A message from Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Dear Board Members,
This week marks the next to last week of the interlude between the end of our summer semester and the start of our fall semester. During this week, our district has been “leaning forward with excellence, equity, humility, and intentionality” while preparing for opening schools this fall. I would like to share a few examples of how our staff and community partners have exemplified the themes associated with “leaning forward” this week.
During yesterday’s New Educators Orientation, the themes of excellence and equity were pervasive. The typical discussion of expectations and standards was buttressed by encouragement to demonstrate their love of students by striving to make a difference through elevating the joy of teaching and learning. In fact, multiple speakers acknowledged the need to embrace this critical moment in history where our district’s journey towards excellence will be measured through an equity lens which centers the experience of students from historically excluded groups (HEGs).
On Tuesday, our partnership with the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools (FMPS) produced many insights on humility and intentionality during their board retreat. During a training largely focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, many board members humbly acknowledged many of the shortcomings related to the traditional approaches to supporting the work of our district. That said, the group made a commitment to advocating and leading the work across the state to increase funding to support public schools. It was inspiring to witness this conversation, which also exemplified our core values to focus on being an anti-racist district and social justice.
As we continue our efforts to lean forward, we remain resolute in embracing James Baldwin’s challenge to educators to “go for broke,” especially as we consider Goal 3 of our Strategic Framework. If we are truly working to ensure African American children and youth excel in our schools, we will have to refine policies and practices which impede our ability to eliminate disparities and accelerate learning for all students. This work, which truly occupies the nexus between excellence and equity, will require all the humility and intentionality we can muster.
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.