But the writer’s view of Madisonians as a bunch of liberals whose actions belie their highfalutin ideals rings true when it comes to at least one Madison institution: the schools.
Despite decades of embarrassing gaps in achievement between white and minority and poor and rich students, the Madison School District has:
Moved slowly to ramp up the AVID/TOPS (Advancement Via Individual Determination/Teens of Promise) program, which has been shown to boost academic achievement among the district’s students of color, who make up more than half the student body. It served 7 percent of middle and high school students in 2012-13, up from 0.2 percent when AVID was introduced in 2007-08 (TOPS was added a year later).
Done nothing to change regressive union rules that make teachers’ career advancement and promotion almost entirely a matter of their seniority and degree attainment — as opposed to, say, their ability to engage and educate students of color and poor students.
Turned down a bid by the Urban League of Greater Madison to create a charter school that would have focused on serving poor and minority students.
Declined to broach the idea of year-round school despite research showing that students from poor families suffer most from the “summer slide.”
Declined to seek changes to a school board elections system that has already basically ensured a win for the one white candidate on the ballot this April. The black candidate and the Latino candidate will have to fight it out for the other districtwide seat.
None of this is news. What is new, however, is the attention Madison’s long-standing race-based disparities in the schools and other areas are getting from the politically liberal people who run this town.