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Thursday, December 25, 2014  |   Madison, WI: 41.0° F  
THE SCONZ: Breaking news and commentary on campus, city and state politics
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A better way for Madison Prep
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If people want a charter school to be an inspiration to other youngsters in the community, here's a better way to do it. Instead of building an entirely new school, which costs a ton and isolates the kids from the rest of their peers, why not go with the school within a school model, in which a charter is operated within an existing public school?

That's the only original idea I have. Now here is my two cents on the rest of the plan.

I believe Kaleem Caire knows what he is talking about though. It's frustrating to see a debate on the crisis facing minority students as polarized between the know-nothings on the right who believe the only issues facing blacks are self-inflicted cultural ones and the lefties who refuse to accept that anything besides racism and poverty are responsible for the poor performance of black males in America.

I saw the intersection of both the cultural and economic aspects that bring black guys down. At my high school, in Montclair, NJ, which was slightly majority-minority, blacks were not only much more likely to come from poor or uneducated backgrounds, but many black kids from well-to-do or educated families felt pressure to conform to the mainstream image of black Americans. To not be "oreos." This, according to friends who spent their whole lives in Montclair, was one of the reasons why groups of friends were generally more integrated in grade school and middle school than in high school.

As for the gender-specific classes, I say, why the hell not? So much of the anxiety in high school social life is due to guys desire to impress the gals, and vice versa. Even those who aren't into the opposite sex feel the pressure to live up to the conventional expectations of heterosexual prowess. Straight guys without girlfriends are worried about being perceived as gay, and gay guys are often worried about being found out. The latter is gradually changing, but high school is still a much more difficult time to come to terms with who you are publicly than later in life.

Granted, my bias in favor of gender-specific schools may be influenced by the book I just finished about a famous gang-rape in New Jersey.

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