A Vision for All Graduates

–submitted by Bob Dinndorf; photo by Moses Altsech

jen-cheatham-9-7-16Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jen Cheatham (pictured at left with Club President Michelle McGrath) addressed the Rotary Club of Madison on September 7th. Her third Rotary address focused on how the Madison public schools are narrowing the racial achievement gap and meeting the financial challenges of the future.

Dr. Cheatham demonstrated progress toward narrowing the achievement gap by citing an improvement in early literacy of 6 percent overall. Within this number is a 12 percent improvement among African American students; 10 percent for Latino students and similar gains for English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities.

High school completion has markedly increased over the past two years from 78 percent to 80 percent. Within this, rate of graduation among African American students improved from 65.8 percent two years ago to 80 percent. Students with disabilities improved by ten percentage points.

Sixty new teachers of color have been hired, significantly more than in past years.

The plan for continued improvement rests on sustained focus on:

  • Early Literacy, increasing services for English Language Learners, Students with Disabilities and Advanced Learners.
  • Personalized learning pathways for high school students,
  • Partnerships with parents, “Grow our Own” to continue diversifying staff
  • Innovation for the future

The financial support of K-12 education in Wisconsin does not support the sustained focus on continued improvement. The MMSD has experienced less than 1 percent revenue growth for going on six years. Staff has been reduced 3 percent–120 positions. A similar reduction is forecast if additional resources are not available. The budget politics does not weaken the resolve of MMSD but does continue to impede aspirations toward closing the achievement gap. The November MMSD referendum offers one solution to the continued resource reduction but is not the sustainable solution.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch the video here.


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