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Madison Metropolitan School District

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

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

Dear Board Members,

This week marks the second week of our fall semester. Throughout this week, our district staff have been leaning forward together as they continue transitioning our students into a brand new school year. While working to create learning spaces and educational environments where students, staff, and families can thrive, they are working diligently to exemplify the pillars of excellence, equity, humanity, and intentionality.

Excellence is our standard for all policies and practices. Our students have unlimited potential, and our staff continue working doggedly to assist them in turning their raw ability into the skills and consciousness needed to be ready for college, career, and the community. Since each student enters MMSD with different resources, relationships, and experiences, we must utilize an equity lens to effectively deploy differentiated high-yielding instructional strategies and co-curricular opportunities to unlock their unique abilities. This week, our staff grappled with simultaneously ensuring excellence and equity in myriad decisions connected to instruction, transportation, staffing, and resource allocation. Interestingly, making vigorous efforts to address situations holistically also required staff to consider how our decisions address the inequities within inequity, which aligns with the new Maintenance of Equity requirements connected to federal funds.

We would like to remind the Board about the Biological Transformation process. During this time, we are leading from the first year of chaos to organized chaos. We are focusing on relationships as we continue to deal with the pandemic. The issues being presented e.g., employee shortages in the areas of bus drivers and other staff shortages are the focus of our efforts now. There are some decisions that, when coupled with the pandemic, shorten the time that we would have taken to respond in order to support our students and to operationalize our practices to meet the needs of all our stakeholders. This is causing an initial drain on staff, and this is why we are saying we must lean forward together and hold one another up by providing space and practicing empathy.

Intentionally focusing on uplifting human decency will assist our continued efforts to make decisions in a manner befitting the pillar of humanity. Therefore, we are centering our efforts on the humanity of our students, as well as their families and our community. This will allow for the holistic development of our scholars, with an anticipated positive residual impact on achievement. Throughout this week, we witnessed our staff making critical instructional and operational decisions, while wrestling with alternative scenarios for elevating human decency in their deliberations. Leaning forward together is often not for the faint of heart, but it produces a framework for decision-making consistent with the principles we value.

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 9, 2021