I agree with Mayor Paul Soglin. Tackling our “urban problems” is preferable to soft-pedaling them and relying instead on improved public relations.
Given the wide achievement gap and the portion of black and Latino kids in our schools, it’s hard to believe Superintendent Jane Belmore’s claim that most of our school kids are doing very well. If, as Soglin believes, much of the gap is related to the many kids who transfer from other districts and are behind grade level upon entry, maybe the district should place them in grades appropriate for their achievement levels rather than basing placement solely on age. Similar reasoning might lead to abandoning present widespread use of social promotion, and promoting only those kids who have achieved grade level skills by the end of the year.
Related: “When controlling for demographic characteristics, the effects of additional years in MMSD on WKCE scores are largely ambiguous”: An Update on Madison’s Transfer Students & The Achievement Gap.