Friday, June 15, 2007

Isthmus Piece On Schools Worth A Read: Soglin Post, Too

Marc Eisen, my thoughtful former colleague at Isthmus, has a piece suggesting education reforms for Madison that are based on a Milwaukee Public Schools model.

Milwaukee readers will flinch at a stinging adjective in the lede; Madison readers will find much of the entire premise hard to swallow, so in the ongoing Milwaukee-Madison competitive dynamic - - advantage this round to Milwaukee.

Separately, Paul Soglin takes Mark Belling to task for the WISN-AM 1130 squawker's uninformed opinions about kids' performance in school and the buildings in which they attend their classes.

Belling is at his most clueless when he opining and whining about things with which he has little personal experience, whether it's foreign affairs or raising kids.


James Rowen said...

"A comment was emailed to me, and I am posting it here:

"I know this guy is a friend of yours but I can't get past the way he writes about MPS or even dares to refer to Madison as an urban school district.

"Madison is not an urban school district. Some of those "boutique" High Schools in Milwaukee are in as bad shape functionally as any in MPS.

'MPS' problems are entirely rooted in poverty and yeah, those small school models probably would work in Madison, because unlike Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, etc, the Madison school district is not almost entirely composed of extremely poor children.

"Good or bad why does he bother to continue to make these apple and oranges comparisons?"

Anonymous said...

Most Madison school are over 40% poverty. I am not sure what the poverty criteria is to be considered urban. I do know Madison, has erased race as a criteria for not being proficient, has Milwaukee done the same.

My initial reaction was taking ideas from Milwaukee is laughable at best. Marc Eisen general concern is middle class flight. That's certainly a real problem since Madison's urbanness is more from its school population than the city population.

Madison has had a history of neighborhood schools, Lapham, in particular, Marc Eisen has written some interesting pieces defending. One way to see his piece is extending that logic to High Schools. I can support that logic if we also begin educating all kids not just those bound for college. What I don't support is his advocacy for charter, magnet, and choice schools.

James Rowen said...

Opinion-makers in Madison far too often tee off unnecessarily on Milwaukee; it's at the core of some resentment in Milwaukee towards Madison.

Madison does have growing urban problems because of white flight, or middle-class flight.

Addressing those issues is important. Learning from Milwaukee is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

A statistical comparison that is interesting and a positive for MPS is that the test scores of their students in poverty are better than those of kids in suburban districts in poverty.

For whatever reason, MPS does a better job of reaching those kids.

I am curious what the racial make-up of Madison public schools is. I am sure it was in one of Eisen's articles, but I don't recall it now.

I myself was a Madison public school student.--And, technically, I was in a family living below the poverty line. My family lived in a nice house and a neighborhood free of crime.

I also had two parents who managed to afford to send me to a designer pre-school and participated in my education. My mother was a full-time student and my dad was between white collar jobs.

Not quite the same situation as a child in Milwaukee Public Schools, who is likely to live with grandma, and may live in a violent neighborhood and may not have regular access to a telephone and a regular place to call home.

Did you know that at any given time during the school year, around 1,000 students in the Milwaukee Public School system who are classified as homeless?

Just a thought and again goes to my point that comparing Milwaukee and Madison schools because they happen to be close to eachother geographically is not all that useful.