Information Regarding Madison Preparatory Academy Proposal

The December 19th Board of Education meeting location has been moved. Click here for more information.

December 3, 2011 - MMSD administrative analysis of Madison Prep proposal for a non-instrumentality charter school

MMSD administrative analysis

Appendix A Letter from WI Dept. of Public Instruction

Appendix B Madison Prep Budget

Appendix C Original MMSD administrative analysis of Madison Prep proposal for an instrumentality charter school


Area news reports on charter proposal
Cap Times
 Chalkboard: School Board members float alternatives to Madison Prep charter school
Cap Times
 Chalkboard: Madison Prep accountability, governance issues for school board
 Chris Rickert: Law, contract limit Madison' Prep  plan's promise
Cap Times
 Chalkboard: Will Madison School Board go for non-union Madison Prep?
Madison Prep would open in former church on Near West Side
Cap Times
Madison Prep's ambitious plan to close achievement gap sparks vigorous debate
Madison Prep would open in former church on Near West Side
Cap Times
Chalkboard: More hurdles for Madison Prep
Forward Seeking:
My thoughts on Madison Prep Academy

Partial business plan gives first look at proposed Madison Prep
Madison Prep supporters, opponents fight it out
Simpson Street Free Press
We support Urban League's Charter School
The Insider
Frustrations mount as achievement gap persists in Madison Schools
Channel 3000
Editorial: Mary Burke and Madison Prep - Game Changer 
NBC 15
  Madison Prep Charter School receives $2.5M gift
Madison Prep Charter School receives $2.5M Gift 
Madison Board faces a divided public over Madison Prep 
Madison Prep - 1, 2, 3 Yellow Light (updated)
Fox news 47
Public hearing on Madison Prep Academy
Nearly 60 speak at hearing on Madison Prep
Isthmus Forum
Re: Kaleem Caire on Access: City Hall 
MTI Solidarity
Urban League calls off negotiations: Madison Prep hearing tonight
Badger Herald Opinion
Madison Preparatory Academy first step in closing achievement gap
Charter school geared to minority boys proposed
Prep School agrees to employ union staff
School Info Systems
Further commentary on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School: Gender discrimination likely a red herring in charter school discussion
Eau Claire Leader
Grant for all-boys charter school on hold
Forward Lookout:
A bit of a problem with Madison Prep?
Education News
Single-sex education faces burden of proof in WI

Cap Times
Chalkboard: More hurdles for Madison Prep
100 Black Men of Madison, Inc.
Letter from 100 Black Men of Madison, Inc. supporting Madison Prep
Prep Academy needs to show proof of effectiveness of single-gender education to get grant

Kaleem Caire draws on personal experience to support school alternatives for blacks
Channel 3000
Plan for Madison Charter School will include girls
Madison Prep charter school to get first part of grant
Revised Madison Prep plan would create all-girls, all-boys charter
Channel 3000
Urban League voices concern about meeting on Charter School
A school for boys
An all-boys charter school for struggling black youths in Madison might help minority kids in Milwaukee as well
Ed Hughes blog
The DPI hold on the Madison Prep Planning Grant: Yes, it is a big deal
IBTV Interview: Kaleem Caire on the Madison Prep Academy for Young Men
You Tube
Introducing Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men
IB Madison
What makes Kaleem Caire tick?

Timeline of Events:

Madison Board of Education (Board)
Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD)
Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM)
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction(DPI)

December 2010 - The Planning and Development Committee of the Madison Board of Education heard testimony and a presentation by The Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) on their proposal for the Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men charter school.  The school is planned to serve young men who are statistically below proficiency levels, have low graduation rates, high suspension rates and low participation in advanced placement and college testing  in the MMSD. Extended school day and year, Harkness Teaching methods, an International Baccalaureate curriculum and parent contracts are the unique features of the proposed school. 

Documentation and Materials:

Planning and Development Committee (Dec. 6, 2011)
Agenda  |  Minutes  |  Video coverage

January 2011 – During the Planning and Development Committee meeting in early January a timeline was approved for the Madison Preparatory Academy and the Urban League submitted answers to  questions submitted by Board members.  At its Regular January meeting the Board accepted a motion that the Board may, upon submission by ULGM, accept  the Planning Grant Application and supporting documentation to satisfy the requirements for submitting a detailed proposal. 

Documentation and Materials:

Planning and Development Committee (Jan. 10, 2011)
Agenda  |  Minutes  |  Video coverage  

Regular Meeting of Board of Education (Jan. 31, 2011)
Agenda  |  Minutes  |  Video coverage

February 2011 – ULGM submitted their proposal and budget narrative. MMSD Superintendent Daniel Nerad provided the Board a summary of work on the charter proposal and a budget estimate.  The Board voted 6-1 in favor of allowing ULGM to apply for a planning grant from the DPI.

Documentation and Materials:

Planning and Development Committee (Feb. 14, 2011)
Agenda  |  Minutes  | Video coverage

Regular Board of Education Meeting (Feb. 28, 2011)
Agenda  |  Minutes  |  Video coverage

March 2011 – ULGM representatives addressed the Planning & Development Committee regarding the plan to operate Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter.  At its Regular meeting, the Board adopted three resolutions:  1) support the continued development plan for Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter school; 2) direct the Superintendent to submit DPI Planning Grant Application; 3) if awarded, the MMSD serve as the fiscal agent of the grant.

Documentation and Materials:

Planning and Development Committee (March 14, 2011)
Agenda   |  Minutes   |  Video coverage

Regular Board of Education Meeting (March 28, 2011)
Agenda    |  Minutes  |  Video coverage

April 2011 – The issue of same gender schools was addressed.  District Legal Counsel provided an  overview memorandum on the laws and regulations applicable to the establishment of a same-sex school.

Documentation and Materials:

Planning & Development Committee (April 11, 2011)
Agenda | Minutes | Video Coverage

May 2011 – Administration sought guidance from the Board on how to proceed building the budget for Madison Prep in light of the proposed cost per student.

Documentation and Materials:

Operational Support Committee  (May 9, 2011)
Agenda   |   Minutes  | Video Coverage

August 2011 – District submitted memo to the Madison Prep Planning Team regarding the explanation of cost per pupil transfer without reducing allocations and materials from other schools.  DPI informs ULGM and the MMSD that the planning grant will not be approved because of the school's single-gender status.

Documentation and Materials:

September 2011 – A special meeting was held to further discuss the Madison Prep Academy.  A public hearing was scheduled for early October.    The ULGM revised its proposed Charter to include both boys and girls in the Academy.   In mid-September DPI approved the charter school planning grant with conditions.

Documentation and Materials:

Special Meeting of the Board of Education in Open Session – Sept. 8, 2011
Agenda   |   Video coverage

October 2011 – On Monday, Oct. 3, the Board held a public hearing was held on the Madison Preparatory Academy.  On October 17, the Urban League of Greater Madison submitted to MMSD a draft business plan.  On October 29, the ULGM submitted the final Business Plan and Budget and State Articles of Incorporation along with other supporting documentation.

Documentation and Materials:

Public Hearing – Oct. 3, 2011
Agenda  |   Video Coverage

Operational Support Committee – Oct. 10, 2011
Agenda  |   Video Coverage  (discussion begins at 95:51)  

Documents submitted to Board of Education on Oct. 29, 2011

November 2011 – On November 12th the MMSD submitted an Administrative Analysis of Madison Prep and supporting documentation.  ULGM submitted an updated Business Plan on November 17th in response to the Administrative Analysis and clarified its desire to establish Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality charter school.  BOE decided to delay a vote on Madison Prep until December 2011.

Documentation and Materials:


Please register your questions or comments on the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal. Click on the "Add new comment" link at the bottom of this page to leave your comment.

The Madison Metropolitan School District invites you to submit comments for the purposes of providing feedback. This section is not intended as a public forum for the posting of general commentary or discussion. By submitting a comment, you give permission to MMSD to use the comment for any educational or promotional purpose, including the possible posting of the comment on an MMSD Web site. MMSD may edit comments for inappropriate or offensive language.


The proposal for Madison Prep Academy is bold. Unfortunately, in the current economic times we can’t afford to experiment for the benefit of a few. We have many structures already in place and many more are underutilized which should be tweaked and supported before scarce resources are further diverted. We need to take the best ideas of what’s presented and blend them with resources already available. My suggestion is to carefully examine school boundaries, transportation expenses and rethink what we do to communities to help them support their neighborhood children. Currently, half of the children in elementary grades in the Lincoln Elementary neighborhood are bused away from home. Back in the 1970s this was done to achieve racial balance in the community. We’re now seeing the result: an unacceptable achievement gap – quite the opposite of the goals. Elementary school parents must drive across town to attend school functions, meet w/ teachers, and take extra effort to be present in their children’s day. All the taxi service or suppers at school can’t replace lost time and closeness of a true neighborhood school. All the diversity training for teachers can’t replace the vibrant life of a community when you pull kids from their neighborhood. The redevelopment of the Villager Mall area was a city-wide support of this area. There is a strong pool of resources in this area, from the Madison Multicultural Center to the new library to the Boys and Girls Club. Kids in the Lincoln School area can walk to these resources, but not if they spend half their time removed. The business community, the people and government of Madison and families have supported this rebirth. Madison Metropolitan School District should partner with such revitalization and change the boundaries to return the children to their neighborhood. Lincoln Elementary is renown for being a crucible of innovation. Why not fully use that, return the children to their neighborhood school, but use the bold and innovative ideas Madison Prep Academy is proposing? This way you’re not removing a chosen few but building on the generation of work by an established, dedicated staff and willing community. With the Madison Prep Academy proposal before us, a long history of successful innovation incubated in Lincoln Elementary, a dramatically redeveloped and revived South Park business community, and an established strong social service support network in the area, please implement the bold ideas of Madison Prep into the Lincoln Elementary community.

 I saw an earlier proposal for Madison prep and was dismayed by the seemingly high number of administrators and the salary levels they showed for the school given the small number of students and the fact this is supposed to be a nonprofit endeavor.

While I am generally in favor of giving the prep school a chance and hope it succeeds, the administrative numbers and salaries need to be in line with the school's size and what other Madison schools are allowed. 

Thanks much for your response,

Lisa Gaumnitz


The budget document posted says the budget is contained in the Appendix A which is not posted. Did I miss something?


The District should build upon solutions that work, rather than Madison Prep.  Personally, I would be happy to pay more in school taxes to further invest in and expand upon approaches that already show success.  Many of us care about the future of all of Madison School District students, and  for very sound reasons reject the Prep School model.  However, we lack a full time staff to organize and market our ideas, the way that the Urban League has devoted its paid staff to outreach, organizing and marketing.  While the Urban League may be able to manufacture "support" for its model, the Board should look to objective evidence in undertaking its role as trustee of the School District.  The Prep School model has  dramatically increased segregation in other locales; relies upon high attrition that weeds out the most challenging students who might bring down test scores; and has a lower graduate  "college ready" result among minority students than that of the current Madison school district  (as highlighted in Board member Ed Hughes blog, examining Chicago Urban Prep).  Additionally, Madison Prep's unusual mix of incompatible pedagogical methods tells us that Madison Prep lacks a true education vision.  The barrage of radically changing plans and slick materials inform me that Madison Prep is more about marketing than about executing a sound pedagogical vision. 


The concept of a disciplined, unisex school is great.  Many of our youth have many hurdles to overcome in school settings and for many of these parental involvement is lacking. Advantages:

Parental report cards help assure involvement and accountability and can serve as an example for the Madison Public School system.

Longer school periods assure loss of downtime from restarting the student mind.

Unisex classrooms help minimize distractions.  Students concentrate on studies rather than clothes.

What we are doing now doesn't work and we have known it for a long time.  Resistance and inertia of many, not all, involved ha e caused the problem to become worse.

Also, the location of the school is excellent because it is in a neighborhood without "the hood" distractions.  I live 2 blocks away.


Jerry Pasdo

U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights found that more than 28% of Black male middle school students had been suspended at least once. This is nearly three times the 10% rate for white males. Further, 18% of Black females in middle school were suspended, more than four times as often as white females (4%)

Obviously we are not the only school failing our AA students, but we are also not doing much to improve the data that clearly says we are failing these kids.  While I don't know whether you should fund the Prep school, here is what I believe after spending a lot of time in MMSD schools, with varies level of kids.

#1.  Doing nothing is no longer acceptable.

#2.  Why would we spend this much on students that are already struggling.  Why would we not do something completely radically and effect real change in the kids from K - 6.  My expereince is if your child is well prepared our High Schools do a great job of preparing kids for college.  It's the kids that are not prepared that struggle.  Focusing on younger low income and minority students could reinforce stability, encourage enthusiasm, provide early role models and allow our high schools to do what they do well.  If I were to develop a school it would be for K - 8, open to all free and reduced lunch students, in fact randomly assigned them without them applying.   I am concerned this will be another Spring Harbor where the "well connected" parents get their kids into the small school and somehow even after a 3 year break their next kid gets in again.  It is not a true raffle and who gets in and not will be an issue.  Spring Harbor does siffen off active parents and positive students from Jefferson and Toki and it creates a negative atmosphere.  However, I am even more concerned that the neediest of students will not get in because it requires those parents to apply, in Feb., when they are not even aware they should apply.  I know many parents at Crestwood of high need kids that were not aware or understand the process to get into Spring Harbor.  I have expressed my flipped version of the Prep school to Mr. Caire and board, and I see many more benefits to an earlier intervention.  At Jefferson, most chldren that are not doing well, have already lost the desire to learn and the energy it would take and their interest of going to a "different" school, will not capture the kids you want in this school.  I challange you to go to Toki and Jefferson and ask some 7th grade kids if they would want to go to a prep school.  Maybe I'm wrong but it might be interesting to ask.  

I would rather see at the high schools instead invest in a ' school within a school"  model and utilize the system we already have and staff could refer students that would most benefit.  

#3.  Invest in our summer schools.  I have one kid that did great and is doing very well in college, I have another child that has struggled mightily and well intended, kind staff have looked at me in shock when I have suggested she go to summer school.  At least 10 staff members have said in various ways, "no you don't want her with those kids", "summer school will not help her and it would be a waste of your time".  I have been discouraged more times than I can count and instead I have paid for private tutors, Kumon Math, Sylvan learning centers, etc.....   Seems weird MMSD can't provide a competitive, competent, progressive summer school to help not only my lilly white child but those of color and low income that can't afford the above mentioned remedies.  When the staff thinks it stinks, I'm thinking it stinks.  

#4.  Are we focusing on research based curriculum and behavior models that work for a high minority, high low income environment? I have research the Positive Behavior info and really most of the "research" was not randomized control study information on student outcomes and very little is based on low income and high minority student populations.  Does anyone look into racial influence on curricula we adopt district wide?  My experience is most educational research is not performed in urban settings.   I believe we could increase our outcomes if we leave the soft fluffy curricula behind and move to a sound repetitive math and early english that is then implemented with "soft" (everyday and whole language) curricula later.  Madison is an awesome city but we still educate our kids as though we are at 15% minority and low income when we are closer to 50% now a days.  We need to use what works for the new population of students.

#5.  Increase expectations.  I know your tired of hearing this but not until they get to high school (or Memorial anyway for my kids) has this been done.  Busy minds cause less problems, busy minds learn.  My 8th grader is hyper and enjoys chatting.  He was not recommended for the 9th grade math class (Algebra 1A) cause he showed little interest and talked too much.  With his interest I suggested we enroll in the harder class anyway.  We did and he is doing great and his behavior is better, and he is proud of his accomplishment.  He is finally being challanged.  The expectations of letting everyone succeed I get, but we are not doing these kids any favors.  We need to increase the levels of expectations if we want better outcomes.  You keep hearing it over and over because it is true, the expectations are low and there is to little time for the staff to teach and too much clutter in the k - 8 grades.  Lets recalibrate and set the bar higher.  Maybe listen to the high school staff, they agree with this assessment and want more from the lower grades.  

Doing nothing and annualling pretending the 1% increase in math for minority students is positive is no longer working and we need to do something big and bold.  The problem with Prep is its bold, but only helps a small percent.  The problem with implementing something district wide is its big, but implementing stuff in this district takes 5 years so you lose bold.  Perhaps approve Prep and then be bold and implement changes in the district and compete with it.....maybe it will not be neccessarily a better place to be for the target population in 5 years!


Mary Battaglia

I'm afraid that Madison Prep is being considered as a possible option, almost entirely because of the enthusiasm and charisma of its founder. The school board (and Madisonians in general) should not be making their decisions based on their reluctance to disappoint Mr. Caire.  There are very serious objections to Madison Prep. Chief among them, it could not fulfill its function of significantly improving minority achievement, because so very few students would be included. Second, there's the very troubling question of segregation--segregation of the sexes (there would be separate boy and girl academies) and segregation in the sense that whites are not particularly welcome at this school. I thought we got past this type of separation of the races with the Civil Rights laws in the '50's.  Also, at a time when public schools are having to undergo deep and painful slashed budgets, with real consequences to students including the dismissal of some teachers, it is the wrong time to allocate scarce resources to what amounts to an elite private school.

I count on the school board members to make a thoughtful and informed decision in this matter--and that would include their commitment to the Madison public schools they have pledged to serve.

There are very serious and unanswered or inadequately answered questions about the efficacy, segregation, accountability and cost effectiveness of the Madison Prep non-instrumentality charter model.  Without solid answers to these the Board should not approve funding for the proposal, but rather support aspects of the proposal within the PUBLIC school system.   With all due respect to Mr. Caire, the persuasiveness of his personality should not be a key factor in this decision.

Single sex, segregated-by-race, education is an unproven and potentially divisive method of addressing a problem for which there are other solutions.  In this climate of dimished resources and increases across-the-board in needs,I believe that this is not an appropriate time to implement the singel sex concept of Madison Prep.  To be successful, this novel but unproven program for a very limited number of students will draw resources away from many many other students who also deserve support.  Furthermore, it is not clear that single sex education is a good idea.

In light of a need for additional support for all students, I am troubled by the limitation of Madison Prep to male black students.  Why not females of color?  Why not white males who are not achieving? Everyone agrees that males of color generally do not succeed in the MMSD.  However, data provided by the MMSD (and worldwide) also show that white males are less likely than white females to graduate, attend college, stay out of trouble, etc. Likewise for females of color compared to white females. Therefore, there are many groups that would benefit from programs directed at intensive intervention and I would support a school with such a program that was open to ANY student who (a) needs help and (b) is likely to benefit.

I would  like to point out a recent article in a premiere scientific journal, Science, which argues that the benfits of single-sex schooling are not supported by valid scientific evidence. One of the authors is from UW-Madison. The summary of this article reads:

In attempting to improve schools, it is critical to remember that not all reforms lead to meaningful gains for students. We argue that one change in particular—sex-segregated education—is deeply misguided, and often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence. There is no well-designed research showing that single-sex (SS) education improves students' academic performance, but there is evidence that sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.

I believe the board should look into integrating the types of intensive support proposed in the Madison Prep proposal while allowing students to attend existing middle and high schools. 




While I KNOW there needs to be an improvement in the educational outcome results of Madison’s students of color, particularily it’s Black males, I have strong reservations that Madison Prep will achieve their goals to address these concerns. First off, MMSD already has an identified population of students who attend it’s alternative programs like LEAP and NEON and who have demonstrated their need for something different. How will Madison Prep reach these students? The program’s proposal to make admittance based on a lottery system ASSUMES that the students who attend these alternative programs already have family advocacy working for them and that this advocacy will enable them to actively and effectively participate in the lottery process. Good luck families! Secondly, what about the provision to accommodate students with special needs? In a carefully worded reply to questions posed by Arlene Silveira for a community member, Madison Prep responded, “ To be clear, Madison Prep will accept students with special learning needs, including students who speak English as a second language. As always, IEP teams will determine on a case-by-case basis if Madison Prep is an appropriate placement for special education students.” Do I read this as a very sly way to avoid educating a student who happens to make the lottery but presents too much of a demand of a system that never really intended to have to deal with students with special needs in the first place? I’m not sure if Madison Prep has been called on to seriously and honestly answer these questions, particularily the first one that I asked, but I am positive that I am not the only one who has raised these and similar questions pertaining to the efficacy of their education proposal.


David Mandehr

 We have been Madison residents for over 35 years and our children have all attended Madison public schools.  One of our children is now a teacher.  We have always supported

the school system. 

However, I have several questions about the proposed Madison prep.

1.  Why do 60 children deserve more than the other children in the district?

2.  To my knowledge there are no definitive studies that show segregating

the sexes in classrooms improves learning.  Children learn from each other

and have the opportunity to observe differences.

3.  My biggest question involves parental/family responsibility.  From what I under-

stand the urban league proposes to require parents to volunteer and otherwise

be involved in the school.  Why doesn't  the urban league try to help all students and

have parents/family be involved in  the current public schools? Schools are much

better when caring adults have a presence in the school.  All children in the district

are important, not just a few, and the urban league could do much to help.  Parental

responsibility  would be a wonderful start.

thank you


On page 37 of the Business Plan for Madison Prep, several examples of supposedly successful single sex, minority public schools are presented.  Unfortunately, an examination of test scores and graduation rates shows that these schools are no more successful than the public schools and are, in some cases, worse.  Only 15, 17, and 15% of Urban Prep students met or exceeded the requirements in standardized test in the years 2009, 2010, and 2011.  The average for the Chicago public schools is 62, 64, and 66 %, respectively.  Of the 166 students who entered Urban Prep as freshmen, only 107 graduated,  a 64% graduation rate.  Students at Eagle Academy in New York City scored the same as or substantially worse than the average for New York City schools on the NY State Regents examinations, in spite of some screening of applicants. Brighter Choice Charter Schools, Albany NY, is an elementary school that added a middle school program in 2010; therefore it is irrelevant to this discussion.  Green Tech Charter High School, Albany NY, is in its third year of operation and has 100 students in 9th grade and 56 students in 10th grade. Scores on the New York state Regents exams are much lower than the state average and the school has drawn criticism for attempting to exclude students with learning disablities.  Bluford Drew Jamison STEM School in Baltimore opened in 2009.  6th graders taking Maryland standardized tests scored well below state averages; the same class one year later scored even lower.  Boys Latin in Philadelphia is the only school with any kind of success; it appears that admission to this school is somewhat selective.

The academic program described for Madison Prep will increase achievement for anyone that takes advantage of the opportunity.  If such a program is offered, separately or as part of an existing school, only students demonstrating the motivation to benefit should be allowed to take advantage of it.  I would suggest that some screening be done prior to admission, rather than a straight lottery system.

Madison Prep

I am a new immigrant. My daughter came United State when she was her fourth grade. She went to Madison public school. Her elementary school teacher taught  her how to speak,read and write English. She graduated from Madison West High and goes to top one Ivy League University. My daughter and my family had never been neglected or low academic expectation by Madison public teachers due to our English barrier,minority  and low income status.

I do not know why Madison Prep wants a single sex, low income public charter school? Also only has 120 students. Does Madison only have 120 low income students? I think Madison Prep should know the answer.

Madison Pre wants parents involve and take responsibility for new single sex low income charter school,. Why Madison Prep DOES NOT ask these parents take more responsibity and involve to Madison public school now? Why wait for a new school?



I have followed a great deal of the controversy surrounding Madison Preparatory Academy. Having moved to Madison in 1972, nearly 40 years ago, I can tell you that our community is very good at debating new ideas but that we can use some more practice at taking risks, at implementing new ideas.

First of all, let me say that I identify as White. My white daughter attends the Madison public schools and because of many of her privileges (race, class, ability), she is one of those who is very likely to succeed in this system.

While I consider myself an active citizen in my community, I do wonder if it's my role to pass judgment on an educational proposal that is tailored to serve others' children--those who, statistics tell us, are NOT so likely to succeed in our educational system?

Although I am delighted with much of the education my daughter is receiving, there are many parents in our community who are undertsandably dissatisfied with the educational experiences of their children.

Of course, reasonable and prudent people have reservations about the Madison Prep proposal to form a charter school to address our community's race-based opportunity and achievement gaps. But I admire the work and commitment of the Urban League of Greater Madison and those who seek schools that can meet the needs of students who are currently being failed by the status quo. And we have to ask ourselves, isn't it the right of a community to develop and advance proposals that best meet that community's needs?

Is it a risk to undertake a new and different model of a public school? Yes! But how is is NOT a risk to perpetuate the status quo, a system that fails at educating EVERY child, no matter her race or socio-economic background? What about the proven risk that is already very, very present for so many Black and Latino youth?

Let's move forward with the proposal for Madison Prep. In several years' time, we can come back and learn from its successes and, yes, its limitations. I am not saying that the Madison Prep proposal is perfect or that I don't have reservations about it. But according to New York University education professor Pedro Noguera, who was in town revcently to speak on the topic of "Creating the Schools Where Black and Latino Males Can Thrive," there are no "silver bullets." Educating our children for successful lives will require a variety of approaches and models. Madison Prep may be very well suited to be one such model.

I ask our Board of Education, administrators and community to support the Urban League of Greater Madison's proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy.


Brian Lavendel, Madison

The proposal on the table for Madison Prep seems to me to be innovative and potentially very effective for Madison's at-risk population of low-income children and children of color, to help close the achievement gap that Madison has faced for far too long.

I can't imagine why the MMSD Board would vote against the Madison Prep proposal, if they truly have children's best interests at heart. Especially when there's NO alternative solution proposed and when the statistics show beyond the shadow of a doubt how blatantly our current systems has been failing these kids and therefore our entire community for so long, it would seem simply belligerent on the part of the board and union representatives to say NO.

I believe that the board's vote will reveal the true motives of Madison's academic elite. A vote YES would show that the board and the teacher's union has the humility and collaborative spirit it will take to think differently, act different and challenge existing paradigms, methods and yes, business models. A vote NO will belie that it is not achievement, but self-preservation that reigns for a system that has failed these children to date.

Vote YES to Madison Prep and show Madison that children truly do come first, ALL children, not just children of privelege and means, like mine frankly.

I object to the Madison Prep charter school proposal because it is a big step toward privatization.  It is not right that a large amount of public money would go to a school with almost no oversight by the elected School Board.  This is irresponsible with taxpayer money.  Seeing the details of the proposal, I am quite concerned about the amounts that would go to the top-heavy administration.  Staff and classroom resources are either underfunded in the proposal, or set up to be raided of funds in the future.  The School Board would have little way of stopping this if it started.  

It is undemocratic to have non-instrumentality charter schools.  Public sector organizations are for all, and belong to all of us.  The public should have a say in public sector organizations.  If the school organizers want to answer to only a small group of private funders, they should start a private school.

I anticipate the students in the district being worse off overall if this charter school proposal is approved.  I hope the School Board votes no.

Barbara Smith

Hello, I am a white female business owner in Madison. I study trends. I write frequently on these trends - and how Madison is handling them - in  my monthly "Next" column in Madison Magazine.

I am a supporter of Madison Prep, not because it is PERFECT, but because it represents PROGRESS. As you will read in my forthcoming column in Madison Magazine, about Madison Prep:

In focusing on the minute details, they’ve (ACLU, School Board) lost sight of the larger picture. In their quest for perfect gender balance, guaranteed outcomes, and an airtight balance sheet, community leaders are conveniently forgetting that for over 40 years, Madison has underserved black kids, and starting by helping black boys might be okay.

This is as obvious as a ham sandwich, but if you’re entrenched in your position and demand perfection, you can’t see it.

In his bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins famously wrote, “Good is the enemy of great.” But what we’re seeing in Madison and in policy discussion everywhere is that great is also the enemy of good.

We’ve underserved nonwhite populations for a long time. Inadvertently perhaps, we’ve prevented them from reaching the first rung of the ladder.

And it’s obvious to me that Madison’s aging white “progressive” Baby Boomers want “perfect” solutions, rather than settling for those that “merely” create momentum.

If we keep waiting for “perfect,” progress will never come, and Madison will become, as March Eisen recently quipped, “an amusement park for aging hippies.”


To the MMSD School Board: 

I am outraged that it is so difficult to get approval for the Madison Prep Academy. The fact that there is even a debate about this is outrageous.  

I suspect that if white middle and upper-class students had the ridiculously low graduation rate that our African American community members have in this city, the money would be raised in a heartbeat and something would have been done yesterday. We would be negotiating contracts. We would not bend to the will of  the Teachers Union. We would actually put the needs of the children first. We would be willing to take drastic measures to make changes to improve.  Why are we not doing something radically different to help neediest in our community?

In a recent newspaper article, it was mentioned that Madison schools do not need the Madison Prep Academy because it has the AVID/TOPS program. The article failed to mention that the AVID/TOPS program is not a program solely for the low-economic and minority students. It is actually illegal for this great program to focus solely on that group of high-risk children. I know this because my white son is fortunate enough to be in this program. My son is not a high risk child; neither is he a minority child, or come from a low-income family. AVID/TOPS is making progress in helping high-risk students achieve, but the percentage of students it can help in this city is incredibly small because (in large part) its hands are tied. Whatever positive contributions this program has achieved cannot possibly reach the growing number of students who desperately need the help and the hope.

Something needs to be done and it needs to be radically different than what we have been doing. We no longer have the luxury to be indifferent about this growing problem. Give Urban League President Kaleem Caire a chance to make a difference. We can no longer neglect this growing group of children. The future problems are too great; the stakes are too high. Educate them well and they will be contributing members of this great city. Continue in negligence and we all suffer down the road.


Voting NO on December 19th says that the MMSD and the School Board care more about appeasing the Teachers Union than truly educating ALL of our children.Voting NO is a blatant slap in the face to each and every high-risk, low-income, minority child in the Madison School District.


The facts can’t be denied, as they are MMSDs own data and data from ACT.  A 48% graduation rate of Black students in 09/10 compared to 89% of White students and data showing only 7% of Black students and 18% of Latino seniors have the necessary skills for college is not something to think about – it is an emergency that needs immediate action.


If there was already a plan in place from the Madison School District that showed a clear program with expected results that would be reported publicly on this particular issue, that would be different.  Nerad’s own words in the WSJ today (Dec 15) stated he is going to pitch his own plan.  How is it possible that with the results stated above there is not already a comprehensive plan in place, where the School District has buy in from community stake holders and is held accountable for the progress?  What is being done now does not work.  We are now being asked to wait and see what new plan may be put in place before the vote on Madison Prep which already has a plan meeting the specific needs of the kids most in need.  Madison Prep can’t succeed or continue without results – there mission is to offer what the Madison School District has not offered successfully to this community.


I ask you to take into account the students most in need, the statistics on performance and the continued lack of plan showing successful outcomes from the School District and vote YES to Madison Prep to change the course of these young kids lives.



Mindi Whiteis


The question I have concerning madison prep is that why are they not open to the truly special education students that are in our schools now. Seems selective. All of our schools have needy kids who's parents are not involved. His will this change that?

 NOW IS THE TIME! We cannot let this opportunity pass. Vote YES! YES! YES! YES! Please vote YES! A YES vote will improve the future of MMSD, Madison, and countless students. 

Please vote yes to the Madison Prep school proposal.  Thank you!