Many parents are actively researching educational options for their young children. Increasingly, they are expecting more from public schools than the one-size-fits-all model schools have traditionally offered. Across the state, school districts are opening more charter schools and boosting their offerings of online and virtual classes to diversify educational approaches.
Some see these alternatives as necessary for the future of public school districts — especially urban ones struggling to eliminate the racial and income achievement gaps while expanding opportunities for both struggling and high-performing students.
“While the system serves many children well, it doesn’t serve all of them well,” says Senn Brown of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association. “By recognizing that kids learn differently, and by creating options to serve them, school districts do better for all kids.”
Take away the glasses, and Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater bears a passing resemblance to Rodney Dangerfield, the late comedian whose tag line was, “I don’t get no respect.”
The Madison Metropolitan School District has compiled an impressive record of student achievement through the years and has shown heartening progress in reducing the racial performance gap — a gap that has been documented in many districts across the land. But despite this, Rainwater has faced an increasingly restive constituency and a growing public perception, justified or not, that Madison schools are in decline