Big news over the weekend in the Madison Preparatory Academy saga. There has been significant and positive movement on four issues by the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM). First, they have changed their request from non-instrumentality to instrumentality, increasing control by and accountability to the district. Second, they have agreed to be staffed by teachers and other educators represented by Madison Teachers Incorporated (MTI) and follow the existing contract between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District (the memo on these two items and more is here). ULGM has also morphed their vision from a district-wide charter to a geographic/attendance area charter. Last, their current budget projections no longer require outrageous transfers of funds from other district schools. Many issues and questions remain but these move the proposal from an obvious red light to the “proceed with caution” yellow. It is far from being a green light.
Before identifying some of the remaining questions and issues, I think it is important to point out that this movement on the part on the Urban League came because people raised issues and asked questions. Throughout the controversies there has been a tendency to present Madison Prep as initially proposed as “THE PLAN” and dismiss any questioning of that proposal as evidence that the questioners don’t care about the academic achievement of minorities and children of poverty. This has been absurd and offensive. Remember this started at $28,000 per/pupil. Well, ULGM has moved this far because people didn’t treat their proposal as if it had been brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses; if the proposal is eventually approved, MMSD and likely Madison Prep will be better because these changes have been made. As this process enters the next phases, I hope everyone keeps that in mind.