|Vol. 15 No. 17
AUGUST 24, 2020
Columns & Features
by Heidi M. Pascual
by Jamala Rogers
by Jonathan Gramling
Over the past 25 years or so, I’ve walked around just about every high school in the greater Madison area
while collecting data and taking photos of students of color graduating with a 3.0 GPA or greater. I’ve
covered dance recitals and concerts in many of the performing arts centers that are attached to these schools.
And many of the classrooms can be adjusted to the particular instruction that is happening in the space instead
of the instruction being modified so it can be held in the space.
learning. These high school spaces are places where students might just want to be instead of a place where they have to be.
I have seen the populations growing in these suburbs of Madison, especially their households of color. In days gone by, there used to be a green space between
Madison and Sun Prairie along Hwy 151. That greenspace is no more. Instead, along Grand Avenue, you will see a relatively new city center complete with schools,
retail, a movie theater, grocery stores, medical services and the like. And there are homes that reach all the way to Hwy 19 and beyond. The growth has been so
intense that the Sun Prairie Area School District is building a new high school in the Grand Avenue area. It will be Sun Prairie West. And it will be a stone’s throw
from the Madison border.
In my humble opinion, families are moving out there for two primary reasons. First is the cost of building a home. For the present, at least, it’s cheaper to build or
purchase a home out in Sun Prairie or Waunakee or Deerfield than it is to build or purchase in Madison. Housing subdivisions are going up all over the place in areas
that I would least expect to see it. Many of those are families of color.
The second reason would be for the schools. I remember back when the quality of Madison’s schools was an asset touted as a reason that people should move to
Madison. “Madison is one of the top school districts in the country.” Ever since Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker began to dismantle public school funding and
took away local control in terms of deciding what the tax levy should be, I haven’t heard that as much. Maybe I am just hanging out in the wrong places.
Whether we want to think about this or not, the Madison public schools are in the competition of their lives. And how the Madison Metropolitan School District
handles this competition will set the course of our public schools for generations to come.
The competition is coming from all sides. There are the newer facilities that surround Madison. As a parent of color, I would have to ask myself this question, ‘My
child is going to experience some institutional racism no matter where they go. Should I send them to dilapidated high schools in Madison or \newer, advanced facilities
in Sun Prairie or Middleton or Verona?’ There is coming a day when the answer to that question will be a no brainer. Relaxed transfer requirements are making that
easier and easier to do.
And then there are the private religious and charter schools that have been popping up all over the Madison metropolitan area. Two charter schools, One City founded
by Kaleem Caire and Milestone Democratic School, are non-instrumentality charter schools chartered through UW Systems. All of these private schools are competing
for the same public dollars that MMSD is competing for. Someday, One City will have its own high school. Milestone already works with high school students. The
competition that MMSD faces will only increase and it has to have the capacity to be competitive.
There are two referenda that will be on the November ballot, one to approve $33 million in operating funds and $317 million to build an elementary school in the
Rimrock Road area, massively overhaul Madison’s four existing high schools and create a permanent campus for Capital High School at Hoyt School on Regent Street.
We need to pass both of these referenda. -- READ MORE
by Jamala Rogers
I’ve walked through their naturally-lit areas that make the schools look bright and welcoming as opposed to dank corridors with lighting that
casts an artificial glow. And their air conditioning and heating systems keep the entire building at a temperature that is supportive of student
|Leadership for a New MMSD Era
by Andrew Gramling