“They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

ibmadison.com interviews Kaleem Caire about the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, via a kind reader:

In Caire’s mind, kids can’t wait. Consider the data he cites from the ACT District Profile Report for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s 2010 graduating class:

Of students taking the ACT, average test scores differed significantly between African Americans and white students:

English Math Reading Science Composite
African Americans 16.3 18.0 17.1 18.4 17.6
Caucasian/White 25.1 25.6 25.8 24.8 25.4

The percent of students meeting ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores, broken out by ethnicity, for the 2010 graduating class seems more alarming:

Total Tested English (18) Math (22) Reading (21) Science (24)
All Students 1,122 81% 68% 71% 51%
African Americans 76 38% 24% 25% 9%
Caucasian/White 733 90% 77% 79% 60%
Hispanic 71 59% 39% 45% 18%
Asian/Pacific Isl. 119 67% 65% 61% 45%

Numbers like these fuel Caire’s fire, and his vision for The Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. “I’m amazed that [the primarily white leadership in the city] hasn’t looked at this data and said, ‘wow!’ They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

Caire understands the challenges that lie ahead. By November, he needs to formally propose the idea to the School Board, after which he will seek a planning grant from the Department of Public Instruction. He anticipates other hurdles along the way. Among them, a misconstrued conception. “Madison believes it’s creative, but the reality is, it’s not innovative.” Will the community accept this idea, or sit back and wait, he wonders.
Second: The resources to do it. “We can survive largely on what the school system can give us [once we’re up and running], but there’s seed money you need to get to that point.”
Third: The teacher’s union response. “No one knows what that will be,” Caire said. “The school board and district are so influenced by the teacher’s union, which represents teachers. We represent kids. To me, it’s not, ‘teachers at all costs,’ it’s ‘kids first.’ We’ll see where our philosophies line up.” He added that the Urban League and those behind the Charter School idea are not at all opposed to the teacher’s union, but the Prep School’s design includes, for example, a school day longer than the teacher’s contract allows. “This isn’t about compensation,” he said of the contract, “it’s about commitment. We don’t want red tape caught up in this, and we want to guarantee long-term success.”

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT! and outbound open enrollment.

2 thoughts on ““They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.””

  1. Seems to me there are several (if not “plenty”) teachers in this district who would be committed enough to put in the extra hours “beyond contract”, IF the union will let them. This really does make a big difference, in my experience. If teachers put in extra time with kids who need extra help, it can work wonders: especially with kids who have not had the background exposure to the material at earlier levels to pick up the new material immediately. The problem is, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on teachers to put in what is in the contract for time and effort, and not one drop more. That simply is not working for (IMHO) one-third to half of the students by middle school.
    IF the students have the support and energy to work their tails off on assignments at home, they can get through and learn it: even the advanced material. If they do not have (at home/after school) a study environment that works for them, possible adult support as needed for understanding requirements for an assignment, or food/sleep available to keep them healthy and motivated, it is virtually impossible for them to get the extra study in that they need to master advanced material. Our own son has difficulties with this in some classes because of sleep and anxiety issues, and we generally are home (one or the other of us) to help for a couple hours each night.
    Just my opinion, for what it’s worth. It can make a world of difference for the students who need the extra guidance (including longer school days, and possibly shorter breaks than the standard 10 weeks-plus at summer!). We seem to have more than the average number of students who need this extra support (as well as more than the average number of students ready to go beyond!), and a higher-than-expected percentage of them are African-American?

  2. What strikes me about these number is that, at least to my understanding, “you get a 12 just for writing your name on the test.” A 17.6 composite isn’t that far above the mythical minimum of 12!
    Samuel Adams
    Brewer, Patriot

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