Madison West High parents express concerns about new Personalized Pathways curriculum at meeting

Amber Walker:

Isabel Rameker, a sophomore at West, addressed the elephant in the room with her question about representation.

“From what I’ve heard, a big goal of this is to close the achievement gap, specifically for African-Americans and students with disabilities. Looking around, it doesn’t look like this is a super diverse group of parents,” Rameker said. “As this goes on, now and in the future, where are you going to get input from those parents?”

Principal Thompson ensured Rameker that there are strategies in place to reach out to diverse communities.

“We are partnering with different facilities in our neighborhoods to make it more accessible for people who can’t make it here for this presentation,” she said.

Fralin stressed that Personalized Pathways is for all students.

“We actually want to create more options for more students, not a small group or a subgroup of students,” he said. “It is not designed to limit, but actually expand opportunities and choices for kids.”

Fralin pointed out that the district is partnering with institutions like Madison Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to expand opportunities for learning and advanced level coursework.

Treiber believes some of the backlash against Pathways by some of the parents who attended the meeting stems from unconscious bias.

“We have a serious issue in Madison that we are not interested in addressing. It is not intentional; it is not meant to be hurtful, but we cannot seem to get over the fact that if something is changing that somehow ‘I’m going to get less,’” she said. “I think we have that in our nation and we have that in our city. (Madison) is a microcosm of our country and we are not really interested in looking at that. We caveat it with ‘I’m worried about my kid.’ Your kid is going to be fine.”

Schools will continue to host informational sessions about Pathways. The list of upcoming meetings is available on the MMSD website.

Previous Madison High School initiatives include: English 10 (one size for all) and “small learning communities“.

– via a kind reader.