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Posted on Wed, May 12, 2010 : 8:55 p.m.

Ann Arbor elementary school's black-only program violated state law, district policy

By David Jesse

An Ann Arbor elementary school program open only to black students violated Michigan state law and the district’s own anti-discrimination policy, school board President Deb Mexicotte said in a prepared statement Wednesday evening.

“The effort was well-intentioned,” Mexicotte said. “We are sorry that this cast our community in a negative light” when the district has so many positive things going on.

Mexicotte didn’t criticize Principal Mike Madison in her statement. District spokeswoman Liz Margolis declined to comment on whether any disciplinary action has been taken against Madison, citing district policy.


Dicken Elementary Principal Mike Madison, shown in this file photo, has drawn a firestorm of controversy.

The district has been drawing heavy criticism of the program from across the nation - and from some parents in the district - for more than a week. It started with complaints from students and parents about a field trip taken by the African American Lunch Bunch at Dicken Elementary to hear a black rocket scientist at the University of Michigan speak. District administrators have said a private donation paid for the trip.

After the trip, classmates who were excluded booed those who went. Madison entered a classroom, and parents have complained he berated the students. District officials have said he was just having a “passionate” discussion about race issues.

The black-only program was formed this school year in response to an achievement gap in test scores and other measures between white and black students. The district announced the program was disbanded on Friday.

Parents whose students did not go on the trip have expressed concerns it was exclusionary, but Madison sent a letter home insisting that wasn’t the intent. He said in the letter that the field trip was meant “to address the societal issues, roadblocks and challenges that our African-American children will face as they pursue a successful academic education here in our community.”

The trip prompted a tidal wave of anger directed at the school district - much of it from outside the district, Mexicotte said.

In her statement, Mexicotte said much of the anger was misguided and didn’t demonstrate a “willingness to presume goodwill” by Madison and the district.

“This anger has often not been civil,” she said.


Mexicotte said she wished the anger would be redirected against a “public education system that has left too many behind.”

One of the issues raised by parents and others was whether the group violated the district’s own anti-discrimination policy and state law. The district’s legal counsel was asked to issue a ruling, which he did Wednesday night in a closed session with the board.

The district is working with Madison and the Dicken community to restructure the now defunct program, Mexicotte said. The administration is also drafting “clear guidelines” on how principals and other administrators can help overcome the district’s achievement gap in an “inclusive” way.

Victoria Haviland, the secretary of the Dicken PTO and a parent of three Dicken students, was at the board meeting. She was one of five applicants to fill an open seat on the board, but wasn’t selected.

Haviland said she thought the statement did a good job of demonstrating the district’s “commitment to equity.” She said administrators and members of the Dicken school improvement team have begun work on reconfiguring the program.

Parent Ann O'Connell was the lone speaker at the board's public commentary.

"As our community found to our embarrassment when a scandal regarding a field trip by the African American Lunch Bunch went national in the last few weeks, some School Improvement Teams have targeted efforts to  “Leap the Gap” or improve academic achievement by race and sometimes by gender. 

"It has been claimed by some that these practices are based on the cultural sensitivity training provided to the district by Pacific Educational Group. 

"My experience of the last 11 years says that programs of this type had been implemented prior to PEG’s contract with the district, and have several times been ended when they were found to be discriminatory.

"Since the passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan, every adult in the Dicken community, and in AAPS as a whole should have realized that the AA Lunch Bunch, like previous programs, which have been found to be illegal, was illegally segregating students by race.

"I would like to urge the trustees, in the strongest possible terms, to re-think and re-direct the district’s group-focused approach to appreciation of diversity, cultural sensitivity and closing the achievement gap. 

"Where appropriate, teachers and administrators must be re-trained to the point where they can clearly identify what type of academic achievement enhancement efforts are allowable, and which are not.

"What you have been doing, often with excellent intentions, is illegal, it’s immoral, it’s insulting to both girls and to African-Americans to imply that they will not, can not succeed in a fair educational system. 

"I do not mean to imply that a fair system will treat all students alike in all cases. 

"Fairness dictates that individual strengths, weaknesses, interests and abilities be taken into account in designing educational interventions."

Mexicotte said the district has worked hard in the past several years to attack problems surrounding the achievement gap and equity issues. She said the district’s efforts in this matter “are finally bearing fruit” and the gaps are closing.

“We have done this in the face of diminishing resources” because “it is the right thing to do. We know we are on the right path,” Mexicotte said.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.


Steve Norton, MIPFS

Mon, May 17, 2010 : 12:16 p.m.

An earlier comment of mine didn't make it through, for some reason, but it went something like this: @josber: Re my medical analogy, I wasn't talking about access to care or who deserved what. I simply meant that it was not only normal, but necessary, to take ethnic background into account when looking at risk factors or treatments. Not doing so would be irresponsible. My point was that many posters on this and other threads seem to be under the impression that making any differentiation according to ethnic background, under any circumstances, was illegal and/or wrong. To all: There is a big difference between taking ethnic identity (race) into account in order to subjugate certain groups and taking it into account in order to provide a remedy. Simply becoming "color blind" won't do it, because we have not yet made up for the impact of generations of discrimination. But I also agree with "AMOC," that the remedy need not, and probably should not, be an exclusive one. It's perfectly possible to create programs that focus on undoing the damage of discrimination without making the membership exclusive to one ethnic group or skin color. In fact, keeping such programs open would facilitate the kind of "courageous conversations" we need to have as a society. To truly erase the legacy of racism, we all need to understand and empathize with each other. In other words, the Dicken program was "well intentioned" in that it was aimed at doing the right and necessary thing. But it should have been implemented differently - to be inclusive rather than exclusive, and to avoid legal issues that could end up doing much greater damage in the long run. But I don't think this judgment error by itself justifies calls for Mike Madison's immediate dismissal. One of the things I hope our community begins to talk about is the effort AAPS has been making over the last several years to examine instruction and find ways to teach that reach every child. This effort has been guided by PEG, and as far as I can tell the Dicken program is not part of the work they have been doing here. Rather, the focus of the "equity teams" in each building has been to encourage discussions among the faculty about how they can reach each student effectively. Newer "CARE" teams are focused on implementing new techniques and having teachers evaluate each other's experience. Other changes made by the district in the elementary curriculum (balanced literacy, added support systems and technology) are also aimed at the goal of reaching every student. Unfortunately, this work does not receive much attention, but it is important work and deserves to be understood and discussed by the community as a whole.


Mon, May 17, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

@motherof four: Please reread my post regarding parents wanting to place children with certain teachers. I indicated I was not for or against it, and simply gave a reason why some parents do it. You are assuming that teachers and administrators routinely give in to parent requests. As a prior Dicken parent, I have seen this was not the case. I have never observed a them vs. us attitude at that school either. Parents there for the most part contribute to a wonderful sense of community. I have never requested my children be placed with a specific teacher or with a specific group of children, that has never been an issue for me.


Mon, May 17, 2010 : 8:32 a.m.

@a2me2-One problem with placing students based upon what parents think is best for their children is that it can cause school segregation because it is not offered to all parents. Some parents don't even know that they have a say in the class selection process. Lets just say our special group all request the same class placement-our children all get put into the same classroom and we are all happy! Are we happy because we are in the best educational environment or are we happy because we have created an "in" group at least for one school year? From what I see this parent involvement class selection process can evolve into a system of creating an "in" group environment as opposed the primary purpose of schools of creating the best educational environment. That is what has happened at some schools and it is a problem. I think school/class demographics are available still for each year at the main library. I would suggest that you can determine for yourself if schools within schools are or have been created. A good situtation is when teachers team up with each other so that each individual teacher instruct their speciality. Teachers rotate between classrooms. At the elementary school level good princpals are good at helping promote this philosophy. That way no groups of "ins" and "not ins" are created. No groups of upper class versus lower class segregation. Should you start to create these groups early, by the time students reach fifth grade then you have problems. I feel that any person in any school that allows for, does not prevent, or contributes physical or emotional injury to any student should be removed from that postion. The recent video of the actions of a teacher in Texas is an example of what can go wrong. The teacher involved and all of the adults at the school who witnessed the events were terminated because of the physical and emotional injury caused to the student. I feel that the problems created at the Dicken school were in part a result of evolving a "them" verus "us" atmosphere. I don't think it was racially motivated. Possibly, in part, created by a group of parents making their own school within a school segregation by using the best class for the student privelege to form their own image of the "in" popluation. The administration failed in two regards. First they failed to understand these dynamics and the "true colors" of those that ask for a specific classroom placement and also a lack of oversight and mangement. Parents should also be accountable and responsible for creating the environment at the shool. Secondly, the corrective action taken that could produce physical and emotional injury to students was a miserable failed execution of duty. In short everyone is resposible for creating the environment or permitting it to be created. The SIT, BOE, Administration, Staff, Parents, PTO, Taxpayers are all responsible. The principal/administration is/are responsible for his specific action and needs to be held accountable. @A2ME2 - I am just currious to know why you think you know what is the best class for your children. What are you looking for in the ideal classroom? Can you be subjective? What are some of the things you like to see in a classroom short of who the students are or will be?


Sun, May 16, 2010 : 10:57 p.m.

@motheroffour: In this particular case, physical danger from another student was the issue. The principal refused to take action, even when faced with very specific and overwhelming circumstances. Rather than continue to put my child in harms way, in order to fight with an administrator who showed no concern and who refused any reasonable assistance, I chose to remove my child for safety sake. At the time I could care less what the administration, district or Dicken communitys opinion was regarding moving students, and had no faith in the system. I was dealing with a principal who was more concerned how moving my child out of his school would look to his superiors, than protecting my child from imminent harm. There are other parents who also removed their children from Dicken due to situations affecting their children that were not addressed by Madison. In regard to your comment about parents trying to select certain teachers for their children: I am not saying it is right or wrong but most parents in a community know who the good teachers are, and therefore want them for their kids. The whole idea that the school knows what teacher is best for which student is a misnomer.

Alan Benard

Sun, May 16, 2010 : 8:57 p.m.

But Michiganders are always ready, retiredteacher, to accept more and more money from the federal government, and less and less willing to tax themselves through millages and properly progressive state income taxes to support their education system. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Since your pension is without a doubt bolstered by state funds not spent because federal ones are available, when will you start sending back the checks?


Sun, May 16, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

some notes. to Jack, why do you call the principla a "gentleman" doe the word no longer have an signicicance distinct fro man, guy, fellow or person. How can anyone who berates children be a gentleman. You use it as a "weasel" PC word. Regarding all the hysteria about NCLB. Excuse my ignorance of history and our CONSTITUTION but where does the federal government have the right to have any opinion? & as follows their interference is illegal. & again if a person or groups is in direct and knowing violationof our National law(the Constituion) is that stupidity, ignorance, evil or even treason? The "tenth admendment folks" are right about this. Get the feds & outsiders out of local business, schools and social programs. If the local community does not control their own schools then outsiders will.


Sun, May 16, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

@ A2ME2. If I understand you correctly the remedy to a situation was to move a student to another school. The community does not support moving students from their neighborhood school to other schools because of the poor action and judgement by a school administrator. That is not what school of choices is all about. Someone needs to set up a web based oversight so that all of the issues can be gathered and presented to the Dicken community and then to the school board. I was at a swimming class enrollment yesterday and I heard a discussion between two parents regarding their input into class room selection for students next year. Selection should be based on what is best for the student. It appears some take advantage of the parent input position to create their own make-up preferences and this is not based upon what is good for the individual student. Don't ask for that class because that is where the principal puts all of the problems.

Jack Panitch

Sun, May 16, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

motheroffour: Your thoughtful comment prompted me to do some research to educate myself in an area with which I am not yet familiar. I still have miles to go in researching the ideas you raised. But one thing I ran across might be helpful now. The Student Advocacy Center of Michigan has a publication available that addresses meetings with school officials: Although it supports the approach I would take, it is more organized and better thought out, so I offer it up, along with the reference to this organization of nonattorney advocates, for your review. Sincere thanks for the exchange of ideas!


Sun, May 16, 2010 : 12:44 a.m.

@Alan Benard: It amuses me that you just assume I am Caucasian. It just goes to show how everyone has their own perceptions, which are not always correct. If my child was added to a group such as the Dicken Lunch Bunch, and given opportunity to play basketball, to feel good about himself, rather than being given tutoring, which would actually help him in the long run, I would be outraged. It doesnt matter what color anyone is, what matters is why is anyone accepting this ridiculous idea that educators are force feeding parents. I think of myself as a realist. Nothing fancy, if a child has low scores in math, tutor him in math, if a child has problems with reading, teach them reading, and watch them shine when they do better at school. @aataxpayer: No the AAPS showed no concern regarding my children; Madison refused to assist me, and refused to admit he handled the situation very badly. I was hindered on all levels, until I threatened to get an attorney, then was permitted to send my kids to the school of my choice, which from what I understand was my right all along. @retired teacher: The longer we keep words that separate us by color, the longer we will have discrimination. In your reply, you did not state what the appropriate term is. In my opinion the only appropriate term is American.


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 9:55 p.m.

Although I always warn my children against any kind of booing, trying to teach them instead to look for what they can cheer on, I commend the children in this class for standing up to something that they knew was not right. They may have expressed this frustration in a childish way - by booing - but it brought attention to this serious problem that was affecting all of the children in the classroom / school, albeit, in different ways. These students confronted, in a way that they knew how, an unjust situation that was causing ill will, conflict, confusion and tension among them. They were an agent of change. Children are very sensitive to any kind of unfairness. (BTW couldn't the "white" children also learn that a "black" person could achieve the success and status of the "black" scientist, as well as the "black" children, by going and seeing this person???) But, a very important lesson, beyond that life is unfair, is that fairness is not necessarily equal. Although some AAPS math books, unfortunately, teach that "equal" and "fair" are interchangeable terms, they are not. Some students, totally unrelated to their race or heritage, need more help in a variety of different areas that may include academics, social skills, or emotional control, among other things. Since fairness is a concept that children can understand and are so attuned to, ideally, when their sense of justice caused them to boo the lunch bunch kids, an adult could have facilitated a discussion on: booing, what was really bothering the kids, how they might have communicated their feelings differently, why they felt an unfairness existed, and finally, given some insight into the proclaimed intentions of the program, what would be fair. I would bet that the students would've understood, and supported, a program that worked with (any)students, who needed extra help, to bring up their academic skills, or strengthen their weaknesses. I seriously feel like the booing students did the right thing here and that the "privileged" lunch bunch kids were put in an unfair and vulnerable position by Mr. Mike Madison (who, by the way,has been nothing but revered in my circle of acquaintances throughout the years.)

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 15, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

UWM: What is absolutely "not true" is your statement that "The achievement gap is based more directly on SES than anthing else." Quite the opposite is the case. Though the gap narrows as one moves up the socio-economic ladder, there is a significant gap between white and black students at all socio-economic levels. Among many sources, see: And you write: "If we don't stop racism like this right now it will only get worse." This is not racism. Racism is defined as "the belief that race is a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." Nothing Mr. Madison did or is accused of doing suggests he maintains or acted upon a "belief that race is a primary determinant of human traits and capacities." Had he believed this, he would not have bothered to take the children on the trip in the first place. And surely nothing he did suggests that he thought the white children not on the field trip were inherently superior or inferior due to their race. What he did was race-based, not racist. There is a very big and very important difference. Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 6:07 p.m.

Edward R. Murrow wrote: "Prop 2 makes is near impossible to address the achievement gap in any systematic way." Absolutely not true. The achievement gap is based more directly on SES than anthing else, including race, all the while recognizing that cultural factors such as work ethic, etc., surely contribute to success in life and thus SES. That's why you see such high success and achievement among recent immigrants such as Asians, Jews, et al. who value hard work and education. Now, it just so happens that there are more poor black children than others, but it is also true that there are many children from well-off black families that do quite well in school and beyond, and thus who don't need nor deserve any sort of affirmative action like the Lunch Club. Those kids are raised in an environment that values hard work and education, and their experience mirrors other high achievers. Madison and the AAPS district violated not only the MCRI, but also their own regulations and perhaps even the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lawsuits are inevitable. I personally know that at least civil suits are already in progress and perhaps criminal action will follow. And IMO this is a good thing. If we don't stop racism like this right now it will only get worse.


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

Not all black families devalue education, not all asian families hold it in high regard. Not all black students are struggling, not all asian students are excelling. It is quite legal to build a program based on test scores or free lunches in the schools. In general these are the children that need the most help, both culturally and academically. Dickens had children from other ethnic groups that had low scores and some of the children in the lunch bunch were doing very well. The problem was not with what the program wanted to do, but with the way children were chosen for it. It is possible to reconstitute the lunch bunch in a number of legal ways. Mr Madison had 30 years with the district, to tell me he did not know the district policy tells me there are other problems with the administration of the school system. I don't want a lawsuit, and I don't want discrimination, I do want children to excel. I just want the school to follow the law and not open another can of worms like the substitute teacher can that cost the district millions. The school board needs to take firm action, both to make sure the policy is enforced and to help constitute a program that is legal. If it were mine to do, the first thing I would do is fire PEG and visit the Virginia school system in one of the urban counties to see what they are doing right.


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

Edward R. Murrow - you are close, we cannot control a child's environment, but we can really do more if we understand the culture of poverty. Without that understanding we are just spinning our wheels.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 15, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

josber wrote: "Surely someone knows how to make a kid want to come to school and do their school work to the best of their ability, and like their lives? We should find out who that person is." That person/people is/are the parents, the family, their friends, and the neighborhood. Try as teachers might (and they try mightily), in most cases they cannot, on their own, overcome the environment from which they come. K-5 teachers have their students for roughly 1080 hours per year (180 days x 6 hours). That leaves 7680 hours per year for children, whatever their race, to be influenced by the above people. As Dr. William Cosby, Ed.D., and others have noted, the problem in the black community is cultural. Whatever the black student's socio-economic status, there is substantial pressure for them to dismiss and devalue education. It is ludicrous to believe that K-5 teachers, whose primary job is to teach basic skills upon which future learning will be built (the bedrock skills of education), should also somehow be able to magically overcome, on their own, the cultural influences that are in those students' daily lives. This task becomes even more difficult as class sizes grow. It becomes even more demoralizing as teacher pay gets cut (which is what just happened in the retirement bill that passed the state legislature) while angry people on and elsewhere complain about lazy, overpaid, and under worked teachers. Mike Madison was trying to address these cultural issues--to show young black school children that it is not a bad thing to be black and an academic success. In doing this he was helping teachers and helping our larger society. It is too bad that this appears to have violated the law, and it therefore begs the question of how the schools can address the cultural issues that appear to hamper the academic success of black students. It is even more unfortunate that so many people in Ann Arbor have reacted with such rage toward a program intended address such an important problem. Children, black and white, have learned an important lesson in this rage. Unfortunately, it is not a very good or useful lesson. Good Night and Good Luck.


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

AnneB- You said "So, how are schools in Michigan supposed to close the achievement gap that is based on race, ethnicity or national origin without creating any programs or clubs or lunch groups to target groups for improvement?" You are correct that NCLB requires schools to report test results by race / ethnicity along with gender, special-education status and socio-economic status, while the MCRI forbids schools from discriminating in their educational or extra-curricular programs based on race or gender. The answer to this apparent conflict is pretty simple, though. Schools in Michigan must close the achievement gap by improving the scores of the individual students who demonstrate low achievement. Michigan schools may, quite legally, develop programs designed to appeal to or support students of a particular race, as long as those programs are open to students of any race. Unlike the African American Lunch Bunch which existed at Dicken, ethnic-heritage-focused clubs at the middle and high schools are "open to all students", and therefore legal. So the French Club can arrange a field trip to Montreal for its members without causing controversy in the community, the Anim Club can study kanji and arrange a weekly sushi-and-video party after school, etc. Michigan schools may also, with complete legality, invite students to participate in specific activities and programs based on their INDIVIDUAL grades in school, test scores or their family socio-economic status. When the African American Academy at Clague was found to violate Federal anti-discrimination laws, it was re-constituted as a "Homework Club", where students could get help with classwork, encouragement and support from trained teachers and also have fun together. The Homework Club was, in concept, open to all students, but the teachers who ran it made a special point of encouraging the African American students who had been coming to the AA Academy to continue and its non-academic activities were geared to African American interests. There is a very significant achievement gap for Special Ed students too. But in order to receive services from the district, every single special education student has been individually evaluated to determine the impact of his or her disability or disabilities on their education. Each of them has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a disability accommodation plan (called a 504 Plan) developed by a team of educators and the student's parents or guardians. Some of those plans include participation in lunchtime groups operated by staff where students learn and practice specific behavior patterns, communication strategies and social skills. Students without IEPs are often asked by school staff members to participate in these groups as role models and practice partners because of their friendships or class participation with students who have disabilities. I have heard of students volunteering to join some of these groups because they want to have their lunch in a small group or quieter setting or attend the occasional pizza parties or hamburger outings these groups enjoy. I've never heard of a volunteer being turned down, and never on racial grounds. So even these carefully targeted therapeutic intervention groups are open in concept to students of all races.


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

I would just like to comment on one the majority of posts pertaining to this article. I find the discussion well thought out reflecting the opinions of those who care enough to participate. While I understand that AAPS would not participate in these comments I would hope they are at least reading these comments and re-evaluating the issues, taking into account the voices coming from the community. With the ease in which these conversations can take place, removing the temper flares and time limits that can occur in a public forum I find this forum of feedback and communication very constructive. Why can't we have more of a dialogue with AAPS in this manner, with input from them as well. I am sure there are several well paid IT persons on the payroll that could make this happen. Perhaps I am over estimating the mediation value of this type of forum but I think it has possibilities.


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

@ Steve. Usually your points are better than this.Offering different medical treatments based on race is not something I would consider on the same level. An appealing thought to counter the argument that the lunch bunch was the treatment of choice, so to speak. Not accurate. There are tremendous discrepancies on the level of care that people receive, and some of it is money, and given the situation with insurance and poverty, nonetheless a lot of it is race. Does sickle cell only happen to black people? Uh, no. Does a black person deserve that cardiac cath less, because his blood pressure is so high, and that's probably the reason for his chest pain,not CAD? Uh, no. So following your logic, we should do the lunch bunch- (and I still don't have a clear idea why they do lunch bunch stuff--to make school a more inviting place? To increase esteem? and that would translate to higher MEAP scores..I still don't see the connection.. but I am waiting for someone in the administration to explain) because as by race, that is what they need to succeed in school, because that is what other kids get and these kids don't get, and that is the factor missing...thinking about it more, no, your arguments don't hold. Surely someone knows how to make a kid want to come to school and do their school work to the best of their ability, and like their lives? We should find out who that person is. Current thinking on children should not be about the past, but looking forward to the future, free of old constraints that truly repressed so many people.


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

The purpose of collecting information regarding the achievement levels of various sub-groups in education is to have a way of making sure no category or sub-group of students are "left behind". Under the premise that All children can achieve, it is a way of keeping keeping an eye on whether the educational of any whole category or group are being met. In fact, one of its results is to examine the educational system for any discrimination which adversely affects achievement. It is not intended to be used to segregate the children based on race or any other sub-grouping in practice. Various "reasons" or "spins" can be discussed about why Mr. Madison and the school did what they did, but in the end, it all comes back to the fact that it was illegal and violated district policy. It's also interesting that there haven't been as many comments about the fact that the achievement gap between African American students and Asian students is much greater than the gap between African American and White students, or that there is a large gap between White students and Asian American students. Do White parents believe that our Asian students are just naturally smarter than your white children?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 15, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

@AnneB: Great question and even better observations. The fact of the matter is that Prop 2 does conflict with NCLB. NCLB requires academic progress across a racial groups and also requires that the achievement gap be closed. Prop 2 makes is near impossible to address the achievement gap in any systematic way. Just another example of Michigan going backwards rather than forward. 1850 here we come! Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

Is it possible that the Michigan Civil Rights Act is in conflict with the Federal No Child Left Behind Act? Both the democratic and republican lawmakers that crafted and continue to support NCLB consider the act to be an important civil rights act. NCLB requires school to segregate test scores based on race, socio-economic status and special education/disability status. Then the law says that schools must close any achievement gap between any of those groups. The Michigan Civil Rights Act says "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting." So, how are schools in Michigan supposed to close the achievement gap that is based on race, ethnicity or national origin without creating any programs or clubs or lunch groups to target groups for improvement?


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 6:31 a.m.

How about this - what if this were a white principal and african american students? What if this were an african american principal and white students? What if the students who booed were black, and they booed a group of white students? Or, what if this was a group of students who voluntarily sat together at lunch, even the concept was initiated by the school principal carrying out the the School Improvement Plan that is created by teachers, parents, students then accepted by the school district and submitted for approval by North Central and by the State of Michigan. I wonder the school board explored some questions of fact: Did other students request to join this group before the field trip and were denied based solely on race? Were children forced to join this group based on race? Was this group initiated by the SIT? If so, did anyone in the district review it? If so, did anyone at the state level review it? If the SIT plan was never reviewed at state or district level, why not?


Sat, May 15, 2010 : 6:21 a.m.

I am willing to bet that there are all white programs, clubs in the district. I would also bet that there are classes at the high school level that contain all white or mostly white students. Conversely, I bet there are all black or mostly black classes, programs or clubs. No doubt there are notable variations of racial diversity in each of the different schools of the district. And, I will bet that there are many other groups that take special field trips or engage in activities that other students are not allowed to engage in. We live in a society that is largely segregated by race and class. Schools will certainly have programs that segregated by special ed status. Ann Arbor may have more diversity than some other communities, but people still live, work, worship in segregated places. And, although there are exceptions, people are still advantaged or disadvantaged by their skin tone. I would like to see Ann Arbor's NCLB test data. I will predict that AA, like most of the nation will show an achievement gap between the various subgroups and the general group and that the gap will appear between students who do and don't receive special education services. There will be a gap between those who do and don't receive free and reduced lunch. I would not be surprised if the gap between "racial" groups is even larger than the gap between free/reduced and non free/reduced.


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 8:07 p.m.

@Edward R Murrow's Ghost - I am not, but I am responding to Steve's post - that there is no racism here. I find that the belief that is harbored by many that some ethnic groups can not perform as well as others in school is racism and the fact that the AAPS seems to classify the achievement gap by race might be. OBTW - I enjoyed Murrow in his day, if he were still on the air, many of our problems between groups would not exist.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, May 14, 2010 : 6:25 p.m.

DonBee: To say that there is a very large achievement gap between white students and black students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools (and, for that matter, across the nation) is not racism. It is a statement of fact. Note your definition: "racism is a belief or ideology that all members of each racial group possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race." Thus, using your definition, to attribute the achievement gap to racial differences would be racism. Mr. Madison's supporters are not saying that low test scores for black students is a product of their race. Are you? Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

Retired Teacher.... Your comments are very thought provoking. Thanks for participating. I enjoy the debate.


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 5:21 p.m.

Racism - According to the Oxford English Dictionary, racism is a belief or ideology that all members of each racial group possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it as being either superior or inferior to another racial group or racial groups. In this case - an achievement gap based on race.

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 14, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

motheroffour: Looks like I gave a full response to a partial comment and need to amplify. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I have no current affiliation with the District other than having two kids in elementary school. You need to bring your important ideas to the attention of Dr. Roberts and Board President Mexicotte. You can find their email addresses at the AAPS web site if you want to follow through.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, May 14, 2010 : 2:19 p.m.

The word racism is being bandied about too loosely here. People are treated differently based on their ethnic heritage frequently - medical treatment is one example, where medical concerns and appropriate treatments vary by ethnicity. This, surely, is not racism. The point of racism is the desire to hurt or subjugate. Many writers here have been invoking the 1954 Brown desegregation decision without acknowledging that the Court subsequently held that there had to be a remedy to previous de jure segregation. Housing patterns were shaped by discriminatory laws, and it was not sufficient to say that all schools were now open to all races when schools would remain effectively segregated. Hence the court-ordered busing remedies of the 1060s and 1970s. While the Supreme Court has backpedaled on that issue as its membership changed, we have not abandoned the idea that where there was injustice there must now be a remedy. Not everyone was equally hurt, and so not everyone is in need of an equal remedy. I posted the remainder of this comment on my own "community wall" article, but I thought it applies equally well here: Many commentators are determined to say that success or failure is based almost entirely on personal responsibility or good/bad parenting. But this belief conveniently ignores the history of why different families might be able to offer their children different opportunities. Racism is a cumulative poison, and we cannot be rid of it overnight. But racism is most powerful when it reinforces poverty, closing opportunities and sapping hope. We have to admit that some people have been unfairly held back, and might have achieved more without the weight of generations of racism. But then we have to admit that those of us who have not had to bear that weight have had a leg up. Not everyone is willing to do that. The point, of course, is not that everyone should be equally weighed down, but that everyone should be equally free of burdens that have nothing to do with their own potential. And to those who believe that children entering elementary school have no concept of race and have not at all been shaped by its legacy in our society, I offer this tidbit: Kids are incredible sponges. Learning begins at birth. All kinds of learning, whether we are willing to admit it or not.


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

reply to a2me2. If the term "people of color" applied to everyone, then it would be meaningless. The term has been used in USA for over 300 years to note that a person is not of the "conventional" Caucasian standard. True the boundaries of the term have shifted historically. However it is making a serious comeback in more serious communications. To many especially older folks "Black" is insulting, as they are not black, they are brown,, merangie, Yellow, Brass Ankle etc. True younger people indoctrinated by "liberal" media have learned to be lumped into one media manipulated grouping. African-American is nonsense. Africa is a continent. Egypt is in africa, Israel is, & all the Boers. They are not "Negroes" neither are the Koisan people nor Ethiopians. So the term applies logically and semantically to 5-6 races who inhabit the continent. Then what significance does it have? Again this a media creation to what purpose, to destroy self-images & recreate a false one? If you say African-American or European-American ae meaningful terms, then a Cherokee is an AMerican-American. Nonsense breeds nonsense.


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

I don't question that Madison's / AAPS's intentions were good in trying to correct the problem, I do however question the effectiveness, limited focus and cost ( not just monetary) of their approach. I include AAPS alongside Madison since in my opinion he did not stray to far from AAPS's direction, wether or not that direction came from PEG is irrelevant. Learning from our past and moving forward is necessary for progress. If you want to start repaying debts, why don't we all just leave and return the land to the Native Americans. The idea that there is justified racism / segregation in order to right wrongs is absurd. Racism is racism you cant start justifying specific instances in order to suit your needs / desires. If you can't or won't acknowledge that two wrongs don't make a right your not listening.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, May 14, 2010 : 12:36 p.m.

Though Mr. Madison's actions, apparently, did violate the law, anyone who thinks intent does not matter is not wearing their thinking caps. For more than a century after the end of the Civil War (Jim Crow did not end with Brown v. Bd. of Ed.), whites, north and south, used racial segregation as a means to subjugate, denigrate, de-legitimize, and control blacks. Mike Madison, by comparison, was trying to provide an opportunity to a historically disadvantaged community of minority students, not to limit those opportunities nor those of anyone else. He was trying to help a community of students who, as a group, do worse in academics than do their peers of other racial and ethnic groups. Those efforts can in no way be seen as racist (look up the definition if you disbelieve). Those efforts were, in no way, an effort to subjugate the white majority in Ann Arbor. If you can't see or won't acknowledge the difference, you're not looking. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 11:27 a.m.

Given that the program violated state law and the AAPS anti-discrimination policy, I believe that Mr. Madison, the AAPS administration, and the board of education were the ones who were truly "misguided", rather than the angry community members as the board president claims!

Alan Benard

Fri, May 14, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

@a2me2: Maybe black families aren't waiting breathlessly for instructions on how to react from anonymous white blog commentators? Howzabout we stop telling other people how to react and what to do? That seems to be a large part of the problem, the assumption that one's opinion is correct because one is of the dominant social grouping, in this case, race.


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

@retiredteacher- pardon my ignorance, I always thought using the term "black" was better than "african american" as that seems to be a term invented by the pseudo-liberals. The term "people of color", to me, means everyone, as we are all one color or another. Please enlighten me on what is preferred. I have noticed here in Ann Arbor, there is something so unreal about their so called "liberalism", and terms I use elsewhere seem to bristle people here. The entire idea of Lunch Bunch where instead of teaching children, they are made to "feel special" by playing basketball, is demeaning to all black families, it is akin to putting kids in the hall who do not understand the math going on in the classroom. Why aren't the black families of our community more outraged? Are they so brainwashed into thinking this is helping their kids? If my child is falling behind, I demand tutoring, extra help, and whatever I can from the school system to assist them. To all the black families of Dicken, demand your children are helped academically and rewarded for improved performance, instead of sitting back and accepting some ridiculous notion that rewarding your children because they are not meeting their highest potential is ok. Is this a cultural difference? Ignorance? or indoctrination by the majority to hold your children to a lower standard than everyone else?


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

Thanks Jack. I appreciate the effort you have made. You suggested a path to help solve a problem the may be the exact reason for much of the frustration. At one time, not to long ago, AAPS had an equity office with student advocates. The process was simple and there was no conflict of the individual(student)versus the group (AAPS)rights. If you were the student/parent you would have an advocate "push" the system on your behalf. For some reason this system was abolished. It could be that we were told that we didn't need it. In a perfect system a student advocate is not needed. Tell me if you feel comfortable about addressing a school principal, without a defined school advocte, that has yelled at your young child for any reason. Tell me if you would challenge execution of duty if the excuse for poor execution is that the SIT Plan was being enforced. Even if it is a very passionate execution. That is why I feel the SIT Plan at the school is important. Was there a SIT Plan? It should be agreed upon and signed by all of those on the SIT before it is put into practice. I think there are state guidelines which must be followed here and there are fines imposed on the entire AAPS, not just the school, if these guidelines are not followed. I worry about the letter from the BOE President that states that "administrative" support will happen. That worrie me because I don't see that as being part of the SIT guidelines. Even, though it might sound like a good idea it is not allowed under the state guidelines unless the school community requests Administrative support. Some may see that as Administrative interference with the goals and objective of the the SIT and the entire community. The district does not want to loose money. The plan must be made right because we have already put it into practice. Lets "tidy" up the SIT plan so the money pipeline from the state is not shut off. Then the end result can justified since it is just what the community wanted and the problem was easily corrected because it was only a small management error that we are all guilty of committing. Nobody is guilty of anything because we are just doing what were all agreed to do. Of course there will always be small outside disputes. Jack-in the next couple of weeks lets see if this tidy up the SIT Plan at the school takes place. The way the system is set up does promote fear for those that stand up for the rights of their children. Experiences shared on this board seem to indicate that given the steps that you outlined do not work because the system does not have a student advocate within the system. Maybe that is why we see these threats of legal action. Maybe we need an equity office in the AAPS? Would that be something or a way that you might be able to help our schools. Pure and simple, advocate for the student because it might solve a lot of problems.

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 14, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

motheroffour: I see your point. But to answer your question directly, I'm a father of two, and a controversy specialist, so, of course, the first place I would go would be the principal's office to speak with the gentleman directly. And I would feel quite comfortable doing so. But that's just me. And again, I have to wonder if the announcement made by the Board isn't a golden opportunity for a community within a community to shape its own future without fools like me looking over its collective shoulder.


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

Amazing, as a retired teacher & a "person of color", I would never call myself BLACK because I am not, I am brown. I have been following this mess all the time now. I have noted that any comments (including my own?) that point out the hypocrisy of the phoney-liberal mindset that dominates in AA and a few other naive areas of America, appears briefly and is cut. Such a standard of free speech, we find typical of several controlling groups in contemporary media. So only "correct" critisism is permitted under 2nd amendment as misunderstood by this paper?. I do not know why Ann Arbor people are critical of the principal (because of his lack of principles)(pun intended), he was doing just what the racist apologizers (pseudo-liberals) love to see. i.e. the continual demeaning of white or rather ALL NON-Blacks in America. Black or brown or high-yellow (yes some of us still use meaningful words) are never going to suceed when they are segregated out as imcompetent and isolated for "special" treatment on some discriminatory basis. In this case the principal personal misuse of the term "Black".


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

Thanks Jack. I appreciate the effort you have made. Your suggested path to help solve a problem may be the exact reason for much of the frustration. At one time, not to long ago, AAPS had an equity office with student advocates. The process was simple and there was no conflict of the individual(student)versus the group (AAPS)rights. If you were the student/parent you would have an advocate "push" the system on your behalf. For some reason this system was abolished. It could be that we didn't need it. In a perfect system a student advocate is not needed. Tell me if you feel comfortable about addressing a school principal that has yelled at your young child for any reason. Tell me if you would challenge execution of duty if the excuse for poor execution is tht the SIT Plan was being enforced. Even if it is a very passionate execution. That is why I feel the SIT Plan at the school is important. It should be signed by all of those on the SIT before it is


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 12:22 a.m.

IT's really sad that he beleives he doing these kids a favor. How about you set standard for our kids and teach them how to move on from our past not live it.

Jack Panitch

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 11:14 p.m.

sbbuilder: If I follow your argument, you should be entitled to the same protection from libel/defamation laws as the online press enjoys. I'm going to take a step back and let address your conclusion. Maybe the newspaper's view will carry more weight. Anyway, while this discussion is important, we are getting kind of far afield.

Jack Panitch

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:21 p.m.

Mother of Four: Thank you for the complement, but I do not deserve it. The people who deserve all our respect are Dr. Roberts and each one of the Trustees of the Board of Education. If you have been following my posts, you know that I am a strong supporter of these leaders, their professional competence and the community they preserve and foster. The Trustees especially have contributed their time and talent selflessly on behalf of our community, and they deserve our utmost respect, good will and patience for their leadership and sacrifice. I am not going to give you legal advice. All I will do is to tell you what I, as a fellow parent, would do. There is nothing extraordinary about what Im going to say. As I understand it, Mr. Madisons boss is Ms. Dickinson-Kelly. If I felt that I had exhausted all avenues with Mr. Madison, I would go straight to her. I would reflect carefully on what she told me before taking the matter any further. But if I felt that I had to go further, I would ask to speak with Dr. Roberts. At that level, I would consider taking the religious head of my church, temple, synagogue, etc. with me, to keep me in check and to try to talk some sense into me if he or she determined that I was missing the big picture. If I still did not like what I was hearing -- an unimaginable state of affairs from my standpoint if my request were at all reasonable - I would seek an audience with the Trustees. Somewhere along the line, probably sooner than you think, you are going to get responsible consideration of the merit of your concerns. Litigation is the last thing I would ever consider. You go that route and youre tying your whole life and emotional well-being to a roller-coaster. Typically, if things even get as far as litigation, its because it isnt clear who is right and who is wrong. And why anyone would tear up an entire community when the answer isnt clear, I dont know. Im all about building bridges, not so much the alternative. I have great difficulty imagining a scenario in which I would not be able to work things out with the building principal, and especially now, when a mistake has been admitted, I would be in his office attempting to shape the future. But thats just my bias: I dont know your circumstances first-hand and wont prejudge.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:17 p.m.

Paul, why would there be an achievement gap? It's no different than a group of adults in the same job - some are excellent, some do a decent job and some could use some support/training to better handle the job. For those who favor some sort of lawsuit, what does that solve? Who gets sued and who is arguing he or she was injured? I don't get that at all. There's a process in place to handle employee issues within the district (as there are at most large organizations). If you don't like how the AAPS handles the situation, run for the school board and take a more active role. People also need to remember that laws prohibit the AAPS from disclosing some types of information - it's not all available through FOIA. Those laws are meant to protect people - you may dislike not being able to read every appraisal of Madison's time on the job, but the laws are the laws.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 9:08 p.m.

Clarification to my previous post For the record: According to the 2009 Fall MEAP scores fifth grade students at Dicken Elementary School performed as follows: Science: 16th place out of 20 Ann Arbor schools (14.5% did not meet standard) Math: 14th place out of 20 Ann Arbor schools (8.3 % did not meet standard) Reading: 14th place out of 20 Ann Arbor schools (6.8% did not meet standard) I let you all be the judge whether these scores are good or bad because, honestly, I do not know.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:01 p.m.

My question is why would there be an educational gap? It's an elementry school, the beginning of the road for these students, he is the principle of the school, if there is a gap he should be held responsible for not doing his job of making sure EVERY student is getting a quality education.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 6:50 p.m.

Jack I presume we don't want to descend to the level of determining what the meaning of the word 'is' is. But, taking a small portion of your link: "Newspapers may escape liability for libel when they merely report false statements as long as the paper had no particular reason to doubt the statement at the time it was printed." I think that goes for the people commenting on those statements as well. There is a reasonable presumption made that the statements are true. Also, the article goes on to list other criteria such as economic harm, etc. The point is, is that we shouldn't have to have a lawyer at our elbow every time we make a comment online. Articles such as this elicit strong emotion, and that often comes out in the writing. A certain degree of latitude is imperative if there is to be any sort of meaningful discussion.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 6:25 p.m.

@aataxpayer: I believe change occurs when people are effected by something. In this case a lawsuit would be an effective tool to stop this nonsense from happening again. Or at least cause the district to come down harder on those who violate the law. Also we must look at Madison's employment history. Has he acted inappropriately before? Does he have a history of "incidents"? Why has he been moved around through so many schools? I think once we look at his history we will see just how arrogant and misguided as well as ineffective this man is. I removed my children from Dicken due to his mishandling a very serious issue, that put my children at risk. He neither apologized, attempted to rectify the situation, or did anything to correct it. Our only option was to leave. Other families have left Dicken for similar reasons. As parents we all want the best for our children, and sometimes we have to step up and not be so "ann arbor liberal", but demand that our kids come first, before politics, before someones "good intentions", before the district tries to sweep it all under the rug. His actions hurt ALL the children. These are our kids, and they deserve the best. Mr. Madison, whether misguided, good intentioned, arrogant or just plain ignorant, is no longer the best, for our children. He cannot bounce back from this, as he will always be seen as the black principal who favors black children, and that will make him ineffective and open the district up to further lawsuits and attacks.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 5:33 p.m.

Jack P-You are very well respected in our entire community and a stabilizing influence. There does appear to be some frustration that that eyewitness accounts are minimized and that all infomation, both past and current, is not being considered by anyone as "real" or legit. Maybe you can give some advice on how things work. If, a big word, all the claims are true show that codes, contracts, ethics, have been violated what happens and how? Who governs the school. Would it be the HR person at AAPS? I can imagine that protection of the image of the schools and especially the identity of the children is very important. On the other hand does certain action, like removing someone for violating these rules of conduct destroy the image of the school even more and become less favorable. Sort of "we can't do anything" because that would cast our award winning school in a different light. Your advice would be appreciated.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 4:59 p.m.

if the all kids who performed poorly on the MEAP were included in the lunch bunch AND activities that are known to help kids academically were being performed, then, no problem. anything else isn't about an achievement gap but rather something else---another agenda of some sort.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 4:49 p.m.

AnnArbor28, does your argument about not throwing money after this particular solution mean that there's to be a litmus test to measure parental involvement, and if parent involvement falls below a certain threshold, the student doesn't get any help? While I can't be certain that's what you meant, that's how it sounds. Many of these programs are in place to help out kids who do not have a strong support system at home. What is a district to do? Ignore those kids? It's not a perfect system and no solution will be perfect. I agree that parent involvement is great towards helping a child achieve, but it's simply not there for some kids.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

As someone who has worked extensively with children, I can tell you that there are many poor, low-achieving whites who need help, and that schools and other institutions really need to give the help to all of these students, whether black, white, Hispanic, Native-American or any other sub classification. I don't think the A2 public school system should be wasting its money on programs that discriminate against specific groups, such as the one that Mr. Madison or the outside consultants propagate. These need to be stopped immediately and the funds used to rehire laid off teachers who hopefully do not discriminate. I also see that unless there is involvement of parents, no program works, and we are just throwing our money away to try to be everything to a child when the parents are absent or otherwise occupied. Also, I didn't understand why the African-American girls ate pizza and went to the library and the boys ate pizza and then played basketball? Isn't this the worst kind of stereotyping?


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

We have a large volume of legal and sociological discourse here. Let us get back to a neglected vital issue: education. We start with some elementary school kids who are deficient in reading and arithmetic. The district established a program for these kids. The first question is what did this program do to improve the performance of the kids in reading and arithmetic? If the kids are having trouble grasping the material, extra tutoring in it might help. But that is apparently not part of the program. In addition, some of them may not be trying hard enough. That calls for discipline. But the the program works the opposite way, rewarding them for poor performance with pizza and basketball and junkets. None of these have been shown to improve reading and arithmetic. Results matter more than good intentions. How do the MEAP scores of the Lunch Bunch compare with those of non-participants? Oh yes, the buck stops with the School Board, which instituted the program on the advice of its high-priced California consultants.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:52 p.m.

Does anyone know the punishment for violating this law? Is it a fine or remediation or probation?

Jack Panitch

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:46 p.m.

a2citizen: 1) The problem here is that folks don't have any reliable evidence yet to know whether the statements they are making are true or not. So, if the statements folks make turn out to be false, they may be proven to have proceeded in reckless disregard. 2) Mr. Madison probably is not a public figure. He has gained some unfortunate visibility here, but that's a "bootstrap" argument. 3) There are folks making potentially unfounded allegations and calling for his resignation or immediate firing. I would prefer to proceed using the Socratic method, but this isn't a chat room. Blog safely.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

@trespass: Interesting point. I think that if the Professor used U of M resources, e.g., classroom, lab space, computers, etc., for the field trip, s/he indeed did violate Prop 2. Therefore, perhaps the U of M might have a horse in this race as well. The plot thickens...


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

It seems that it is relevant to ask the "UM rocket scientist" if he has conducted similar sessions for other groups of segregated students. Why give all the blame to one school if this is done at other schools as well. As an educator and being at UM, this professor is also subject to Prop 2 so he should know the law as well. Apparently mentioning his name is a good way to get your comment censored. Why is so diligently avoiding the mention of this UM professor's name?


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

Oh, now we're going to figure out a way to segregate "legally"? How about we just do the right thing and open it to everyone? I get really concerned when people talk about ways to get around the law. I wonder what we really end up teaching the kids who are not oblivious to what's going on around them.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

Jack Panitch: You may want to read the article in the link you posted regarding libel. Here are a few of the listed requirements: 1. Are the statements, no matter how rude, insensitive or inappropriate, true? 2. The "public" plaintiff has additional hurdles to overcome to recover for libel. Would Mr. Madison, as a public school official, fall into this category? 3. The plaintiff often has to prove economic harm. According to some of the people commenting (and there have been too many for me to completely discount the veracity) Mr. Madison modus operandi appears to be: cause an incident, accept transfer + promotion + the inherent raise in the promotion. So I doubt he has incurred any economic harm.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

Follow up: In order for this to be legal, Madison would also have needed to avoid using *any* public resources for the group, e.g., school buildings, computers, etc. So in order for him to do this legally he would have had to have the kids meet off of public property, charter private transportation, etc. It would have been difficult and expensive, but not impossible.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

@barefootdave: Couldn't have said it better myself. "White privilege"? Please. Tell the white miners who died in the West Virginia coal mine collapse simply trying to make ends meet about how "privileged" they are relative to Oprah, Obama, even a garden-variety rapper. The whole notion of "white privilege" IMO is simply to suppress real debate by guilt-tripping white (likely male) people when they go against politically correct orthodoxy. Just stop it. If the AAPS was *serious* about addressing achievement gaps, they'd also have special programs for boys - it's been common knowledge since the early 1990s that boys lag behind girls at all levels of educational achievement, so where are the programs for boys? Indeed, I think the AAPS probably still has special programs for girls instead of boys, which to me demonstrates that this is not so much about addressing achievement gaps as is it implementing political correctness. A seasoned administrator like Madison should have known better. That's a no-brainer. This case is *very* serious because Madison exposed the AAPS to liability by breaking State law and their own rules re. discrimination. Also, for those who would make comparisons to groups for, e.g., only brown-haired kids, there's a big difference: it wouldn't have violated any State laws. Because racism has been such a uniquely horrendous problem, we have laws specifically against discrimination via race. No such laws exist against discrimination via, e.g., hair color, so even though it would have been monumentally silly, creating a group for only brown-haired kids would not have broken any laws. And finally, I agree with others who said if Madison wanted to do this for the black kids (which I personally admire him for), he could have done it quite legally by using solely private funds. The MCRI only forbids the use of public resources for discriminatory purposes - if you want to discriminate with private resources, knock yourself out. Fact is, it happens all the time.

Bob Needham

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 2:46 p.m.

(comment removed because is was in all caps)

Jack Panitch

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 2:33 p.m.

sbbuilder: Take a look at the material at the following link: [I am not the author, nor do I know the author, nor do I have any financial relationship with the author of the web site at the above link.]


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 1:45 p.m.

Regarding the "facts" of this story........ It has been reported that "...District administrators have said a private donation paid for the trip..." Who paid for it? How much did it cost? I would assume there is a paper trail of cancelled checks/receipts. The paper trail can be shown to exist while maintaining the donors anonymity (if the donor actually exists). And of course, if this trip was actually privately funded, the checks will shown to be dated before the big brouhaha.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 1:40 p.m.

"If we do not learn from history and move on we are doomed to repeat the past." Not sure who said this but it sounds familiar. Let's get a few things straight; white does not mean privileged, black does not mean disadvantaged, discipline does not mean submission, efforts and accomplishments should be rewarded, respect is earned not given. Family is the root of all of this. The public school system is not a daycare or playground where socializing is the goal. The goal is education and the school system should not be responsible for anything but. They should demand discipline from staff as well as students. Responsibilities should be set and failure to meet these responsibilities should be punished. Harsh words? Suck it up buttercup, your dragging the rest of us down with you.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 1:20 p.m.

Maybe the next in service day for the Principals should be on the district policies. With 30+ years in the district, the fact that a principal did not realize that he was in violation of a district policy, is a problem. Not just with the principal, but with the whole school administration. Mr. Madison has an easy answer, he has the years in to retire. He could do that and end all of the issues. Dr. Roberts has a harder task. He needs to re-think closing the achievement gap with fewer resources going forward. Maybe it is time to take a field trip to Virginia and look at their programs. The funds paid to the PEG could be used to fund this trip. The best way to address the issue is student by student, based on their actual achievement issues. That eliminates any issues with gender, race, etc - it is a pure - they did not do well, we need to help them - which is legal. Jamie Escalante did not worry about race, income level or family issues - he demanded students excel and they did. He was a no compromise teacher. We need to push all students to excel and offer an environment where they can. There should be no lowered expectations in our schools.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.

Below is some information about SIT in Michigan. I guesss you can draw your own conclusions how/if/why the action at the school is indeed part of SIT or something else. Maybe Jack P can inform how the public can obtain a copy of the schools specific SIT plan. It might direct to where the public concern should be?? Improvement is a continuous process used to ensure that all students are achieving at high levels. All schools can create better environments so that more students are successful. Continuous improvement of schools is essential to providing increased student performance and quality results. Innovative, exemplary, and research-based programs, coupled with professional development, focused and aligned resources, and public participation in planning, are critical factors in schools that demonstrate continuous growth. All public schools and Public School Academies (PSA) in Michigan are required to develop and implement a 3-to-5 year school improvement plan. The job of the school improvement team is to lead the development of a school improvement plan that addresses school needs, to monitor the implementation of the plan, and to revise it when appropriate. School staff must understand the process and recognize that it includes a number of steps that are cyclical in nature. Data is continuously collected and analyzed to determine progress and needs. With a good understanding of the process and a shared vision and mission, staff can begin to think in terms of changes necessary to creating improved student achievement. As teams begin to work through the process, they will shape and reshape what they know about instruction, the change process, and school improvement. Benefits of school improvement planning include: Creates a collaborative, continuous improvement culture to ensure that all student are achieving at high levels. Encourages innovation through research-based practices Focuses and aligns staff development resources Increase public participation in planning Provides data to support and document growth (Adapted from Macomb ISD) In April 2006, the Michigan Department of Educations (MDE) Office of School Improvement rolled out the School Improvement Framework with rubrics, support tools, and a conversation starter kit. The research-based Framework establishes a clear structure for thinking and talking about, strategizing, and acting upon continuous improvement. With 5 strands, 12 standards, 26 benchmarks, and descriptive clarifying criteria, the Framework provides a way of organizing the conversation about school improvement. (MDE Office of School Improvement). The Office of School Improvement (OSI) launched a new school improvement website aligned with the School Improvement Framework. The Framework and related tools are available at WISDs Achievement Initiatives Team provides you access to the following resources and tools to ensure, through improvement planning, that every student receives an equitable and personalized education.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 12:48 p.m.

As I have read some others say, I'm disturbed by the obvious lack of basic insight and knowledge of the principal, Mr. Madison who is in charge of an elementary school. This man needs some serious education on reverse discrimination and common sense. I recognize the District is trying to make this all go away, but frankly they need to look hard at themselves here! Blaming it on one person just covers up the problems we have with race in the United States.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

As the mother of three biracial children, I am offended that ANY child was excluded because of their race. You want to close the achievement gap, that at this point in time begins at home. This could have been a wonderful experience for ALL students to see what they can accomplish in life, it is NOT what RACE the Scientist is. I would not want my kids to get extra or special treatment, I just expect a level playing field for ALL CHILDREN. We have one child double majoring at U of M, another with a learning disablity earning a living utilizing a skilled trade, and yet another entering a Nursing Program. The Schools were our partner in the success of our children, however it was our dedication to our childrens education that made the achievement "gap" just term, not a reality. Parents are responsible for their children, what they learn, and what they experience.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

Jack What, are we all supposed to have a legal background before posting any comments? Can anybody here give a good definition of libel? I categorically refuse to be hamstrung by anyone in the legal profession who dangles 'libel' in front of me. In setting this standard, I'm afraid that you set the bar so high as to be out of reach of the 98% bloggers who have no legal training. What smells like a rat (a nefarious black-only field trip), sounds like a rat (a principal yelling at kids), looks like a rat (the incident is under investigation), and even declared a rat (laws were broken), is to be hands off unless admissable in a court of law? The hair trigger staff that moderates these threads do not have legal training. What if they remove comments that actually should be allowed? Is that an infringement on free speech? But to stay on topic, if the alleged incident took place, if the principal allegedly yelled at the kids, if the kids in the classroom allegedly were frightened and hurt, then there should be some very serious consequences to those involved, including those trying to minimize the situation.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

Most of the people in the dicken neighborhood are hard working people and they are by no means well off or privileged. I know of two families that live in the Dicken area that chose to send their children elsewhere because they felt their childs needs where not tended to just because they were not behind. I am sure many white families were afraid to speak up about the fairness of a black only program for fear of being called racist. This principal should be let go, he obviously knew how wrong this was. For gods sakes, 10 year old children knew it was wrong!


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

It's not the schools that are letting these students down. What about good parenting? How about some parental accountability? The state cannot educate students on their own.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 11:12 a.m.

a2me2, I understand the historic frustration that the only thing the board responds to is litigation,however I hope an alternative can be found that will not further damage our district.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

This type of thing is why I sent my son to a charter school


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

"... the field trip was meant to address the societal issues, roadblocks and challenges that our African American children will face as they pursue a successful academic education here in our community. I thought they went to listen to a "Black Rocket Scientist" from the UM. What did this guy really talk about that only black children were allowed to hear?

Elizabeth Nelson

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:55 a.m.

My first reaction to this story was that the most vocal complaining kids (and parents) at Dicken were acting like children who feel like an older sibling got a larger piece of cake (WAA). Grownups in a liberal town like this can surely understand the POINT of such a program, beyond the whining of "But what about ME?!!" After more thought, though, I agree with others who say that the Principal should have been more aware of State law in a situation like this. Short of that, he obviously did a miserable job of managing this program in a way that the local school community could accept. A huge part of the job of principal is smoothing over conflicts that come up between EVERYBODY (students, teachers, parents, etc.) and in this case he managed to CREATE a conflict. Setting aside the legal issue (which I think is significant), he can't even be held accountable for doing such a poor job of conflict avoidance/resolution?! The 'good intentions' excuse isn't good enough for me and I think this was a spineless statement to make in defense of him. There has to be a higher standard than that-- it is his JOB to manage issues like this effectively and understand the law. If a parent volunteer wanted to do something like this on school time, it would be HIS job to inform himself of where and how it could potentially violate the law. He should have known better than to do something like this himself. The lesson learned here is that employees of the AA schools can be as reckless and careless as they like if their actions are connected to a worthy politically-correct goal. That's just pitiful. Others raise another good point about age-appropriateness: I do believe that at elementary age, these kids are MUCH less aware of racial difference unless it's highlighted and underlined for them. It's a shame that this program couldn't have been framed in a less clumsy way, perhaps based on economic factors (e.g. inviting kids who qualify for the free lunch program, which would surely be more inclusive than just one race).


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:37 a.m.

I am glad to see that the Board admitted Madison violated Proposal 2. Now that they have done so, I urge all parents of children at Dicken to file a class action lawsuit. I find it ludicrous to believe that Madison was ignorant to what he was doing. He has been an educator for many years and ignorance is no excuse for not abiding by the law. As citizens we need to show we will not put up with this sort of horrific behavior toward our children. This man needs to be fired immediately.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:29 a.m.

Lets keep it short and sweet the principal needs to find a new occupation! This is not a leader and when he is a role model for our future I do not need this man in this position! Do we understand? The effort was well-intentioned, does nothing means nothing! Fire him now! Segregating our children that went out in the Sixties!


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:26 a.m.

wishes anger would be redirected against a public education system that has left too many behind. It's been my experience that behind many failing students are failing parents/guardians. It is a Herculean task for schools to be expected to be the only "bridge" for these students. A great teacher can have a profound effect on a student's outcome...but they can't do it all - especially if their hands are tied in the disciplining of problem students. I attended Dicken in the 1980s. Similar problems back then that were for the most part economic in nature, and lack of parenting regardless of race or gender.

Kris Palmer

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

I find it interesting that the Ann Arbor dot com print headline reads "Well Intentioned" in regards to this story while the on-line article headline is much more on target - "Ann Arbor elementary school's black-only program violated state law,district policy." Bottom line - if my kids were attending Dicken Elementary I'd voice my concern both to the Principal and to the School Board and then would run, not walk to the closest Charter Academy School to re-enroll my kids in a fair school program that actually WORKS - while the A2 School Board deliberates about their decision. Exactly HOW did Mr. Madison expect the other kids who were excluded from this field trip, on account of their race, to react? The whole thing shows very poor judgment. Interesting that there isn't going to be any "discipline" taken. I wonder if that would have been the case if Mike Madison was not an African-American school principal?! The Ann Arbor public schools are filled with double-standards when it comes to this kind of thing - "well intentioned" indeed -- if you happen to represent a minority or culture -- "racist" if you happen to be a Caucasian school principal, teacher or parent. Bottom line - promoting and then defending this field trip shows very poor judgment by the school principal and this should be addressed by the A2 politically correct school board regardless of his "race, color or creed."


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

@ are asking where the outrage is --- its right here! What do you think this is all about? Its about all of those things........... We as parents are always going to want whats best for our own, individual child. Even if we hope to see the entire community thrive, even if we give and volunteer and donate and truly wish success for every child....our hearts will still rest with our own first. Thats life. And when someone (Mr. Madison) says inappropriate things to your child....(what he is deemed to have done in that gr. 5 class) and makes you question whether he is fit to be principal at your are going to do what you can to protect your child and get to the bottom of it. That's what's happening at Dicken right now. And whether you are African American or white doesn't matter with regard to this......all of the children in this class, many children in this school, and massive quantities of parents and teachers, are suffering due to this.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Let's take a step back from this, breath deeply and get a grip for a moment. How many times have I heard, especially since President Obama has been in office, that the African- American community should be able to take charge and address the problems in disparity between Caucasions and African -Americans a it relates to education and the portrayal of role models other than sports stars and rappers. This is an example of the community doing just that. Is it really that important that white kids couldn't go on this trip too? Do you really think that the white kids were beating down the door to see a rocket scientist or do you think that they really wanted to just take a field trip and get away from school for the afternoon? These are elemetary school aged kids. How are they able to reason and determine that there "rights" are violated? It's because their parents are making a big issue of this at home. Kids are not born with color filters, they learn to think in terms of black and white by listening to their parents at home and copy their behavior. "My kid didn't get to go see a Black rocket scientist too". Give me a break, how up tight have we become? Will your child grow up damaged and walk around with a chip on their shoulder for the rest of their lives due to the fact that they were excluded from seeing a scientist? If so then make an appointment and take them yourself instead of going to the Hands-On Museum next week. That trip was funded by private monies. Madison's methods might have been found to violate the law and yes, changes should be made, but they were well intentioned. He took action to better the African -American community just as many White and African -American people have asked for. If Madison were White would he be looked as as unfair or would he be looked at as trying to provide more quality to the Black community? Let's not be hypocrites here. When we talk about statistics of African- Americans versus Whites as it pertains to education, incarceration and the like, many people say things to the effect, "why does this happen? Why is there such a gap? Why couldn't the African- American community do something for their kids at an early age so that thier kids could grow up and close this gap"? Well, my friends, this is an example of such an attempt to do good things. A previous post got it right, let's turn our attention to issues of greater importance that are having a big impact on ALL of us and just let this one go.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 9:59 a.m.

In this day and age, any student who is from a disadvantaged background should be able to join groups for empowerment, support, or whatever it may be without being segregated. They should not be segregated due to skin color. A group for "black students only" may include a black student coming from a very supporting, priveledged family/background, while a hispanic student coming from a disadvantaged, unsupportive family cannot join based solely on race.

Jack Panitch

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

To Mr. Dearing: Further, to all who comment here: I do not mean to cast in a bad light. Just as the Board of Education and the Administration are doing their best under difficult circumstances to study, understand and remedy a difficult problem, is doing its best as a growing institution to keep us informed and meet its journalistic responsibilities. These responsibilities include comment moderation; and, I assure you, we all -- I'm not on any pedestal in this regard -- have a lot to learn about where the edges of acceptability lie. What I ask's readers to keep in mind is that without facts, none of us really know what actually occurred in the classroom. And for anonymous bloggers to make unsupported factual assertions to support arguments casting anyone in a bad light is more than just uncivil. It's deeply wrong and may be libel. The fact that some of these same folks may be committing libel while commenting on another violation of the law causes some raised eye-brows. So the comment/comments I would consider for deletion are the ones that rely on as-of-yet unsubstantiated "fact." It is true that our discussion is not occurring in a Court, but people don't usually choose a packed court room to commit libel, because that just wouldn't be a smart place to do it, what with all the witnesses, lawyers and judge/s nearby.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

Clarification - I'm not saying "good intentions" should excuse the behavior, I'm only saying that it makes a difference in that intent is always important when disciplining someone. In my book, an indiscretion is even more serious when it is intentionsl. It should not have happened, but intention is important when deciding what needs to be done next.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

If the achievement gap were reverse, AAPS would change is entire curriculum and stop MEAP testing.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

@ a2love: It's not a matter of you believing me, or not. I'm referring to DOCUMENTED incidents with this principal -- from initial incident, step-by-step through the District procedures, up to and including mediation by the District Human Resources can FOIA anything you addition, there exist plenty of minutes of PTO and SIT meetings( many available on-line), in various schools, where parents, or teachers, have had to point out District policies (not just on racial discrimination)to Mr. Madison...when it's was his JOB to already know them! Nothing realy to debate...but if you were one of the favored...

Me Next

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

Mr Madison's mistake was using the public school to do this. The donation paid trip should have been completely done in the private sector. If Mr Madison "berated students" for something he caused, it was inappropriate for any cause. There is no need to repeat "brown eyed, blue eyed" experiment; the conclusion showed a logical result of harm for most. "societal issues, roadblocks...." are better dealt within private society. No Scientific evidence that financial status nor race hinders ability to learn or succeed into becoming a responsible citizen. Public funded school must restrict it's focus to Reading, Writing, & calculating numbers; which is the "common good" purpose for requiring availability of education for all USA children.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

@LDR I do not believe you, I have been a student at multiple schools that Madison has been at while he has been a principal there. So many times in this district parents do not listen to their students and/or make up their own ideas about different things (main reason why we have Skyline now). I guarantee this is what you have done. This is just a time for you to try and belittle him, sorry I won't let you do it.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:46 a.m.

Will previous comments, censored because they advised that the law was broken prior to the school board agreeing to this fact, be reinserted in the discussion?


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

As someone who went to AAPS for all 13 years and not only had Mr. Madison as a principal at two different schools but was also friends with his children, I can tell you that he is the best principal this district has ever had. Mr. Madison should not and will not be fired. There is a reason people from Ann Arbor are called Ann Arbor snobs. Get over yourselves who cares!!! By reacting like this you are letting the surrounding towns (Dexter, Saline, even Pinckney) make fun of that what you really want, stand up be an Ann Arbor snob and stop caring!!

DaLast word

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.

It's hard for me to believe Madison has reached such a lofty position using this kind of judgment. At this age elementary students are still somewhat unaware of differences in skin color and if we are trying to build a color blind society then why in heck would this principal bring that issue right to the for front. YES he should be repremanded and publictly appologise.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:37 a.m.

...if only a student had cell-phone recorded Madison's tirade...his "intentions" would have been clear...


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:33 a.m.

Where is the outrage that we ALLOW an achievement gap? Where is the outrage that we don't have adequate early childhood programs? Where is the outrage that we don't have parents volunteering IN DROVES at our schools,in the PTO's and creating groups to help those in need?? Where is the outrage that the majority of the population says that they follow an organized religion.. religions say to help thy neighbor, extend assistance to the poor, etc. and yet we are OK with the disparities?? If every citizen did their part and actually put in time WORKING on theses issues instead of crying 'no fair' no one would have anything to post here.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

@ironinthesky@2, i am disturbed by the racial accusations also. the racial accusations that any parent who is upset that their child was berated by a principal for questioning the fairness of something (which we now know was illegal) are privileged white folk who don't care about anyone except their "precious darlings" (to quote another poster from an earlier forum). @deedee, i see your point, but what part of pizza, basketball and crafts is working toward achievement? i can see pizza while working on math games, reading games, etc....and what of the children who scored well on the MEAP?


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:17 a.m.

Stop with the "he had good intentions"!!! Madison has been shifted from 5, count 'em, FIVE different schools...Tappan, Forsythe, Open, Pioneer, a parent of kids at 3 of those during his tenures, I can tell you there were NOT good intentions...just clever manipulation of the SITs, PTO, etc. Madison has a well-documented history of failing to hold his temper with individual children and parents, failing to follow mediation agreements made within the District's disciplinary procedures,and favoritism amoung students. He is friendly and welcoming -- until one disagrees with him or challenges his favorite activities. That he lost his temper with an entire classroom, and no one will stand up to him with children currently under his authority is no surprise. Reprisals are a given, as many of us parents at his previous FIVE school assignments can tell you. However, nearly all previous incidents are hidden throught the "personal" file privacies. It's time for the upper administration to stop shifting him from building to building, and stop supporting his poor interpersonal skills and inability to manage legitimate conflict. It had been documented for, at least 8 years that I know of (from Forsythe, Open, Pioneer) that Madison ignores District policies whenever they are bothersome to him.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

Need I remind folks that our society is currently neither "colorblind" nor just. When people of color comprise 60% of our prison population, have lower graduation rates, higher poverty rates, higher likelihood of dying from preventable disease, and face a whole host of other issues, there is a problem. And I, unlike other commentators on this list, refuse to accept that this is simply a result of some "culture of poverty" issue, or individual failings. This is a STRUCTURAL issue, that we must address before we can call ourselves a truly "just", "fair", and "equal" society. To label a program that address some of these inequities "racist" is misguided, small-minded, and frankly, smacks of a self serving attempt to shore up a system that unduly benefits and privileges upper middle class white males. And while its undoubtedly true that the "Lunch Bunch" program in its current form may violate the guidelines established by Prop 2, I believe that those guidelines, and the Proposition itself, are intended to keep people in their place (women in the home where they belong, people of color at the bottom of our social ladder), and to prevent all people from achieving their true potential in the face of historical and continuing structures of inequality. OK, you can remove my comment now....


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

The missed opportunity here was to educate the children of the priviledged group to learn about the acchievments of a member of the non-privledged group. The only was to overcome white priviledge is to get the next generation to voluntarily surrender it by learning that it is unfair and illogical. Learning to admire a brilliant man of the non-privaledged group and wven want to emulate him/her would be a wonderful lesson.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Mexicotte said she wished the anger would be redirected against a public education system that has left too many behind. Mexicotte is part of that "public education system". Maybe they should spend more time on correcting the problem.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

If they are to let him go or do anything to him for what has happened, they must follow the law and rushing judgment could cost the District even more!!! So the Board may know what is what but at time you need to get your ducks in a row!!! The Board will do what they think is right but be patient!!!! I do have faith in a couple of the Board Members and hope people can be calm and patient!!! Right now we simply need to not continue this because it will continue to effect the children at Dicken and continue to hurt the District!!!


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

Gosh, whatever happened to the right to freedom of assembly - enshrined in the Constitution? If those kids wanted to give up their lunch hour, to work to achieve, what message are we sending by saying they can't?

John Brach

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

I am at a loss as to how a "black only" group is not racist when a "white only" group would be racist. Any "only" group teaches children that race or whatever disriminatory device used teaches children that discrimination is ok, and it IS NOT! The problem in student scores it NOT with the children, it is with the parents and their lack of involvement with their children. The children who achieve are those whose parents value education and promote education in the home. If you do not "put time in" with your children as they grow, kind of like a flower, they will not necessarily "bloom". Children grow with what they learn! Yes, I believe that the principal and any who condone a "race based" program in any cpacity in any system should be FIRED! Those tactiocs promte racism among young people that will perpetuate for the rest of their lives. When these kids who were excluded from this activity grow up they will remember this incident forever and how they were exclude because of their skin color. This is unforgiveable!

Alan Benard

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:33 a.m.

We used to have a lot of unjust laws in this country which were fought in courtrooms, with ballot boxes and through civil disobedience. We're better for it.

Olan Owen Barnes

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:31 a.m.

Lets look at the facts only - they admit they broke the state law in their behavior that makes their behavior lawless in nature as well they admit they admit he violated policy. A further fact is he said his intentions were good so that must mean by logic that good intentions make for breaking the law is a mitigating factor. There has been no apology other than a non apology that said he was sorry about the negative attention. There was no "I am sorry I broke the law and it will not happen again" - period - stop there - end of discussion.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

OK, folks, it has now been determined that there was definitely a violation of State law and District policy. We now need to give the AA administration a little time to figure out the best way to handle this. Maybe, depending on what the action is, this will then be put to rest and we can move on. What really disturbs me about this whole thing are all the racial accusations. I still believe Mr. Madison had good intentions. This is important because he does care. Yes, things need to be done differently, but these changes need to be district wide, not just at Dicken.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

The problem is not because the district left some students behind. To succeed in education, children of any race or economic status must have parents (or guardians) that support them and love them. I'm certain that is often the problem of any student that has fallen behind. I am glad to see the district finally fess up that is was wrong and immoral.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

I believe that there will be action taken to remove the principal. In protecting the privacy of the little children all of the information has not been released. The meeting last night also resulted in the appointement of a new board trustee. It is very interesting that three members of the school board have resigned recently. When a trustee leaves a seat mid-term the remaining school board members select someone to fill the vacancy. It is not a public election. Last night one vacancy was filled. One of the candidates not chosen to fill this vacancy was an active parent in the Dicken School (PTO & SIT). She is very knowledgable individual with some understanding of eduction. The only two current board members voting for her during the process were two AA Ann Arbor School Board Members. It was almost painful to see that such a nice women having to distance herself and minimize her involvement from what happened at Dicken. One topic of discussion or quetion is if SIT members have any liability for approving SIT plans, like the Lunch Bunch, and if they have any protection in case action by parents and students is taken against a School Improvement Plan and its originators that is deemed unconstitutional by a school board?


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

Stefan Szumko, "My concern is the fact that one group of children booed another group of children who, being children, probably had no idea they were doing anything wrong. Where do children learn to boo or make disparaging remarks? Bullying behavior comes from somewhere." Let me tell you of my experience: 55 years ago some children were excused from classes for an honor program and when we came back the others booed us. Did I feel bullied? For heavens sake "No". I knew the obvious...the kids were jealous. I got out of class and they didn't. Children know why they are being booed when they get out of class for any reason. It's not bullying. It's jealousy. Common sense. The bullying came into play with 'the man" with power came in and chose to lecture in an "emotional manner" the kids about race. I'm betting all they cared about was getting out of class! The adult was the bully in my opinion. He had the power.The kids were powerless...all of them. The power here is in the hands of the principal, the teachers and the school administration. It seems to me, they failed all of these kids.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:22 a.m.

Seems like the law worked. A discriminatory practice was stopped and parents became more involved in the education of their children. This won't happen again and the needs of all underperforming children (regardless of race) will be met. When you shine a bright light on these issues the correct result seems to follow.

Art Vandelay

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:09 a.m.

The school board has finally admitted that Madison broke the law, the community has been embarrassed in national headlines and still Madison is not receiving even some disciplinary action? This school board and Todd Roberts need to be fired. Let's vote for candidates that will fulfill their legal and moral obligations to this community.

Momma G

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

Let's see, how long has the "achievement gap" been a problem? How about getting to the parents before they send their students to school. Teach them how to be involved in their child's education instead of considering the schools as "babysitters" for their children. We need to educate them the minute they have their children - read, read, read, love, love, love & more with your child before they attend school!


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 6:47 a.m.

Jack Panitch said......Can anybody point me to any sworn testimony about what happened at Dicken or perhaps any other reliable evidence? I haven't seen anything admissible yet to support any of the factual allegations being made here. Uh, sworn testimony? This is not a court of law. Sworn testimony is not the standard. But considering our judicial system I would take the word of 25 10-year olds are giving the same story over one persons sworn testimony. My guess is does not have to worry about libel.

Alan Benard

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 6:18 a.m.

Jack Panitch said: So I'm left wondering what the boundaries of libel are here. Does that make anyone else stop and think? I guess it doesn't mean much to as I understand it, news organizations are shielded from liability for permitting themselves to be used as a forum to publish harmful false claims. But maybe it should matter to's readers.And advertisers. This cannot be said often enough.

Sarah Nicoli

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 6:10 a.m.

Let's talk about what is "fair", as the Dicken parent touches upon. As a member of the Logan School Improvement Team for over 10 years, I can say with conviction, that we have continuously treated an "at risk" child as just that--regardless of race or gender. MEAP data can pinpoint exactly which kids need what help; be it a summer reading program, early MEAP prep help, writing or math help throughout the school year. Data is "colorblind" unless we go searching (and there are some deep learnings that can come from doing that, too). However, let's not lose sight of the fact that extra assistance is needed by many of our students who are not achieving to their full potential and not being served well by the system. Using data to drive decisions is always the most fair and equitable way to allocate resources. Let's try to take the emotion out of heated debates and, instead, focus on teaching our kids about the concept of "fairness". It will lead to a more compassionate community and society in the end.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 5:54 a.m.

The District has always just shuffled the problem around, he will end up in another building. But, do note if this was a support staff they would have been fired!! Ann Arbor Schools needs to state managing and get rid of folks that hinder the growth in the District. Even though his intentions were good, what he did in the classroom was so wrong and what did he teach those kids- we can express ourselves like he did because we are passionate also about our feelings. Don't get me wrong every Distict/Charter School has issues, but we tend to just move it around here in Ann Arbor. We hold kids accountable, so we should hold adults accountable also!


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 5:50 a.m.

the "reverse discrimination" narrative is very flawed. first, there is no such thing as reverse discrimination. discrimination is discrimination. secondly, trying to compare a lunch bunch of elementary students to legal segregation policies of the past is, at best, intelectually dishonest.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 5:29 a.m.

Clearly, well intentioned. However, let's consider the 'what ifs'? If the program were left standing wouldn't these students, later in life, have issues with self confidence or feel a certain entitlement based on their race? If schools were to make constant exceptions for students based on race or even gender wouldn't that ultimately degrade their educational experience and socialization? Our world, our economy doesn't work this way, you no longer get ahead based on just your race (or shouldn't)... so, in affect, this program is reverts back to segregationist policies.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 4:36 a.m.

Why has been so scrupulous to avoid naming the "black rocket scientist"? I think the only black rocket scientist at UM is Alec D. Gallimore, Ph.D.; also Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Initiatives; Rackham School of Graduate Studies, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor. Would it not be good reporting to get his views on the program? He is an educator and an associate dean who operates under the same restrictions of prop 2. Aren't his views important?


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 3:58 a.m.

@ hualin donkey. charter schools are allowed to pick and choose which students they take. public schools don't have that luxury. they have to pretty much take whoever comes thru the door.

Bridget Bly

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 1:34 a.m.

Let's talk about this, but let's recognize that everyone involved is us -- our community -- trying to do their best with some very difficult problems. You may disagree and you may feel some self-righteousness, but let's keep it in perspective. It's not the worst thing that ever happened. Not even the worst thing that happened today. Let's save our anger for the big stuff: BP spoiling the gulf, or Haliburton lying to congress, or Goldman Sachs making money on misery. Let's write some angry letters to them, because those are people who do NOT have our best interests at heart!

haulin donkey

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 1:10 a.m.

It looks like some school board members should lose their jobs for turning a blind eye to this. the principal and a superintendent need to go to jail for violating state law. This type of racist behavior is thr reason why my children attend a charter school where this garbage is not tolarated.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 12:32 a.m.

from the outside looking in it seems that the real problem that the parents have is with the principal and not as much the program. when i was going to forsythe in the early 90's there was a group called the young lions. it was made up of pretty much just black boys. there were a few latino kids and maybe one white kid. but they were from north maple(as were some of the black kids). so it wasn't like they had some big advantage over the black kids socially. i remember taking a trip to detroit to go to the motown studio. there was no outcry from parents of other students. i think the problem people have when they hear about achievement gaps today is the fact that we have a black president. obama has skewed the debate a little because of his enormous success. i think chris rock said it the best. when there can be a black version of george bush being electable as president we have put race behind us. until that time there probally still is a need for groups like the lunch bunch.

Jack Panitch

Thu, May 13, 2010 : 12:29 a.m.

Can anybody point me to any sworn testimony about what happened at Dicken or perhaps any other reliable evidence? I haven't seen anything admissible yet to support any of the factual allegations being made here. For example this last comment is a second-hand account from an anonymous blogger. That's not reliable to support a finding that the kids who went on the trip bragged about it afterward to their classmates. Think about it for a minute: the witnesses are Mr. Madison, presumably the teacher, probably a teacher's assistant, maybe a parent volunteer and maybe twenty-five or so children. But there's no sworn testimony I know of. I honestly don't know how to establish any facts on the basis of what I have read so far. Which means I honestly still do not know what happened. So I'm left wondering what the boundaries of libel are here. Does that make anyone else stop and think? I guess it doesn't mean much to as I understand it, news organizations are shielded from liability for permitting themselves to be used as a forum to publish harmful false claims. But maybe it should matter to's readers.

29 years in A2

Wed, May 12, 2010 : 11:21 p.m.

I have a child in 5th grade at Dicken. One tidbit of information that I have not yet seen reported is that the children who went on the field trip apparently provoked the booing by bragging that they got to miss class. Neither behavior is laudable, but it's certainly common in a group of 10 and 11 year olds and seems to me to put this tangent to the real issues to bed.


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 11:08 p.m.

could it be reverse discrimination really coming after a obama presidency or are we equal?


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 10:30 p.m.

racerx, If those clubs are organized by the school, they may not refuse to accept members/participants on the basis of race. This shouldn't be a very difficult concept for anyone to grasp. We've entered a new era of accountability in Ann Arbor. If people choose to embrace the change instead of becoming more entrenched, this entire community will grow and eventually surpass everyone's previous expectations.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, May 12, 2010 : 10:20 p.m.

@racerx that's a non sequitur. Those groups are open to all students. ESL is not needed for kids that have EFL.

Alan Benard

Wed, May 12, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.

The serious problem with insisting upon a "color blind" standard is that racism is real in this society, using the true definition of the term: belief in white supremacy. There are non-whites in power, certainly -- one of them is the president. But would Barack Obama tell you the United States is free of racism? Would he tell you that work still needs to be done to remove this belief from the structure of US society?Mr. Madison's actions were inappropriate in the context of public education as it is constituted and regulated. Was it a bad idea? We can argue about that, too. But if these activities were at all beneficial for the black students who participated, what does it mean that the program cannot function within district policy or state law? Proposal 2 reinforces racism.


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

To continue, so will now the Spanish Club, Catholic club, BSU, will also have to be disband? ESL since most of these students don't speak the native tongue of this country?

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Wed, May 12, 2010 : 9:52 p.m.

Why is it that "educators" are so obsessed with a racial achievement gap? Why not pick some other arbitrary characteristic of the kids, such as hair color, figure out which hair color has the greatest "achievement gap" compared to the others, obsess about lowering that gap, and then start discriminating between kids based on hair color? The fact that there could be a young black Einstein at that school and that (s)he would be treated as just another part of an "achievement gap" purely based on race is just appalling. What could possibly be more disgusting than treating some genius kid like he's "behind" simply because of his race? So far the school board's response is insufficient. The principal needs to be fired. Or is it even possible to fire anyone in a public school district anymore? What would it take to fire this guy?


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 9:23 p.m.

Who cares about 'good intentions'? In cases such as this, they are invoked in order to cover up, obfuscate the reality of what was really going on. They knew darn well what they intended. I second voiceofreason; color blind, color blind, color blind. Every thing else is just racism in one form or another.

David Jesse

Wed, May 12, 2010 : 8:46 p.m.

An update: I just talked to school board President Deb Mexicotte during a break in the school board meeting. She is going to e-mail me the text of the entire statement after the meeting. As soon as I get it, I'll post it here for everyone to see. David

Stefan Szumko

Wed, May 12, 2010 : 8:45 p.m.

My concern is the fact that one group of children booed another group of children who, being children, probably had no idea they were doing anything wrong. Where do children learn to boo or make disparaging remarks? Bullying behavior comes from somewhere. Yes. An adult made a mistake and will probably not make the same one again. At this moment, I can only think of the words written some 2000 years ago, to the effect of "only those who have never made mistakes should throw rocks."


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 8:38 p.m.

Any good intentions were negated by careless disregard for state law and district policy. Administrators know, or should know, the broad implications of decisions made at any level. Unfortunate? Yes. Forgivable? To be determined...

Macabre Sunset

Wed, May 12, 2010 : 8:38 p.m.

I would find it very upsetting if a man wielding as much power as Madison were not disciplined for such extraordinary actions. I hope the legal counsel is also looking into Madison's behavior in that classroom. Neither his exclusive club nor his behavior toward students who dared object have any place in a modern society.