Updated: Oct 8, 2021
Inform found NO evidence any consultants were hired to instruct or promote CRT to MTSD staff or administration.
On August 8, 2021, an e-mail from Recall MTSD School Board <firstname.lastname@example.org> circulated in Mequon-Thiensville with the following header: July 26 School Board Meeting: MTSD Superintendent Matt Joynt Assures Attendees that CRT is not in MTSD. Fact Check: False.
The implication was Superintendent Joynt lied to the public.
The e-mail also made several claims which were fact-checked along with a general study of consultants engaged around curriculum (the basis for the CRT claim), as well as other areas.
Summary Graph of Consultant Expenditures
Recall Group Claims
On the left are recall group key claims and on the right are Inform’s findings.
Inform collected consultant expenses, interviewed Superintendent Joynt, Assistant Superintendent Clark and several teachers. Our findings follow.
Note: Donovan Group was excluded from this analysis.
Donovan Group is a marketing and communications firm headquartered in Milwaukee. Prior to 2013, Donovan was the Districts marketing arm. Their role diminished significantly when the District hired Melissa McCrady as Communications Director.
1. Mathematics Institute of Wisconsin. $10,835 (97% in 2019-2020)
Summary. Mathematics Institute of Wisconsin is not a CRT consultant. The work done by Paige Richards was related to services for math specialists. 97% was expended in 2019-2020.
There was no claim or evidence they are CRT consultants, but this amount appears to be included in the claim by the recall group, “Records show that your taxpayer dollars have paid out $114,500 to CRT consultants, to date.”
2. ICS Equity. $13,440 (100% in 2019-2020)
Summary. ICS Equity is not a CRT consultant. Dr. Frattura’s focus was providing special education students the same educational experiences as other students while also meeting the needs of each special education student. This is called educational equity. We understand using the word “equity” is a targeted buzz word for CRT, but we did not find any connection to CRT and this engagement.
From our conversation with a high school special education teacher, we confirmed the District’s emphasis on not pulling students out of the classroom during lectures and giving them the same general instruction. We were reminded there a broad range of individual education plans (IEPs), with some requiring minimal additional support and others requiring a full-time specialist following the student from class-to-class. In the high school, if needed, special education students get additional support during a study period. Further, the special education teacher had no idea what “CRT” was and had never heard it talked about.
Some concepts we heard about Educational Equity include:
Differentiate lessons to avoid kids failing the first time.
Focused on student learning needs to not let kids slide through.
For what’s taught, each student must “get it”, this is just the opposite of dumbing things down.
Work with individual teams, C3 Teams, Co-plan to Co-serve to Co-learn.
ICS Equity is all about “inclusion” (not separation into groups).
The bottom line is the District cares about “heterogeneous” groups, which means they are diverse (diversity is another word used in the District), meaning you don’t pull kids out of lectures. Educational equity is a non-negotiable, meaning every student gets what they need to be successful. This is not accomplished by lowering academic or social standards. We find people often confuse the word “equity” with “equality”.
The recall group made the following claim: “ICS is "obsessed with equity" and when they are done, the district will be too.” Keep in mind, ICS was only hired once in the 2019-2020 school year. Further, educational equity, as discussed above, began at MTSD four years ago; this is the fifth year. There was never anything controversial about making sure every student gets what they need to be successful until now.
There was no evidence CRT or anything, radical or controversial, was discussed by ICS, but this amount appears to be included in the claim by the recall group, “Records show that your taxpayer dollars have paid out $114,500 to CRT consultants, to date. Most likely included because of the word “equity” in the ICS brand.
3. AVID. $43,700 (98% in 2019-2020)
Summary: There was no claim or evidence AVID professional development are CRT consultants.
This amount appears to be included in the claim by the recall group, “Records show that your taxpayer dollars have paid out $114,500 to CRT consultants, to date.” AVID is not a CRT consultant.
4. Blaquesmith. $42,000 (76% in 2020-2021)
Dr. Smith was a team psychologist for the Wisconsin Badgers. His background is child psychology and his focus student engagement, or how do we find ways to reach kids. The period for the $42,000 is a little confusing, but is explained below:
Part A: Curriculum Focused Work. $26,000 ($10,000 in 2019-2020)
Summary: Over 300 teachers attended a 1-day training in each of 2020 and in 2021. There was no evidence CRT or anything radical was discussed. Logic dictates if CRT was promoted in February 2020 or January 2021, it would have made it into the public domain by now but has not.
February 2020 ($10,000) for 1 day of in-service for all staff. Morning Session: Universal work readiness skills and Homework By Design. Afternoon Session: Leading for Educational Equity. This session focused on: 2020 student mindset through an education and psychology lens. The idea was to make sure teachers are reaching every student.
January 2021 ($16,000) for 1 day of in-service. Morning Session: Educational Equity and Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn, which is about how to reach every student (3 hours). Afternoon Session: Realizing the Vision (Each student, every time, empowered to succeed.) and Co-plan to Co-Serve again.
There were also some DELT meetings attended.
DELT is an acronym for District Equity Leadership Team.
DELT is open to all staff from all schools in the District.
Meetings are in the fall (to plan each January’s in-service day) and spring (to discuss how to engage students more). Meetings start at 4:30PM and are heavily represented by the elementary and middle schools. Typically, between 6-12 staff show up. People show up or they don’t. No attendance is taken.
Last year, most of the DELT time was about building recognition posters for people of different backgrounds and their accomplishments. Although these posters can be purchased, the team thought it would be more meaningful to build them.
Part B. Parent Meeting Work. $16,000 (July 2020 and January 2021)
Context: Parents asked MTSD for help talking about a matter related to the death of George Floyd. After the first presentation in July 2020, Dr. Smith came back for a parent presentation in January 2021. The parent talk created controversy with some in the community.
Summary: Nothing in either parent meeting presentation was part of MTSD professional learning for administration, staff or students.
It is not unusual for MTSD to offer parent sessions on special topics. In the past, consultants have been hired by the School District to talk to parents about drugs, vaping, stress and suicide.
The name of the parent meetings was called, “The Talk, a necessary conversation about privilege and race.”
We understand these parent meetings were the starting point for CRT discussion.
We further understand these parent meetings are the basis for a lawsuit against the school district asking for the e-mail addresses of parents who were invited to the parent meetings.
5. Mindsteps. $18,293 ($12,500 was a DPI grant)
Summary: Mindsteps is not a CRT consultant. The work done by Dr. Robyn Jackson covered educator effectiveness, using a DPI grant, and school growth plan development. MTSD has contracted with Mindsteps for at least the last 5 years with no claims of CRT.
Educator effectiveness training ($12,793) was paid for with Wisconsin DPI grant money available for this specific purpose. The 2020 contract was $5,000 (plus expenses) and the 2021 contract was $7,500. This work centers on helping administrative teams better evaluate teachers. Meetings are typically in the winter and spring. None of this related to CRT.
Mindsteps was also used for several small things ($5,500 cost), including 1-2 days to develop school growth plans by building. Attendees included building principals, assistant principals and four District Administrators. None of this related to CRT.
These amounts may have been included in the claim by the recall group, “Records show that your taxpayer dollars have paid out $114,500 to CRT consultants, to date.” Mindsteps is not a CRT consultant.
If anything in this document is believed to be misrepresented, misstated or missing, please let Inform know immediately so we may correct the record. Write to us at email@example.com or in Facebook Messenger. Meaningful revisions will be noted at the bottom. Grammatical edits will not be noted.
Commitment to Equity & Opportunity
Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles
Original Document: October 5, 2021