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Posted on Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:11 p.m.

Ann Arbor school district ends controversial program only open to black students

By David Jesse

The Ann Arbor school district has ended a controversial black-student only program at Dicken Elementary School.

“Lunch Bunch is no longer,” district spokeswoman Liz Margolis said in an e-mail to “It will be discussed among staff and some parents and be reworked. It has a valuable goal of assisting children who are not performing well on the MEAP, and this effort will continue.”


Dicken Principal Mike Madison

Dicken Principal Mike Madison drew criticism from parents following his decision last week to take members of the African-American Lunch Bunch on a field trip to hear a black rocket scientist at the University of Michigan speak. Only black students were invited on the trip.

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

The group was formed this school year in response to an achievement gap in test scores and other measures between white and black students.

In the week since the trip, national attention has been focused on the issue with sharp criticism of Madison’s decision, especially from those on the political right.


Among issues that have been raised is whether the Lunch Bunch violated Proposal 2, a 2006 state law banning preferential treatment based on race.

The district is investigating whether it broke the law. Margolis said that investigation will be complete next week.

The district held a parent meeting on Thursday night to address the issues arising from it. About 75 people attended, Margolis said.

“Mike offered a statement of explanation and apologized for the negative publicity brought on to Dicken by this, apologized for the unintended consequence of the Lunch Bunch of having students feel they were not included, and for not seeing in hindsight to include more or bring the professor to Dicken as well as his discussion in the fifth grade classroom that was not appropriate at the time and the students were not ready for a conversation about race,” Margolis wrote in an e-mail to “Dicken will continue with next steps involving parents, staff and students in discussions on achievement and communications.”

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


John Lighthammer

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

Mr. Madison taught me in his very first year of teaching at Bader School. He was one of the best teachers I've had in my career. Being a 99% white school, he was an anomoly. He taught us all about black culture in a cool and effective manner. We were all 4th graders wihout prejudice or political bias. Forget about "political correctness" for a minute and look at what he was trying to accomplish. I know his style and that he was definitley getting through to those kids. So what if the white kids weren't part of the club?? Welcome to the real world. Better get used to it now. In this context, the black students had a unique need that I know a strong, black figure like Mike could meet. As far as I'm concerned, he's the best thing to happen to race relations in the history of the Ann Arbor Public schools.


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 1 a.m.

I moved to Ann Arbor from Europe in 1980 and attended the University of Michigan, where, for the first time in my life, I saw up close and personal the anger some African-American students showed towards white students. And it shocked me. My family came here with nothing, but we studied, and worked our hardest to get out of the miserable situation we were in. Color of skin was never an issue. Then, some African-American students, who lived in an all-girls dorm on campus, decided to pick on and humiliate my little sister, who lived in the same dorm, but worked a few hours each week in the cafeteria as part of a grant to help pay for college. I was saddened then, as am today, to see this anger in so many. After years of studying for a doctorate degree, and working extra hard to advance my career, I am now one of the "privileged" ones. And my little sister, a doctor, is also "privileged". Reading about this incident at Dicken, I am happy and thankful that my children can attend a private school, because, for as long as possible, I want to shelter them from this negative/cancerous anger that's out there. I have been at the bottom of the barrel and studied/worked my way to the top, and am outraged by the comments on privilege and color of skin and their effect on a child's success in school. Parents of all colors, rich or poor, educated or not, need to get involved in their child's life. Stop blaming others, the past, the present. Start doing! I did. I gave up my career to raise my children. It is the hardest job I ever did! No complaints. And I am sick and tired of hearing the excuses and blame game from so many, simply to justify their failure in education or career or life. Life is not fair, but when give lemons make lemonade. Mr Madison was wrong to use skin color or race to promote this program, no matter how well-intentioned it was. The school district was slow and does not seem trustworthy in the way they handled this situation. We, the taxpayers who live in this city, are of diverse backgrounds, races, ethnicity, income levels, and all our children deserve the same treatment and respect from the teachers and this school district.


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

While browsing the comments on this story, I was sorry to learn that your school system has been afflicted by the race grifter Glenn Singleton. Our system (Chapel Hill, NC) also hired Singleton's outfit and he has done incalculable harm to our district's efforts to close the achievement gap. Like A2, Chapel Hill is the home to a state system's flagship school. Singleton has made a mint by mining the guilt of white liberals in communities such as these. Although CH has been wrestling with the achievement gap question for 17 years now, there have been no improvements. We not only have an achievement gap, but also our gap is actually WORSE than other school districts in our state. Chapel Hillians love to look down on the ignorant racists of NC's benighted "red" counties but somehow, the hicks are doing a better job than we are in this regard. The reason could be that the Singleton method focuses on race so much that it almost guarantees different outcomes. Teachers are forced to participate in Cultural Revolution style sessions where they confess their racism. If they have nothing to confess, they are attacked and berated for "not getting real". Unfortunately, the large number of "equity sessions" and navel gazing has cut into more productive training that actually focuses on teaching. After 17 years of failure (more than a child's 13 year career in the system), the district and its race grifter apologists complain that the forces of darkness have thwarted them. However, they fail to recognize that their philosophy has guided the district for almost two decades and their sympathizers have controlled the Board of Education. They have complete political, ideological and pedagogical control. Anyone who questions the Singleton approach of treating black children like pets and mascots is, of course, a racist. It even got so ludicrous that an African-American woman who served on the Board and DID NOT support Singleton was attacked by white liberals for not caring about AA children (which I suppose included her own two sons). There is little interest in exploring successful efforts at closing the gap (i.e. KIPP, some charter schools) because these successful efforts are not focused on nursing grievances and infantilizing people. Even worse, they do not provide white do-gooders with a feeling of superiority. I am sure you are being promised the Singleton approach and its apostles will solve your problems. You will be having the same discussion about the achievement gap 17 years from now.


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

as a parent at the school, i hope you are right mother of four. i think all of your ideas are excellent concerning mr. madison. i wish him no ill will or the loss of a job. I just don't like the environment that has now been created---teachers avoiding parents, parents avoiding parents, the "elephant in the room" so to speak. people don't understand how much the parents at dicken do for that school, raising funds so that no child is excluded from field trips, camps, etc.... although i do not completely agree with the statements made by some of his supporters, i do want to ask a serious question. when we do hold fund raisers like pumpkin patch, bottle collecting, etc...most if not all of the families receiving scholarships do not help. i think it would help foster more of a "we're all in this together" atmosphere if they did. what can the school do to make those receiving scholarships feel more welcome to help? and i want it to be known, i am in no way suggesting "if you don't help, you don't go". i would never, ever want a child denied anything based on lack of income, etc...i think they face that enough in everyday life that they should never,ever feel that way at school..


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 7:47 a.m.

Mo! Sorry for your not undertstanding. Patience, in dealing with what to do with the principal at the school and make the school environment safe and confortable for all. There is extreme pressure to remove him for the harm that he did during his execution of his plan to reduce the AG. If he remains in his present capacity then there are very few in the community that have the confidence that any plan will be successful. He is not capable and does not have the experience with children of a young age to undertake execution as a elementary school principal. He has already made statements to indicate this. The patience I was suggesting was my own free advice for the parents of the children and those children that were permentally harmed by the principal's poor execution. Even though you do not seem to agree that pateince is good pratice for these specific people, I do. The principal lives in the school neighborhood and has a family. I hope there is an opportunity to have him stay in the Ann Arbor schools, in a position where he can be effective in execution of things like plans to reduce the AG. He should be given a place so that he can continue in helping the education system. He might be the ideal person to advise the BOE that there are flaws to GS ideals if that becomes his specific goal. Who better to provide oversight than someone who has actually tried to execute. Create a win win situation for all. The principal may like this challenge. The students, all of them, could be even recognized for the big part they made in educating everyone. Maybe, as a positive result, we could evolve a Dicken Doctrine, market it to all schools, become rich and famous someday, and all retire on some waterfront home and enjoy life. Have you heard anything about a group that is ddresssing the School Board about this incident and a cell phone video that was recorded of the post-trip discussion? I worry that some action(s) will be taken to correct problems caused by the Lunch Bunch without full disclosure of the facts to the community. I also believe that it is extremely important to protect the identities of those that have been forced to listen to the principals execution. Patience is good for everybody. Don't rush to judgement.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 11:03 p.m.

@Mo I enjoy reading your posts. I don't agree with some things but your opinions are interesting. You have mentioned in a previous post that there is apathy towards properly educating african american students in AAPS. To me, the notion of an apathetic teacher conjures up visions of a monotone teacher spewing out information with no interest in whether students are learning. I am just a parent volunteer and my kids aren't beyond elementary school yet but I feel offended for the teachers at our school. I truly have never seen more people working to help a small group of kids learn. Tons of one on one time only for certain kids, reading specialists, etc. The teachers seem about as far from apathetic as you can get. One thing I'd appreciate hearing your opinion on is realistically, what do you think AAPS should be doing that would make a difference and that we can afford? And along with that are we spending money doing things that are pointless? For example, you mentioned that black kids need to be taught differently due to cultural differences. What does that realistically look like in the schools? Do they need to be in a separate classroom? Or just grouped together in a regular classroom? I think your ideas are interesting, I just don't always understand the practical application of them in such a diverse district.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 8:43 p.m.

@Mo, Have you checked out Steve's article and blog? A few blogs before this one. New discussions.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 8:21 p.m.

@ Mo; As a conservative retired "White" American, I can believe in, accept, and to a large degree, support the field trip, and its anticipated results, that Mr. Madison took these children on. What I can not accept, and would ask you as an educator to comment on, is the effectiveness or detrimental consequences, of the "berating" of children (10-11 years old) of other ethnic backgrounds, that did not agree with Mr. Madisons views or beliefs regarding fairness, race, or privelage. IMHO it is Mr. Madisons intolerance of racial and ethnic differences with others of color that may have destroyed many young children from effectively learning and accepting the diffences of all people, of all color.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 8:21 p.m. are a good man and you speak the truth. This nonsense from those who have "no clue" are exhausting. They have no clue and they don't wish to understand the real, underlying truth. They see what they have experienced, not what others have. Sad. Sad because it impacts so many, in such negative ways...for a few priveleged souls that think they have the answer to a color-blind society. First, we must abolish racsism as a whole before we can ever be color blind. Uggggghhhhh......

Susan Ryan

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 8:18 p.m.

Its racist to attack a handful of black kids for going to meet a black scientist and turn your back on thousands of black students that have unequal segregated education. Its hypocrisy to claim you care about equality or despise segregation yet remain silent about Robert Bobb shrinking the Detroit public school system to a size too small to meet the needs of Detroit families. I support a tricounty school system Macomb, Oakland and Wayne. I support real integration and equality. Its embarassing for folks to talk about segregation in regards to a handful of black kids getting a couple of field trips while so many Michigan students linger in real segregated inequality.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 7:51 p.m.

Hey Mo' You said " Black and Latino children have been pushed into the dire straits side of an educational debt (the so-called achievement gap) that has caused their mis-education for decades" Could you state some examples of the 'pushing'?

mike from saline

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

The real problem is not that white [or Asian] kids grow up with a sense of priviledge. That's pure nonsense! The advantage white, and Asian kids have is what they lack........An exuse for failure!

Mo the Educator

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 6:56 p.m.

@motheroffour The type of school you describe,and better yet, the type of society it would create are a wonderful ideal. However, patience is not a key, it is a pacifier. When Richard Allen was enslaved during the 1700s, the pastor at the church told him and the other enslaved Africans to be patient here on Earth, and the most faithful and patient among them would be able to serve their masters dutifully in heaven. Abraham Lincoln urged Fredrick Douglass to be patient with the Emancipation process and more importantly, the fight to be treated like a human being and a full citizen of the United States. When Thurgood Marshall argued successfully in the Brown v Board case, he suggested that the court order schools to integrate one grade at a time, beginning with kindergarten, over a span of 13 years. The Supreme Court admonished Mr. Marshall to be patient, and informed him that desegregation would happen with all deliberate speed. Fourteen years later, the Kerner Commission determined that with all deliberate speed meant never. In Ann Arbor public schools and in other school systems around the country Black and Latino children have been pushed into the dire straits side of an educational debt (the so-called achievement gap) that has caused their mis-education for decades. How long should we be patient while children are crushed under the heel of our misguided school system? What if they were your children?

Mo the Educator

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 6:11 p.m.

@Tru2Blu76 et al. re: segregation First of all, I appreciate your flattering comments, and the very interesting and thoughtful discourse that has occurred in this comments section. Hopefully it will continue happen in this manner. A number of respondents are conflating Segregation and segregation. The former is Americas system of apartheid in which Black Americans were denied, by legal and social means, the rights given to its White citizens. The Plessy v Ferguson Supreme Court decision was the federal governments endorsement of separate but equal facilities for Black people and White people, which enforced de jure Segregation. The Brown v Board decision was important for schools, but much more so in that it finally included the governments admission that Segregation caused inherently inferior facilities and inferior treatment of Black people. That is very different from the segregation that occurs naturally as people create their own affinity groups. Neighborhoods and places of worship provide examples of this type of de facto segregation. This separation along racial lines is not illegal, nor is it inherently negative (though it can be). For my mother, a minister at a predominantly Black church that was founded in the 18th century by a man who refused to accept the racist and corrupt version of Christianity being taught to enslaved Africans, the history of her church and its role in the Underground Railroad is a source of pride and inspiration. Of course anyone is welcome to attend, but that history does not hold the same type of importance for non-Black people who choose to do so. In this case at Dicken and others like it, the conflation of Segregation and segregation provides an unfortunate but convenient place to hide for people who advocate for the imminent privileges of White people. Again, it is this sense of entitlement that drives the arguments of those who oppose the formation of this and other affinity groups that are formed along racial lines. In a previous post, I mentioned me stint as a Director of Diversity at a predominantly White private school. I made my office a safe haven for any discussion about any aspect of culture and cultural interaction. I gave audience to anti-bigots, bigots, and questioners alike, and engaged them in conversation and other activities to create discourse. Among many revelatory interactions I had with students, I can remember one time when a Black male high school student, exasperated with feeling like a square peg, rushed into my office, slammed his bag on the floor, sat down heavily in a chair, looked at me for a second, and said, Coach D, I just wanna sit here and be Black for a second!. If you can start to figure out what he was saying and even begin to empathize, youll at least begin to understand the purpose of affinity groups.

Susan Ryan

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 6:07 p.m.

Where is the national outrage at the real segregated inequality of the Detroit school district? Its like the old folks talk about. Segregation is supported as long as it is second rate. A small group of students get something mildly helpful now folks are up in arms about special privileges. Meanwhile, not a word against Ferndale schools that ban Detroit students from its high school, only allowing them in the inferior tech school. They don't ban the state dollars those students bring to the district from the Ferndale high school. You do know that Bobb represents corporate control of Detroit public schools. The Michigan Appeals Court ruled against the elected school board and for corporate paid Bobb to be a dictator of our schools. Its just another stop on the hypocrisy railroad. So now you say black kids can't even have a darn field trip or eat lunch with some other black kids. Freedom and liberty for all, unless you are not white. Hypocrites, liars, tyrants.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

With over 20 elementary schools in Ann Arbor, it seems likely that there are similar programs at other schools, especially considering that such programs were recommended to the district by a hired consultant. The program at Dicken was disbanded because of the negative publicity. AAPS needs to realize that a school program that segregates on the basis of race is illegal, and therefore needs to disband/change ALL programs like this, not just the onces that the general public knows about. Brown vs Board of Education. Supreme Court of the United States. 1954: "To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The effect of this separation on their educational opportunities was well stated by a finding in the Kansas case by a court which nevertheless felt compelled to rule against the Negro plaintiffs: Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children." Martin Luther King Jr. 1963: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Was a white student that works hard and does well in school, who loves science and space but was denied the opportunity to go on the field trip being judged on the color of their skin or the content of their character?


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

Part of the investigation into this issue should pursue how Madison treats parents who are not black. It has been consistantly whispered at Dicken for years now that if you have a white/asian/indian/latino/ whatever...child in that school who is struggling academically or in any other way - special needs included -, Madison is difficult to deal with. I always just thought he was a difficult man to interact with, and that he was not good in the communication department - but perhaps there is more to it all..........

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

I continue to remain aghast at the tenor of many of the posts on this thread and others about the program at Dicken. Thanks to those who have tried to show calmness and compassion in the face of such bitterness. My own reactions to this wouldn't fit in a regular comment, so I invite anyone who is interested to read and comment on my community wall post: Maybe Dr. Madison's efforts should have been structured differently, but I do believe he was attempting to address what has been and remains a real problem in our society. And yes, we as a community do have an obligation to do what we can to remedy the injustice of the past.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

I don't believe Principle Madison did anything wrong. Just because the Affirmative Action bill has been banned, due to voters ignorance, doesn't mean that Affirmative Action is wrong. The Affirmative Action Bill was put into place at a time when it was needed to even the playing field racially. It is still needed. There are many of us that fought for Affirmative Action to remain. This is so sad. You are hurting so many disadvantaged youth because of your ignorances. I am sure that you all are intelligent on some level, you just have a ways to go on social justice.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

DId the man apologize? Were his intentions to show young African American student's a positive role model? Did he do it the wrong way? Heck yeah. Should he be fired? Those without sin cast the first stone!!!!! Don't be a hypocrite, because if you think he should be fired for making a mistake like this in a society where the playing field clearly isn't equal to begin with, then you should analyze yourself and ask yourself, "Am I a hypocrite?"


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 8:15 p.m.

I do not believe that anyone has trouble with helping children who are under achieving. I know that AAPS spends a bundle on it and I approve of helping under achieving children, regardless of color. I believe the issue is one of focusing on race as only reason for under achievement. There are lots of ways to identify under achieving children that are legal. Creating a race based group that is run by the school opens doors to lawsuits that could reduce the amount of money that is available to provide this kind of education (or other programs). I am fully in favor of programs that are social-economic based or achievement based. There are children of all races that can benefit from programs that focus academic attention. The leadership of AAPS knows the law, and they should know the risk this program brought to the district and its community. A program that meets all the legal requirements is needed and I believe would be very welcome by most everyone here.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 6:35 p.m.

Wow. It sounds like there are either a bunch of "tea-party" parents or just plain "insensitive" parents at Dicken Elementary...and they are stirring up trouble. ALONE WE CAN DO SO LITTLE~ TOGETHER WE CAN DO SO MUCH. There are programs all across this country that are dedicated to helping our African American youth and that have support from their communities. How sad it is when a community is not supportive of programs intended to help those who need to be invested in. I think it was wonderful that the Principle took a few, at risk, students on a field trip to help install pride in themselves. Bravo Principle Madison. Do you all think that all sports programs should be co-ed or that all country clubs should have scholarships for low income families. What about the Black Student Union or the Muslim Student Union or the Asian Student Union... are these programs unexceptable as well? I know that you don't understand that this is a racially unequal world. I know you think that we have come a long way, and we have! However, we still have a long way to go. How many of you understand the difference between generational poverty and being poor? How many of you understand the concept of multiple disadvantages? Please educate yourselves before you speak and detroy positive programs just because your children didn't get pizza lunch or you don't understand the need. It is a very selfish, closed minded, shallow mind-set that you are operating from and if you knew any better, you would be ashamed of yourselves. You are acting as a lynch mentality and I, personally, feel very sorry for the Principle at Dicken and even more sorry for the children that no longer have this program. I also feel sorry for the children that are being misguided and not being given the truth, in it's entirety, by their parents.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 6:31 p.m.

it sounds like this PEG group Singleton runs is the real controversial program that AAPS needs to end.

Ima Citizen

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

There is a FoxNews story today about how "Babies know the difference between good and evil". It appears that the excluded, non-black students also knew there was something profoundly wrong with the race based field trip. This would probably have been true even if they had not been taught repeatedly that racial discrimination was wrong. But alas, the school principal, members of the administration, and many posters on this blog cannot see right from wrong as clearly as these young people. The principle went further and berated the non-black children for seeing the crystal clear rightousnous of his policies, showing lack of self control in dealing with young people one would expect at this level of responsibility. This is not surprising since the school is now teaching that black underachiving is due to white racism. Here is a quote lifted from the website: "Anti racism: Our conscious and deliberate, individual and collective action that challenges the impact and perpetuation of institutional White racial power, position and privilege". Makes me wonder why blacks underachieve in black ruled Afica and Haiti, which they ruled since 1800. Makes me wonder why Asians, including dark skinned Asian Indians, jump right to the head of the class in spite of all this "white racial power". Regardless, in the language of the race baiters, there is now a racial hostile environment in Dicken school, and AA schools in general, where the whites are now held responsible for the profound lack of achievement of blacks. This racist program must stop. Heads must roll. Are there any sane people left in AA?


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

I think its time someone did some investigation into Singleton and his looks like theres a pyramid of ineptitude here and Madison is just a part of it all. Singleton, the AAPS for hiring him, Todd Roberts for defending him, and Madison for letting him tamper with our children at all! listen to the interview with Roberts,....... (interview with Todd Roberts)


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

I would like to know how much of the $340k spent on the consulting firm will returned for recommending such a tremendously positive idea. Under achievers receiving free pizza and pop and getting out of normal school activities sounds like a great way to motivate kids to under achieve.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 7:31 a.m.

I really like this lively discussion it is what we as a country are all about. With that being said it is time for heads to roll, if the situation was the reserves we would already had Reverend Jackson here. Hasn't anyone called Glen Beck yet?


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

For all those calling for the firing of Mr. Madison, I would like point out the he is just following the ideology of AAPS based on the consultation of PEG. To make him the fall guy and relive the district of responsibility would be unfortunate. He was not a rogue acting alone.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

wow. did not one person in charge do a google search on this Glenn Singleton character?? talk about a lightening rod. after researching him, this controversy is not a surprise, what is a surprise is that it took this long to come to light.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

IMHO This sounds like a man with very good intentions.However I would add my voice to others that note a successful African American NASA voice could and should be welcomed by all. There has been extensive research done on achievement gaps and the primary factor has not been found to be race but rather poverty. Lets remember that many Quakers assissted in the underground railroad, that people of all colors linked arms together to oppose Vietnam and worked toward equal rights. Instead of dividing children-lets help them all work together. Racism will never be successfully fought by separating people based on race. The well intentioned principal should try to bring the same speaker into the school so anyone interested could listen. The rest of us should be forgiving of a well intentioned mistake.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

To all the people saying what would happen if it was a white principal and white kids, you have to realize that would only be a fair comparison if whites were in the minority while having an inversely proportional level of poverty.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 10:07 a.m. Here's the link about the blacks only awards ceremony, NAAPID, the Saturday Academy for blacks only, etc. And the Office of Civil Rights complaint filed in the late 1990's.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

Can please let us know when the next public meeting is? I would like to attend and let them know my opinions. This is a very serious matter to home owners within Ann Arbor city limits.. Mike Madison needs to be FIRED with decreased benefits. Anything less than throwing the book at him will not satisfy me and I want to voice my opinion, in person is fine, to the school board.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

@Watchtower. National African American Parent Involvement Day is open to everyone and has been for years. I am white and I have been to it. Typically there is a speaker and a performance by students then parents go to some of their children's classes. All parts are completely optional. It is very educational and focused on school success and it brings parents into the school who might not be there often. I don't see how anyone could have a problem with a program like that.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 12:54 a.m.

I'll try again to write a comment that isn't deleted. The practice of segregated programs/services for African American children and their parents has been a long standing practice of the district, well known to the Board, the central administration, and the local news media. Other examples are the National African American Parent Involvement Day, the annual awards ceremony for African American students only, the Black Parent Support Group, to name a few. This has been going on right out in the open and no one seemed to mind. Thank god someone (or more than one) does now.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 12:27 a.m.

To MrsU Your statement" Some saner voices have already brought up what I see as the main point for the program; children -especially those that are underachieving or "problematic" - have a need to feel special, to feel privileged in some way. Any adult that tries to take this away cannot be thinking rationally or with understanding and empathy." Giving children a false sense of privilege does not assist them in life. Instead of basketball and crafts, if Madison had lunchtime tutoring and rewarded students as their successes, that would in fact teach them the lesson that they can earn rewards by succeeding, not failing. As far as the booing. It was not done in malice. These 10 yr olds used "booing" to express themselves whether it be not being able to go out for recess due to the rain, a test, or anything else in their day. It was good natured and not as you wish to illustrate it as white kids booing black kids. There are multi races in that class. Mr. Madison is not interested in bringing up black student test scores, instead he is looking for a popularity contest, by making one racial group, HIS OWN, feel superior to everyone else. How does having a segregated play time make students feel positive about school, other than lording it over others who are not permitted to participate. Replace black with asian, hispanic, white, and you would not be so gracious to Madison.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 12:16 a.m.

My biggest question is how the black parents can NOT be outraged by Madison's behavior? Here he has a group of children that are academically challenged, yet instead of tutoring them and using positive incentives for successful learning and study habits, he rewards them with pizza and basketball just because they are not doing well enough in school. This closes no gap. This does not teach them to be proud of their accomplishments, this sends a message that they are given special treatment because they are poor black kids. Welcome to welfare children! Where is the incentive here to succeed? Instead of blaming the non-white families for being upset, the black families should be upset by Madison's thinly veiled attempts at segregation. The school board should definitely put him on suspension until this is over. But they are too busy spinning this story to suit their needs to actually think of the kids.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 11:38 p.m.

I agree that, whatever the intent, a public school simply cannot have an event segregated by race. The apologies and policy changes are appropriate. That said, I think that the whole thing is a bit overblown. Missing or attending one talk by one scientist isn't going to make or break anyone's educational experience. I also think that the idea that the principal should be fired is ridiculous. He made a well-intentioned mistake -- which has now caused him and the district a fair amount of embarrassment. It's unlikely he'll do it again. As far as the kids who got yelled at, we don't know the details, but I suspect that the booing 5th graders are now in their glory having realized that they sparked this kind of hubbub (admittedly, I'm probably channeling 5th grade boys more than girls) with coverage in the paper, radio etc.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:50 p.m.

@Ms.U., you are quite mistaken if you believe "the program was launched after due deliberation by the district, and only after consulting the legal team as to possible violation of anti-discrimination laws". Mike Madison's immediate supervisor was unaware of the program until early last week as she stated in the community meeting on May 6. Also please recognize that his program was NOT for all of the kids underperforming on MEAP! The MEAP scores were not published until many months after the Lunch Bunch group was formed. Lunch Bunch began in December 2009, several months prior to the MEAP results. Children and parents who questioned Lunch Bunch were told by Dicken staff that this program was only for African American students. As for the MEAP performance, Mr. Madison handed out MEAP data which indicated that there are 174 kids enrolled in grades 3-5. There were 6 African American children non-proficient in Reading (12 total students not proficient in this category) and 7 African American students non-proficient in Math (8 students total in this category). Conservatively assuming no overlap between the two groups (ie those not proficient in Math were different from those not proficient in Reading), this means that 13 total African American students were not proficient on MEAP. There were 7 children of other race (race was not identified) that were not proficient. Yet Lunch Bunch consists of over 30 students, all African American. Lunch Bunch was not designed to serve underperforming kids, it was a group for only African American children and excluded all other children.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:46 p.m.

I wonder what would have happened if the Dicken principal had been Caucasian and the students he took to see a distinguished speaker were all Caucasian as well. Just another example of the double standard in America, especially prevalent in Ann Arbor.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

It is quite appalling that the AAPS reacted to the controversy at Dicken by immediately ending the Lunch Bunch program! I would imagine that the program was launched after due deliberation by the district, and only after consulting the legal team as to possible violation of anti-discrimination laws (and if not, that should be an issue itself!)Assuming such prior deliberation to be the case, why wouldn't the district stand behind its own decisions and convictions? Evidently any clamor, if sufficiently large, can lead to immediate backtracking. What message does this send? Personally I thought this program was excellent, and was surprised at the rancor voiced by some parents who were upset that their own children were excluded. And I am still shocked by those writers who saw the program as "rewarding students for bad behavior and underachievement"! Some saner voices have already brought up what I see as the main point for the program; children -especially those that are underachieving or "problematic" - have a need to feel special, to feel privileged in some way. Any adult that tries to take this away cannot be thinking rationally or with understanding and empathy. I am also intrigued by the fact that no further comments were made about the reprehensible behavior of the students who booed their Lunch Bunch classmates upon their return. One parent of a student in that class offers an excuse that this class is a "fun-loving" group that often booes, for example, when outdoor recess is canceled. What???!!! Surely the classroom teacher had already reprimanded them for this behavior before Mike Madison "ranted" at them? If my son had ever engaged in such inexcusable rudeness toward other students, I would have engaged in corrective measures myself. Parents, take responsibility for your own child's behavior. And also your own, please.

Mo the Educator

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:01 p.m.

@ elcak There's a difference between equal and equitable. If Dicken decided that every student would be retained this year, forcing them to repeat the current grade, that would constitute equal treatment. Students need equitable treatment. If I had a child at a school who received outside tutoring and was doing as well as she could in school, I would not allow her to spend the teacher's tutoring time after school to work with her. I would explain to her that other students who did not have the same privilege of outside tutoring should have access to the teacher, and not her. I would tell her that this was equitable and fair. I believe that every student is a "special case". To help ensure equity of opportunity (no equity of success), certain students should receive special privileges and opportunities. Sometimes they may follow racial lines, gender lines, religious lines, or any other cultural aspect. That's okay. It's fair as long as it does not hinder the success of another student. In this case, while the trip was discriminatory, having the Lunch Bunch see the rocket scientist did not infringe upon the opportunity for success of any other student. @przHim and elcak In my experience and in my research, the kids want to do well. They want academic success. While current research continues to support early 80s research on the misdiagnosis of special education and behavioral problems amongst Black children, researchers like Ronald Ferguson's and Fryer & Torelli are finding that Black children do not equate "acting White" with high academic achievement and therefore not native to their own culture. (They use it as a pejorative term to describe ways of dress, social savvy, and sense of humor). They've also found that when surveyed, Black children and families value education just as much as their peers from other races. That being the case, they are not put off or deterred by programs to help them do so. Groups like the Lunch Bunch and other supports, when executed correctly, are overwhelmingly positive experiences. The people who are usually uncomfortable are those who are not involved. They wonder whether the group is subversive; whether they are being "blamed" by groups members for societal wrongs. None of those things are important to a substantive and effective affinity group. They simply want to do better. If you, as their teacher, convince them that you sincerely want to help and demonstrate your ability to do so, they won't feel like stigmatized victims. They'll feel like successful students.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 6:46 p.m.

Anyone that would accept the actions of the principal at the school, or any school for that matter, for what he imposed upon the children at the school for any reason-let them come forward. The School District has begun to take action-they will continue to take action to make sure that the school returns to a good, safe, and confortable place for all students. A place where all students can feel loved and respected. A place where all can reach expectations.A place where good behavior is modeled by all. A place where there isn't a rush to judgement. A place where unique learning styles are addressed. A place where diversity is celebrated and not grouped. A place where one is many and the many are made from one and each one being equal. A place where compassion is based upon love and not fear. A place to share the common fears that all children share and not a place to fear to share ideas and questions. A place to learn to ask questions and patiently educate that what others feel is important element in the answer. I am confident that the school board and administration will continue to correct the situation at the school. They will weigh all of the evidence with equal consideration for all of the events and correct what needs to be corrected. I am sure what has become released to the public is only a small portion of what actually happened. I am sure these facts are still being analyzed. The immediate concern is for the safety, welfare, and protection of those at the school. Some may get a little anxious that things are not moving as fast as they would like and would appreciate a quicker return to the confidence levels of a safe environment that all have come to expect. Patience is key.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 6:34 p.m.

I didn't say they were dumb. I said they don't want to be identified as dumb. Lots of kids that are entitled to help and accomodations don't use them because others might find out that they have trouble. Perhaps Mr. Madison thought it better to have a black group than a low MEAP performers group. Just a thought.

Anne Jackson

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 6:04 p.m.

They are not dumb. You are totally missing the point.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 5:49 p.m.

Are people seriously proposing a lunch bunch for students with low test scores? Sort of like a stupid club? Anyone with a child that struggles in school knows that the last place they want to be is somewhere that identifies them as dumb.

Anne Jackson

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 5:39 p.m.

I would agree. It does appear, from the sentiments on this blog, that there is an undercurrent of hostility toward AA from -- most likely -- a small, loud, squeaky wheel group at Dicken. Applaud the students who booed? As an administator or teacher at the school, I would not tolerate this response at all. As a parent, I would not teach my children (and did not) that this is an appropriate response under the guise of "freedom of speech." Speaking of masks...people put them on every day to get along with one another. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it's clear that people have taken them off on this blog, protected by their pseudonyms. You can then put your politically correct mask on when you take your child(ren) to Dicken Mon. a.m. Let's get real. Then we can begin to see the real motivations behind this difference of opinion and work to resolve issues fairly for benefit of all at Dicken and for all schools in the Ann Arbor district.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 5:33 p.m.

Part of my frustration is the 30 years of focus on this issue with virtually no positive results. Get it together and do what works! Some of us are tired of the relentless counting, scrutinizing, and measuring "non white, non asian" students. Administrators have no idea what they are talking about. They are just counting so that the numbers look right and they can pat themselves on the back. There are many programs in the schools that need to be equalized but as long as the numbers are right racially, the schools finds it all very acceptable. Not all white parents are priviledged whiners. There are lots of kids with struggles that get crushed in the schools.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

Ann Arbor just turned the clock back 50 years, way to go.

Sandra Samons

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 4:45 p.m.

"After the trip, classmates who were excluded booed those who went." Were these students also required to apologize? There is a whole lot wrong with this picture and I hope it gets addressed. No wonder some students do not do well in such a hostile environment.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 4:32 p.m.

Madisons actions in this situation are outrageous. His 'alleged' verbal attack on young children and his poor decisions should be punished. If we had all the facts regarding the lunch bunch, the fieldtrip, and what happened in the grade five classroom then even the most pro Madison supporters may be shocked. I am a parent from that school. Does it matter what color i am??? Ann, will you be writing another story soon about this fiasco? Looks like theres a lot to inform people of still!


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 2 p.m.

from 2008: "Ann Arbor school officials hope that an aggressive marketing plan - centered on the concept of "exceptional" - will help them add 200 students in the coming year. The marketing plan will cost the district between $71,000 and $75,000 Liz Margolis, the district's spokeswoman and director of communications, told the school board Tuesday night." "Trustee Randy Friedman said the district needs to make sure every staff member is working to market the district to parents." The same Ms. Margolis is defending Madison now. She got her marketing story.

Bridget Bly

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

I agree that it might, ironically, have done a lot more good for the non-AA students to have seen an AA rocket scientist than for the AA students to see one. However, seeing an AA leader may only have been a part of the motivation. There is also the "treats" aspect of this situation -- Mr. Madison was giving this group a little treat, sort of like teachers used to let their favorites lead the pledge of allegiance or go first to lunch. And I think it was that aspect that caused the other kids to object. I suppose from Mr. Madison's point of view, a few extra treats for kids who don't get many didn't seem like a bad thing.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:52 p.m.

I also would like to give support to Tru2Blu76 and his well thought- out response. My response to this whole situation is that some mistakes were made out of true intentions to do good. Having been a teaching assistant in the district for awhile now, I have happened to come across kids that I know who, with a little more attention, love, and direction could really succeed. If you are a good teacher, your desire to do everything possible for those kids sometimes leads you to consider a direction that is sometimes "outside the box", so to speak. This achievement gap issue is a complex and complicated problem that needs continued discussion. Silencing anyone's voice, as in firing Mr. Madison, won't solve anything. As a community we need to quit pointing fingers and start the long needed dialog that obviously needs to take place. Our diversity makes us a thriving and energized community that has the ability to get this right. We need to accept the give and take as we work towards that end.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:24 p.m.

@Mo This rapport you speak of, I think (and have been told) I have with all my students - white or black. If they could describe me in any way I would hope that they would say that "He searches for a kid's heart", not evaluating or judging based on outward appearance (such as is man's nature, I believe). It takes a long time, however, to develop a culture of "trust". If kids, throughout the entire course of their school day, are not validated and acknowledged as being uniquely gifted in ways that no other human being has ever or will ever be in the history of this planet, then a lot of time is lost. Instructional time, healthy relationship building time, exploration time, you name it -- all of these seemingly "right" ways of utilizing time in a classroom are lost as kids' energy is not channeled into the hard work that it takes to learn. In Madison's case, I'm sure one of his indirect goals in doing what he did was to hopefully, just hopefully, inspire at least one child of African ancestry to do the hard work within the present system (as constricting as it might be) to achieve at high levels, whether it be in rocket science, engineering, business or something else. I still wonder has been communicated to African-American kids that they "need" extra support, are entitled to more unique educational opportunities (U-M has a number of programs which are designed to pipeline under-represented minorities into the college arena), have specially designed scholarships available to them that others will not have an opportunity to be awarded, and are on the losing side of the achievement gap/educational debt. They weren't born knowing this, they were told that. Question: Do not this reality (what's communicated to African-American children) somehow stigmatize African-American children in a way, more often than not, many develop a tendency to adopt a defeatist attitude and give up trying? Young impressionable African-American minds have been told that they're lagging behind in the United States' race of life, if not also having been told they were way behind the starting line to begin with. I'm not suggest that we start ignoring the disparity. Rather, I wonder if our present dominant cultural notion of "work hard" as an individual within the system and "you'll go far" must be changed for equity to ultimately be realized.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:21 p.m.

I'm sorry Ms. Jackson (I am for real)... Yes, yes we are all aware of past transgressions against Black individuals but I detect some smug satisfaction in your post at how the tables have turned in this instance. That contributes toward racial divide and anger. Equal rules for equal people and even if we understand where Mr. Madison is coming from it does not make it any less egregious. Anything other than that standard is to suggest that we are not equal - which is the problem with affirmative action programs.

Bridget Bly

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 12:57 p.m.

Hurrah for Tru2Blu76! Do let's take a good-natured approach. Let's remember we're all on the same side (pro-children) or we wouldn't be on this thread. All the insults and extreme rhetoric merely alienates the elected officials whose ears we wish to reach. They read these posts, but if it gets nasty, that just gives them an excuse not to pay attention to your voice.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

@DeeDee Spinning facts is fun. A group of kids were given special benefits like free pizza and the chance to play basketball at lunch solely b/c of their race. They were also given the chance to hear a famous person speak solely because of their race. Remember no actual academic criteria was taken into account. Other children were prohibited from these activities b/c they did not belong to said race. When they complained, they were chastised by the principal who is said race. They were told what they did and did not know, how they felt and did not feel, just b/c of their race. See how fun it is to spin facts? Ever heard the saying the truth lies somewhere in between?

Anne Jackson

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 12:09 p.m.

Funny that this has been such a hot topic lately but that the presence of the Lunch Bunch at Dicken was not brought up until now. Those who state that the "community" is saying that this is wrong should look at the sample. On my FB page, I have numerous educators and friends who are understanding this situation. While they do not necessarily condone Madison's actions, they understand. I hear a bunch of white folk crying about their exclusion. Well, well. Perhaps you are feeling what millions of darker-skinned people have felt for centuries. Yes, thanks for the comment about "reverse discrimination." Reverse from whose perspective? There is no such thing as "reverse discrimination." It's either discriminatory or not. This ignorant term has been propagated among, you guessed it, privileged white folk. I use "privilege" in the sense of having light skin tone. It does not imply socio-economic privilege. Just read Peggy McIntosh's article will ya? Thanks to others who have posted articles and books that might enlighten, incl. the ones that do not support my position. One more thing: Mike Madison is taking action on NCLB and academic disparity. When Bush enacted NCLB, it was without adequate funding or support. I was on the SIT team at Forsythe under Madison and this was always a huge concern for him. He was asked to do things he had no school district support or federal money for. He has tried his best in this school district to even the playing field. What have you done?


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

The group was exclusive. Other non-black children were turned down membership. Test courses were not the sole criteria for membership. The principal said at the meeting before the group was dissolved "i will now open the group up to other children who want to join". Is it possible to have an article (not just comments) with these facts? Leigh Ann Dickinson said at the meeting that she was not aware of this "group" until last week.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

So according to that anti-discrimination law, if my daughter doesn't get an invite to an ESL lunch group, because English is her first language that's illegal. That's also illegal if she doesn't get invited to a group for deaf students, or the learning disabled. We can take this and destroy any sense of individual care for students, or we can grow up. Our kids are doing so poorly in school that they will not be able to keep up with the global competition. Our inability to get along is only hurting our future status in the global sphere. Was the group exclusive? Did any kid want to join the GROUP and get turned away?? If not, then there is no case.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

So, let's see here. A bunch of kids were willing to give up their lunch time recess nce a week to improve their grades. And, this group of kids got an opportunity to hear a scientist speak, and were booed by a group of kids who are NOT giving up their lunch for this, but were probably jealous because they didn't get out of school for an hour or so. And the fault is the kids and the administration who gave them a chance to go above and beyond their regular school work???? How nuts is that??? Why isn't the focus on how these kids wanted badly enough to do well in school to give up their free time? Don't they deserve some special recognition for that, just like other groups of kids who get rewarded for participating in activities like sports, music, etc.? Have these people lost it?

Mo the Educator

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

"Educational debt" is a phrase that Univ of Wisconsin professor Gloria Ladson-Billings coined to more accurately describe the differences in student achievement that follow racial lines. It literally refers to the debt that is owed to the students that we've mis-educated in our supremely flawed educational system. @przhim What you're referring to actually brings me back on topic. What Dr. Madison was attempting to do is a basic part of culturally relevant pedagogy and that is ensuring that students "see" their own culture and that of others properly represented in the curriculum. If I were him, I would have asked the rocket scientist to speak separately to the "Lunch Bunch" and then to the student body in general. More important than "heroes and inventors", students should come to understand and empathize with multiple perspectives, multiple learning styles, and how they often follow different cultural lines. (To clarify, there are eight aspects of culture: age, ability (physical and mental), ethnicity (including country of origin), gender, race, sexuality, socio-economic status, and religion). Nel Noddings has done years of research on care and empathy in education, not in terms of just simple affection, but in terms of teaching children to critically analyze, understand, and empathize with a variety of perspectives to increase their sense of social justice. It absolutely does not mean that they "agree with" everyone's differences. It could actually mean having the ability to empathize (NOT SYMPATHIZE) with anti-Semites in Nazi Germany to understand both how humans could enact such terrible suffering upon each other, and how to recognize those root behaviors to ensure that it never happens again. Regarding colorblindness, I'll give you how I feel: I'm Black. I love my brown skin, my hair texture, the thickness of my lips, my wide nose, everything that goes with looking racially Black! Because I love those things about myself, I don't want anyone to ignore them. I don't want to be prejudged by them, but I do want people to acknowledged them. I feel like people who try to see me "in spite of my race" or "not as a Black man" do so because they have a problem with my being Black or somehow can't comprehend my "Blackness". With children, it's a little different. In school, they are trying so desperately to fit in, but at the same time trying to find their own individual identity. In your classroom, you are better off readily acknowledging racial differences with the students in general and with yourself as an individual. You absolutely should talk about cultural differences in the academic environment, but only once you've had sufficient preparation in doing so. And you know your students: I've seen White teachers in predominantly Black classrooms whose rapport with their students was so good, they could do and say things that would get them fired elsewhere, but for them it increased their effectiveness exponentially. I would start by reading "The Dreamkeepers" by Gloria Ladson-Billings if you haven't already. There's a lot in there for all teachers, and teachers in your type of classroom in particular.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

@Snow I fully support Ann Arbor Public Schools. I do not know much about this situation, but trust that decisions are being made to best benefit kids. I just hope the equity goes beyond test scores and across the district in many other avenues including class size, equal access to programs and so many other things. We need to do what's best for all kids, not ourselves.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

The issue at stake is much more than Mr. Madison actions. It is the fundamental ideology that PEG brings to the table and AAPS believes to be the correct approach. I sincerely hope that Board members are reading these comments and perhaps reevaluating their approach rather than being locked into their opinion and dismissing lots of valid points simply because they are sure they know better. I would hope we see further reporting on this issue and perhaps AAPS actually opening some kind of dialog with the community it supports. With todays availability of social networking it does not seem like it would be very difficult for our school district to open the lines of communication in a way other than meetings in the school where time and tempers limit constructive discussion and participation. It's is difficult to admit if you have been wrong but necessary if what you are doing is not working and even worse creating more of a problem. AAPS if you want the support of a community, you need to work with that community. I feel you have been way to quiet on this entire subject and hope to hear from you soon.

Bridget Bly

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

Some kids are read to every day, have safe and stable routines, and go to high-quality daycare. Other kids have parents who can't even read themselves, are overwhelmed financially, live in chaotic households, and can only provide preschool daycare consisting of the kids sitting in front of the TV for 8 hours a day. When those kids end up in the same kindergarten room, there is a huge difference in school readiness. By the 5th or 6th grade, the differences in parental investment in those kids is enormous and ongoing. How can we realistically expect the schools to "close the gap"? It seems an impossible task and it seems unfair to hold it against teachers that they can't do it. Importantly, I don't say these differences are racial, BTW, but they are cultural and financial.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Spaceman - I do appreciate your humor, but the "gap" is merely a measurement of who passes and who doesn't pass the MEAP. Students who are off the charts on the high end are still among the same group of students who pass by hitting the cut-off line. And, from everything I've read, not actually seen, it sounds to me like the lunch bunch was attended by black students of all capabilities, not just the academically "at-risk" students. If this is true, then the emphasis was on race, not on academically at-risk students.

A resident

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

All the students wanted was an opportunity to get out of the classroom. Developmentally speaking, that's where they are. Its not a matter of race for them, but fairness. New generation. It appears that adults added the racial slant onto this issue, which is a shame. The achievement gap, I believe, has more to do with socioeconomic status than anything else. The achievement gap starts when students enter school. Those families with more resources are able to expose and educate their children to more life experiences than those who don't have as much. Imagine trying to have the time and energy to provide for your child when A. both parents have to work, B. Both parents working 1-2 jobs each C. Single working parents, or D. Single working parents with 2 jobs....How fair is that?


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

@Mo I appreciate your intellectual discussion on these issues. I agree wholeheartedly that there are janitors that work hard and slobs who inherit wealth. However, I would offer that the American Dream is not strictly measured by monetary success as it is far too narrow a view. If we expand our definition of success beyond monetary confines and into what it requires to make a person happy on an individual basis we may find that the janitor is happy and content with his work while the rich socialite is a psychological mess. If the janitor was not satisfied with his/her work then they still have the opportunity to pursue endeavors that would yield greater monetary gain - should they have enough fire in the gut to do so.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

This has uncovered how the district has decided to address the gap and I refer to it as the PEG problem. So, visiting with black scientist was an idea, check free pizza, check basketball with free pizza, check arts and crafts, check no other invitees, apparently also a check That doesn't strike me as a good plan to close the gap. Maybe you might get a kid to like school more, maybe that's where they were going with this. Tantamount to what the white missionaries often did oversees, they would refer to "converts" as rice christians. You know, if you fed people they would come back for more. Maybe it works. To the district,I say prove it. Just because Madison can't figure on his own to not run a segregated group,and seems clueless as to why that's a problem, go past that, and show the data on why doing things like this work... How that plan improves MEAP seems pretty ephemeral...where's the data? The plan to close the gap has been exposed, and that's the big deal, because it's not a good, effective plan. In fact, it's kind of lame.

Danah Greer

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

This was an unintended error on the part of Madison. If the AA school district had always been as "all inclusive" as it is claiming it now wants to be; there would never have been a need for a seperate Lunch Bunch Group. Let's all try to move beyond this, as a lesson in race Relations for our kids, before America's history of Racism reveals how ugly this practice really is.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

@magnumpi. Just to be clear, please, privilege doesn't necessarily refer to "having things" or even "better accessibility". Rather, it can often refer to the perception of two individuals of, say, different color, as being different from one another because of race. Two students, for example, who are both failing in their classes: for the AA student -- "well, he's just a another African-American student who isn't reaching the mark - like so many others, I've tried all I can do to help him" versus the white student -- "Wow, I wonder why he/she is not doing well? Must really be something that's competing for his/her attention that's keeping him/her from succeeding...'why aren't you doing better'??" Just one example - another being when a white person enters an establishment (business, school, etc.), often fewer eyes are turned in suspicion as opposed to a black person entering. That's "white privilege" and I don't often think about it....but it's there. There are others based on all facets of our identity.

Mo the Educator

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

@elcak I taught for 12 years. I treated all of my students as if they each not only thought differently, but learned differently as well. In addition, there are some very recognizable patterns in how children learn and approach learning that fall along racial lines. The danger is not in acknowledging these differences, but in ignoring them and/or ranking them in a racial hierarchy. To apply your nature vs. nurture argument to academic success, you can either conclude that a) Asian people are naturally the smartest, followed by White people, with Blacks and Latinos being the dumbest, or b) our educational system rewards the way that Asian students learn the best, followed by White students, with Blacks and Latinos being the most neglected. I choose the latter. And I dont subscribe to notions of cultural inferiority either. Ray Charles mother told him, Scratch a lie, find a thief. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was told that the Whites and Negroes in Alabama didnt have any problems until he came around stirring things up. When we scratch and acknowledge cultural differences in each other, we often do expose the prejudices and bigotry in people. The homophobe isnt created by simply being told that someone is gay. Theyve had those feelings all along, and being told that someone is gay simply lead them to express them. Im not a believer in the American Dream as youve stated it. While I do understand the value of hard work and have done so in my life, Ive also watched the slovenly and the lazy enjoy enormous success. Who works harder? The person who cleans toilets? Or the CEO of the company owning the building in which she cleans them? If they both work hard, who is more successful? If success within the American Dream is not measured monetarily, then how is it measured? Finally, I know a lot of people who believe that the key to success in the educational system is what occurs in a childs home. I have a lot of teaching colleagues who believe it, as a matter of fact. The problem is, when a grandmother drops off her nine year-old at the school, and that nine year-old hasnt had breakfast, heat in the home, a decent nights sleep, or help with her homework for nine years of her life, we as educators cannot tell that woman to go home and get a different nine year-old. It is our legal and moral duty to ensure that child receives the best education that we can provide, and that we do everything possible to help her succeed. As Dr. Stephen Perry from Capital Prep stated when addressing lamentations about our inability to educate certain kids, All of these kids can be taught. YOU just cant teach em!


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

@Mo Educational debt? Just who exactly is indebted to who? This is a direct example of the culture of victimization and educational debt is an incorrect term just as achievement gap is. Lets be clear we are talking about a disparity in performance that is currently identified on a racial basis. The way to fix it is to identify the root problem rather than provide band-aids after the fact. The root problem isnt teachers or teaching methods it is cultural. That culture may be represented by race, socio-economic status or any other number of factors. Everyone talks about race but Id bet this problem is better identified with socio-economic class than anything else. As an aside, the overall culture of the early 80s was far different than the culture of today and I wouldnt place too much faith in the current relevance of those findings.

Carol Bardenstein

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:15 a.m.

Some basic facts would be very helpful, instead of inflamed and overblown accusations. A club is formed of kids who have struggled academically on MEAP or in other ways, to support them as human beings, people, and as students, in a small supportive casual forum. Sounds great to me. I assume that nowhere was it indicated that this was for "African American students only." If it was comprised of many or mostly or all African American students, that was not something the school or principal in any way dictated or specified. (If that did happen, it hasn't been reported in anything I've read). If then, a field trip for a school club, including this club, is organized, in the most basic of ways, I do not see what is wrong with the trip or the club. If, e.g., a Muslim students club or organization, or a Native American club is formed (and something like these exist at some Ann Arbor schools), as long as no one is barred or excluded from attending the club (which they are not), it is not a 'crime' or discriminatory if mostly or even all students who voluntarily attend do belong to a particular ethnic or other affiliated group. If a Dicken student who wanted to attend the lunch bunch, who had performed poorly on the MEAP, and who was white, wanted to join the lunch bunch, and/or field trip, and was told he or she could not on the basis of being white, then I would say there was a problem needing to discussed, clarified, corrected (not just calls for firing people). But nothing even approaching this seems to have been the case, at least not from anything I read reported about it in (the comments don't contribute any data or information, just... either wanting more clear information, as I do, or inflaming things in a way that is completely out of proportion with what has actually happened). I also wonder: are there any all-girls clubs at Dicken or elsewhere in the Ann Arbor public school system? Are male students barred from these? If they organize a field trip and only female students are allowed to attend the field trip, and male students are not... would this bother those of you who have been so extremely incensed about this supposed discrimination? Would you be calling for the principal's resignation if such a thing took place (e.g., the girls glee club takes a trip to a lecture by a female choir male or non-singer students are on the field trip...). Is this a bad or discriminatory thing? Maybe I'm missing something very obvious, (or some basic information about what happened in this case) but I don't see a big difference here. My son is long gone from Dicken, and I do not know Mr. Madison as a principal or otherwise. From the outside, it looks to me like someone trying to be involved and responsive to students in his school, to some struggling students in his school, and I think he should be lauded for this. If there was something problematic about what he did or how he did it, (I still don't see it from any news/information on it), let's clear it up, not inflame, shout or call for firings.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

@przHim In my humble opinion, changing teaching techniques to focus on culture as the specific focus would be a grave mistake. Because culture and race often comingle this will reinforce the tendency to divide ourselves by color and strengthen racial divides when the goal is equality without consideration of race. Why not focus on each students strengths? Easier said than done though because such a task is impossible to perform without a one-on-one teacher to student ratio.... which is impractical. The reality is that teachers can only due do so much and as I stated before, the onus truly falls upon the family and the culture immediately surrounding the student (i.e. the community in which they reside). If a culture chooses to dwell upon negatives rather than reinforce positives than the outcome is inevitable. The culture must be changed from one of victimization to empowerment and that is not done through affirmative action or other such programs that by their nature continue to divide.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 9 a.m.

i have a newsflash. not every white person is privileged. there are actually poor white people, it is not an urban legend. also, domestic violence, alcoholism, fatal illnesses, etc...are colorblind.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

Non-Discrimination Policy of the Ann Arbor Public Schools (Board Policy 2050) No person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any educational program or activity available in any school on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, creed, political belief, age, national origin, linguistic and language differences, sexual orientation, gender expression, socioeconomic status, height, weight, marital or familial status, or disability. Do you think there is any doubt that disciplinary action is warranted?

Mo the Educator

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:49 a.m.

I have spent the past two years studying multicultural education. For my research, I have chosen to study in particular how Black children are taught effectively, and the teachers that attempt to educate them. From Reschly's work and Gay's work in the early 80's concerning the overdiagnosis of learning disabilities and special ed recommendations for Black children, to more recent work like Bakari's on the attitudes towards Black children of teachers beginning to enter the field, we've learned a few important facts: 1) teachers disproportionately assume that Black children will be less successful academically; 2) they also disproportionately consider Black children to be "behavioral problems" and send them for referrals; 3) Successful teachers of Black children do so in a way that is culturally responsive to their unique needs. (They also tend to do the same for all of the children in their classroom, and are successful regardless of whether they themselves are Black as well. Ladson-Billings article "But that's just good teaching!..." details this as well). In order to repay this educational debt (incorrectly termed an "achievement gap", many talented educators and academics have done excellent research and action research (there is a difference) to discern the cultural differences that cause Black children to tend to learn differently than their peers of other races. They've also worked to uncover the misconceptions that educators have about Black children, how most schools have failed to educate them properly, and how to (re)train teachers to be successful in teaching Black children. For example, at Urban Prep in Chicago (, and Capital Prep in Connecticut ( every student goes to college. I'm not a big fan of charter schools, but I am a bigger fan of successful educational institutions. These schools do for Black students what other schools can, but refuse to do so. So for those who are questioning whether there is a difference in the ways that students learn, that's a difficult discussion for me to have. It's as if you're asking someone who is studying to help build nuclear reactors to prove the existence of atoms. We have gone so far beyond that question in providing real world, practical solutions, that it's not really worth addressing.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:47 a.m.

Mo the Educator, I have (to some extent) and will continue to read the literature you mentioned in your first comment. I appreciate your comments and I understand and recognize that I have 4 distinct "privileges" (white, male, married, Christian) that afford me greater societal mobility and about which I don't often think. As a public high school teacher for 2 decades in schools with 70% or more African-American students, I want so desperately for my African-American students to recognize, nurture and stretch the gifts they've been given. Our system of measuring academic "success" (MME) is by no means perfect, but in an effort to quantify achievement it's the tool we've been given. My biggest question right now is this: with conscious (e.g. Mr. Madison's choice) and invariably sub-conscious attention (at this juncture of history at least) given to race, how can I - in a diverse classroom - ever hope to fully integrate teaching techniques which recognize the idea that culture is central to student learning (a notion of "culturally responsive teaching", which you mentioned)? Is this classroom one which is not color-blind? Or is the idea of "color-blindness" an incorrect view of where we want to go? Does changing teaching techniques so that a culture is specifically the focus lead to more polarity (I understand the idea of differentiated instruction but I'm speaking more radically here)? Are schools with populations which are completely African-American, fully resourced and rooted in the pride of African ancestry the way to go? As a person with a worldview unavoidably shaped by my maleness, whiteness, married status and Christianity, can I teach at this school? I just don't know what the perfect balance is. I guess that's one of the reasons I'm in education: no one has figured out how to do it (teaching) perfectly. It's a craft that must be rooted in continual reflection. I'd appreciate your thoughts and those of others and I apologize to others for taking up space with this tangent though I think it's germane to this most necessary dialogue on race.

mike from saline

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:40 a.m.

Note to Anne Jackson; Since lot's of folk's are weighing in with book's, studies, and opinion pieces they'd like you all to read, ALLOW ME. The End of Racism, By Dinesh D'souza 700 page's of fact's, figure's, studies, and statistic's that will make you squirm.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

Since the ACLU most certainly will not advocate on behalf of the students that were discriminated against - will someone who was affected by this PLEASE contact the Thomas More Law Center?


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:08 a.m.

Now that this has gained national media attention, where are the great "civil rights leaders?" Shouldn't Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton be picketing the school by now? Where is the President on this one? Seems like another great opportunity for him to claim that someone "acted stupidly," a la the arrest of the Black Harvard professor by the White police officer. Apparently discrimination against non-Blacks is acceptable. The silence from these supposed-leaders is deafening.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

Why is it necessary to close gaps? What's wrong with raising the test scores of everyone? The only real way to close the gap is to raise the scores of the underachievers and lower the scores of the overachievers. Is that really what we want? I see no problem with gaps between test scores. Let's do a better job of teaching everyone and raise everyone's scores.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

mike from saline "I would suggest that the culprit, [race gap] is neither racial, or socio-ecconomic, but cultural. All you have to do is connect the dots" You are so close! The three main income groups, poverty, middle class and wealthy, also have different cultures. It's by understanding these cultures that we can start to make a difference. Please (everyone) read Ruby Payne's "A Framework for Understanding Povery". Teachers and administrators work much better with all children when they understand these principles. I was a teacher at West Middle School in Ypsi when our pricipal "strongly suggested" we all read Ruby's book (and bought us each a copy). We then discussed it at several staff meetings. We all were better teachers for it.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

There have been and continue to be book groups and lunch groups at many schools that are for specific groups of students, based on race and gender, with the intention of providing a cohort for support as the students continue in school and society as a whole. On a separate issue, how can certain charter schools receive public funding when the majority of the students served are of a specific ethnicity and/or religion? For example, look into the Central Academy in Ann Arbor and the GGE Schools that operate in Michigan and Ohio. I know that the school enrollment is 'open to any student', but as the Supreme Court provided the requirement for school integration in 1954, how do these schools continue to exist under the radar of public awareness and discussion?


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

uawisok: "...Mr Madison...lives and sees the discrimination every waking moment." So do the students at Dicken school apparently. Must be a real downer to see people being rewarded for having low test scores. But just if they're black. The white students with low test scores...well they obviously don't matter to the board of Dicken school. I agree with the suggestion on here that the Lunch Bunch meetings should be open to all students with low scores - and be a study group. If students want to have pizza at it, they can pay for it themselves, not with taxpayer money. Or have a fundraiser - I am sure there are peole who would be glad to donate money for a group focused on low test long as it was everyone's low scores not just the privileged few.

mike from saline

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

I would suggest that the culprit, [race gap] is neither racial, or socio-ecconomic, but cultural. All you have to do is connect the dots


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:40 a.m.

"the students were not ready for a conversation about race How is this any kind of apology? Children are berated by an authority figure for pointing out that a special field trip for one race of people is wrong? SEGREGATION IS WRONG no matter what the circumstance, maybe it's the administrators who aren't ready for a conversation about race. Why even bother issuing an apology if you're going to make a statement like that. Just say you aren't sorry and blame the children.

ron t

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

From Kent2525 I just heard the podcast - PEG will be Ann Arbors downfall "I have been reading the blogs on this issue, nobody has even hit on the main actor in this story. has charged AAPS almost $200,000 in the last 2 years for their consulting in awareness of institutional racism. Dicken Principal Mike Madison is following PEG or Pacific education groups plan to help black children by using $200,000 in tax payer money to stop institutional racism. All Ann Arbor needs to check out what PEG is up to. From website (PEG) "Systemic Racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all children, especially African American (Black) and Latino (brown) children to achieve at the highest levels, and leads to the fracturing of the communities that nurture and support them." Go here to listen to Frand Beckman talk about PEG Pacific Education Group Its a need to hear...."


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

The people most angry at Madison who are calling for his ouster seem to be people who have never met the man personally. Those of us who know him know his heart was in the right place. Everyone makes mistakes.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:20 a.m.

Julie: You wrote:"Huh? the demographics of the groups showing poorer achievement demonstrate racial inequality. That's exactly the point. Barefootdave's suggestion that somehow we ignore the fact that race IS a factor does not face the reality that IT IS! whether we like it or not." Statistics can prove almost anything. Please check out the writings of Ruby Payne, among many, who makes an excellent cast for poverty being the real cause of the achiievement gap. When you first sort the students by income, race becomes negligible. Race will continue to be "a factor" as long as we continue to treat the races differently. It's time AA Schools starts to look at the real causes.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

I, too, am really offended by the AA.Com statement, "In the week since the trip, national attention has been focused on the issue with sharp criticism of Madisons decision, especially from those on the political right.". I am far from the political right, but, more importantly, I don't see this as a political issue. This is a human issue and it's all about how we treat each other and what the achievement gap really is (poverty/middle class/wealthy cultures) and how we deal with it. As long as Ann Arbor thinks race is the most important factor, and as long as they keep treating races differently, this will not go away.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

@Mo: First, I am highly skeptical of the research suggesting that Black children require a different way of teaching. It is offensive in that it propagates racial divide by suggesting that the way different races think are inherently different. If this research is accepted as valid then it suggests that specific races/ethnic backgrounds learn in different ways. This calls for a nature/nurture examination. No one will suggest that certain races are better suited for learning (i.e. inherently more intelligent than others). Therefore, the focus turns to the nurture aspect. Second, the points you present paint the portrait of a person who believes they must always fight against racial stereotyping. This belief structure is precisely what makes the struggle all the harder and it correlates with the nurture aspect mentioned above. The fact is, when a black student walks into a graduate classroom virtually no one else in that class gives any greater thought concerning that black individuals competence than they do to any other person in the class. Perhaps feelings of being underprivileged or looked upon in a negative light are strengthened by both affirmative action and the black community. Focusing on how groups are different further enhances those perceived differences and increases both stereotypes and racial tensions. It is absurd to suggest that methods of teaching must be altered to conform to each racial group/background/socio-economic status. As you aptly noted, many factors play into whether an individual succeeds but in the end it is truly a matter of personal drive. The definition of the American Dream is essentially if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. It is simply an issue of motivation and it requires some soul searching questions. Are Black children less motivated? If so, why? I think pointing the finger at schools is an easy scapegoat and the issue must be addressed as a community and at the homefront.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 5:16 a.m.

Mo, I see your point and do understand it being I am a Black male. Since i lived in Ann Arbor with my two daughters i have come across this issue before and probably will continue to be an ongoing issue. There is a divide of not culture but of economics.

Ray D. Aider

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 2:46 a.m.

Like the TV ads where the guy treats the kids with blatent unfairness. Even kids know when something isn't right.

Anne Jackson

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 12:41 a.m.

I am a 52 year old white "townie" from Ann Arbor. I attended post-civil rights era Slauson during tumultous racial tensions in the late 60s. I attended Pioneer High School where there were school shut downs because of racial tensions and violence. I celebrated our valdictorian of the class of 75 who was a beautiful and brilliant black woman. I have seen more of the fallout of Ann Arbor race issues than most people on this blog. So shut your mouth..I'm heading south. Read what I have to say--the admonishments as well as the educational opportunities. The posts on this blog are...simply outrageous. Interesting in these times, people's true colors come shining through. Oh, speaking of colors. So, here are some brilliant rainbows to educate all of us on what is actually happening in our district/country/world: 1) On -- A letter to the editor listing FACTUAL information about the achievement gap and how it has not been addressed adequately in our district. No wonder a positive black role model wanted to take a group of kids to see a scientist that shared their skin color. 2) White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. It provided me with new awareness many years ago. I am so thankful for reading it then. I wish I had read it sooner. 3) Have your high school children attend the Neutral Zone's SEED Interview session coming up on May 12. SEED has done amazing work with providing a safe atmosphere *and the tools* to discuss race issues. Text rom the website: SEED (Students Educating Each other about Discrimination), Wednesdays 7-9pm; interview and application required. Supported by the Ann Arbor Public Schools and Comcast: "We build a close knit community to explore our experiences and expand our understanding of diversity. Then we create workshops to teach the value of diversity to middle school students through engaging, hands on activities." OK. Now. Can we hear *solutions* from those who repeatedly jump right to the ugliness: filing a lawsuit, firing a dedicated educator who knows from experience that it has been futile to "close the achievement gap" in today's financially stressed school district. So, he goes out on a not so thought out limb. Yes, he could have looked at the precariousness of that feeble branch in our relatively intolerant population, and made another decision. OK. So? It's done. Let's move on. I'm sick of the lynching attitude here. Yes, I said lynching. I don't think it's too far from the truth. Parents: Consider some education for yourself on race relations and the achievement gap here in our district. Thank you to those who followed this rather intense post to the end.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:59 p.m.

well I read the headline and said, "well dah" nothing like sticking a bunch of black kids in the underachievers club and then giving it a title the "lunch bunch"


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:43 p.m.

(at) whatever! "Black families were better off in the 50s than today" OMG I can see THAT poast is going to get deleted.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:28 p.m.

(at) uawisok If you understand his behaviour, does that make it all okay? For example, I understand why Timothy McVeigh bombed that building in Oklahoma City.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:22 p.m.

(at) skyward: "Can we please check our information before stating it here as fact?" Do you want to spoil all the fun? I can see you are never going to become chairman of the RNC.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:20 p.m.

I agree, Stinky. I think is written by George and Laura Bush. Laura corrects the spelling. I think she used to be a librarian. In my opinion, the school board didn't go far enough. They should have imposed a sentence of like 500 hours of community service.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:15 p.m.

I beg to disagree, leaguebus. The majority IS always right. After all, a majority voted for Al Gore in 2000. I rest my case.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:03 p.m.

End the program, lay low, change the name, business as usual, acorn tactics. Just wait and see. What else is new. It's sickening that they have all the excuses to reason that they were just trying to elevate the black children to an equal level. Well, let's do the same for the other children. We will start with sports, equal time for whites, Asian and Hispanics on the basketball court, no exceptions. We don't care if they cant make a basket, we just want them to feeeeel like they can. You know, equalize the playing field. We don't want the Hispanics dominating the soccer field so we'll throw some white and black boys out there, just run around and look like you know what your doing. Im talking about the kids that drop a football when you hand it to them. We want them out there so they dont feel left out. We want them to think they can play equally to others. No, it won't get you on a college or pro team, but, neither will "equalizing the playing field" in education get you a good paying job when your "pushed" through school thinking you learned something when the school just duped you. It makes me want to puke that my money is paying for principals and teachers with this mind set.

Charley Sullivan

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 10:43 p.m.

@ Mo: Actually I'd love to hear more from you about those works and others. I have noticed (including in some work I did at Dicken) that some of the Black students I worked with were much easier to have "shut down" at times, clear that they weren't heard, or clear that they weren't feeling respected. So, in an American context, I have seen some of what you're talking about. But I do think that many folks won't "see" the culturally specific relevant nature of what can and should be done differently, and I'd love the insights you might share.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:57 p.m.

everyone is over reacting. people make mistakes. lets leave this to be resolved between the principle and the parents/students directly involved.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:51 p.m.

I've spent the last 50 years in education, from the time I began kindergarten in 1960 at Wines school and going on through Forsythe, Pioneer, college, and so on. As a former elementary school principal what disturbs me most is the behavior (apparent--I know I wasn't there) of Mr. Madison in the classroom with the children upon returning from the field trip. That is where the attention needs to be, in my opinion.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:46 p.m.

Mr. Madison was able to cause a group of 10 and 11 year olds to resent affirmative action, when they understandably felt left out. However, his real gift is shown by how he was able to alienate so many children at once at once, ie Hispanic, Muslim, Caucasian, and whomever else was in the classroom when he gave the standard diatribe about why they were not fortunate or unfortunate enough to eat pizza, play basketball or go on special field trips like the black children.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:38 p.m.

In terms of having to prove yourself in the classroom Mo, there was a good article this week that shows that females,and young teachers have to prove themselves the most to students. I will look for the link, but it is an issue that many teachers have to deal with.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

Question for staff and Dicken parents. Was this issue about the club discussed at school, as part of the PTO or possibly a school committee? I'm going back over the coverage and I have not read anything about parents describing previous attempts to address their unhappiness with this club. It feels like this only "came to light" after the field trip and Madison's handling of the booing. If some parents were so upset about this, why does it take a story on to get folks beyond fired up? Was anything done at the school level to discuss this? Anybody? David Jesse, any background/info on that?


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:28 p.m.

Without having read a lot of the commentary, I would like to say that I worked with Mike Madison for many years. He is passionate about education and providing all students with the type of differentiated experiences that will motivate them. Ask Forsythe parents from five or six years ago whether Mr. Madison worked in their students' best interests. Yes, he may have stepped over the line in terms of the laws passed in this state in 2006. But I believe those laws were only designed to perpetuate white privilege. I can't comment on Mike's "abusive" language, I wasn't there. I've heard him be passionate with students and staff to the point that I thought it might be overdone, but I've certainly never heard him be abusive. To the students who "booed" because they weren't included, I applaud you. That is what democracy is about.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:24 p.m.

Mo, so do tell "educator", exactly in what way should black kids be taught in a different manner than white kids? Is their a neurological difference? I find your argument to be specious. Tell me, why am I "entitled"? The school system I attended was in an industrial town with nowhere near the resources and rich experiences afforded you by growing up in the shadow of a major university and attending the AAPS. But still, I was "entitled."


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

Was there any oversight by anyone? A program which separates students by race should have raised some concern by somebody. It would have been so simple to fix this at the beginning - make a program to help all kids who are not performing well - encourage good study habits, get their parents involved, get their parents to support the notion that an education has meaning and value. Racism does exist. It was once codified into law. It still exists in other forms - but if we are ever to get ahead of it, principals and teachers, school board members and the superintendent cannot support any policy which promotes segregation of students by race.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 8:12 p.m.

@ Mo Apathy is not what I see in AAPS, although you could make that argument is true in DPS. Frustation and hitting a wall for tools that will work, and grasping at evanescent theories yes. AAPS is a big bureaucracy, and there's many an administrator that doesn't like new things, much less the staff. I never like separating kids out, I believe in the universality of the human condition. That may not have been your experience, but everyone has to deal with being on the ins and outs of crowds throughout their lives. Do you have to prove yourself more as a young black male? Okay, so you do. Seems like you did. And that's the point. You showed up and you delivered. And it worked. Parental involvement is important, but maybe better said is parental expectation and support. If a parent is haranguing, and always saying the kid could do better and in general is a pill, no I would think that a kid would shut down and quit trying. Some kids discover on their own, the fun of learning, and enjoy the process. Maybe the parents don't lean hard into them, but they in some way must allow that process to happen, and not tear it or the child down. That parent allows the freedom to enjoy being good at school.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

it's probably even more hard walking into a class with a chip on one's shoulder. i think one could say women also don't always have the aforementioned presumed priviledges and it is also determined by genetics. do we need to have a specific way to teach females also?


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 8 p.m.

Hey, all I know is that it's spelled 'principal' when used in this context. Just sticking to my principles... Homonymns are fun, aren't they?

Mo the Educator

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 7:43 p.m.

@Charley Sullivan There is an entire field of education dedicated to "culturally relevant pedagogy". I hate to give it short shrift, but it is ultimately an ideological series of "best educational practices" that have been researched and shown to be effective in educating Black children. It is not only a curricular approach, but includes the ways in which teachers communicate to and receive communication from Black children in particular. Gloria Ladson-Billings "The Dreamkeepers" and Geneva Gay's "Culturally Responsive Teaching" texts that give details. I'll only tell more if you're interested (I know I can be long-winded!). @ stunhsif Because this is not the best forum for communicating back and forth anyway, I won't try to tread lightly here: White people are privileged. Two personal examples: when I walk into my graduate school classroom, I don't have the privilege of assumed competence. Being young and Black and male, I have to fight against racial stereotypes of inferiority. I don't have the privilege of being able to assume that if I am treated unfairly, it has nothing to do with my race. These are two of numerous examples of things that you may describe as "regular treatment" that are actually privileges of being White. In my examples, it has absolutely nothing to do with someone's merits. Being White isn't something anyone has "earned", it's a simple case of genetics. It also doesn't mean that simply because someone has a privilege that they are oppressing the deprived. It does, however, often mean that they struggle to understand those who do not share that privilege or the consequences that follow. Your other premise implies that students do better because their parents push them. This is only one in an enormous number of factors that determine success. In 12 years of education, I've taught children, rich to poor, whose parents did absolutely nothing to push them and they still thrived. I've also taught children who had parents pushing them constantly that were spectacular academic failures. By basing your argument primarily on parental guidance, you've made the fatal mistake of largely discounting factors like familial wealth and school quality, which are much more important determinants in a students success. Finally, simply describing the failure to properly educate Black children and the apathy towards it as "hogwash" doesn't change the fact that Black children are still largely being mis-educated, and it has continued unabated for decades.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 7:38 p.m.

My life experiences: I have lived in Ann Arbor for about 20 years. I attended a private grade school in Detroit. I graduated from a Detroit Public High School. When we are able to get together, my high school friends still talk about the time Walter Cronkite led off his broadcast with: "Today, students at Detroit Cody High School rioted..." My general recollection of school in Detroit in the 70's is that it's pretty hard to have a race riot when everyone is the same race. About 10 years ago while working in England I bumped into a guy in the U.S. Air Force who was actually in my graduating class. After we realized we graduated together he laughed and asked, "Hey, you remember the race riots?". We laughed and reminisced about those days. Believe it or not, during the riots he was on the other side. I do not want the public school system to babysit my child nor do I want the educators to teach her a value system. I take my child to school for three simple reasons. Those would be the three Rs. My daughter does not attend AAPS, nor, as long as I can afford it, will she. I am simply not going to waste my parenting energy dealing with the Ann Arbor school system. Mike Madison is simply a caricature of the AA school board and I have met many people like him in my world travels. He is easy to see through and like I said, I am not going to waste my parenting energy on him.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 7:22 p.m.

@Macabre Sunset - All school districts are required by Federal law to break down standardized test scores for students in Grades 3 through 8 by race, socio-economic status, gender and special education status. These results are published by district, school, and grade level unless there are too few students in a sub-group per the rules in their state. There is a statistically significant difference among each of the test score averages of groups of Asian, White, and African American / Hispanic students. This difference in average scores has been labeled an "Achievement Gap" and AAPS and many other school districts have been making efforts to reduce it. Of course, some students in each racial category score high and some students in each racial category score low, even if the group averages are identical. However wide or narrow the gap (there has been a little progress on narrowing it the past few years), you can't say for sure by the color of skin or other appearance-related racial indicators how any given student has performed unless you know his or her actual scores. So addressing the achievement gap by addressing groups segregated by race is both illegal and not the most direct route to the desired outcome of higher academic achievement for the individuals who are not currently "proficient" on the MEAP / MME exams.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:38 p.m.

What about the donor who funded this trip? Does anyone know who that was? Bottom line, Madison should be fired. It's amazing he's lasted this long since the incident. Had this been a white principal planning a whites-only trip, he'd have been run out of town the day it happened.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:33 p.m.

sthsif, and Mo- I agree that it is entitlement. No, not all white kids are privileged, but I bet that the white parents that went to the media with this, are privileged. Let me share an incident that happened a few months ago, at this very school. There was an after school group that was funded by title I money, meaning that only kids who qualify for title I services (mostly AA), were invited to participate. The white parents marched into Mr. Madison's office demanding that their children be allowed to participate (entitlement). Once they realized that their children didn't qualify for this group, based on where the funds came from, they were willing to pay for the same group to come for their children. There are many similar incidents to this, that the media is not reporting.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:27 p.m.

There's an argument afoot of well, the principal cares, and no one else really does, and all those rich white kids always have things and it's only one trip. What's the big deal? It's a big deal. The principal's behavior is one distinct problem. He hurt the kids on the trip when he put, in writing, (and so ingrained is his thoughts on this), while he writes his own defense no less,he belittles the children he wants to help...even them...I cringe every time I think about it and I think about it alot. When another child expresses her feelings, he, in almost as breathtaking a manner, belittles her in front of everyone. He has issues. The second problem is that this program is supposed to help kids, not hurt kids. And it certainly wasn't designed to break federal law, or to bring the national spotlight due to the backwardness of it's design. If you are going to implement a program, you want some guarantee of success, you want it to work. I mean,most people would. It's very important to close the gap. The achievement gap plays out in real life with important consequence. The district also has a terrible problem with expulsions and suspensions especially with minority children. It some ways I view that as a bigger problem then the MEAP discrepancy But let's not forget that even with racism, many blacks have succeeded and continue to succeed. Kudos for perservering in the face of adversity. But there are people not succeeding as well as they should, and it's not just black children and it's the adults that need to help the kids. I never buy that because of a child's race, or shoe size, that's the reason a child has difficulties. When a child walks in that door, it is the school's job to own the task of educating every child that comes, of making them, each and every one, feel welcomed and safe and valued. Schools need to own that mission. And I'm not seeing that with the advice from these PEG people. Superintendent Roberts, find another way.

Charley Sullivan

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:26 p.m.

Hi Mo, the Educator. Thanks for your thoughts. I have a question though, as an educator. What teaching that is specific do you think that Black children need that is not being provided them? I understand and agree about many privileged white folks not seeing their own privilege, but I'm still trying to figure out how pizza and basketball increases the performance of young black fifth grade boys. Racially and culturally sensitive teaching? You bet, all students need that. But is there a different teaching that Black students need?


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:24 p.m.

I think giving All students some time with an African American Rocket Scientist is a better idea. Rather than excluding some to make others feel better about themselves, why not use this as an exciting learning opportunity for all? As for the "Achievement Gap" (or whatever it is being called now), could that not be better addressed with more tutoring/practice during the "Lunch Bunch" meetings rather than what was taking place? I feel as though this conversation has come full circle for me because this is where I came in. I have read the last few comments as of now, and although they are thoughtful, intelligent, and fun to read, I have to disagree. I believe exclusion based on race in the classroom (and in the world but especially the classroom) is wrong. No amount of thoughtful explanation from the other side will change that. Thanks for the debate everyone! Hope this is worked out peacefully.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:19 p.m.

Mo, Your statement was well written and enlightening. I personally have no problem with the types of programs you describe. I do however, have a problem with exclusionary programs like the one in question. I believe the principal was not well intentioned and formed this group to spite critics of programs like it. In what way is eating pizza and playing basketball going to help? Why not have them play educational games, problem solve, team build, solve puzzles, or have a book club. Funding or manpower is not an excuse, I am positive that there would be many willing volunteers for a program like this. Furthermore, I think using race as a descriptor for the achievement gap is counter productive. Why not identify social/economic/academic descriptors? Or for that matter, actually put children in need of this extra attention (regardless of race) in this type of group. I believe you are correct at where some of the outrage is coming from, but I think you miss some major points. Many parents feel blindsided by a rogue principal. Perhaps if they were more well informed, not only would there be less outrage, ideas to improve said "lunch bunch" could have come forward from its critics. Also, if the information from many of these comments is correct, the berating of 10/11 yr old children is more than unacceptable. The man is a professional and should act like it.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:18 p.m.

This notion of an achievement gap bothers me. It marginalizes African-American students who do succeed. It assumes this concept of "institutional racism" exists and affects all African Americans. Tracking test scores by color seems discriminatory. I believe it hurts the very students proponents want to help. If you tell a child he cannot succeed without extra help, he will think less of himself. If there is institutional racism here, it's coming from people like Madison. I don't see how, if all the allegations are true here, that he can keep his job. Not in a just world that believes in equality.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:14 p.m.

@Mo, You make a lot of wrong assumptions the biggest of which is that of lumping all white kids into being " entitled and privileged". The bottom line is it all starts at home, the teachers/educators can only do so much. To say teachers don't know how to teach black kids is hogwash and to say that no one cares enough to change things is also hogwash. Asian children do far better in testing and GPA than caucasian children across the USA in grade school and in college not because they are smarter. They do better because their parents demand and expect more from them. Perhaps we should have a "white kids pizza club" so they can discuss their feelings of inferiority towards asian kids? Or better yet, lets have a club that includes hispanics/whites/blacks/native american indians that can beat up on the smart asian kids? Of course this is nonsense.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:12 p.m.

I am having trouble finding where it says Title 1 is only for the use of African American children: Types of students that might be served by Title 1 funds include migrant students, students with limited English proficiency, homeless students, students with disabilities, neglected students, delinquent students, at-risk students or any student in need. Students can be classified as at-risk for numerous reasons. A few reasons they might be classified as at-risk students include: high number of absences, single-parent home, low academic performance or low-income family. Read more:


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:07 p.m.

Honestly, I don't think this is such a bad idea. There have been a number of studies showing that women do better at all-women colleges and classes by asking questions otherwise not being asked in gender-mixed classes. The following article Nature 442, 133-136 (13 July 2006) does a good job of explaining how much of what we achieve is a result of our conditioning as children/young adults. Dr. Ben Barres addresses gender, but the truth of it is, that children get subtle messages of what you can and cannot achieve based on the color of their skin (as well as gender). I think giving African American students some time alone with an African American rocket scientist is a great idea. Perhaps how the principal executed the plan was not ideal. It seems to me that a lot of the criticism is being propagated by people who aren't taking into account socioeconomic barriers in education. But the bottom line, is that exclusion upon any group of students is going to make people angry. Ask yourself this, however, what if the African American students could tally up the amount of times they've felt discriminated against in school by teachers and students, couldn't it potentially out balance this one incident?


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:04 p.m.

Mo, well said. I think some of the vitriol and anger within the parent community is less about what this group of kids was provided and more about "what my kid didn't get to do." I remember having a discussion about Title I funding and its use to provide support within a school. The line I will always tell someone is that "You don't want to be a child that needs Title I funding in order to get support." Title I funding too often means children have difficult situations at home and don't necessarily have the support system of other children. Parents who are somehow offended/infuriated at Title I funding have completely lost site of the reasons for the program existing (and the limitations placed on how those funds can be spent). People need to step back and remember public education is about educating children - not just the one that leaves your house each day.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:56 p.m.

"That's my point exactly we hold school officials to higher standards than we can acheive at home when we are in direct contact with our children. Because we pay taxes and we view school officials as our 'servants" who are in a public realm. We place them in a no win situation so they are always playing it safe, except Mr. Madison...he took a risk and see his reward??" @uawisok - I included your quote for reference. Never once did I express the opinion that our school officials are likened to servitude or held to a higher standard because their salaries are paid by taxpayer funds. Nor did I ever compare the success rate of parental vs. public education. I wholeheartedly disagree with your entire assessment. :) Truthfully, I feel they (school officials) are held to the highest standards because they are dealing with a large number of impressionable vulnerable children. It is one of the most important jobs and unfortunately cannot allow for large margins of error. Mr. Madison "took a risk" at the academic expense of other children under his administration. As the principal in charge of the education of so many, he should have exercised his passion/ingenuity to all of his students. He had a great idea, I just wish he had applied it to all students. As for what his "reward" will be, that remains to be seen. It depends on whether or not 'The Powers That Be' determine if his actions were in violation of the school code. In full disclosure, I am not familiar with the specific law. However, if he is found in violation, then the disciplinary protocol (whatever they are for situations such as this) should be followed. If he is found to be innocent of violation, then this should be looked upon as a "lesson learned", and future decisions that exclude students based solely on race should be avoided. Personally, I believe the only "no win situations" are those where mistakes are ignored and repeated. *It is difficult to convey attitude through the screen. I hope you do not take my comments personally.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:55 p.m.

White flight. Then there will be no achievement gap.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:52 p.m.

snookejewski- I wouldn't be surprised. He is a very intelligent man. I fully support Mr. Madison's decision!

Art Allen

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:51 p.m.

I am a Huron Alumni class of 74 has the GAP changed since then? What is the school board doing? I think it might be time to think outside the box.

mike from saline

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:48 p.m.

Quick, someone grab a broom. Someone else hold up the rug!! That's what this is all about. The liberal elite's of Ann Arbor want this to go away, as soon as possible. They're hopeing to, first avoid legal problems, from their arogant thumbing of nose's at the Michigan Civil Right's Anitiative. Second, they're trying to avoid fireing a black principle [at almost any cost]. Third, the quicker this goes away, the less chance that the politicians will have to explain their possition. Can someone explain to me why we've not gotten any statements from the Mayor, Members of the Council, the Governor, the A.G., Pam byrnes, Kathy angerer? This is a National Story now. Politicians seem to love to hear themselves talk. Here's their chance!!! Go get em,

Mo the Educator

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:46 p.m.

I graduated from Huron High school almost 20 years ago. As a Black student, I was privy to, helped by, and hindered by all different types of programs to close this so-called "achievement gap" (yes, I do mean all of those verbs). What I took from all of these meetings and trial-and-error programs were two things: 1) Our teachers, for the most part, had no idea how to teach Black children effectively and 2) no one cared enough to actually change things. Nineteen years later, it appears that nothing has changed. According to comments on this blog (for the other article as well), people are infuriated over the fact that White children, who are not hampered the same way by the deficiencies in Ann Arbor Public Schools, did not receive the benefit of one small activity to help a group of Black children who actually are. The fact that the activity was discriminatory is not in question. It is disingenuous, however, to couch any discriminatory activity in terms of injustice. Consider this: women's bathrooms do not have specialized toilets (urinals) in them like men's bathrooms do. By definition this is unequal treatment, and provides men with a facility that women don't receive. It is gender-based discrimination. But is it just? Fair? What's really at stake here - and being violated - is privilege and entitlement. The privileged, who are used to being so, are upset that they are not the recipients of a new privilege. However, just like women don't need a stand-up urinal, White students in Ann Arbor don't need educational programs to close the academic gap between their counterparts of other races. The sense of entitlement in the community of the privileged is what causes their indignation at this notion of injustice. People are ready to write letters, get the principal fired, and even sue in order to correct this horrible wrong. Their glaring omission is that same indignation and that same call-to-action for the injustices done to the Black children in this school system for well over 30 years now. Was Mr. Madison completely right in how he handled the situation? No. He could have and should have done much more to explain this club and its purpose. This would have covered his actions policy-wise (I don't know about legally), though I doubt how much they would have alleviated the concerns and the outrage of the privileged. A professor of mine in our school of education says, "Management does the things right. Leadership does the right thing." Mr. Madison is clearly a leader in this respect, though he could have managed the situation better. Situations such as this one often call into the fray this notion of "reverse" discrimination. While discrimination does have historical directionality, it doesn't need a qualifier to describe its permutations. That said, "reverse discrimination" is a red herring dragged across the path of the real discussion of how to eliminate this educational debt (it's not an "achievement gap") that is owed to our Black students. People have commented that racial affinity groups make interactions worse by these exclusionary practices. What's missing is the fact that they exist because research has been done for decades that shows that when operated properly, these groups are of great benefit their members. To personalize it, when I see people deriding this affinity group, I have a hard time discerning their anger over the violation of their sense of entitlement, from their desire to hamper the group's desired outcome. And since that desired outcome in this case is helping to improve Black students' academic success, the outcry is particularly troublesome. Some have said that if the situation were reversed, and a White principal wanted to start an all-White club at a school, there would be national outrage. When I was the Director of Diversity at an independent school, I had White students approach me about initiating this type of club. I told them that I had no problem with any positive and progressive affinity club. I also told them that if they wanted to have one simply because Black students on campus had proposed having one - because this was the exact scenario that was occurring - their reasons were wrong. Finally, I explained to them the historical discrimination Black students had faced, the very unique challenges and identifiers that Black students shared, and their desire to make Black students feel more comfortable at a school that was, statistically and culturally, overwhelmingly White. The students never pursued their proposed club any further, because they had no reason to do so. For that moment, they understood the rationale for a Black student affinity group. They also glimpsed their position of privilege and realized that they didn't need any more of them. Once we get beyond the protests of the privileged and the red herring arguments however, what they are saying is true - if the situation were reversed, there would be national outrage: If White students in Ann Arbor Public Schools had been poorly educated and had consistently performed worse than their Asian, Black, and Latin peers, there would have been statewide and even federal actions taken decades ago. People would have been fired, schools would have been overhauled and reformed, and lawsuit after lawsuit would have been filed. Instead, what we have at Dickinson elementary is a chorus of boos rained down upon a group of children from the privileged side of a stagnant educational and cultural divide.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:35 p.m.

To err is human and to forgive devine.....with that mindset, "given the ability to throw out all the "rules" and enjoy a bit of anarchy the discoveries made within that moment and within ourselves we will never be the same" MWS


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

"But yes..typically school officials are held to higher standards because they are in direct contact with our children on a daily basis. Personally, I think it's an important job. It's certainly more important than my job.;)" That's my point exactly we hold school officials to higher standards than we can acheive at home when we are in direct contact with our children. Because we pay taxes and we view school officials as our 'servants" who are in a public realm. We place them in a no win situation so they are always playing it safe, except Mr. Madison...he took a risk and see his reward??

Stephen Landes

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:09 p.m.

As long as the "Pacific Education Group" is being paid by the District you can expect this sort of thing to happen again and again. Put the money toward teacher salaries or use it to save a teacher from layoff.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 5:03 p.m.

My child attends Wines elementary, and today a letter was sent home with all the students. It informs us that our principal will not be returning next year.

Chrysta Cherrie

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

A comment containing a personal attack was removed, as was a response to said comment.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:56 p.m.

I just can't believe, after reading these comments, and going to the meeting last night, and reading a good chunk of the articles that are spread across the NATION now,....that anyone actually thinks its o.k. to keep Mike Madison as Dicken's principal. I mean, honestly......i don't care if he's the nicest best intentioned guy in the universe.....he did a crummy job/ has been for a while// has a history of problems at other places/ has been removed from past principal positions/ and --- this is the real kicker: harangued a bunch of students that it is not his right to do. He needs to be removed. He is not a good principal. On a side note: Vicki Haviland -- we are indeed parents that are 'ready' to accomodate new and inventive ways of bridging the achievement gap. We just appreciate if they are INTELLIGENT ways. And who the heck nominated you as spokesperson for our school anyway? Madison....?!


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:44 p.m.

@ uawisok Not sure how to respond to the accusation that many of the forum posters here are as "like-minded or worse" than Mr. Madison. I don't know Mr. Madison personally, or the people here. But yes..typically school officials are held to higher standards because they are in direct contact with our children on a daily basis. Personally, I think it's an important job. It's certainly more important than my job.;)


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:37 p.m.

I don't like the last dig at the student from Liz Margolis' email..."the students were not ready for a discussion on race" At this point, the adults, the principal, administration and parents have to have that conversation first. How does a principal not see the exclusion as hurtful? Someone, and I point the finger at Liz Margolis, please answer the question of how Lunch Bunch brings up Meap scores?Where's your data, that you based the decision to this on, not data you were going to collect after you ran this program? Because the district put time and money and now national derision on the line with this decision, and that decision should have been based on some cold hard numbers from somewhere, so it has an element of reproducibility. Secondly,back up a minute, don't we want better than just to bring up the MEAP scores, like decreased suspensions and expulsions, higher graduation rates, and higher paying jobs further down the line? Can we aim higher than to say to a group of young people "that even you" could do this. That statement alone wipes out any good that ever could have happened out of this.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:27 p.m.

could someone remember if this is the same school district that was sued over substitute hiring practices and lost but chose to take the advice of a lawyer and continue breaking the law. then paid up the nose for it when the judge found out! why do i not expect them to do the right thing and punish such blatent racism. maybe this time they could just get out their checkbopks and pay up. save money on the lawyers and settle asap!


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

@ StinkyMcGurk Thank you for taking the time to elaborate.

David Jesse

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

@DonBee: They only closed this one down. This is the only program exactly like this in the district, however several schools have various equity and mentoring programs.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

I stand corrected about the gender of those who went on the trip. To say that the school district's discrimination policy is too vague is laughable!! Any attorney that would try to translate the word "color" in the policy as color of sneakers would get laughed out of court and anyone with a half of a brain would agree with that! I like the idea of bringing the rocket scientist to the school but after all this and him being a innocent victim in this case do you really think he wants anything to do with that school anytime soon? I would resent having my name put in poor light for doing no wrong. Finally, if this was all funded by a "private donation" shouldn't the school used this money more practically? If the donation was on the premise that it went to the betterment of struggling African-American students shouldn't the donation been returned to the "private donor" in light of the FACT it was against the school district's policy? That should cover any gray areas!!


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

Even though they have put an end to the Lunch Bunch, this school district and school have a very long way to go to repair relationships and build trust with the students, staff, parents and community. They will have a lot of hard work ahead of them and their work is just beginning! I question whether the school can really heal with Mr. Madison as the leader, given so much distrust of him. Some references have been made to staff members feeling they cannot speak up freely, and we all have heard how the children have responded to crossing him. I wish everyone well, but would recommend oversight (other than Mr. Madison) of the healing process.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:52 p.m.

As a white male who understands that society does cut me a break in overall general attitude toward my outward apperance just because I am white. I can feel compassion for the diffuculty that Mr Madison is in, He lives and sees the discrimination every waking moment. I do not excuse his behavior but I understand it. I suggest those who are having trouble with understanding white privelage read, "For us the Living". It helped me understand what I am poorly expalaining but know what I am feeling.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

I am not trying to be facetious when I post this question, and I should have asked this sooner. But were there any academic elements to "The Lunch Bunch" meetings? Did they have writing clinics, math tutoring, book discussions couple with reading comprehension activities, science experiments, geography lessons or anything along those lines? All that is reported in the media is that they were "free weekly pizza/basketball/craft" sessions reserved for a chosen few based entirely on race and low test scores. If this is is inaccurate, I hope someone sets the record straight If not, perhaps they can resume and improve the substance of the meetings while offering them to all students who my be struggling (or need a little extra attention in those areas) in the future. Perhaps something great can come from this incident?


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

David Jessie - Are they only discontinuing the program at Dickens - or all of the AAPS buildings that it is/was running in? I ask because the school board presentation shows this program running in several buildings.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Julie, I think what people are saying here is that if african-americans are over-represented among those who are under-achieving then even if we focus on under-achievement without regard to race we'll still be addressing their needs simply because they're over-represented in the population we're focusing on. And it has the added benefit of doing so without being discriminatory based on race (and thus divisive not to mention illegal).


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Just FYI - girls did participate in the field trip. 15 girls, 15 boys. As many have suggested, the presenter in this field trip has been invited to Dicken to present to the entire student body.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:46 p.m.

For the record, fifteen girls and fifteen boys went on the field trip. Multiple people directly involved with the field trip have confirmed this. Can we please check our information before stating it here as fact? There is enough here to be upset about without inciting more anger with completely false accusations and information.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:42 p.m.

Racism plain and simple. Madison could have narrowed the gap by having the white kids stay home from school. This is ugly no matter what kind of spin is put on it. Madison should apologize and resign to save Ann Arbor the embarrassment of the behaviour of their principal.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:37 p.m.

I wonder whether AAPS will eventually release a report detailing the witness statements about what happened in the classroom. As bad as all of this is, I think that what happened in the classroom goes a long way to deciding whether Madison had "good intentions." Some of the purported reports from parents make it sound like the kids were berated and made to feel racist because they didn't "support" the program. I'm sure the District won't release such a report voluntarily, but perhaps via FOIA someone can get it.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

In these extremely trying financial times for the AAPS District, when good teachers are losing their job, I wonder if administrator's performance is evaluated based on intentions, or execution. I work at a different publicly funded education institution in Ann Arbor and ours are certainly based on execution.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

Barefootdave -- an entire race as inferior??? Oh come on! Jeez, it's suggesting that our schools are somehow failing those kids, not that they are somehow inferior. My understanding is that the data show that race matters, even independent of socio-economic status. If that's the case, pretending it doesn't won't help. I'll be offline for a few days, sure to check back later.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:30 p.m.

I have been reading the blogs on this issue, nobody has even hit on the main actor in this story. has charged AAPS almost $200,000 in the last 2 years for their consulting in awareness of institutional racism. Dicken Principal Mike Madison is following PEG or Pacific education groups plan to help black children by using $200,000 in tax payer money to stop institutional racism. All Ann Arbor needs to check out what PEG is up to. From website (PEG) "Systemic Racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all children, especially African American (Black) and Latino (brown) children to achieve at the highest levels, and leads to the fracturing of the communities that nurture and support them." Go here to listen to Frand Beckman talk about PEG Pacific Education Group Its a need to hear....


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:27 p.m.

@Val loose I agree completely. Teachers and administrators love to give hand waving explanations for their actions with the idea that they know best. In fact they probably don't know best. Especially in an area as affluent as Ann Arbor, the majority of these teachers/administrators could not cut it in occupations held by the parents of the students they're teaching. Despite this fact, the aloofness of Roberts and the other administrators involved is disgusting. They should be accountable and transparent, these people have not earned the trust of parents or the community, and should be monitored. To further this point, which is clearly relevant to the topic at hand, I link a study by the NSF: "ETS found that the teaching profession tends to attract teachers with below-average skills, based on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores of prospective teachers taking the Praxis II between 1994 and 1997 (Gitomer, Latham, and Ziomek 1999.)[10] Based on a comparison of SAT scores for teacher candidates passing the Praxis II exam with the average score for all college graduates, ETS concluded that elementary education candidates, the largest single group of prospective teachers, have much lower math and verbal scores than other college graduates."


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:27 p.m.

Adam --- "If there is an "achievement gap", it will show up in the demographics of groups based on achievement." Huh? the demographics of the groups showing poorer achievement demonstrate racial inequality. That's exactly the point. Barefootdave's suggestion that somehow we ignore the fact that race IS a factor does not face the reality that IT IS! whether we like it or not.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

Julie, Looking at it as a race based gap denies the opportunity to find the problem with individual underachievers. Just by your comment, you imply the gap is because of race. The individual schools should be able to identify those in need of extra help and provide that help rather then condemning an entire race as inferior based on a standardized testing.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

People, let's keep the peace. Why not offer the said rocket scientist a chance to come to Dicken and speak to all the students and answer their questions regarding his field. It's great that people want to hear what he has to share.

Val Losse

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

One of the big problems with schools is that they tell parents that they know best on how to teach students and that parents don't know anything. They've created this lie and now it comes out even clearer. The gap is an attitude towards education and no amount of money or attention by teachers or educators will change that until the parents of the kids change theirs.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

I agree Karen- I said that in a post that got deleted for some reason. Schnookiejewski I appreciate your thought out answer but that will never fly in the court of common sense that we all live in. Like I said if his intentions were not that of discrimination how come ZERO girls went on the trip? That in itself he is in violation of the policy and there is no grey area around that. You are entitled to your views on Mr. madison but I am glad my kids are out of grade school if principals like him are getting free reign and are abusing it in this nature.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

In response to an earlier comment "The Dickon school board did the right thing in the wrong way" - no, they did the wrong thing. Period. I find the idea that a principal would feel that some students are more entitled than others disturbing, I find the idea that a principal would deliberately exclude students based on race even more disturbing, and I find the idea that the principal would then feel it was appropriate to come into a classroom and abuse his position of ultimate power and authority by yelling at students who were excluded really disturbing. What assurance do any of those students have that he won't change their grades, won't write poor letters of recommendation for college, or abuse his position of power in other ways? In what way does this encourage the students to feel they can speak up if there is a problem. Goodness knows we have had enough examples of students not feeling they can speak up about school violence, bullying, etc because they think no one will listen or take it seriously. Thanks Mr. Madison for providing such an exemplary model of behavior - I realize you and your colleges probably didn't think this through when you thought up this scheme, but don't be so childish as to take it out on the students.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 3 p.m.

is this the first such implementatoin of this pogrom/stupidity? or have there been previous such events? it would make a diffeernce, to me at least. btw, firing would bee too mucjh 'correction', imnsho. (wonder what would happen if somebody wore an amerinc-ish flag tshirt to dicken? oh, wiat, differnet adminstrator idiocy elasewhere)


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 2:57 p.m.

Hey Stinky, the majority of people are outraged by Mr Madison's actions does not mean they/you are right. Your democratic notion of whats right sounds good, but we all know examples of the majority being wrong. (Germany in the 30's). What we need to do is let people like Mr Madison try things that are not politically correct to solve the achievement gap. Trying to make a group of school kids who may not feel special, feel special is a movement in the right direction. To Mr Madison: a new commandment, thou must run every decision you make by everyone in the school to make sure the majority agrees with it. When they agree, it will be a right decision.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

barefootdave -- you do not support analysis of test data based on race???? are you serious? So if we just bury our heads in the sand and choose not to look at the achievement gap, or somehow pretend there is no race-based gap, it will just go away???

Bradley Pearsall

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

The first issue here is that the leadership of Dicken El. did the right thing the wrong way. In this day and age any child that is behind the curve should be included in every effort to correct that shortcoming. The race of the child should never come into play. The second issue is the appearance of a knee jerk reaction to public attention. The school system should have came out with a statement to the public that it was halting the program until it could evaluate how to run the program fairly and legally. Third, if the reports are true Mr. Madison made a mistake by reacting on emotion. If the reports are true he owes those students and the community an apology. Should he lose his job? I don't know, have you ever made a mistake or acted out emotionally? Lastly, what's up with you "StinkyMcGurk"? What's with the aggression toward Obviously you utilize the site. I think they do a good job with what they have available and I read it on a daily basis and appreciate the effort they put in. Get a grip.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

Again, I second UMalumni86's comment And hope AAPS does not think that simply ending Lunch Bunch is an appropriate response. "I completely support activities to address educational gaps in our schools. However I do not support an analysis of test data based on race. It should simply be those students that need additional help or inspiration get it. In my opinion this issue began long before the field trip took place. This issue began as soon as the district segregrated the students by race for performance measures."


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 2:39 p.m.

Either Madison will be disciplined or the whole AA Board of Ed. will be in hot water for non-compliance of their own policy. Just a homeowner here is the policy that CLEARLY shows that Madison should be fired: Non-Discrimination Policy of the Ann Arbor Public Schools (Board Policy 2050) No person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any educational program or activity available in any school on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, creed, political belief, age, national origin, linguistic and language differences, sexual orientation, gender expression, socioeconomic status, height, weight, marital or familial status, or disability. That should make this an open-shut case...

just a homeowner

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

I think firing Mike Madison is probably overkill in this situation. Relax everybody. Madison has done good work in this district and served a lot of students well. It would be silly to fire him over a single situation. Relax. Get a grip. There are far bigger problems in the AAPS.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 2:19 p.m.

This is what they came up with? Ending the program? I thought that was a given. Will Madison be reprimanded? Where was the teacher when the berating of 10/11 yr olds happened? There are a lot of details that have not been answered by this story. Is the district just assuming this issue will go away now?