|BPSADC Inc Opposes MMSD Bond Referendum
From Blacks for Political and Social Action of Dane County
Blacks for Political and Social Action of Dane County (BPSADC) uses this means to express opposition to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD)
bond referendum being proposed for the November 3, 2020 election. BPSADC believes in providing high quality facilities for our children and youth, and we
believe in fiscal responsibility for taxpayers. Our specific concerns follow:
MMSD taxpayers have not received a fair return on investment. The most recent state standardized achievement scores demonstrate that 90% of African
American students in the district cannot read or do math proficiently. We have not been presented with evidence that links additional public expenditures with
increasing the academic performance of African American students. More of the same for African American students is unacceptable.
With several months for the district to plan, the public has not been presented with a budget and budget narrative that explain the needs of each building to
be renovated. This level of accountability is required.
COVID-19 has emerged as the highest priority for all institutions in the nation. Much has changed since the Board of Education first floated the idea of a
referendum. We believe it to be less than wise to forge ahead as if nothing has changed, with an expensive referendum at this time when public education
generally is in a state of flux. In-person learning, online learning, or a combination of both are issues that have not been satisfactorily resolved and will not be
resolved in the foreseeable future. No one can predict what might be required in terms of staffing, scheduling, personal protective equipment, curricula,
technology, parental involvement, social and emotional learning, et al. We are especially concerned about the needs of low-income students and their families
who may need a meal and housing more than they will need a new school or an improved chemistry lab.
Relatedly, while Madison is perceived to be a sheltered middle-class community, there is a growing percentage of seniors struggling to keep a roof over
their heads. All taxpayers deserve both well-educated youth and fiscal responsibility.
BPSADC strongly supports public education generally and MMSD specifically. We are also encouraged by the hire of Dr. Carlton Jenkins. However, our
support requires us to insist that the allocation of an addition one third of a billion dollar be well-planned, fiscally responsible and sensitive to the needs
students and of taxpayers on fixed incomes.
Very recently, the district hired a new superintendent whose credentials demonstrate a deep understanding of the challenges facing public urban
education. Dr. Jenkins should be afforded time to gain experience with the district – to determine the needs of students, educators, staff, parents and
community – and to share his expertise, research and networks before supporting the addition of significant funds beyond the district’s annual operating and
capital budget. The current referendum is not a product of Dr. Jenkins’ leadership and his vision for the district.
Indicia of our concerns is uncertainty about the nature of the elementary school to be constructed. Will it be a community school, our strong preference, or
the new Nuestro Mundo? Such issues should be resolved before going to referendum.
BPSADC strongly supports public education generally and MMSD specifically. Our support requires us to insist that the allocation of an addition one third of a
billion dollar be well-planned, fiscally responsible and sensitive to the needs students and of taxpayers on fixed incomes.
|Vote Yes to Invest in Our Kids
|By President Sheri Carter and Mo Cheeks
This year, as our community gears up to send our kids back to school, the classroom looks a lot different than what we’re used to. Covid-19 has disrupted
almost every facet of our lives and the past several months have laid bare the undeniable inequities that exist in our society, including in our schools. Whether
it’s access to healthy meals or high quality WiFi, it’s abundantly clear that we cannot go back to “the way things were” because the status quo was never
enough to help all of our students thrive. Thankfully, there’s an effort underway to combat some of these inequities and make meaningful investments in the
future of our schools and our community.
Last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Board of Education voted to put two referenda questions on your ballot this November. These
critical facilities and operating investments give all of us a historic opportunity to not only provide MMSD educators and staff with the resources and
infrastructure to deliver safe and equitable education, but will also help shape the trajectory of every student with a renewed focus on growing programs that
are aimed at disrupting societal and systemic disparities.
The facilities referendum will allow for significant renovations to all four of Madison’s high schools, benefiting students across the district by providing a safe
and up-to-date learning environment. These funds will also bring our buildings into the 21st century and will allow for projects to improve energy efficiency,
making long-overdue improvements that will put MMSD facilities on par with other school districts in the area. Passing this referendum will also allow for the
construction of a new elementary school in the Rimrock area, which will reduce many families' transportation burden and give students and families a much-
needed neighborhood school.
The operating referendum will allow MMSD to invest in equity programs that are pivotal to closing the achievement gap. With passage of this referendum, the
district could be in a position to provide full day 4-K to students who need it most. Research shows that access to these kinds of programs will increase
academic gains and help narrow opportunity gaps for our most vulnerable student populations. The operating referendum will also allow MMSD to support
student literacy by presenting a reading curriculum that is inclusive, culturally relevant, and phonics based. Finally, Covid-19 has reminded us just how
essential our teachers and school staff are in the lives of our children and their families, especially during these challenging times. Passing the operating
referendum will give MMSD important resources to not only recruit some of the best and most impactful educators, but also give the district the ability to keep
them here in Madison.
The stakes are incredibly high for our students as they head into this new school year and we are acutely aware of the difficulties many in our community are
facing, even before the pandemic. However, the last several months have also shown us what happens when our community rallies together to support one
another - whether that’s neighbors helping with childcare, local restaurants donating nutritious meals, or teachers going the extra mile.
Madison’s public schools are the fabric of our communities and we owe it to our students - both current and future generations - to take advantage of this
historic opportunity to make meaningful and systemic change. To do nothing will be to accept the status quo during a time when we are wrestling with both a
global pandemic and the lifelong impacts of racial injustice. Please join us in voting “Yes” on November 3rd to invest in our public schools, our students, and
our staff. To learn more about the MMSD referenda and to pledge your support, visit: www.Yes2InvestMSN.org.
President Sheri Carter is a life-long Madisonian and an alumna of West High School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sheri was elected in 2015,
making her one of the first Black women elected to the Madison Common Council. President Carter serves as a co-chair for the Yes 2 Invest campaign.
Mo Cheeks is a former Madison Common Council member who served from 2013-2019, and was a candidate for Mayor of Madison. Mo serves as the President
of Schools Make Madison Advocacy, Inc., an affiliate of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools.
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