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Madison Metropolitan School District

Weekly Update to the Board of Education 9-23-2021

A message from Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.

Dear Board Members,

This week marks the fourth week of our fall semester. Throughout this week, our district has continued to lean forward together during the ongoing pandemics of COVID-19 and social injustice. During our conversations with students, staff, families, and community members throughout the district, we are working to incorporate multiple perspectives on uplifting humanity in our refinement of policies and practices. This work will impact the people as we move toward the standard of excellence, while intentionally deploying an equity lens. We look forward to continuing these conversations during individual chats, in small groups, and in larger gatherings such as last evening’s Facebook Livestream event.

One of the topics we have been discussing this week is how to safely host celebratory milestone events (such as Homecoming) in the midst of an ongoing global health pandemic. As we consider the social-emotional benefits of these events, we must acknowledge how fortunate our district is to be able to collaborate with our medical advisors during our decision-making. Their expertise broadens and deepens our discourse, which allows for richer and more comprehensive analysis as we grapple with multi-faceted issues.

As we consider celebratory milestones, it is important to acknowledge our national celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. In 1968, our nation began recognizing Hispanic Heritage Week; this commemoration was expanded to a month (September 15-October 15) in 1988. As we lean forward together with humanity, it is important to acknowledge the unique political, social, linguistic, economic, and cultural contributions of our LatinX community. Our district, state, and nation are strengthened when we embrace these contributions as well as the vibrant community which has given so much to the fabric of American life.

During our conversations, we are also inspired to discuss and address issues which are not so celebratory. As such, many of us have been disheartened this week by witnessing images of Haitian refugees being whipped by officials on horseback. These images remind us of the historic brutality of slavery as well as ongoing concerns about racial injustice. Our nation is largely a nation of immigrants. Surely our immense resources of wealth and intellect can lead us to better solutions than what is being illustrated by these disturbing images.

As we have discussions which educate our students, staff, families, and community about the prevailing societal issues, we must turn our attention to our own state government. Some recently proposed bills (such as AB 562) do not align with our district’s core values or our country’s aspiration to be a nation of ideas. We must push back against attempts to tell a limited history of our nation or marginalize groups historically excluded from the national discourse based on their LGBTQIA status. Leaning forward with humanity means affirming the inherent worth of all our neighbors.

Thanks for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to providing you with more updates on our district’s progress and planning next week.

Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.


Weekly Update, September 23, 2021