If he lived anywhere else in Wisconsin, Zachary Walton, 12, wouldn’t have this problem.
If he were black, Asian, Hispanic, or American Indian, Zachary wouldn’t have this problem, either.
But he’s in Madison, where growing numbers of white students are discovering that because of their race, the state’s open enrollment program actually is closed.
“I feel like I’m left out,” said Zachary, who wants to attend a public online school — one like his big brother Daniel, 15, enjoys.
Last week, when most students across Wisconsin began a new school year, Zachary began his second year of home schooling in his family’s East Side apartment.
Madison officials, supported by the state Department of Public Instruction, have ruled that Zachary and 125 other students living in the district must stay put this year in the name of racial integration.
The policy is enforced even for dozens of students, such as Zachary, who don’t attend public school but instead go to private schools or receive home schooling.
Laura and Mike Starks, Zachary’s mother and stepfather, believe that Madison and DPI are going overboard. And that it’s depriving Zachary of one-on-one attention needed for him to catch up academically.
“If we had the money, we would have aggressively fought this,” Mike Starks said.
The headline in Sunday’s paper – “You can’t transfer, white kids told” – could just as easily have been “School district refuses to re-segregate” or “School district complies with spirit of Brown decision.” Of course, that would not be nearly as provocative as the one designed to sell more papers and allow members of the white community to believe they have fewer privileges than families of color.
School district officials are not ignorant. They know that if every transfer request is granted, some of our schools will become even more racially segregated and inequitable.
Also, it is interesting that your story focuses on the 140 denials rather than the 286 acceptances and, more specifically, on the 77 out of 140 denials that used racial balance as a reason for the denial.
Incidentally, my own daughter was denied a transfer in 1999. I guess if she were white we could have had a feature story about it.
Madison’s enrollment policy racist
I was appalled by the front page of Sunday’s State Journal. Madison, the supposed bastion of progressive thought, has the only school district in the state that is working under a racist policy when it comes to open enrollment.
Even worse, District Administrator Art Rainwater believes his hands are tied. His “we are powerless” statements when facing a blatantly in-your-face racist policy indicate poor leadership.
Please recall Dr. King’s message that it’s not the color of one’s skin, and I believe he meant any color. Come on, get out of the kids’ way!