Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I never thought I'd see the day

...when the Madison Urban League would support separate-but-equal schools.

I believe that Kaleem Caire is sincere in his desire to help close the achievement gap, and in his belief that Madison Prep is a worthy experiment.  However, in his zeal, I believe he has made a deal with the devil.  I think he sincerely believes that he is using them to advance his agenda, rather than being used to advance their agenda.  I believe his confidence is misplaced, however.

Milwaukee's school choice voucher pilot program was another such bold experiment that was supposed to help low-income students get into better schools.  Studies have shown that, on average, the kids who used vouchers to attend private schools did no better than the kids who stayed in public schools.  Despite the lack of demonstrable results, Republican politicians are now pushing to expand the voucher program, both geographically and across income levels.

The conservative school-privatization proponents who support school vouchers and the Madison Prep proposal do not care about closing the achievement gap.  Creating a special charter school to focus on at-risk youth is only their opening gambit. The end game is taxpayer-subsidized white flight and a segregated education system where private schools, enriched by public money, are allowed to pick and choose their students, leaving our most vulnerable children behind in under-resourced public school ghettos.

Re-segregating our schools in order to address the achievement gap is, in my opinion, like introducing an invasive species in order to control an agricultural pest.  It may be wildly successful, or it may cause even bigger problems down the road.


Tim Morrissey said...

I believe the essence of Caire's argument is that black kids need black teachers ("role models") to succeed. That's debatable, of course.

What grinds my ax is that the MMSD is going to throw 105.6 million bucks at this.


Ordinary Jill said...

I understand the value of role models for minority kids. Why not set up a scholarship program for minorities going into education at UW-Madison, with a requirement that recipients teach at least a few years in Madison schools? It's good for white kids as well as black kids to have black teachers. It helps overcome the subtle racism and self-segregation that exists here and thus strikes at the roots of the achievement gap.