Home Madison Faith, Education, Racial Equity Meet Saturday in One-Day Workshop

Faith, Education, Racial Equity Meet Saturday in One-Day Workshop


Education equity experts from the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois will lead a one-day workshop and panel discussion on ways to bridge achievement gaps this Saturday from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at First United Methodist Church in downtown Madison. The workshop, Something Inside So Strong, is hosted by First United Methodist and Selfless Ambition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping churches work collaboratively with each other and other local organizations and schools for the good of the community.

“We are focused on a model of participating in the community that is brought to us by two professors at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in Chicago,” said First United Methodist Pastor Mark Fowler. “It basically is the model of the Freedom School, which has worked well in Evanston, a joint venture between the seminary and the public schools to address issues of racial disparity, especially in the achievement gap and education, a major issue here. We wanted them to come and share their experience with us and then there will be a panel of educators and community activists here so that we might discern what some next steps might be.”

Fowler said he hopes for about 100 people to attend. So far 60 have registered, so there’s still plenty of room.

Fowler sees the faith community as having an important role in education equity.

“I think that there’s a vital conversation that needs to happen,” he said. “I mean, the racial disparity in the schools is a symptom of the distance. If it’s not division, at least it’s distance between various communities in Madison. I think with an intentional coming together of faith communities committed to this, we’re attempting to bridge some of those distances to be able to address these problems and then we can mobilize.”

He also notes that our White majority might need to step back, listen and invite collaboration.

“I think that we really need to find ways of doing this together,” he said. “Our congregation, it’s largely White. One of the proclivities is that we often think we have the idea of how to fix the issue. That doesn’t help. It needs to be collaborative. I think (Selfless Ambition founder) Henry (Sanders) has been a catalyst to that and that’s really helpful in terms of building coalition in Madison to address these issues. I think that’s really critical.”

Sanders, also the founder and publisher of Madison365, will moderate a panel at the event on Saturday including Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson and One City Early Learning Center CEO Kaleem Caire, as well as other local educators and community activists.

Collaboration is key, Caire said.

“One reason why the gap exists now, today with all the resources that we have, is we have a lot of people who will say they’re focus on the achievement gap, but it’s not coordinated,” he said.

Tickets are available for $15 and lunch is included.