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Saturday's MMSD Board of Education Retreat agenda has been posted.

Board of Education - Meeting Agendas, Materials, Minutes, Policies, and Calendars
boarddocs.com

On Monday, the MMSD Board will have our first discussion of a proposal to "match" $1.3 million from unnamed donors with $1.5 million in public money to renovate... the East High School Field House. I generally don't like leverage philanthropy, so for me the question becomes how $1.5 million spent on a renovated field house fits with our needs and priorities. It doesn't seem to have been a focus of our recent general facilities and athletic facilities analysis, but those have not been the subject much Board or public scrutiny. I do like this from one of the memos -- "Finally, while donations of this magnitude are both rare and greatly appreciated, we must also consider how the MMSD share of the cost will impact the Capital Maintenance budget and the other projects which are in the maintenance queue." Thoughts?

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Board of Education - Meeting Agendas, Materials, Minutes, Policies, and Calendars
boarddocs.com
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Many people have questions about the funding of charter schools authorized by the UW System (2x charters). This answers most of them. It should be added that ...there are a number of categorical aids where the amount appropriated by the state is less than the amount Local Education Agencies (LEAs) qualify for under the formula, and these are distributed on a pro rated basis, any new LEAs (like 2x charters) will also -- slightly -- reduce these payments. Short version is that MMSD will not lose revenue authority, but will lose state aid, and will have the option of raising property taxes to make up for that. Here is longer version: "The per pupil payments to these “new 2r” independent charters are funded by transferring state general aid away from the school district in which the student resides to the independent charter. The amount transferred is $8,188. The “2x” independent charter student’s resident school district is allowed a nonrecurring revenue limit exemption for up to the amount of aid lost. The school board of that district has an option to levy an amount up to the amount of the aid lost, but is not required to do so. If the board does not levy this amount, under revenue limits, the lost aid represents a cut to the district’s budget. Independent charter students in these schools will be counted in the revenue limit and state aid calculation of their school district of residence, although there is a one-year delay before any of these students generates any aid for their resident district.' BTW -- I said "about $7,000 elsewhere," I was wrong, it is $8,188, and it may be slightly higher next year. With Anna Mueller Moffit.

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Recently, we examined how private school vouchers will impact public school funding in 2016-17. We now look at the increasingly complicated way in which independent charters are funded and how this…
wasblegupdate.wasb.org

Unnamed people approved charter proposals that you and I aren't allowed to read. -- "After initially saying his office would be completely transparent -- public...ly posting the names of every charter school proposer when they apply and how they scored on review rubrics each step of the way on his office website -- Bennett now has changed course. He says that UW System lawyers have advised he not publicize any material from applicants until they reach the contract negotiation phase or unless they are rejected prior to that, akin to how the System's job interview process works."

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State "charter czar" Gary Bennett on Thursday said he intends to authorize up to two independent charter schools opening this fall in Madison, and both are familiar names in the
host.madison.com
Thomas J. Mertz

FYI -- For those attending the MMSD Board meeting tonight, there is a basketball game at the Kohl Center and the Doyle Building lot will be in use for that. Please plan accordingly, and carpool or take public transportation if you can.

On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "Equity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student ...Services Personnel." This is from their principals. It has some good ideas, even some not obvious insights. It also has some dangerously misguided analysis, much of which is carefully phrased to make it hard to pin down. For example -- "Although lower class sizes and extra assistants may help create a safe learning environment, districts should consider investing more in differentiated instruction and other initiatives, such as expert coaching, that support improved instruction, and they should write IEPs flexibly to address student needs without mandating specific interventions." Note the way a "safe environment" is shunted aside, and other benefits of smaller classes and quality aides are ignored, and the whole thing is set up as an "either/or," not a both. Last, the call for flexible IEPs is just wrong, and harmful. BTW, this may be behind a firewall, if you want a copy message me. I will be voting no.

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Special education would benefit from the same focus on efficiency found in general education, Stephen Frank and Karen Hawley Miles write.
edweek.org
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Thomas J. Mertz

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #9 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel "(https://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto…). I have had people complain that I have impossibly high standards, and that no consultant can meet those standards. I do have high standards; I take the responsibility of office very seriously. However, they are not impossibly high, the report linked here (https://www.ousd.org/…/Oakland%20Special%20Education%20Repo…) meets those standards. Take a look. Interestingly, although they are working in the same area, at the same time in Oakland, nothing from ERS references this report, and there is no reference to ERS in this report. I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #8 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel "(https://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto…). It isn't often that a district budget is so bad that it requires a mid year "Post Mortem," but that was the case with the budget ERS takes credit for. Top to bottom -- 1. From the ERS application for the MMSD project, with a link to #2, the 2017 Oakland budget presentation (https://drive.google.com/…/0BxMqlDlfSN03dDNSbnhwREEwamM/view #3, the budget "Post Mortem" (https://ousd.legistar.com/View.ashx…) that Oakland paid another consultant to produce (it appears ERS no longer has contracts with Oakland). Budgeting is supposedly ERS's area expertise, but I don't see it. I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #7 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel " (https\://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AUFMVA5D0E13). One of the things you want from a consultant is an honest presentation of the full picture; what you don't want is a sales job based on cherry-picked information. In their application for the MMSD project, ERS gave us the latter. At the top is their description of the success of ttheir work on the "Cleveland Plan." Next is the lede from the Cleveland.com story, which adds the information that most gains (6 out of 8) were not statistically significant (the whole story is here: http://www.cleveland.com/…/small_gains_for_the_cleveland_sc…). Last at the bottom is a screenshot from the NAEP dashboard (https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/…/districtpr…/overview/XV…), which adds the information that desprite the gains, Cleveland remained significantly below comparison districts. When people leave things like this out, I cease to trust them, and I certainly don't hire them to provide an analysis. I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #6 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel " (https\://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AUFMVA5D0E13). At the instance of Board members, the RFP for this project was revised to include successful inclusion practices. ERS has been working with Ceveland schools since 2012, after 4 years Cleveland has 33.79% of their students with disabilities in regular education environments more than 80% of the day, and 33.05% less than 40% of the day (full data here: http://education.ohio.gov/…/2015-2016-District-Level-Specia…). Although this represents an improvement from 2012, it is hardly the it doesn't convince me of their expertise in, or commitment to successful special education inclusion practices. I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #5 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel " (https\://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AUFMVA5D0E13). At the same time Education Resource Strategies is collecting over $400,000 in public money from the Oakland School district to help produce a budget with a hidden $15 million shortfall ($30 million by some reports), they are on the payroll of the Walton funded "Oakland Achieves Partnership" producing a report that calls for moving more students and money to charter schools (see excerpt here, full report at the link -- http://bit.ly/2sJ4JfH). I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #4 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel " (https\://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AUFMVA5D0E13). The top section of this image is from Education Resource Stategies application to MMSD, with nothing but good things to say about their work on the 2017 Oakland budget. The bottom (starting at "Summary" is from the California Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team report on that same budget (http://fcmat.org/…/s…/4/2017/08/Oakland-USD-final-report.pdf). Who do you trust, and why would you hire anyone involved in creating this situation? This line strikes me as particularly important, " and the inability of the governing board to hold accountable
administrators that have been allowed to overspend budgets and override board policy," the MMSD has the opportunity to hold administrators accountable by voting no on this contract. I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #3 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel " (https://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto…). This is from a 2010 article from the consultant (https://www.erstrategies.org/…/the_politics_of_special_educ…) where they adivise placing state and national caps on special education funding. Really. I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz added a new photo to the album: YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP (ERS Contract).

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP #2 (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "E...quity-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel " (https://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto…) They recently did over $400,000 worth of work for Oakland Unified School District (the slide here is from this report: https://ousd.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx…). They claim expertise in special education service delivery, but look at their recommendations for Oakland. Essentially they say there are some choices, choices that any SEA in our district, and many of our students with disabilities could have told you about, plus those people could have told you what works and why. I will be voting no.

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Thomas J. Mertz added a new photo to the album: YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP (ERS Contract).

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP (read to the end)! - On Monday the MMSD Board will be voting on a consultant contract with Education Resource Strategies, for "Equi...ty-Based Resource Distribution Models for Student Services Personnel " (http://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto…) They recently did over $400,000 worth of work for Oakland Unified School District (the slides here are from this report: .https://ousd.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx…). They are number crunchers, and they crunched a bunch of numbers and found that one reason students weren't graduating was they weren't "completing" 13% high school courses they took (course withdrawals and failures). The solution they proposed was to redo all high school schedules so that students would attempt more courses (if they take more courses and fail at the same rate, they get more credits). Why would anyone pay people who "think" like this for advice? I will be voting no.

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"The authors of the analysis suggest the U.S. has established benchmarks that are neither useful nor credible." -- I have been saying this a long time; in national, state, and local contexts. With the revised Strategic Framework, let's try to get it right in MMSD!

A new study conducted jointly by the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League concludes that the benchmarks used for Common Core assessments are wildly unrealistic. The press …
dianeravitch.net
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Thomas J. Mertz

Answers to some questions I asked about the proposed MMSD growth metric (on the agenda this evening): https://mmsdamps.files.wordpress.com/…/board-growth-questio… (much more like this graph at the link).