With few exceptions, African-American students are significantly underperforming academically in comparison with their peers in Madison schools at all levels of education. To chart a new path forward, dozens of local African-American leaders are pushing for a larger community response involving discussion and strategy. On Saturday, April 29, from noon-2:30 p.m., at Madison College-Goodman South Campus, a community engagement session and interactive summit titled ”The State of Black Children and their Education” will take place in the heart of South Madison.
“It’s clear that this educational system needs to do better by our children,” says David Hart, the president of Blacks for Political & Social Action Dane County, who is hosting the event along with a handful of local organizations. “We have seen the data and it is dire as it relates to our children and something has to be done. That was the sole impetus for this engagement meeting.”
Other sponsors of Saturday’s community engagement session will include the Madison Metropolitan School District, African American Council of Churches, Urban League of Greater Madison, Madison Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, 100 Black Men of Madison, JFMJ Academy, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, United Way, and the NAACP of Dane County.
“I’m really encouraged by the organizations we have lined up behind this event and by the excitement in the community about it,” Hart tells Madison365. “I haven’t seen this kind of impetus where many people from across our community are getting together and discussing this and making sure that we find some solutions.”
Attendees will meet with MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins and other educational experts including Dr. Angela Hicks and Dr. Percy Brown Jr. The goal will be to provide input and create strategies to support the educational success of Black children in MMSD.
“So we’ll start with a panel discussion, and then there will be breakout sessions,” Hart says, speaking about the itinerary. “But then we’re going to close this thing out with a real call to action and ensure that we make some steps to improve the lives of our children.”
The discussion of racial educational disparities in Madison is a conversation that Madisonians have been having for decades.
“This is certainly not a new or novel discussion. I do think there’s fresh energy, a new impetus, and a continued desire to move our kids forward and not simply take the status quo … not simply take what’s been offered to our children,” Hart says. “So I think there are a lot of forces that are culminating and intersecting that are making this discussion a little bit different than the other times that this community has had this particular discussion.”
The event is not only an opportunity to dialogue with Black educational experts on how to help children succeed, but a chance to discuss concerns and solutions.
“I’m just elated to have this discussion. There’s just a refreshing spirit around it. There’s just a renewed energy,” Hart says. “There are people at the table and there’s unity at the table that I personally haven’t seen before being here in Madison for a while, and it’s just very good to see.”
Lunch will be provided at the event. To register, click here.
“Everybody’s welcome,” Hart says. “I hear that there will be elected officials there and people from all corners of this community present there. They’re absolutely welcome to be here. But my hope and my prayer is that everyone who is there has a commitment to closing these decades-long and sometimes centuries-long achievement gaps between our children and other children.”
“The State of Black Students at MMSD” community engagement session will be held Saturday, April 29, noon, at Madison College, 2429 Perry Street. RSVP is required. For more information, e-mail bpsa20PAC@gmail.com.