have a child in the office.

[00:22:08] Think about, very quickly, what would happen in that exact same situation if the presumption had been the child wanted to do what was right, and for whatever reason couldn't, and what the teacher had said to the child when they didn't have their homework was, "You can do this! Let's sit down at lunch and figure out why you're not doing it, and I'll provide help." Or, "Johnny did really well at this. Let me get the two of you together, and you all sit down, and see if we can get you through this, because you can do this work!"

[00:22:41] It's always been one of the -- and you're probably going to hear some of my beliefs tonight -- but one of my beliefs has always been one of the worst things we do with children is, we give them a test, we mark an "F", and we give it back. That says a lot of things to a kid. Instead of saying, "OK. Here are the things you did wrong; let's try to learn from them."

[00:23:02] So I thought about that and thought about the two things I just described to you, the two ways of handling things. And it becomes very clear that the relationship between the teacher and the child, particularly our children who aren't being successful, is a key component.

[00:23:18] We've always known that engagement, having the child engaged in the school, and whether that's engaged in activities or engaged in the classroom, but where they are a part of and engaged with the school.
Rafael: [00:23:35] Am I hearing, in relationships, in a work relationship, it has four components: components of -- I guess that's maybe not the word to us -- components of compassion, respect, patience, and it has recognition.
Art: [00:23:53] I would say it's true. I think if you think about relationships, some of the things we've tried to say... First of all, if you're an adult working with children, you've got to believe they want to succeed. That's thing number one. You've got to believe that they want to succeed.

[00:24:16] And second of all, you've got to believe that if they're not, you can make a difference, that you have the ability to change things. And that sounds like a really simple thing, but everybody doesn't believe that and sometimes, if you're teaching day in and day out, day in and day out, particularly with a child who's not being successful, it's very easy to get to doubting yourself. And either you doubt yourself or you turn off the kid.

[00:24:46] The third thing is that every day has to be a new day. For me, that's one of the keys to the relationships between adults in school and kids in school. We don't learn that as parents with our own children. Let me tell you, because for the kid, it's a new day, believe me.

[00:25:03] Yesterday doesn't even exist. I woke up; it's a new day today. I'm starting over. Here we come. We have to be willing to let kids do that.

[00:25:13] What I've said often is that there needs to be an adult in the classroom. We would prefer that; it works a lot better. So those are the kind of key important things that we talked about around relationships, but certainly compassion, respect.

[00:25:29] We spent an awful lot of time at the school district working on race relations, for example, really with the whole goal of getting to understand that what the child is telling you and showing you from their culture is their truth. And their truth is OK. It may not be your truth.

[00:25:50] As you listen to me, I'm sure there will be things that I will say that are very detailed beliefs to me that you completely disagree with, but that's my truth.

[00:26:04] That's who I am; that's what I believe, just as you have beliefs and that's your truth. Well, that's the same thing in the relationship between teachers and kids, particularly when they come from different cultures than you do and their whole norms when they go home are very, very different from the culture they're giving to you.
Rafael: [00:26:24] So the word "relationship" brings the student and the teacher together, with mutual respect, with compassion, with exploring their understanding. And part of that is, you talked about engagement. We always believed to get the youngsters involved, to motivate them to art, music, dancing, mechanics, to get them involved. Where does the learning come in? What do we do then?
Art: [00:26:52] First of all, we've always recognized, or certainly for the last 15 or 20 years, we've recognized that having a positive classroom is important and that's kind of what we're talking about. And we've always recognized that kids need to be engaged. It's one of the things we recognized first.

[00:27:10] But you have to kind of think about it the way we thought about it up until the framework, which was "that's really the pyramid; the most important thing is learning." And by "learning" here, we're talking about not only the outcomes for the child, but the actual pedagogy, the actual teaching strategies that the teachers use in the classroom.

[00:27:29] That was the most important thing. And along the way, we should try to get this positive climate in the classroom and we should try to engage the kid by teaching things they're interested in. But if you think about it, learning was up here and these other two things were kind of subsidiary to that.

[00:27:47] What the educational framework did was said, "No, no. Those three things are equal." It is just as important, if not more important, how you relate individually, one-to-one, with the children in the classroom as the teaching strategy that you use.

[00:28:09] To really have a positive climate isn't creating a positive climate in the classroom, it's creating that encouraging and supportive relationship with each individual and single child. And that's just as important as whatever teaching strategy you use, whether that's cooperative learning or whatever it is.

[00:28:26] That was the key piece of the framework along with the fact that when children are learning, we need to have structured and planned interventions that are related to that specific pack of learning that is occuring.

[00:28:43] And thirdly, the third part of the framework that is important is that we wanted to create a collaborative environment in our schools among the adults.

[00:28:53] Teaching has historically been a very, very solitary profession. I go in my classroom; I close the door and I teach my kids. And if things are going wrong, our culture is not ask for help.

[00:29:12] Because if I ask my peers for help, they think I'm not very good. And if I ask the principal for help, Lord help me. That'd be a black mark and I'm going to be in trouble.

[00:29:23] So the truth was, we could have a teacher who was struggling bravely with an individual kid, a teacher right down the hall who has that kid in another setting who's doing extraordinarily well because they found the key to relating with that child, and the two of them never share. So the goal - and we're certainly not there yet because let me tell you: changing culture is not the quickest thing in the world to do.

[00:29:49] So trying to change that culture from one of being very solitary and very isolated and doing my own thing to one in which we have collaborative teams of adults around every single child and, just as importantly, collaborative teams of adults around each other in their practice, is something we've been working on for a long time. We're maybe half-way there, but that's an important part of what we're trying to do.
Rafael: [00:30:17] Well, is it even possible to say? When we're looking at the learning, we're looking at the process of reflection.
Art: [00:30:24] No, I think when we're looking at learning, we're looking at the acquisition of knowledge that's given. That's what we're looking at. That's what learning is. Learning is the acquisition of knowledge that's given.
Rafael: [00:30:34] Is it possible? I'm learning from you. Is it possible to learn to have skills and knowledge without reflection?
Art: [00:30:45] Well, I mean, I think reflection is one of things -- let me back up. Is it possible to learn rote knowledge, in other words, you ask me a question and I can memorize the answer and I can give you that answer back, is it possible to do that without reflection? Yes.

[00:31:09] Is it possible to learn the sheer skill of taking a screwdriver and screwing in a screw? Yes. It is, without reflection, absolutely. But to learn the things that we need to learn so that we're creating students... Because that type of rote knowledge is no longer applicable in most work places. That's not enough.

[00:31:34] But to be able to learn to work with other people, to be able to work collaboratively, to learn to problem solve, to learn to recognize a problem when you see one (which is the first key to problem solving that everybody misses), to know you've got a problem, to do the problem-solving that's involved with that.

[00:31:53] I believe you're right. I think that does take reflection. And most importantly, and where I deviate from the true back-to-the-basics people, is that also it takes learning and practice to do that.
Rafael: [00:32:08] So I'm hearing that you agree. We need to have some reflection in the process of learning.
Art: [00:32:13] Sure. We need to do that as adults too.
Rafael: [00:32:18] Yes, definitely. It's happening right now. I'm learning a subject, as you say. And we're putting all these pieces together making sense. In terms of what...
Art: [00:32:30] Let me just tell you what I believe. First of all, as a superintendent, every day is literally a new day, I mean it really and truly is. Every day there is something that happens that just astounds me. I'll tell you a little story. The other day, as you know, we don't let out of school very often because of snow. Which means that every time it snows, I get a lot of very irate calls. And a lot of them are from the students, some from parents.

[00:33:02] I got an email the day after this last week's snow. I got an email from a student at one of our high schools. After he got through telling me how great it was that I'm retiring and how he hated my guts, after he got through with that he said that I had almost killed his dog.

[00:33:21] And the reason I'd almost killed his dog was because when he had to go to school, because I didn't call school off. He managed to put that in the sentence.

[00:33:33] Because I didn't call off school he had to go to school, his dog got out when he went out the door to get on the bus because I didn't cancel school, his dog got out and he didn't have time to go chase his dog down because he had to get on the bus, and when he got home that night his dog was under the porch and almost frozen to death.

[00:33:54] And that was totally my fault. Now why wasn't it his fault that he let the dog out, I have no idea. But that was a new one to me. But every day as a person, and I think this is what we want to teach children with.

[00:34:08] When my day is over, I sit down every day and I have for 43 years, I sit down every single day and I reflect on that day. What did I do well today? What would I wish I had done differently today? What did I learn today? How is that going to apply tomorrow?

[00:34:26] I do that every single day. I think that's one of the things that distinguishes us as human beings from others. It's our ability to do that. I think that that's an important thing for children to learn. Reflect on what happened. Plan everything and then you reflect on what happened.
Rafael: [00:34:50] That brings us to another question here. We have youngsters who are doing their own reflection. And they take every day at a time. That's from all walks of life. And we have youngsters that have come to a building, and they have feelings,a sense of belonging, sense of recognition.

[00:35:11] But now they have reached the fifth grade, now moving into the sixth grade. Is there a transition to breach with them, so that you can help them to adjust? Or do we need to think about that?
Art: [00:35:26] Certainly. Obviously the two big transitions that occur are elementary school to middle school, and middle school to high school. There is a transition every year and I think because the child is in that same building, people know one another, those things are easy, but you are transitioning every year.

[00:35:51] I can remember years ago, I believe it was Muir elementary school, before we had full-day kindergarten. It was half-day kindergarten in most of our schools at that time.

[00:36:06] Muir had raised money and the parents provided the rest of the day, in kindergarten. This went on for one or two years and then there was a year that they didn't raise the money and we ended up having to foot the bill. So the board voted not to have that happen any more. So Muir lost full-day kindergarten.

[00:36:28] I can remember the parent that came to the board and said that because their child was not going to be able to bond with the kindergarten teacher, because they were only going to be there half a day, basically, their life was over. The single most important thing is a child's life was bonding with their kindergarten teacher.

[00:36:49] I didn't have kindergarten, I don't know about you. Which is why I'm so screwed up. If I'd been there bonding with a kindergarten teacher, I'd been a lot better off. But I'll use that to illustrate it. That's the beginning and there are these continual transitions that go on.

[00:37:06] And if you have little kids right now, you see it every day. How about the transition of friends? Kids have different friends daily. And all the old friends from middle school, if you've been there yet....

[00:37:23] But the big friends issues, where things really change, the first one is, obviously, from elementary school to middle school. And in our district, that's much more about a difference in educational philosophy than it is about size, because our middle schools are typically about the same size as our elementary schools.

[00:37:47] In our case, it's really about, "Now I have more than one teacher. Now I am changing classes. The expectations are a little bit different." But the really big jump is not between fifth and sixth grade.

[00:38:04] The really big jump is eighth to ninth grade because now everything is different. First of all, I go from a middle school, in many or most of our cases of 400 or 450 kids, with kids that I went to elementary school with, now to a 2,000-student high school where it takes me a semester to be able to find where all my classes are.

[00:38:32] And the philosophy of education has totally changed. There's nobody really looking out for me any more. So the whole purpose is looking at high school redesign and should it be like that?

[00:38:49] So, those transitions are critical. We have tried to address this and I think one of the best things we've done is we've had kids in the last couple of years that have gone from the eighth to the ninth grade. The first day of school now is just ninth graders in the high school.

[00:39:08] And that's had, I think, a really positive impact in terms of at least the child getting into the building and being able to know their teachers and find people around and do those kind of things. But there are a lot of little things we can do.

[00:39:22] There are kids that get lost in that transition. Now, to be very honest, they are generally kids who are already struggling in middle school. They may not even be struggling to the point that we have picked it up, but toward the end of that middle school, they are beginning to struggle.

[00:39:43] They begin to struggle academically; they may have attendance problems; they may have some other kind of things. And then that move into the high school is just one step too far for them.

[00:39:55] So, you try to manage those. You obviously can't do everything about it because it's going to happen. And as children are getting older, it's not the biggest transition they'll make.

[00:40:09] The biggest transition they'll make is the next one, whether that's going into the world of work or going to a college, particularly the point in time that a student or young adult transitions actually out into the world.

[00:40:30] It's probably the biggest transition they'll make and our ability to help prepare them to do that is critically important. And it's interesting to me that for our special education children, there is a transition plan that we are required to do that is very detailed about how they're going to support that child in transitioning out into the world.

[00:40:55] For everybody else, transition is: we help you do a career plan. But that's still a big transition. I can barely remember what that was like.

[00:41:08] And it is for all of our kids. That day that you are on your own, truly on your own, there's no safety net. You're out there, you've got a job. You've got to perform on that job. You've learned you may not like that job, but you need the money or you've learned you don't like it at all.

[00:41:29] All of those things are the biggest transition. We don't, I don't think, overall do a great job of preparing kids for that. And I don't know that I do a great job as a parent.
Rafael: [00:41:42] Art, what I'm hearing here, the biggest thing here is we have in this continuous change in our society.
Art: [00:41:46] Sure.
Rafael: [00:41:47] And we're part of that change, as the adults and the doctors who are [inaudible] continuous change. But you did point it out, in this hearing, that in your experience one of the biggest transitions is going from the eighth grade to the ninth grade.

[00:42:01] As part of that, there have been some initiatives, like having one day only for the ninth graders. I also hear from you -- and I don't know if I'm hearing this correctly -- that we still need to work on enhancing the autonomy of the youngsters, their own self-identity, their own self. We need to do still more work on that.
Art: [00:42:26] That's true. One of the major factors about working with children who truly live in poverty, particularly children who live in neighborhoods in which everybody lives in poverty, is the absolute lack of hope.

[00:42:48] And it's one of the things that we as a school district and, I think, that we as a community have to be very conscious of trying to enhance.

[00:43:00] Operation Fresh Start, for example, does a great job, I think, of taking children who have dropped out of school, young adults who have dropped out of school, and through working with them and working with them actually on the job of being successful at doing something and providing that support, gives them hope that they can be something.

[00:43:24] And I spent a number of years working truly in the inner city in Kansas City where the school district itself at that time was a little bit over 80% low-income and with very, very large areas of very low-income populations in the city. And you see children who really see no hope beyond 21.

[00:43:55] And so our ability as a community and as an educational institution is to truly show children that there is hope, that there are things that you can do to be successful, and to help them find what those things are.

[00:44:10] It's one of the key reasons why we have been so strongly focused on reading in the primary grades, because that is really and truly the key to everything else.

[00:44:26] And I think it's not about -- this goes to the issue of hope -- it's not so much about the fact the kid can't read, the actual act of reading. Because you can teach adults to read. Interestingly enough, you can do a pretty good job of teaching adults to read. But if a child goes to school every single day for four years and the focus of everybody is on reading -- that's what primary school is all about.

[00:44:54] We talk about math and we talk about some other things, but it's really about reading. And I go to school every single day and all the other kids can read and I can't read.

[00:45:07] What that does to a child's -- a word that's used all over -- self-esteem, belief in themselves, having hope for their future. Because no matter how many smiley faces you give them and no matter how many times you pat them on the back, believe me: kids are smart. They know. All these kids can read and I can't read and I need to do that.

[00:45:35] It's that four years of failing that make that third grade reading so critical. So that's why we focus so much there because of the impact it has later on and the lack of hope a child has.

[00:45:48] The longer they study in school and the longer they're unsuccessful, that's the major issue that we face. We see that. Our children, generally our low-income, particularly our low-income minority children, when they enter the school district, that achievement gap exists the day they walk in the door. And so the question is: how can we reduce that?
Rafael: [00:46:22] Are you thinking it's a very complex issue in terms of education?
Art: [00:46:28] It is a complex issue.
Rafael: [00:46:29] Isolation, and the complex of education, you know. Coming back to the school design, the school model, the framework relationships, is it helping us to nourish the hope?
Art: [00:46:49] Sure. Yeah. Whatever you can do that engages the child in the institution of the school, I think is important.

[00:47:06] One of the things we've learned in Kansas City, which was the largest magnet school program ever attended, is that when children are allowed to select -- it particularly comes true in high school -- if the student is allowed to select the magnet school, not the parent but the student, and is allowed to say, "You know, I really like that agri-business high school."

[00:47:35] When the student is allowed to select the emphasis, it's highly successful. When the student wants to do one thing but the parent wants to do something else and the parent wins, then we're right back where we started.

[00:47:53] And I can recall this conversation. "Well, you're not going to be able to get into MIT if you go to the agri-business school. You need to go to the science and math school." "I don't care about science and math. Why would I want to go there?" "Because I told you, because I'm your daddy. That's why you're going there." This is the kid we're going to be picking up later.

[00:48:11] So is that one tool that important? It is. But I think what you have to balance it with, though, is whether or not by creating choice, if you don't provide opportunities for all kids to have all of those choices, you really create a difficult situation.

[00:48:38] And so this is one of the things that was obvious in Kansas City. Just the shear cost of doing things is such that it's almost unaffordable. Because if you have a large low-income population or if you have a large working-class population where both parents are working, it is very, very difficult for a child who wants to do agri-business, which is located in the east and my home is on Allied Drive, it is impossible for me to get there.

[00:49:12] So it truly isn't a choice for them. And so what ends up happening in those kind of situations is what, at least in my belief about post-education, is what makes it difficult is that I have now created haves and have-nots in my school district.

[00:49:27] And I have lost what I think is the real strength, our diversity. And so, whenever you create systems of choice, you have to provide opportunities for everyone to have those choices. And that's what makes it difficult. I'm not just talking [inaudible], I'm talking school funding in general in the United States.

[00:49:50] In Kansas City, we were 35,000 students, so 10,000 students greater than this. Every child had the choice every semester to go to any school they wanted to. $50 million a year in transportation in 1991.

[00:50:07] Gas was what? 75 cents a gallon? 50 cents a gallon? Today that'd be what? $150 million? But that's what it takes if you're truly going to maintain what I believe... You've got to understand that my beliefs about all this come out of my own personal beliefs about post-education and what it is and what it is for.
Lauren: [00:50:28] Can I stop you there?
Art: [00:50:29] Sure.
Lauren: [00:50:30] Do you want to have a chance to kind of reflect on what he's saying and then we'll open it up to questions.
Rafael: [00:50:34] Well, I will say what I'm hearing. And what I'm hearing is him sharing his beliefs about education. And what I hear him saying is that we need to find ways to get the youngster's interest. And find ways to get that youngster's interest that is there in the education atmosphere. We're talking high school.

[00:50:55] The other part that you say is we have to be very careful, because sometimes when we create those choices in one building, it may require the youngster to travel from one side of town all the way to the other side of town, and they do not have the transportation or the adult support to do that, so these are some serious problems that we currently have here in Madison.
Lauren: [00:51:19] All right. Very good. We'll open it to the floor here.

Question: [00:51:19] Getting back to the Ferguson study when you were talking about relationships. You talk about demand versus encouragement and the problem of it being tough in certain contexts.

[00:51:42] The question I have is why? What's actually going on in those children's lives where toughness -- and respect and encouragement -- is required for the kids who are involved in demand, too, but what is actually going on seems to be symptomatic rather than a cause-and-effect issues, which seem to be symptomatic of something else that [inaudible]. What is going on there?
Art: [00:52:10] Well, first of all, again, we need to go back to something else I said, and that is that if I'm going to educate this child, if im going to teach this child, I have to understand that I may not agree with that as what's the motivating factor for their life.

[00:52:36] I may not agree with that, and I may think there's something negative that's caused that, but that's irrelevant. What's relevant is that is that child's truth, and I have to accept it as their truth and I have to be able to work with that.

[00:52:54] On the issue of encouragement, I believe encouragement works for everybody. I mean, I don't necessarily believe that demand is a good way to go about doing it. I think encouragement and support are in fact good values to teach every child.

[00:53:10] I think that's important in terms of building their relationships, but whether or not the issues that a child brings to the table are kosher or symptomatic societal issues or societal problems, that can't be my issue.

[00:53:30] My issue has to be that that is in fact who that child is, and I have to adapt my teaching and my relationship to understanding that and to helping that child get the hope they need and the skills, the knowledge they need to be a successful adult. That's what it's about, so that's what I believe in.

[00:53:53] It goes to the same thing about, there's no question: if a child has parent support -- and I don't mean going to the PTO meeting -- I mean a child goes home, the parents are interested in what they're doing, the child's [inaudible].

[00:54:11] The parents say, "What have you got for homework tonight? What happened in school today?" Even if the answer you get is "Nothing," which it normally is, that's parent support, OK.

[00:54:22] And if a child has that, they have a much better chance of being successful in school. There's tons of research about that, but the bottom line is, so what? I've got a whole bunch of kids who don't have that. As an educational institution, we can't say we've got to get the parents to do something, it'll be OK. No! We can't do that.

[00:54:43] We've got to find a way to compensate for that not being there. Well it's the same way with, we've got to help children move toward the time... Part of the skills they're requiring are the skills that work in the society they're going to be in. Part of the skills they require are the kinds of things they ought to be able to do to keep a job.

[00:54:58] I've got to be there on time. No matter how much I hate the boss, if they say, "I need you to do this," you don't say, "Eh." Some of those little things like that that you have to learn, that aren't necessarily obvious to a kid. So, a long answer to the question.

Question: [00:55:16] [inaudible], but there are also some children who have moved and can't be reached because their whole world is in chaos, and they take kids and move them into those schools and I think that's wonderful. But I'm wondering if it's really doable, to have someone going to the other school that's on one side of town, and then we have kids [inaudible] there.
Art: [00:55:44] I think if you're looking... First of all, the children that you're talking about are homeless children. We are required by law to provide food and transportation. But it's a very limited amount of money when you look at the overall cost. We have enough examples of magnet school systems in our country to know.

[00:56:13] Because you're not talking about one school that you've got a group of kids being bused too, you're talking about opening up an option. You're talking about having a school district in which parents have options, you're talking about options. Not "an" option.

[00:56:28] And we have pretty good documentation now of what kind of permutations this would take to make that happen. We haven't done them here, but there certainly are those systems where that existed, and "existed" is more to the target now than "exist."

[00:56:42] But that existed under federal court order, that we have no... And, I mean, there's always the question that if you believe as I do that good teaching can engage children in a typical school, that it doesn't in fact take that.

[00:57:07] Do you not believe that if you're using what we know about best practices today's world, and if you're really and truly tying your teaching back to the kids, you're experiencing and doing those kinds of things that you know about today's world, then you've got to get your children in a different school.

[00:57:22] I'm not saying that I believe choices are better. Because ultimately, regardless of what happens, regardless of what you call the school, and regardless of what emphasis you give to the school, the end of all that is that the teacher and the kid.

[00:57:40] And so does it maybe help if you give the right kids -- you've got to fit the right school in the right place, that the emphasis is on something they're interested in? Yeah. But does it overshadow the cost and can we gain the same thing with the right kind of teacher in a regular school? I believe 110% that we can.

[00:58:03] As I said, I designed the largest magnet school program in history, so I've got some experience with that. I don't believe we gain anything more than we if we had a very, very good teacher, with what we about teaching today's children.

Question: [00:58:19] Sir, I have just a comment really quick and then a question. My comment is: You mentioned on your experience on choice systems that you want to do a lot of options or no options in order to not create haves and have-nots.

[00:58:34] And my comment on that is that, in my experience wealthy already send their children to private schools. So in fact you already have a have and have-not system, and so why not open up more options to the people that are the have-nots, at least give them something. And that's just a comment; I don't need any response on that.
Art: [00:59:00] No, I'll respond to that, I think it's an important idea. It's about who funds the choice. I believe very strongly in private schools, I'm not an opponent of private schools. If someone wants to pay tuition, and that money is funded outside the public funding, I am absolutely... I spent twenty years in private schools; I have absolutely no problem with private schools, if that's what they are.

[00:59:28] Where I have a problem is with public funding for private schools, that's where I have a problem. Because I have a very strong belief in the fundamental need for true public education, if we in fact are going to continue providing it for free. We have to educate all children, not only to be in the workforce, but more importantly we have to educate all children to be consumers of the politic, that is the key component of public education.

[01:00:02] You have to go back and look at what our founding fathers said about public education, because even though it's not in the Constitution, Jefferson and Adams for sure addressed it very, very clearly about how important it was to have an educated populace to remain free.

[01:00:21] And so my beliefs about public education are based on that. Wouldn't it be great if everybody went? Yeah. But what we've got to be sure of is that everybody can get the very best education and the public can provide it.

[01:00:37] And I believe very, very strongly that that public funding and that public education should be controlled by the locally-elected school boards. And believe me, I have sat on many school boards, over many years.

[01:00:51] I wish everybody would, but I really and truly believe that that is critical to our way of life and our government. And so that's why I so strongly believe that we need a public education funded by public tax dollars and purporting to, in fact, create that educated populace. We can't create haves and have-nots within that environment. And your question?

Question: [01:01:18] My question was, you talked a lot about, or the question is related a lot to relationships between learning and the framework. And my question is: what are certain schools in Madison, teachers, just examples of things going on in Madison that are within that framework?

[01:01:38] Because you also talked about teachers not talking to each other, with one being successful with a kid and one teacher not, kids going through the transition from middle school into a 2,000-student high school. So what are some things going on in Madison that suggest that we are actually thinking about the relationships and engagement?
Art: [01:02:05] Before we started with individual collaboration, our elementary schools today are almost totally collabortive. With our instructional design, there are very, very few, if any, situations in which there aren't collaborative working towards teaching our kids and with each other.

[01:02:24] I would guess we're probably halfway there in the middle schools; we're less there with the high schools.

Any time I'm with a group of superintendents from around the country and we're talking about change, the first thing that comes up is: have you ever changed a high school?

[01:02:47] High schools are extraordinarily difficult to change and we've been trying since the '60s. But at the high schools we have some very strong but isolated examples.

[01:03:03] For example, mathematics in East High School is, in my mind, doing everything, plus there's generally a lot of success. But they truly are, as a department, a team approach to what they're doing. Biology in West High School is another example.

[01:03:21] So there are isolated places across the district in the high schools where that's occurring. And what you try to do is then you build on those places. When those teams show success, you build on those places. But changing culture is a long-term project.

[01:03:39] When I retire -- I hope it's not another ten years -- and if I've changed the culture that far, it's a miracle. Just thinking, we're a 170 years old, so you can imagine a lot of issues. Always try to mention that we're older than the study, older than our younger siblings. But anyway.

Question: [01:04:04] I have a couple questions. I'll try to tie them into what you were talking about just now.
Art: [01:04:07] Or don't.

Question: [01:04:08] [laughs] In talking about programs being equally available to everyone, how do you feel about the programs currently in existence here in the school district that aren't open to everybody or the charter schools that aren't open to everybody?

[01:04:25] Do you feel like that should change? Like, what if I wanted my kid to go to Spring Harbor but we're in the West attendance area? We can't do it. I'm just saying, there's already that problem.
Art: [01:04:38] Yeah, there is. Would I change it? Yeah, if I could figure out a way to do it. Take Spring Harbor and Wright as an example.

[01:04:55] You have to look at why they exist because that's been lost kind of in the mists of time. They exist to deal with overcrowding. Most people don't know that in today's world, but Wright Middle School was created originally because the West middle schools were overcrowded.

[01:05:17] Hamilton and Cherokee were overcrowded. They created what, at the time, was called Madison [inaudible]. And it was designed for the purpose of relieving that overcrowding, as opposed to building another big school, they built a school just big enough to overcome the overcrowding. And we were pretty successful with it.

[01:05:36] Three or four years later, that same thing happened to in the Memorial area. And at the time we opened Spring Harbor, Jefferson was using either or four or six classrooms in Memorial. So, we bought the Spring Harbor building. It had been a business school and it closed. So we opened Spring Harbor.

[01:06:00] Their original intent was not so much choice as it was to overcome overcrowding. As a matter of fact, incidentally enough, with Spring Harbor one of our fears was... The reason why it has a specialty was because we were afraid nobody would go because people really loved both Toki and Jefferson.

[01:06:18] And so we were afraid, because we didn't want to assign people there because you never try to change assignments if you can possibly help it. But you do that before you close the school, I might add.

But the whole idea was, "Oh my god, how will we ever get people to go there?" Because we were having trouble getting people to go to Wright.

[01:06:38] At one time, Wright only had like a dozen kids. So we were worried. That's why we did the specialty. It really was never seen as providing parental choice; it was seen as trying to entice people to go there. Now it's changed, obviously, over the years.

[01:06:55] But my preference would be, if you truly have choices, not if you have two schools here that are just alike and I'd rather go to that one; that's a different ballgame.

[01:07:07] But if I truly have a school that is dual-language immersion and another school that is built around math and science and another school that has ballparks and those kind of things, that those choices be available to everybody. And I think that's important.

[01:07:24] That doesn't mean everybody can get in because you have a limited size, but the limiting factor is size, not wealth or transportation.
Lauren: [01:07:37] You had another quick question?

Question: [01:07:39] I do have another question. How do you think [inaudible] or just the approach to learning -- is it didactic, collaborative -- just the style of the teaching that's going on? How do you think that that style impacts the relationship and the engagement?
Art: [01:07:58] I think it does. I think true didactic teaching does amend to relationships. And for a lot of people it doesn't necessarily amend to that, but what I believe about the children and learning, which is really more important than teaching; you start with how they learn and build something onto that.

[01:08:24] I believe that children, differently than traditionally what we did... And this didn't make any difference. When I went to high school, I graduated high school in 1960 and my recollection of the numbers is about 75% of the kids in the country graduated from high school at that time.

[01:08:44] It didn't make any difference because there were very good jobs that you didn't have to have a high school education for. There were 48 kids in my junior class and 33 kids in my senior class. So we had 15 kids drop out, in a rural Arkansas school district. And they all went to good jobs. They didn't drop out and sit on the street corner.

[01:09:02] Whirlpool, the appliance manufacturer, opened up a huge big plant. One kid in my junior year of high school worked three shifts a day. A bunch of kids were like, "Why in the world am I going here? It's either back to the farm or go to Whirlpool." They went to Whirlpool.

[01:09:16] So that was OK. Today the world is very, very different. And it didn't really matter how you taught. I learned with Dick and Jane. As matter of fact some others of you here have probably learned from Dick and Jane. The same percentage of our kids could learn from Dick and Jane today.

[01:09:31] The only thing wrong with Dick and Jane for 80% of the kids that learned, it would still work for 80% of the kids. Unfortunately the 20% of the kids don't want to go to go to jail on today's world. We have to find a better way.

[01:09:44] So I believe very strongly about learning, that first of all, in the way we taught for centuries almost, we believed that kids learn by taking pieces of knowledge and stacking them on top of each other.

[01:10:01] That learning was in fact, linear. Give me this fact, then I add this fact on top of it, then this fact on top of it, then this fact on top of it. Then I give you a test at the end of the week to find out if you have all the facts right.

[01:10:14] That was the way that we taught. And for a lot of our kids, they can learn that way. The way I believe kids really learn is the way you and I learn. Because I believe kids are just little bitty adults and their brain works the same as ours does. That's not how we learn things.

[01:10:30] We learn things, I believe, by taking a whole group of experiences that we have and making sense out of those experiences and creating systems out of those experiences tied to our previous experiences.

[01:10:45] There's a whole lot of things that I've been exposed to in 65 years. When I see something new I relate that new thing and the other new things that I've learned to the things that I already know. And that's not a linear process. In the Wisconsin terms, it's a sifting and winnowing process. That's how I make sense out of that new knowledge. So that's how I believe kids learn.

[01:11:11] So if you think about that, that's why you construct your pedagogy, you construct the experiences that your kids have to facilitate that happening. Which is very, very different from facilitating kids stacking pieces of knowledge on top of each other.

[01:11:26] So I believe very, very strongly that in education jargon, that's called "constructivist" teaching and it's controversial don't misunderstand me. There are people that believe that we should still teach the other way. We have pretty good evidence nobody's learning that way, but we still we have people believing that.

[01:11:46] I believe if you do that in your classroom, you can in fact engage kids. Provided you are willing to learn about the child and what the child's experiences are.

Question: [01:12:03] I actually have two questions. The first one is that recently there was some publicity, misperceptions, I believe, on Nuestro Middle School, and how that school or another charter school is funded in comparison to how a Lakeview or an Emerson would be funded through the MMSD. What percent of the operating costs of our charter schools does MMSD itself cover?
Art: [01:12:32] All of it.

Question: [01:12:35] It does cover all of it? There is no different funding for a charter school?
Art Rainwater: [01:12:39] No, the allocation and funding is the same. Nuestro Mundo was done the way that it was done specifically to save money. And Alice was picked because at the time it had by far the largest Spanish-speaking population.

[01:13:05] At the time we did it, it was [inaudible] but it was the only school we had that had a sufficient mass of Spanish speaking kids in each grade level to even make it work. And so, it was invented there and really first choice given to Alice kids to save costs.

[01:13:29] They are staffed with exactly the same formula, everything is exactly the same. If all of the kids are from Alice, the cost would be no different than Alice would have cost us otherwise except for the additional principal. And I believe there's an additional secretary.

[01:13:49] Where there is a little bit of difference in cost and what's really more expensive is, all the kids that you have would have gone to some other school. If you have enough of those kids in the school that they generate the need for a teacher that you wouldn't have had to have if they were all from Alice, that's an additional cost.

Question: [01:14:12] If you wouldn't have needed that teacher somewhere else, possibly.
Art: [01:14:14] Well, no, because they don't all come from...
Woman 1: [01:14:15] OK.
Art: [01:14:16] It's the same principle as when anybody says, "Well, if you're losing these kids, why does the revenue cap account for it because they don't all go to the same place?" I mean, if we could get everybody who leaves the school district, if our enrollment goes down by 100, if we get all them to go from one school, we're home free.

[01:14:34] Unfortunately, they go one from each class across [inaudible]. But that would be the incremental cost associated with Nuestro Mundo.Now, if you take US Raimundo out of Alice and you place it in a building of its own, now you're in a different ballgame. But that's why when the board finally agreed to do US Raimundo, that was the...

Question: [01:15:00] But essentially, it balances the cost, for the most part of educating those children in their regular classrooms versus in the charter.
Art: [01:15:09] That's correct. There's not additional money involved.

Question: [01:15:13] And then the other question I have is: what kind of commitment does MMSD really have to those three charter schools that we have in operation right now? Right? Nuestro Mundo?
Art: [01:15:29] I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that, but charters in Wisconsin, charters are with the school district not the state, in Wisconsin, right?

Question: [01:15:39] Right. Yes.
Art: [01:15:42] The charters in Wisconsin are five years, so when you sign the charter and the board agrees to have a charter school, and they sign the charter contract with the chartering group, whoever that happens to be. In the case of Wright, that's the school district. Wright does not have a chartering group; it's actually chartered by the school district itself.

[01:16:09] Nuestro Mundo has a chartering group with a separate board of directors. That's a five-year contract. It has to be renewed after five years by the board. The contract specifies what the funding will be, specifies how the government structure will be, specifies what they have to do in terms of testing, accountability, and all those type of things.

[01:16:31] Then after five years, the board reviews that and makes a decision about whether or not to renew that charter. So, the commitment is really what's spelled out in that charter. And it can be different from school to school; it doesn't have to be all the same. Each charter school can have a different set of criteria.

Question: [01:16:53] I guess my question is: would MMSD, at any point do you foresee them saying, "We've decided that we're not going to renew charters in general"? Whether their criteria matters or not, are charters something that we are committed to once that school is proving itself successful? Or is there a possibility a charter could get non-renewed just because our philosophy changes?
Art: [01:17:22] It could. Sure. I mean, the charter law of Wisconsin is permissive. That means you don't have to have charter schools; you can choose to have charter schools. There are certain laws that govern, if you're going to choose to have them, what governs them.

[01:17:41] I don't foresee that happening, but the board could decide tomorrow they're not going to have any more charter schools. And then the current two charters were up, they don't have any more. They could also decide charter by charter because it is totally permissive and it totally depends on who's sitting on the board at that point in time. If you don't believe me, look at all the precedents overturned by the last Supreme Court.

Question: [01:18:10] Thank you.

Question: [01:18:10] You're in a unique position now after being with the school district for a fair amount of time and seeing these changes where we've brought in magnet schools and other schools. Now, you're talking about how you reflect at the end of each day, how do you reflect back on the last 10 years with those schools that have been successes? And in your opinion [inaudible]?
Art: [01:18:37] The only school we have that's truly a specialty school is Spring Harbor. In terms of what it was intended to do, it was obviously successful: it's got a huge waiting list and everybody wants to go there. So it's pretty successful at relieving the overcrowding.

[01:18:55] The two charter schools, I think Nuestro Mundo has been successful in almost every sense of the word and I think it's pretty well known that I was opposed it because I believed there were some problems with the model.

[01:19:14] We haven't reached the point where it's going to play out exactly whether I'm wrong or not. It's easy to say "I told you so." The real issue with Nuestro Mundo has always been, when you're in an immersion program, where the learning is in a language other than your own, you can't just come in in the fifth grade.

[01:19:37] Most immersion programs restrict entrance after the first grade. So after the first grade, you can't enroll in the school. Nuestro Mundo right now, I believe, restricts it into the second grade.

[01:19:52] Our fear was that we could not replenish the Spanish speakers because the vast majority of our Spanish-speaking population are very mobile and they move around the city a lot. So, after the second grade when a kid moves out, you can't replace him.

[01:20:15] And that same thing, obviously, is true of our English-speaking population, but the English-speaking population isn't as mobile. So there was always the fear.

And as we calculated it when we were looking at whether to recommend it or not, there was a real question -- and I think it still hasn't been answered completely -- about whether or not you could still be dual-immersion by the fifth grade, that you would, in fact, have lost the majority of your Spanish speakers.

[01:20:41] Whether or not that plays out, I don't know, but I think the model is very successful. We always believed that dual-immersion was successful and the reason we didn't implement it ourselves was the one that I just talked about.

[01:20:53] Wright is kind of an interesting situation because it is exactly like all our other middle schools, exactly. It does not have any special pedagogy or anything else.

[01:21:08] The original charter was done -- and it's been renewed once since -- because at the time it was focusing on technology. It was focusing on technology and we believed that we needed to get charter status so that we didn't have to get certified teachers to teach the technology part.

[01:21:28] That was the driving thing. right itself is very much a middle school. It's small at about 240 or 250 children. But I would be surprised if those don't continue as they are.

[01:21:46] What direction the board will take, who knows. I think a lot of it depends on what happens politically within the community. A school board in Wisconsin, because you have elections every single year, the majority of the school board can turn over in one calendar year in Wisconsin.

[01:22:07] And so, you can have an issue arise -- it could be about charter schools -- but you could have an issue arise in Wisconsin that gets a lot of people behind it and you could change the majority of the board and completely change the direction of the school district in one calendar year. In April, if you elect two, the next April two more, you've got a majority.

[01:22:32] So, I wouldn't even dream of predicting what will happen, but I do feel like we're overall in a very good place. And I haven't said a word about this -- this is probably the only speech I've given in 10 years where I didn't -- but the real thing about the education response is what happens in school financing. We can talk about all this other stuff all we want to, but the bottom line is: if we don't change school financing in Wisconsin, it's not going to matter.
Lauren: [01:22:57] There were two more - one there and one there - and then we'll call it a day.

Question: [01:23:04] I'm sure you didn't mean it, but from your initial remarks today I got the impression you said that 5% were outliers and 95% were all the same. But I think we really need to consider 25% groups that need to be dealt with individually.
Art: [01:23:18] I don't think you understood me. I was talking about the responses that kids made to the survey.

Question: [01:23:24] And there's 5% of the set that are way outliers?
Art: [01:23:28] No. 95% of the answers -- let's say there were a hundred questions on the survey -- 95% of the answers, there was no statistical difference in the responses that kids made, regardless of race or income.

[01:23:43] So if one of the questions was, "Do you like school?" they all answered it the same way. 5% of those questions -- five of those questions -- there were statistically significant differences in the way kids responded, either based on race or based on income. That is what I'm saying.

Question: [01:24:07] OK, that makes more sense. But I still think there are 20 different groups of 5% of the kids. If we ask one teacher to handle 25 kids, each one requiring different means of communication or standards, it's too much.

[01:24:23] Plus kids are going to self-segregate by the time they're in high school. You can call them cliques, or you can call them gangs, but they're going to be self-segregating. It almost sounded like you were saying, "Well, it's either all -- give everybody a full choice -- or don't give anybody a choice."

[01:24:43] If everybody had a meeting place and said, "All right, let's let these kids group together", then they won't want everybody abandoning their schools for somewhere else but also, them meeting their needs. This is just what I gather from this. Is this what that means?
Art: [01:25:03] Well, what I'm saying is it's my belief about what's best. That's just my belief, that doesn't make it right or wrong or whatever, it's just my belief. I think what you just said is exactly what happens. It is self-select. There are kids who stay where they are.

[01:25:18] They may not necessarily want to stay where they are. They have to stay where they are because they don't have the opportunity to go to the other place. That's a problem. To me one of the major issues that we have to deal with -- the purpose of K-12 education is to prepare kids to be successful adults.

[01:25:37] That's the purpose. Right now our present governor thinks the purpose is to take a test, but they're confused. The ultimate purpose is to prepare kids to be adults. The world that our kids -- first of all, think about the fact that our kindergartners will be in the workforce 60 years from now.

[01:25:59] We ain't got a clue what it's going to be like. The one thing that I can tell you for sure it's going to be like is it's going to really be diverse. They are going to have to work with -- both as peers, as superiors, and subordinates -- they are going to have to work with kids who speak a different language than they do, who look differently than they do, who come from a completely different culture than they do.

[01:26:25] Their ability to do that is going to determine their success, regardless of how much skill they have. That's going to be what is the most important thing. Every day, in my view, that we do not create an environment in which they learn how to do that, we are short-changing that child and decreasing their chances to be successful.

[01:26:53] To me it's one of the biggest strengths of the Madison Metropolitan School District, that we have that devotion. That diversity isn't just about race. It's about disability, it's about ability to communicate, not just the language -- it's all those kinds of things.

[01:27:11] And any time we create a public school environment in which we create situations in which children and parents can self-segregate based on race, based on language, based on intellect, based on any of those kinds of things, I believe is not what our country needs.

[01:27:34] That's my belief. You believe completely differently. That's one of the great things about being an American. That's what I believe.

Question: [01:27:44] But don't you think, let's say, select all the intellect kids, you think that's going to segregate all white. Isn't that racist since you say there are...
Art: [01:27:51] I didn't say there was no segregating all white.

Question: [01:27:53] You said intellect, those were your correct...
Art: [01:27:55] No, you attached that to white. I did not attach that to white.

Question: [01:28:00] No, I'm saying you said intellect. No, that's what I'm saying. You said they could select it by race and minority, but there are a lot of disadvantaged people who are very gifted and talented?
Art: [01:28:13] True.
Man 1: [01:28:14] Are they finding those and helping them?
Art: [01:28:16] I think so. If you looked rationally at the data - not the perceptions, not the emotional - look at the data.

[01:28:31] This past year, our school district, the Madison Metropolitan School District has doubled in both low-income and children of color in my tenure as superintendent. This past year, the Madison Metropolitan School District scored the highest ACT score in its history.

[01:28:52] Now, for some people, that might not be a big deal, except ours were already some of the highest in the nation as a district. So while we have, in fact, brought our low-income kids up, we have also brought all of our high-achievers up.

[01:29:09] It is not a zero-sum game. It just isn't, in my view. And it isn't a zero-sum game. You can, in fact, do this. I have an awful lot of faith in our teachers. I think we know how to differentiate across a very broad range of children.

[01:29:30] Do we have children we can't differentiate? Absolutely. Two years ago, we had a child -- we still have a child in the fifth grade now -- started taking calculus at the university in the third grade. Can we differentiate from him?

[01:29:45] No, we can't. We don't even attempt to. But, talking about the outlier, that's the outlier. We have those children. And you can go back and look in history.

[01:30:02] Eight years ago, nine years ago, of the United States team that went to the International Science Olympiad, selected from all over the United States of America, there were six kids selected, five of them from here, this school district.

[01:30:17] So we have those children. And when you're talking about the child who is truly the intellectual outlier, you can't differentiate. We don't even attempt to. That's why we bring people in from the university or take him to the university. Those opportunities are provided. And I think everybody knows those kind of kids.

Question: [01:30:40] Can I get an answer to this question?
Art: [01:30:41] Yeah.

Question: [01:30:42] Because it's my belief, from talking to various people, that those who are getting really high ACT scores are kids who have gotten supplemental education outside MMSD, which again causes haves and have-nots.

[01:30:59] Because the current Talented and Gifted program has been debased so severely that it's almost non-existent. And children who are of color, who are from the poverty backgrounds for talented and giftedness across all groups, they are not getting what they need and I have seen it.

[01:31:25] And now my child isn't disadvantaged and she would fall into some of the people that you're describing several grades up, has not in four years been challenged to the point that she should be. And then I think about people I went to medical school with who are black or Hispanic and they would not come in from an elementary school in Madison.

[01:31:49] I do not believe they are challenged adequately enough to be able to get into medical school nowadays, would they to go through Madison.
Art: [01:31:58] The only way I can respond -- I certainly don't plan to debate this now. I believe you're wrong. I don't pretend to debate whether your child or not -- I believe you're wrong. I believe there is absolutely no data. Now, remember, we're not talking about a small group of kids scoring high on the ACT. We're talking about over 70% of our kids who have taken the test.

[01:32:20] They didn't all have supplemental services. As a matter of fact, we've heard the rumor many, many times: the only reason why the test scores are high was because the kids were all home schooled and then they came in and took the test. No, that isn't true.

Question: [01:32:34] But blacks or Hispanics, that's what I'm asking.
Art: [01:32:35] No. Right now we have a program in all of our own schools, Project Excel, which was designed specifically to identify our children of color, our children from low-income backgrounds and support them in trying to get to that. You get those children there, starting back in kindergarten. You don't get them in the ninth grade.

[01:32:57] But again, in my mind, there are all kinds of arguments. The truth is we've never been able to pinpoint a single piece of data that says in fact that all of our kids who score high, that even a miniscule part of our kids who score have, in fact, supplemental services.

Question: [01:33:17] But has it been looked at?
Art: [01:33:18] Sure.
Lauren: [01:33:19] I promised one more question. That conversation can continue later. OK. One more.

Question: [01:33:27] I think this can be a wrap-up kind of a question, perhaps. It goes back to where you started. We started the day about a couple of things, talking about [inaudible], which to me is the structure that can be very unified or it can be very differentiated across different buildings.

[01:33:47] We also talked a lot about relationships and that was one of the things you focused on: how important those building-level of relationships are. You can have that East math team work together and you can have an elementary school that identifies a certain success and is able to build on that.

[01:34:07] And I think a lot of the educational research talked about principal leadership and the ability to build a teacher-professional community as a real support for that kind of building-level relationship. And so, my perception of Madison, and I'm sure it's a pendulum, is that we're on a trend toward less differentiation across our schools, that there's been an attempt to kind of pull in the curriculum and to create a more standardized curriculum.

[01:34:36] We're in the process of a high school redesign that I think is looking at trying to create more consistency, for some very good reasons. But what I'm trying to get at is that there are trade-offs for that kind of consistency across schools and the ability to create relationships and uniqueness and creativity within buildings.

[01:34:57] So I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about where you see Madison going as far as being traditionally these little sort of fiefdoms with principals at the head to being a whole...
Art: [01:35:07] I don't agree with your premise. And that is that consistency, in fact, decreases your ability to differentiate. It probably increases your ability to differentiate. Actually, differentiation occurs because I have the strategies and the skills and the knowledges to, in fact, reach a broad group of kids.

[01:35:27] That could be consistent or non-consistent. It really doesn't have anything to do with consistency. What I think you're trying to achieve is... In our elementary schools right now we're consistent, but each one of them has certain kinds of things that are unique to their population. And so what you try to achieve is a fundamental consistency.

[01:35:52] And we're talking about consistencies in the way you do things, not necessarily... I'll give you an example. If you go back and look at when I came here in '94, literally every teacher taught a reading program that they wanted to. It didn't have anything to do with anything. Just whatever.

[01:36:13] And what I can remember the best is I was called in as the deputy and I had to go over and kind of negotiate an agreement between eight parents who had twins and they're in different second grade classes. And they have two reading programs that were as far apart as you can get.

[01:36:34] One teacher, honest to God, was using a 1976 Basil Reader. This was 1994. These are old tattered books that she brings in every time.

[01:36:47] The other teacher is using the most extreme form of whole language. And this parent was asking the most obvious question which was: what happens to them next year? And think about some poor third grade teacher who's going to get those two kids.

[01:37:05] And so that's literally where we were. Everybody did exactly what they wanted to. Well, there are two problems with that. One is what I just mentioned, the third grade teacher - or even worse, moving from one school to another. The other thing is: how do you ever teach anybody new? You've got to have some consistency. So right now we have a consistent reading program across the school district.

[01:37:32] The reading program itself is a series of frameworks that's very flexible for the teacher to use based on where the children are in her class. What we're trying to do is build a consistent but continually broadening set of tools that a teacher has to work with kids and then help them learn how to recognize where that child is and apply the right tool. That's what we're trying to do.

[01:38:03] That requires teacher education, which is the professional learning and those kinds of things that you're talking about. Well, you can't have that if you don't have a consistent language and a consistent set of things that people are trying to learn.

[01:38:17] I can't teach 400 different programs. So that's one of the reasons for consistency as well as the fact that when you have a mobile population. Our population right now is not as mobile as it was at one time because [inaudible], but our population in Madison has been relatively mobile, not just in our low-income population, but around the city.

[01:38:44] So if that's the situation that you have, you at least want, if a child is going to transfer within the school district, that they at least recognize that they're in the school district. So that's why you see a sort of consistent approach, for example, to behavior and some of those kinds of things.

[01:39:00] I don't think it at all negates differentiation. Differentiation occurs because the teacher has a broad range of tools that they can apply in the right situation to the right kid.

[01:39:17] The premise, I believe, is not correct. But where are we in that process? I think we do a good job in the elementary school. And I'll say the same thing I said about everything else: we've made a lot of progress in the elementary school. I feel good about it. Middle schools we're about half-way and high schools we're just beginning.

[01:39:41] The high school redesign is a difficult situation. And I'll close with this. We've tried high school whatever-we-called-it. We called it "high school reform," we called it "high school renewal." You name it, we had a name for it.

[01:39:59] We actually started to do that in the mid '60s. And there's been movement after movement after movement after movement to try to do that, none of them successful because they all have gotten at the organizational structure.

[01:40:18] The file and form block was part of the high school reform movement. We've tried to get at the schedule, a flexible, logical schedule. I don't know if you went to school after that fun dip. That was fun. But anyway.

[01:40:34] All of those were attempts to change the high schools, but they all went after the structure. The high school reform that needs to happen is in the classroom.

[01:40:45] It doesn't matter what the schedule is. I mean, you can figure out what you want to do in the classroom and have a schedule that enhances it. But we never, in the high school, have gone after the classroom.

[01:40:57] And some of it is just the mentality of teachers and what level they do. Elementary teachers become elementary teachers because they want to teach kids. Again, this is a generality; I'm sure there are some other reasons, but generally speaking. High school teachers become high school teachers -- and I was one of these, don't misunderstand me -- because they want to teach the subject.

[01:41:23] I became a biology teacher because I loved biology and I wanted to impart biology. There were some kids there, too, but I wanted to impart biology. And in my case, I wanted to impart zoology.

[01:41:37] I didn't like plants, and still don't. So there are thousands of kids that had biology with me out there right now who probably don't know anything in the world about photosynthesis. That was wrong, but anyway.

Art: [01:41:48] So, you're dealing with just the fundamental reason why somebody's in the profession, I think, which is one of the reasons why I think it takes longer to get to the high schools. If you've been here as long as I have, you see the same things come up again, they just call it something different.

[01:42:11] I've seen the same reform movements come through four or five different times with a little bit different name.

But they all get at the organizational structure. OK. Thank you all.

Lauren: [01:42:28] Don't forget to fill out your feedback form.