Public education innovation — if not from the place that needs it most

Chris Rickert:

It might seem strange that it’s an overwhelmingly white, middle-class school district about one-seventh the size of Madison’s that is considering a strategy that could narrow the kind of long-standing achievement gap Madison is becoming known for.
It’s not. Heavily influenced by its host city’s brand of establishment liberalism, the Madison School District isn’t known for tinkering much with the sacred cow that is traditional public education.
But should that change, school leaders might be wise to take a gander 11 miles south.
The Oregon School District has a task force to look into converting one of its three elementary schools, Netherwood Knoll, to a year-round calendar — something no other public school in Dane County has.
Spreading the standard 180-day school year out over 11 or 12 months is an intriguing idea given the well-documented “summer learning loss” phenomenon.
Even more to the point, summer learning loss is most apparent among low-income, often minority, students, and recent research has shown that year-round learning can be of most benefit to them.
New Madison superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said through a spokeswoman that year-round school isn’t on the district’s radar.

Related: Budget Cuts: We Won’t Be as Bold and Innovative as Oconomowoc, and That’s Okay..