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« Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Not Backing Off | Main | Poverty In Madison Public Schools and Adults Who Cannot Read »

August 19, 2008

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Henry Dubb

I will tell you on some days "locking up the parents" sounds pretty good. But, the hard, sad truth is many are already locked up. I remember consoling a young kindergartner because her dad was just arrested. I thought to myself no kindergartner should have to go through this. As the day progressed, the news of the arrest leaked out into the classroom culture, and it turned out 4/5 of the class had a similar situation. A parent who was arrested, in jail, or in one of our esteemed prisons.

I agree wholeheartedly the notion of "blame the parents" and leaving it at that is a non solution. I have less faith in "parental fixer" programs (like Paul mentioned) and more faith in "parental replacer" programs. The reason Madison has held steady, in my view, are the education extension programs run at after school, safe haven, and neighborhood centers.

I will also add one more thing, schools. A few years ago Milwaukee decided to have "neighborhood schools", (yes the 150 million in wasted money) but they defined them as large. Madison for years has supported neighborhood schools with an emphasis on small. Even in Madison, there has been talk about bigger is better. The reason Madison has been able to keep it together is we have for the most part had small schools (under 400) with small classrooms, and strong neighborhood support.

I was watching a clip on the Milwaukee Journal where in one segment of a community hundreds of buses took kids to over 90 different schools. If you break up a community as if they were slave chattel, is it surprising you don't have optimal results.

Mark

Hi Paul,

Out of curiosity, has the MMSD free lunch program increased usage because of changes in allowed income levels? Or is it because of increased poverty? Or is it because parent's a smart to not pass up "free" meals for their kids?

There's poverty in Madison, but there is no way, in Madison, that 48% of school age children live in poverty.

Henry Dubb

There is a big difference between poverty in Madison and MMSD. Madison proper is most likely 20% or so, where its much larger in MMSD.

This really get at the whole negative aid. MMSD receives aid (actually pays the state)based on being one of the wealthiest (property rich) districts in the state, whereas in reality it is one of the poorest. Madison gets no aid from the state, whereas it has a larger percentage of students with poverty, ESL, and special education.

It would not be wrong to say there is more pressure today for schools to get families on free / reduced lunch. NCLB, Sage, Title and many other funds are tied to this. But without these funds Madison would be in a worse negative aid position than it is today.

buckyblue

The state DPI website has it at 40.9% as eligible for free and reduced lunch. 18% do not have English as a first language, a change of about 10% from ten years ago, a significant shift. Because of the paper work involved in obtaining free and reduced, I would say that it is under reported if anything. It's hard to see many families 'qualifying' for this who are not actually in need of the service.

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