New Partnership Between School District and UW

It is amazing what can be accomplished without a school board meeting! As chair of the partnership committee, I know the importance of developing partnerships with our community. This is the challenge of being elected to represent a school district that is getting increasingly diverse with more students of color and more students with fewer socio-economic resources. In addition, the entire school district has fewer financial resources due to state imposed revenue caps. For these reasons, different approaches need to be utilized to further resources and strengthen partnerships with organizations that have similar goals.
I am pleased to announce that the Madison Metropolitan School District and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have entered into a partnership that will strengthen recruitment efforts and solidify one years worth of funding for the Minority Services Coordinator (MSC) position. This position has been very vital to the School Board’s goal of closing the achievement gap by working with racial and ethnic minority students since 1973. The position was created and developed by the late Joe Thomas of West High School. Without this partnership, the MSC position would have fallen victim to budget cuts.
Superintendent Rainwater shared these remarks with the entire school board:
“We have entered into a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to share the services and funding of the Minority Services Coordinators in each of our high schools. This partnership will enable us to keep the Minority Services Coordinators in the schools and further enhance their ability to assist both us and the University with our minority students as they prepare to enter college.”
This partnership is made possible because of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s efforts to encourage post-secondary education for Wisconsin disadvantaged and minority students. The funding will come from the PEOPLE (Pre-college Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) Program currently serving approximately 800 high school and middle school students from public schools in Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Waukesha, the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Menominee Nation.
The program emphasizes enrichment in math, science and writing, and incorporates technology as an integral part of the curriculum. Students build study skills and receive information on college preparation and testing, academic and career options, and other subjects to foster graduation from high school and success in college.
Those who complete the pre-college portion of the program and are accepted for admission to UW-Madison receive a tuition scholarship for up to five years. This program is designed for African-American, American Indian, Southeast Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino and disadvantaged students. The program was launched in 1999 as part of the UW-Madison’s Plan 2008 to enhance campus diversity.
This partnership between the district and University would not have happened without the leadership and foresight of Assistant Dean in the School of Education, Walter Lane; Special Assistant to the Chancellor, LaMarr Billups; Vice Chancellor for Administration, Darrell Bazzell; Chancellor John Wiley, Superintendent Rainwater and the Madison School Board.
While I’m very happy to announce this partnership, I am saddened about the $8.6 million dollars worth of budget cuts. Although I know there will be no partnerships to solve $8.6 million dollars worth of services, perhaps this is the beginning to having serious discussions to create more partnerships that will be mutually beneficial to the school district and other organizations dedicated to the same goal of educating our students.

2 thoughts on “New Partnership Between School District and UW”

  1. What a wonderful opportunity for both U.W. and MMSD. While MMSD and many other districts struggle with annual financial short falls due to the limitation the state has placed on the communities to fund education, this is a positive move toward independence of the state. I feel the district constantly waits to see if the state will “fix” itself, and by all indications we need to move on and think of other ways to accomplish our goals. This is a great start, we need to think beyond our current system and be proactive in our pursuit.

  2. This is good news indeed. I know from personal experiences friends whose children have directly benefited from this program. Without such a program, they likely would not have gone to college.
    I would like to see an information item on your next partnership committee meeting explaining how this relationship was nurtured and developed so we see how this experience might apply to other areas.
    At your recent Partnership Committee, I asked your committee to consider a) developing a definition of partnership, b) identifying what kinds of partnerships exist in the district, c) identifying student courses at risk that might benefit from partnerships. I hope your committee can get started on this and will meet more regularly to get some of this work off the ground.
    I agree with Ms. Battaglia’s comment about sole reliance on the state and federal governments. They are neither fulfilling their educational obligations nor making little headway in addressing issues facing school financing issues. Discussions need to take place at the board level about what might be outside federal and state funding through various financial strategies.
    Sadly, another year has passed and MMSD administration’s inaction has put many areas into jeapordy. For example, it’s been six years of cuts to Fine Arts without any effort on the district administration’s part to explore seriously partnerships. No fine arts task force has been formed to develop funding strategies. This cannot be done outside the district, because that would be counterproductive. The administration is taking no action, and the community needs leadership from the school board.

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