In December, the MMSD administration forwarded a consulting contract with District Management Group (DMG), which has a reputation for cost-cutting measures to reduce special education staff and segregate students with more significant disabilities. Grassroots organizations, families and staff spoke out against this contract, and we won. The contract was ultimately pulled from the agenda.
The MMSD administration is now seeking approval of yet another unacceptable contract—for $100,000—with Education Resource Strategies (ERS), to create new models for allocating resources to special education and the Behavior Education Plan. ERS, like DMG, promotes corporate school reform. Their area of expertise is restructuring school district budgets so dollars follow students, which potentially destabilizes smaller schools and schools with declining enrollment. The school board should vote NO on this contract.
At the school board meeting this Monday, January 29, we will be speaking in support of our educators and staff while voicing our opposition to the ERS contract. Here’s how you can help:
- Write to the school board. Tell them to vote no on the ERS contract.
- Attend Monday’s school board meeting and wear red in support of public education and our staff. Fill out a comment slip stating your opposition to the ERS contract and your support for our staff. Even better, share your thoughts with the board through public testimony.
- ERS lacks expertise in special education. Their approach stresses capping the number of students placed in special education programs. Their proposal to MMSD doesn’t provide what we need to best serve our special education students. It emphasizes restructuring the student services budget to save or reallocate money and analyzing the Behavior Education Plan for ROI (Return on Investment). The consultants who will work with MMSD have training in business, with firms such as Bain Capital.
- Their main work has been on behalf of corporate reforms that weaken unions, expand charters, and potentially lead to school closings. Their reforms lead to increased emphasis on standardized test scores in evaluating teachers.
- ERS has no meaningful record of success. In Oakland, they addressed high rates of course withdrawal and failure in high schools by distorting the data. Rather than creating conditions to help students succeed, they redesigned schedules so students would take more courses and get more credits, even if they failed and withdrew from courses at the same rate. As for their record in special education, districts they have worked with for years continue to have alarming numbers of students in very restrictive environments and dismal outcomes. MMSD school board member TJ Mertz has documented their failings here.
- ERS uses top-down analysis and recommends top-down solutions. MMSD needs a bottom-up approach that starts with, and values, the experiences of students and staff.
Please ask the entire MMSD school board to vote NO on the ERS contract. You can send email to the board plus the superintendent’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday’s board meeting is at 6pm at the Doyle Building, 545 W. Dayton St. Plan to arrive about 15 minutes early and sign up if you wish to speak. Individual email addresses for school board members and tips for speaking to the board are on the SCAPE website.
Please forward this action alert to your friends and networks. And don’t forget to wear red on Monday!
Together, we have the power to make a difference!
Madision SCAPE (School Community Alliance for Public Education)
Madison Education Collective