She said Madison should look beyond simple metrics and keep working to “create a liberating experience for students where they’re valued, where they’re seen as fully human and complex. That’s what this community needs to hold at the center as it’s making its decisions in all the years ahead.”
As an example of a step in the right direction during her tenure, she pointed to the community school program, in which the school serves as a hub for health care, academic tutoring, mentoring, food access and parental involvement. Looking ahead, she endorsed integrating mental health support into all schools and expanding the “pathways” model of personalized learning and exploration.
Cheatham said she understands why some educators feel a shock after doing things one way and then being asked to change. “All of a sudden, you’re hearing from black students, black families, black staff members, for example, that the ways of working that you’ve been using are actually maybe doing damage,” she said.
“That causes a terrifying feeling of disequilibrium, and it seems natural to me that we want to blame someone, right? When I’m feeling that way, I want to declare: ‘Whose fault is it? ‘It’s got to be Jen Cheatham’s fault. It’s got to be the fault of this policy. It’s got to be someone’s fault.’ ”
All along, Cheatham said, she knew creating something new in Madison would have a cost: “As a white female, I know that it has been my obligation to use my white privilege — and sometimes burn down the capital that I have built up — so that I can make change for people who don’t have the privilege that I have, and if that means getting a crummy article written about me, if that means social media chatter that, quite honestly, I don’t look at, then so be it, because guess what?
“I am going to be able to wake up the next day and go back into the office and be OK.”
2013: Jennifer Cheatham at the Madison Rotary ClubWhat will be different this time?
2013: “Plenty of Resources“
“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.
Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.