Equity: What happened?

Click the image for more on this excellent book. It can be found in the Madison Public Library.

The Board of Education will consider and vote on a new equity policy on Monday. There will be public appearances.

In my opinion the draft policy is a huge step backward, from the work of the Task Force, from the direction the Board had been going and from the current policy.

The key is “what does the Board do with the policy.” At the prior meeting on Equity the Board worked with a document that included “considerations for determining whether equity is or will be provided” . These were the answers to that question, they moved from words to action.

The minutes of the April 21 Board of Education meeting (the last time equity was on the agenda) read:

“It was moved by Johnny Winston, Jr. and seconded by Lucy Mathiak to keep the Definition, Assumptions, and Goals and to ask the Superintendent for formulate a policy that incorporates the Considerations and bring it back to the Board. Motion unanimously carried.

The “draft policy” for Monday doesn’t “incorporate” the “Considerations,” it simply eliminates them.

I’ll add that the reporting measures in the draft policy are very, very thin (thinner than the current, really nothing more than NCLB and State laws require in terms of reporting) and that there are no actions contemplated at all in the policy.

I don’t know what happened, why there are no “Considerations” or contemplated actions in the draft. Maybe the work on the “Considerations” and other things will go forward in a different way at a different time, but I think that it is a very bad move to enact such a “do nothing” policy. Join me Monday at the meeting to find out what’s going on and stop this before it is too late (there will be public appearances).

While I’m on my soap box, I want to add that there are some things — like the socio-economic diversity, open access to advanced programming, support for heterogeneous classrooms, early childhood/4k — where we recommended specific policies and actions and the Board has never in any form discussed, considered or addressed the recommendations (note, despite what some think, the Task Force never expected to “restrict” the Board’s “exercise of independent judgment” or “tell” any Board member “what to do,” but we did expect the Board to give our recommendations thorough exploration and apply their collective judgment This still seems like a reasonable expectation). Even with the ‘Considerations,” there is more work to be done.

I hate to see all the work of the Task Force, the Board of Education and the Administration end with a policy that is next to useless.

There is a certain strangeness that a member of the Task Force (me) which has been mischaracterized as being overly concerned with words is now protesting a draft policy because it is little more than words in a policy book. Of course if this policy is passed, then the critique will be correct, but the fault will not lay with the Task Force.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Filed under Accountability, AMPS, Best Practices, education, Equity, Local News, Take Action, Uncategorized

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