Where are the Parents?

Madison District 15 Alder (and MMSD Affiliated Alternatives Employee) Larry Palm:

Tonight I attended the Public Forum at O’Keefe Middle School to discuss a potential move of the Affiliated Alternatives into the building shared with Marquette Elementary School.

I appreciated the high level of questions asked of Steve Hartley, the District’s Director of Alternative Programs. A large majority of questions revolved around the anticipated interactions between students at what would essentially be a K-12 campus (minus the students that attend certain grades at Lapham Elementary School– which is also another option on the East Side Task Force for either the Affiliated Alternatives or the administrative offices of MSCR).

Palm also notes that it is budget time again and suggests that the District “take this year off from a referendum”.

2 thoughts on “Where are the Parents?”

  1. I guess I’m wondering how Larry can work at Affiliated Alternatives and NOT understand the level of minority parental disengagement in the MMSD. As a PTO President at a school with high poverty, I assume that if I want to connect with minority parents, I have to go to them, not vice-versa.

  2. I accept that on Mr. Palm’s blog he is speaking as an Alder for his constituency and not as a district employee. I don’t have a problem with that. However, I do see two main problems. First, I strongly believe that many MMSD employees do not have a firm grasp of the fiscal challenges of the school district. The district budget can ONLY go up 2.5% because of revenue limits. The City of Madison budget could go up as high as 7 point something percent, however, the common council settled at 4.3%. Every raise the school board gives its employees contributes to the gap along with the rise in health care costs, utilities etc. Meanwhile district employees are seeing their jobs eliminated. Some employees go so far as e-mailing the board about potential savings, and even whistle blowing on people (sometimes positions) they perceive as not vital to the district. I know from person experience how difficult it is to work with students/children. For employees not to receive adequate compensation or raises would not be right. Something has got to change at the state level (and federal level) regarding school finance to take the pressure off local government.
    Secondly, Mr. Palm raises a point regarding parent involvement or his perceived lack their of with African American parents or other races. This is truly a challenge not only in our school district but our community as well. I’m a part of many organizations such as 100 Black Men, Sable Flames (African American Firefighters), Network of Black Professionals and many others. It’s very difficult to get people to come together on an exact date, time etc. – no matter what race you are. Look at school parent organizations – there are many parents in the school but the PTO’s numbers don’t reflect the interest in the organization – now add race. My main point is that you still have to keep trying to recruit, retain and develop African American, Latino, Asian and Native American parent leaders or at least have people on committees, boards and groups that are not only sensitive to issues but will even call attention to inequities in decision making. Just because people don’t come, doesn’t mean they don’t care. A meeting is only one way to get information.
    One of the ideas I had during my campaign is to put together a community/parent group of people of color/minorities to act in an advisory capacity. I haven’t begun that process, however, we have many groups and organizations in our community such as MAFAAC, Latino Support, Outreach and others that I can and do attend meetings to gauge the pulse of our community and gain support or hear the dissension of decisions.

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