“The achievement rate has gotten worse. The failure rate of kids has gotten worse. We would keep thinking that we were solving the problem, the United Way and all of these organizations jump on it, but it doesn’t change a thing.”

Steven Elbow:

The problem, some say, is that disparities impact a population that has little political or economic clout. And white people, who control the levers of commerce and government, address only pieces of an interconnected web of issues that include child development, education, economics and criminal justice.

Brandi Grayson co-founded Young, Gifted and Black and now runs Urban Triage, an organization that provides educational support, teaches parenting skills and promotes wellness to help black families become self-sufficient.

She said elimination of racial disparities would require a seismic shift in attitude throughout society, which would take years, maybe generations. In the meantime, she said, government has to enact policies that enforce equitable treatment of people in housing, health care, education, employment and criminal justice.

“In Dane County there have been no policy changes,” she said. “Just a lot of talk, a lot of meetings, a lot of conversation and a lot of money given to organizations that do community engagement or collect data. What’s the point of that investment if we already know what it is?”

She said initiatives consistently fail because society at large hasn’t called out the root cause of the disparities: racism.

If white people felt that the problem was worth solving, she said, they’d do something about it. For example, blacks are way more likely to experience infant mortality, low birth weight, early death, hypertension and a raft of other health conditions, much of that due to lack of access to health care.

David Blaska:

What’s Madison’s answer?

Teaching responsibility instead of victimhood? Demanding performance, not excuses? 

ARE YOU KIDDING? !!! This is Madison, where the answers are: More money, more baffling programs, more guilt, rinse and repeat. The Capital Times reports:

County officials and local nonprofits are hoping to reverse the trend with a new program that provides intensive mentoring for youthful offenders, which showed promise during a pilot program last year.

At $250,000 from the United Way and $100,000 from the county, the program would serve up to 49 kids — that’s $7,000 a kid for those who didn’t take math. As for the Policy Werkes, we’re siding with a neighbor who ventured, on social media:

If it isn’t stray bullets it is out-of-control 4,000-pound missiles. Next time you vote, consider how many chances a particular judge tends to give juveniles before applying the maximum extent of the law or creatively applies a deterrent.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”. 

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close. 

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers. 

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.