A message from Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Dear Board Members,
This week, which marks the interval between our commencement celebrations and the start of our summer semester, has been eventful. As we reflect on the challenges and successes of the past school year, we remain mindful of our need to serve as advocates and community partners for our students and families.
Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, MMSD demonstrated remarkable resilience and innovation, while addressing the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial/social injustice. Our efforts to address the basic, educational, and social-emotional needs of our community encompassed initiatives such as: providing millions of meals at remote distribution centers; advocating for vaccination and testing resources; providing technology hardware and internet access to facilitate a variety of virtual and hybrid instructional options; and partnering with community organizations to connect our families to food, mental health, and financial resources.
As we plan for the 2021-2022 school year and beyond, we acknowledge the need for appropriate resources to sustain our investments in high yielding strategies which will accelerate academic and social-emotional learning for all students, while working to eliminate disparities. Unfortunately, the most recent budgetary proposals by our state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will force us to reduce these investments as well as make stark decisions between “doing what is right” and “doing what is right.” Therefore, we have continued to work with others (such as the Big 5 school districts and MTI) to advocate for our state legislature to not turn its back on public education, which continues to be a powerful agent for improving the lives of Wisconsin families and communities. Our written statements, op-Ed columns, and other forms of advocacy will continue during “Day of Action” events on June 21st.
As we continue engaging in advocacy to make sure our schools are appropriately funded, we find inspiration from our district’s vision to ensure every student graduates ready for college, career, and the community. This noble aim compels our continued efforts to refine our policies and practices, as well as our endeavors to secure and better utilize resources. We know the educational, employment, and social-emotional trajectory of our diverse community can be shifted upward by our intentional and thoughtful actions where we lead with concern for human decency. I still believe – “if it can happen anywhere, it will happen in Madison”.
Thanks for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to providing you with more updates on our district’s progress next week.
As we work to live up to our core values and continue on our journey to become an antiracist district, we must stop to celebrate our staff members who have helped to shape and advance these efforts. Therefore, I would like to congratulate Nichelle Nichols who
will be leaving our district in July to become a System Leader in Residence with the National Equity Project (NEP). Among Nichelle’s duties in this new role will be helping to coach school districts on their racial equity work as part of a national network of districts. Although we are saddened to be losing Nichelle as a district colleague, we know her talent, intellect, and perspective will greatly assist NEP's engagement in work which benefits us all.
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.