Regarding Jack Craver's opinion column "African Americans Not Allowed?" (11/18/11): Any person discriminated against in any business open to the public can file a complaint under the Wisconsin Public Accommodation and Amusement Act. No lawyer is needed; just fill out a complaint form at the state office building and ask for redress or settle for damages.
Regarding Madison Prep ("Making Sense of the Controversial Charter School," 12/2/11): A new report from the Minnesota Department of Education shows that an achievement gap exists for kids before they begin elementary school. The study of 5,600 Minnesota students during the first eight weeks of kindergarten in 2010 clearly shows that "preschool can have a big impact on learning." Forty percent of Minnesota kindergartners did not reach the level of overall readiness, including a large gap among children of color and children in poverty.
The landscape is no different in Wisconsin. A study "Improving Child Care Quality" (UW Extension) suggested that 75% of the child care centers in the state were ranked as "mediocre." The state's YoungStar initiative, for example, is working to improve the quality of the early care and education experience for our youngest children. Public and private investment will be needed to sustain initiatives like this one.
Unfortunately, youngsters who start behind usually stay behind. The achievement gap will not be significantly improved without focusing on the "best beginning" for children.
I graduated from an East Coast all-male prep school, which delivered "the goods" that the Urban League seeks for Madison Prep. One hundred percent of graduates were college ready.
I imagine that this sounds good to the proponents of academic success. The problem is tunnel vision - "academic success" at all costs.
No one wants to talk about it, so as one who has experienced four years of high school in an all-male environment, I will. Does the name Sandusky ring a bell here? He found an all-male environment in a coed school. How about the Catholic ongoing experiment with the all-male top-down environment? I have witnessed firsthand the sick behaviors resulting from the all-male environment drawing perverse men.
The high school years are a time for learning more than just the three R's. Boys will be "distracted" in a coed environment? I hope so! High school is also a necessary four-year course in human relations. Depriving boys and girls of a crucial four-year period for "getting to know you" is a formula for failure as adult partners.
Eric N. Rattan
First of all, let me say that I identify as white. My white daughter attends the Madison public schools and because of many of her privileges (race, class, ability), she is one of those who are very likely to succeed in this system.
While I consider myself an active citizen in my community, I do wonder if it's my role to pass judgment on an educational proposal that is tailored to serve others' children - those who, statistics tell us, are not so likely to succeed in our educational system.
Of course, reasonable and prudent people have reservations about the Madison Prep proposal to form a charter school to address our community's racially linked opportunity and achievement gaps. But I admire the work and commitment of the Urban League of Greater Madison and those who seek schools that serve students whose needs are not currently being met. And I have to ask myself, isn't it the right of a community to develop and advance proposals that best meet that community's needs?
Is it a risk to undertake a new and different model of a public school? Yes! But how is it not a risk to perpetuate a system that fails at educating so many children? What about the proven risk that is already very, very present for so many black and Latino youth?
Ald. Mark Clear warns us that the Edgewater may need to be "demolished" if the developer Hammes does not receive $16 million in loans ("All or Nothing?" 12/2/11). That amount of loan is unnecessary corporate welfare in a time of fiscal austerity. I suggest the city work with Mr. Hammes and ask him to submit a compromise bid. Couldn't the Edgewater project get along with, say, $8 million from the city? The money interests of our country, state and city are frequently warning the people and government to tighten our belts, but then they can ask for, and think they deserve, handouts. It is time it stopped!