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Posted on Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Ann Arbor school district looking into legality and principal's actions in black-only field trip

By David Jesse

The Ann Arbor school district is investigating the actions - and legality - surrounding a field trip organized exclusively for black students at Dicken Elementary School last week.

Superintendent Todd Roberts said the idea to take 30 black students to hear a special presentation by a black University of Michigan scientist was well-intentioned. But Roberts conceded the execution of that trip and its aftermath might not have been appropriate.

One aspect of the investigation is how Principal Mike Madison handled students who were upset about being excluded, Roberts said Wednesday. Two of Roberts’ top administrators - LeeAnn Dickinson Kelley, the district’s elementary administrator, and Liz Margolis, the district’s communications director - will be at Dicken tonight to hear from parents and offer answers.

Roberts has also asked Dave Comsa, the district’s legal counsel, to determine whether the trip violated state law.

Thumbnail image for Mike-Madison.JPG

Principal Mike Madison has been the subject of complaints by parents.

“The desire to have kids see a role model and be exposed to that was good,” Roberts said. “It may have been helpful to have that person come to the school so everyone could participate. Our goal is not to be left out. I don’t think the goal was to exclude.”

The controversy centers on the African American Lunch Bunch, a group school officials say was formed out of the school improvement team process that looked at who was struggling academically at the school.

That group, which is made up of only black students, was taken out of school last week on a school district bus to hear the speaker. Roberts said a private donation paid the time for the bus, which was the only cost of the event.

Madison, who is black, defended the trip in a letter to parents earlier this week.

“In hindsight, this field trip could have been approached and arranged in a better way," Madison wrote. "But as I reflect upon the look of excitement, enthusiasm and energy that I saw in these children’s eyes as they stood in the presence of a renowned African American rocket scientist in a very successful position, it gave the kids an opportunity to see this type of achievement is possible for even them.

“It was not a wasted venture for I know one day they might want to aspire to be the first astronaut or scientist standing on the Planet Mars.

“I also think it’s important that you know that I have talked to the children who did not go on the field trip, and I think they have a better understanding of the purpose of the AA Lunch Bunch now, as I hope you do. I’m sorry if any kids were upset by the field trip or my discussion afterwards with them, and I have let them know that.

“The intent of our field trip was not to segregate or exclude students as has been reported, but rather to address the societal issues, roadblocks and challenges that our African American children will face as they pursue a successful academic education here in our community.”

Not everyone was swayed by his letter.

“Here’s my problem with it. It’s illegal for them to run a black-only or white-only event,” said Rachel Loge, who is white and has two grandsons at Dicken. “Why wouldn’t my grandsons be inspired to do better in school after hearing a cool presentation on being a scientist?”

Michigan voters passed a law in 2006 that bars school districts, among other public institutions, from discriminatory or preferential treatment on the basis of race or other factors.


Superintendent Todd Roberts said the district is looking into the actions and legality of the field trip for black Dicken students.

Melanie Maxwell |

Adding to the ire over the trip are reports of what happened when the students returned to Dicken.

Several parents have written letters to complain to Roberts, Madison and board members, alleging that after the trip, students who didn’t get to go booed their fellow fifth-graders who were on the trip. The parents allege Madison then came into the classroom and harangued the students.

District officials said that’s not the case and called Madison “passionate” in his discussion with the students about race.

School board member Christine Stead said she’s hoping to find out more about what transpired.

“The intent of the program seems to be in line with what we expect,” said Stead, noting she understands the frustrations of parents whose students weren’t on the trip. “We need to look at how things were communicated and the issue of students going out versus the speaker coming in.”

District administrators said the intent of the program was to work in a mentoring relationship with black students to help boost their achievement. They said it was part of the district’s work to combat the achievement gap, which in Ann Arbor is commonly referred to in terms of the difference in test scores, grade-point average, discipline and graduation rates between white and black students.


Much of that work is being led by a consultant, Glenn Singleton, and his Pacific Educational Group. The district has been employing the company since the 2004-05 school year and has paid it $341,000 so far, Roberts said.

Roberts said the district is making progress in closing the gap, pointing to multiple areas in the latest Michigan Educational Assessment Program data, where achievement for black students is up. That includes eighth-grade math scores, where the percentage of black students scoring proficient has climbed 23 percentage points since the 2005-06 school year.

Much of the work PEG is doing centers on “things we can control in the school,” Roberts said. That includes making sure black and Latino students see artwork in classrooms and read literature that reflects their culture. PEG is also helping district staff discuss race and cultural issues and figure out how to effectively teach students of different cultural backgrounds.

But it goes beyond that, Roberts said. The company helps district staff focus in on individual students who are struggling to work with them.

Roberts said he is happy with the work PEG is doing. “There are conversations in the district and a greater focus on all the students and how we can help them. I can’t say they are the only reason for the growth, but they are key.”

The meeting at Dicken will take place from 6-7 p.m. tonight. Administrators have not set a timetable for their investigation into the matter.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at


Hot Sam

Sun, May 9, 2010 : 6:51 a.m.

"""All things being equal, any law that guarantees that people must be treated exactly the same is good. However, all things are not equal.""" Yes women will never be equal...they have the God given ability to be something better than any man will ever have... And that is why we celebrate them today (our Moms that is!)


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 6:41 a.m.

okay, i'll bite. what if, in the hypothetical situation womanofcolor gave, earlier in the day the hungry man had a wallet full of money and decided to buy himself a suit and new phone (hypothetically of course). The man has spent all his resources for providing himself with food. Now he is hungry. And what if, hypothetically, the man with the steak was going to eat only half and take the rest to say, a homeless person he regularly assists. Would it still be fair for the hungry man to get all? gee, it's fun to assume things to make them fit my way of thinking.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 6:26 a.m.

womanofcolor, Unfortunately, having below-average standardized test scores or below-average grades wasn't the chief criterion for membership in the Lunch Bunch, but being black was. Being black doesn't automatically mean that a student is performing poorly, or even below his or her non-black peers, does it? Through a program like the Lunch Bunch, Mr. Madison is merely perpetuating the racial stereotype that all black students (and only black students) are failing students, so it's ok to assume that only black students should participate in a program like the Lunch Bunch. Other posters have commented on the likely outcome of a situation where a white principal took only white students who belonged to an all-white club on a field trip. My question for you is this: How would you feel about a white principal who operated under the assumption that all black students were failing students, and therefore needed a program like the Lunch Bunch?


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 12:08 a.m.

@womanofcolor your quote below "All things being equal, any law that guarantees that people must be treated exactly the same is good. However, all things are not equal. Women still make 75% of what men make in almost every state in the nation. People of color are disproportionately represented among the poor, and are more likely to be arrested and end up in jail. Women are at least 90% of the victims of rape even though they are only half of the population. Are any of these things "fair"? No. But none of the people complaining about the "unfairness" of a "lunch bunch" for struggling kids have thought to complain about these other, arguably more serious, examples of "unfairness" or about the lack of fairness of our society in general. " First of all, you say, "all things being equal". Is this pertaining to your next sentence, or just a prefix for no reason? B/c you state that women make 75% of what men make as fact. This might be the case when considering total population, but surely all things aren't equal. All women and men don't have the same jobs. Women who work the exact same jobs as men, definitely don't make 75% of what men make working the same jobs. I would like to see where you get this figure. If you are quoting the census number, it is not for working the exact same job. If it is for total population, than your statement "all things being equal", does not apply. 2nd of all you say: "But none of the people complaining about the "unfairness" of a "lunch bunch" for struggling kids have thought to complain about these other, arguably more serious, examples of "unfairness" or about the lack of fairness of our society in general." There is no way you could ever prove that, yet you take it for fact in your post. If is consistent with their deleting of posts that assume facts that aren't, this one should be taken down. Do you know every single person that complains about the unfairness of "lunch bunch". If so, do you know that every one of them isn't concerned about the other issues you bring up? Please answer, I'm curious where you get this information from.


Sun, May 9, 2010 : 12:01 a.m.

To womanofcolor: Whether you believe Proposal 2 is fair or not, it is the law. Madison took it upon himself to set up a situation in which people are now questioning if he broke said law. One may also question how he came to the decision that ONLY black students fit the profile of needing this special assistance. It is highly unlikely when looking at the demographics of Dicken School, that no one else fit the profile. Your abstract example of feeding the hungry, has nothing to do with Proposal 2. Though it is a pretty story, it is unrelated to the situation at hand. You may not agree with the law, but it is the law at the present time and applies to everyone. My biggest question is how the black parents can NOT be outraged by his 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. Where is the incentive here to succeed? Instead of blaming the non-white families for being upset, you should be upset at the message this sends to your next generation.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:27 p.m.

Perhaps my argument was too subtle for some of you that are confused. My point is that abstracted ideas about "fairness" (as with the underlying logic of prop 2) do not take into account that we live in a deeply unfair society. Moreover, the appeal to fairness (in prop 2 and in some of these comments) seems like a cynical bid to undo the policies that have been put in place to address some of the most unfair aspects of our society. All things being equal, any law that guarantees that people must be treated exactly the same is good. However, all things are not equal. Women still make 75% of what men make in almost every state in the nation. People of color are disproportionately represented among the poor, and are more likely to be arrested and end up in jail. Women are at least 90% of the victims of rape even though they are only half of the population. Are any of these things "fair"? No. But none of the people complaining about the "unfairness" of a "lunch bunch" for struggling kids have thought to complain about these other, arguably more serious, examples of "unfairness" or about the lack of fairness of our society in general. Let me offer an illustrative example that might make my critique of "fairness" as an abstraction more clear. Lets say you have a delicious sandwich that you'd like to share with someone. You walk by a restaurant and you see two men. One is sitting at a table outside with a big steak on a plate in front of him. The other is sitting on the sidewalk with no food and clearly hungry. Now, if one were to understand fairness in the abstract, one might argue that both should receive a portion of the sandwich. But no rational person would think this way. Instead, what most people would do is give the sandwich to the man that is hungry. This is an enactment of "fairness" that takes into account the CONTEXT of an existing imbalance (one man is hungry, the other has enough to eat). This, I might add, is at the very heart of Jesus's teachings about caring for the hungry, and, sacrificing one's own needs and desires for the betterment of others, especially when one has blessings in abundance.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

What this program of exclusion reminds me of is how socialism really works. The way socialism works is that it does not really elevate the poor or middle class. Instead, what socialism does is to bring down the wealthy to the level of the poor. In this case, Mr. Madison is attempting to pretend to elevate black students achievement by bringing down the educational opportunities of children from other races.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 6:32 p.m.

Womanofcolor wrote: Both proponents and defenders of Prop 2 claim that it will bring back "fairness" by insuring that people of color and women do not get "special treatment", but this ignores the fact that in our system these groups are disproportionately disadvantaged. How else to explain that while women are 50% of the population, they constitute 99% of rape victims? What does the proportion of male rape victims to female rape victims have to do with Proposal 2 and how does this statement even begin to support your argument? Are you somehow suggesting that under Proposal 2 the state is responsible for "evening up" the number of male and female rape victims in the interest of "fairness?" (BTW, the US DOJ statistics pose that about 9% of rape victims are male, however the DOJ also indicates that the actual number of male rape victims may be significantly higher due to under-reporting.)


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

I think the primary concern isnt that this type of field trip took place because in itself the activity was pretty benign. The main concern is how anyone running the public schools would think this would ever be ok in any reality and not an instant lightning rod. We don't need additional cause for any liability in our schools and people who don't understand this shouldnt be in our school system. Imagine a whites only field trip...


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:49 p.m.

Dear Tigger, save your intelligence, your reasoning, and your sanity for people who can appreciate it. The folks responding to your comments can neither see their own privilege, nor understand that what Mr Madison did was both appropriate and sensible. First, in attempting to serve the varied needs of ALL of his students by addressing the needs of those "at risk" while maintaining a high quality educational experience for all, and second, in doing what a grown-up should do, correcting students whose entitlement lead them to "boo" other children with many fewer advantages than they. Those students likely didn't realize (one hopes) that such a "speech act" (whether or not it is a form of free expression) echoes both the behavior and the sentiment of the young whites who lined up outside of schools in the south in the 1950s, spitting and yelling profanities at the black students who were desegregating their schools. The problem with many of the comments to this story, is the same problem that underlies Prop 2: demands for "equal treatment" and "fairness" in the context of a society that is still structurally unequal and unfair (to varying degrees dependent on race, class, and gender), ignore the underlying context and therefore disproportionately benefit those at the top of the hierarchy. Both proponents and defenders of Prop 2 claim that it will bring back "fairness" by insuring that people of color and women do not get "special treatment", but this ignores the fact that in our system these groups are disproportionately disadvantaged. How else to explain that while women are 50% of the population, they constitute 99% of rape victims? Or that people of color are diproportionately represented among the poor or the prison population? We can explain these imbalances in one of two ways, either these populations are subject to structural (and sometimes invisible), discrimination, or they are somehow predisposed to sexual victimization, poverty, or criminality, through some biological deficit. Now, I don't know about other posters, but I for one believe the first explanation to be a better one than the second, not least because the logic of the second explanation is what stands behind the most brutal racist ideologies and practices in history (Nazism, Apartheid). Moreover, I find it very interesting that so many of these comments, which one might assume come from Ann Arborites, defend prop 2, given Ann Arbor's vaunted "tolerance" for diversity. I can't help but note that many, of not all of the upper middle class and educated African Americans I know who live in Ann Arbor, have placed their children in private schools. They have done so not because they don't want their children to mingle with "public school" children, but because of the racism (covert and overt) that their children have experienced in AA schools. If white parents think that this is not the case and that AA schools represent some kind of utopia of "tolerance" and diversity (and even a place where poor minority students are privileged, as some have argued), they are either deeply clueless, or willfully blinding themselves to the day to day lived reality of poor kids of color in this system (and even "privileged" kids of color). THIS is the context in which some kids "underachieve", and, yes, the context in which a juvenile taunt like "booing" warrants a deeper discussion about race in this country. It does not surprise me that 5th graders might be clueless about this, they are children, but parents? You should know better....

j cotrain

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:40 p.m.

mike madison should be fired at once--thats what would be insisted on from the black comunity -if he was a white person an they would settle for nothing less


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:19 p.m.

@ ed: i wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. @tigger: i would have an easier time trying to see your point if you didn't keep referring to the kids who thought their treatment was unfair as "when precious and darling came home". do you think anyone who wants to be treated fairly are "coddled prince and princesses"? i believe that if the kids were explained in the beginning what this group was for and if all those not performing well on the MEAP were included AND most importantly, some academia was going on during the lunch bunch to help improve said scores, many kids would not be interested in joining the group given the choice. but then we would be seeing the headlines "Black kids denied lunch recess and made to study"


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 11:46 a.m.

If you isolate and allow only a certain race or religion to attend or r invited and not anyone else, then that is a violation.


Sat, May 8, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

@ tigger No prop 2 doesn't limit anything. Include, don't exclude. All can learn.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

@Longfellow: The City attorney represents the city in litigation and other matters. This is a school district issue. The CA has no business in this. The District Attorney handles criminal complaints. This appears not to be a criminal matter; it appears to be a civil matter. He therefore has no role here, either. @josber: I don't think we disagree. My point was not that the school district was teaching the children left behind a lesson. It was that level-headed parents might have made that point when precious and darling came home complaining that they didn't get everything exactly as some other kid had gotten. My point was that a parent might have made this a teachable moment about the racial discrimination that has existed in our society for nearly 400 years, and that this small gesture likely was an effort to begin to overcome this in a very small way for a very small group of children. But, no, those parent decided to teach their children a rather different lesson. I understand exactly what the school district is up against. It is between the proverbial rock and a hard place: No Children Left Behind requires progress be made in closing the achievement gap, while Prop 2 appears to limit severely school districts' abilities to address that gap.


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

Think about the kids left in class. It's especially galling if it's true the kids were then scolded for _their_ insensitivity when some of them were upset! (Did that really happen? Does the principal remember being a kid and how important it was to get out of class for any reason and what a treat the once-a-year field trip was?) Look, you want to even up the achievement gap. It's great to meet good role models, white and black. I'm especially pleased the role model was a scientist. But a public school can't just take kids of one skin color and one skin color only on a cool field trip during school hours.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Sat, May 8, 2010 : 1:16 a.m.

Wow. So many lawyers here. Now it's ethnic intimidation. How 'bout charging him with the Lindbergh kidnapping, too?

Bill Wilson

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

The worst crime was going into the classrooms and seeking out the children of other races and gender who booed. The city attorney needs to investigate this, as it has the appearance of ethnic intimidation. Now, it'll never happen on its own: it's up to you parents to step up and file charges.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 8:28 p.m.

@ Tigger No thank you. I am quite comfortable with my argument despite the distinction. What exceeds my comfort zone is how a few commentators are so willing to accept racial discrimination as long as it suits their needs. However, this has been mentioned in the past. In the end, I'm sure the school will follow the law set forth to rectify this matter. I don't see how they have any choice but to follow the law and the disciplinary protocol if any laws are in violation.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

Firing should be the least the school does. In fact, someone aught to sue the state of Michigan over this to make sure that happens. "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 8:07 p.m.

Discriminate, v. intransitive, to make a distinction. You can, as they say, look it up.


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

@Tigger So...let me try to understand your logic. A teacher who grades a paper solely based on the merit of the work is "discriminating"? I am beginning to think you don't know the meaning of the word or you are stretching the definition in new and interesting ways to fit your flawed argument. Because school work is held to a grading system and I choose one breakfast cereal over another, it is totally acceptable to discriminate against children in a classroom setting simply because of the color of their skin? Wait...let's back up..according to your argument it's only acceptable to discriminate some of the time, as long as it makes some of the children (not all)feel "special and different way that might help them to progress in their education." These examples are absurd, and at least you are correct about one thing. I don't like absurdity. And while you insist that tutoring and personal academic attention will not work, you fail to mention how pizza, basketball and crafts (instead of educational activities) will solve this academic achievement gap, with the exception of the happy outcome that this will make white kids (your words-not mine) feel "a little discriminated." As a parent I would not be comfortable with a school administrator who shares that view. And although I cannot speak for others, my "outrage" stems from the exclusion of any student based on skin color alone. While I have openly admitted I am not attorney, I don't feel I have to be one to warrant my discomfort at the actions made by this principal and those who support it on a public forum.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

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

@rmom1: You don't like my examples? Try this one: A teacher discriminates every day that they grade student work in that they discriminate between good student work and poor student work. That is discrimination that is both legal and ethical. Not all discrimination is illegal and not all discrimination is unethical. You can judge Mr. Madison's actions unethical, if you like, but by what standard? And by your own admission you are in no position to judge whether or not it is illegal. Nor, I am quite certain, is anyone else on this discussion thread. As for extra tutoring, etc....: do you really think this has not been tried? As Dr. William Cosby, Ed.D., made clear several years ago, the largest issue here is a cultural one--a culture among blacks, and especially among black males, that devalues education. Tutoring will not solve this. Taking young black children to see a successful black rocket scientist might be a way to break the cycle. Heaven forbid that these elementary school children might be made to feel special and different in a positive way that might help them to progress in their education. And, gee, if that makes white kids feel just a little discriminated--WOW--there's a powerful life lesson that parents might make a teachable moment. But given all of the outrage that is being stoked by adults in this discussion, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that the children's actions at the school was a product of the parents' outrage at home. So they have learned quite a different life lesson. Like I said above, quite a lesson, that.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:09 p.m.

ok, for all the people who think Mike just made a "bad jugdement call". Since he is the "leader" of that school are we now teaching our students that it is ok to break the law if we have good intentions? Or is it ok to belittle the students who were upset to they never had the chance to go just because you have passion about the subject? He should get fired just for what he said to the muslum girl. How many people treat her different because of her race and what has happen in the world these days. his positon should be neutral no matter what color he is. I am white and I would want a white teacher fired if he treated a black,yellow, green or brown student that way. teachers should be colorblind no matter what happened in the past or in the paper last week. I watched it on tv last night and I am glad it was on the news so it won't be overlooked by the superintendent. only bad part was, yet another black eye for Michigan


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:06 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 : 3:41 p.m.

Tigger, I agree that when there's an achievement gap, you do things for those on the short end of the stick that you don't do for those who are making appropriate academic progress. But the things you do better have a meaningful effect; they had better reduce the gap between successful and unsuccessful students. I'm not a rocket scientist, but it doesn't seem like eating pizza, playing basketball and making crafts during lunch hour have much potential to elevate academic performance. In fact, I'm afraid that these actions have a strong potential to increase the academic disparity between the successful and unsuccessful students because the students who should be receiving extra academic attention are shuffled off to the gym or the art room instead. Time not spent in meaningful activities that have the potential to close the achievement gap is time wasted, pure and simple.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:45 p.m.

@ Tigger Whether or not you would lose your paycheck in your wager regarding the professional credentials of the participants of this forum is of little consequence and does nothing to validate your argument. Parent's do not need a law degree to voice their concerns with the behavior (particularly this incident) of their trusted school officials. They are worried that this principal may not have all of the student's best interest in mind. I imagine this would be a red herring as he is responsible for the well being of the entire student body. To equate racial discrimination in the school setting with choosing a favorite brand of cereal in the grocery store is beyond comprehension. Really? As a parent without a law degree, I would suggest that time spent addressing the Achievement Gap would be better spent with more study time/tutoring rather than weekly pizza parties/craft and gym time/,and exclusive field trips. There seems to be zero incentive to improve, as those who are not struggling do not reap the rewards. Your "lynch mob" comment is quite suggestive but will not be addressed beyond that. Moving on, it is not the responsibility of the the Principal to administer this "life lesson" regarding racial discrimination and parents of every race have the right and responsibility to defend their children from this sort of behavior. Of course, this is just a "2 cent" forum contribution from a parent without a law degree. Have a wonderful Friday. :)

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:37 p.m.

Ed, Thanks for the references. I agree, Prop 2 complicates things here and that the courts will eventually have to determine what Prop 2 means. And this, then, is exactly my point. This is a very complex legal issue and the mob does not want to begin to ponder those complexities. It just wants blood.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:34 p.m.

Tigger- I respect the thought you put into your post and it is quite east to counter what you are saying. Last time I checked, Mr. Madison is principal of ALL of the students at the school not just the African-American ones. That having been said if he was interested in "closing the gap" and doing things differently to get across to students that would apply to students of ALL RACES not just blacks students as you said. If he said he did it based on overall grades of students it would hold some water but that isn't the case. Furthermore, you AGREE it is discrimination just a matter of if it is lagal or not. Even if his heart is in the right place discrimination may not be against the law here but it is clearly against the code of ethics for ANY school system in this country especially for a principal to act in this manner which by your own admission he is guilty of. No off the top of my head I can't give you the Michigan law on this but give me 24 hours (which attorneys ask for all the time) and I can and then you have to send me your paycheck!! I am addressing this in the matter you requested and in a professional matter so I don't want you to throw any ill will towards me in return. Nice try in your effort to justify Mr. Madison's actions but not this time! :)


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:28 p.m.

"Something is not happening with black children in Ann Arbor's schools that is happening with children of other races." Tigger, you've got to be kidding me with blaming the school system for the gap. The school system has an almost impossible job of closing the gap, but it's absurd to think they are to blame for the gap.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

"One of the best things about having your kids graduate from AAPS is not having to listen to this constant whining and complaining from prickly parents and hypersensitive children." Belle, here's a little tip, it's not called "whining" when the story ends up on the front page of the Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, Detroit Free Press, etc. It's called news.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

rmom: We discriminate every day. We discriminate about who we allow to be our friends. We discriminate about which brands of food we buy. We discriminate about which music we listen to. Not all discrimination is despicable, immoral, and/or illegal. And I'm willing to be that none of the back-yard lawyers who have posted on this discussion have the first clue about the complexities that underlie state and federal civil rights law. They just KNOW that this was illegal. They just KNOW that Mr. Madison should be sued. They just KNOW, to quote Stunshif, "he should be investigated and then fired" (which sounds fair to me. Doesn't it to you?) The fact of the matter is that addressing the achievement gap requires addressing black students differently. Something is not happening with black children in Ann Arbor's schools that is happening with children of other races. Common sense suggests that the solution lies within that group of children, not with whites, not with Asians, not with Hispanics. YES, that is discrimination. The question is whether or not that form of discrimination is illegal. And I'd bet a paycheck that none of the backyard lawyers on this blog have the legal expertise (i.e., can cite state and federal law and can cite civil rights case law) to address this question in anything that begins to resemble an intellectually viable manner. Nope--just a lynch mob mentality here because precious as darling have been discriminated against. The sad thing here is that precious and darling are learning how to deal with difficult situations: get angry, organize a mob, hurl unsubstantiated and ignorant accusations. Quite a lesson, that.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:07 p.m.

Given all of the negative stereotypes out there, one would think that Mr. Madison would want to expose ALL of his students to positive role models.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:05 p.m.

Belle- I am sure there is a good amount of "whining" as you would call it from people that just want to hear themselves, but in this case that A2 is put in bad light on a NATIONAL level the complaints are going to come out and rightfully so!! For the sake of the way you brought it up thanks God it was a white principal with white kids going on the trip--between Jesse and Al coming to town to make it a circus atmosphere and then we would literally NEVER hear the end of it!!!


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:57 p.m.

One of the best things about having your kids graduate from AAPS is not having to listen to this constant whining and complaining from prickly parents and hypersensitive children.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

@ Tigger. I think it's sad that you dismiss Caucasian parent's valid concerns about racial discrimination in school as delicious irony. Not sure why "white" parents had to be singled out for their participation in this debate (in your post) but there it is. Racial discrimination is a disgusting practice regardless of the hidden motives, so-called good intentions or identity of the one (or group) who participates. The fact that this incident involves a school administrator is alarming.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:44 p.m.

Wolverine3660: best point made so far. This poor scientist is probably taking a lot of undeserved heat, thanks to the principal. Most scientists I know, black or white, are eager to talk about their jobs to school children of any creed or color. It wouldn't surprise me if he made an unsolicited offer to come to the school and speak to all the kids.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

Sad thing is this- the African-American Aerospace scientist is a U-M engineering School professor, who lives in my neighborhood. he is a really nice person, who is involved in efforts to encourage under-privileged kids to enter the fields of science and technology. I bet he would have made a trip to Dicken Elementary if he had been asked. Or, alternatively, I bet he would have allowed the entire class of kids to visit his labs in the Aerospace Building on North Campus.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

I was about to comment and then read CGreen's post. I couldn't of said it better. Granted he is not guilty of Racism but he IS guilty of Racial Profiling. Maybe since there are many boycotts against the state of Arizona for the same thing I should boycott paying my taxes to the schools especially in light of the way they are being spent. BTW since when do public schools get "private donations"? Furthermore, if they did get this "private donation" for this cause isn't it the job of the principal to use the money in a practical manner such as having the speaker to come to the school as opposed to taking 30 kids to the speaker. In closing think about it we are all adults here (we may not act that way but that is a different story). How many people here can remember a case where their principal had to apologize EVER for their behavior?? Yep--didn't think so!!


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

Definition of racism: "Racism is the belief that race is a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." I fail to see how anything Mr. Madison ALLEGEDLY did amounts to racism. But there certainly is a fair amount of irony that white parents are charging "racism" because their precious and darling have experienced discrimination. Also good to see that there are so many lawyers who blog on who KNOW what the law says; who KNOW how judges interpret it; who KNOW all of the facts in this incident; and who therefore have become judge and jury and have convicted Mr. Madison as guilty.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

In focusing so much attention on one particular group of students, research demonstrates that schools are failing the others. For example, a big push was made in the late 80s and 90s to refocus educational efforts on appropriate ways to teach girls. The result was that acheivement among female students, particularly in math and science (historically areas in which boys excelled) increased; meanwhile, the achievement of male students showed a marked decrease. The Ann Arbor school district is is making the same mistake by focusing its attention on underperforming African American students while ignoring the underperforming students of other races. In addition, the high performing, or "gifted", students are completely ignored, often being forced to sit through overly simplistic explanations by teachers of material that these students already know. Rarely does one see differentiated instruction for the gifted students, let alone find special programs for these students! In many ways, public schools reflect our culture in miniature. This nation is divided along racial, ethnic, economic and political lines, and schools, sadly, are divided that same way. Students are classified based on income of parents, race, ability to perform, etc. They are taught by principals like Mr. Madison, not to see one another as equal and equally gifted in varied ways, but rather as members of this group or that group, and that group membership defines who they are and what they will do. All that being said, Mr. Madison is guilty of much more than simply reinforcing class consciousness and racial profiling. He is guilty of intimidation and oppressive tactics that would not be tolerated in a principal of another race (another example of the racial attitudes that are being reinforced in schools, by not taking more definitive action, the superintendent and board are essentially saying that Mr. Madison's actions were acceptable because they were undertaken by a Black principal in support of Black students). Mr. Madison's behavior with the other students who were left behind demonstrates a lack of maturity and judgment that cannot and should not be tolerated in an educator. Rather than speaking to the students, and listening to them, with patience and an attempt to place himself in their position (something we are constantly being told that we must do), he berates and attacks them. In so doing, Mr. Madison further ingrains in the minds of these students the belief that he will always side with the Black students. Thus, he commits the greatest sin one can commit in the mind of a ten-year-old: lack of fairness. By his words and actions, Mr. Madison has taught these students that he is not a fair man, that he will not handle conflicts between white and black students justly, and that he is not interested in equality. One has to believe that a more mature and thoughtful principal would have handled this differently; perhaps with a letter to parents, perhaps with a careful explanation at a PTO or board meeting of the purposes and goals of the Lunch Bunch. But, with arrogance typical to school administrators, he dismissed the concerns of parents and students and decided to do whatever he wanted to do. Should anyone question him, he will defend his behavior with rants about racism; if it continues, he will send a letter home and all will be well. Mister Madison needs to learn that there are consequences to his actions, and he should be removed from service as a principal entirely. Behavior such as his should not be tolerated.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

In conducting Lunch Bunch and this field trip, the principal has effectively told black kids that they are academically challenged, in need of 'extra' assistance. Why would any person put down members of his own race in this way?


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

aataxpayer, "How do we know Mike isn't getting a reprimand?" I certainly don't know this for a fact. It's a guess I'm making and I feel quite confident in it. If I'm wrong I'll come back here and admit I'm wrong. "Also, if Lunch Bunch were opened to all kids with social-economic disadvantages (thereby excluding and including both balk and white kids) and one white child went on the field trip would commenters then be happy?" First of all let's be clear, all reports are that this club WAS NOT avaiable for students who weren't African-American, thus making it discriminatory based on race. To answer your question, YES, the general public would be much happier had this club not been exclusive based on race. "...programs to address the gap cannot discriminate based on race." I couldn't agree more. Hence my posts on this topic.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

The school district should FIRE the principal and all involved that discriminated by allowing this trip to take place. THIS IS RACISM and it makes me sick!!!!


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

Alpha Male, To be honest my oldest child is in her 3rd year with the AAPS and I find the quality of education to be phenominal. I'm sending my children to school so they can learn reading, writing, math, science, etc. These thing boil down to the teachers and fortunately from my expereince so far the teaching is top notch. However, I'm greatly concerned about how long that can last with top school officials spending their time on these types of activities (field trip based on race). It's appauling that a principal actually came up with the idea of a race based field trip and then had the nerve to execute such a trip. What will be just as appauling is when he doesn't get so much as a slap on the wrist. Why bother yourself with such small details like accountability????


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:31 a.m.

@ AJACK. Sorry. I disagree that it is acceptable to exclude any children from an enriching academic experience simply because they are not the same color as teacher (In this case, the rocket scientist.) All children could have benefited from this person's achievements. I think it is a bit condescending to tell parent's of other ethnicity to "calm down" when the message from the school administrators seems to be that they do not have ALL of the student's best interest in mind.

Mick Russom

Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:18 a.m.

"roadblocks and challenges that our African American children will face as they pursue a successful academic education here in our community" Yeah, the roadblocks are the current black leadership (Jackson, Sharpton, Obama, Farrakhan) and the American-black culture of failure that seemed to start when King and Malcom X died. The blacks only part of this is a ploy the the identity politics politicians in charge to foster division and cross societal dislike and mistrust so they can retain authoritarian and oligarchical control. African Americans, come be American with us, be equal in that we all get nothing and we work to make our own way, together as one against the divisive oligarchs that need us to be in contention. Freedom dies when the oligarchs bribe us with our own money, BREAD AND CIRCUS.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 1:16 a.m.

Congratulations to all the people that spoke out regarding how they felt. Now you know that when enough people speak up, anything can happen. It's not over yet. All of you need to keep complaining about this until something is done about it. If you don't, who will? Don't let this quietly go away. You make sure the school board and your elected officials know that you demand answers and accountability for this inappropriate act. This is unacceptable and we need to make it known that this principal needs to be held accountable for the mistake he made. Here is the link to the website for the Ann Arbor Board of Education:


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:55 a.m.

I would argue that if you are Caucasian, you have had (and still have) many privileges that you don't even recognize as privileges by virtue of your membership in the Dominant Culture Club. I'm not talking about socio-economic status; I'm talking about skin color and how you identify yourself. Of course, this is changing in the USA as we speak. I agree with the comments that think a good way to bridge this divide is to have meaningful exchanges with those outside of your group.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:54 a.m.

I would argue that if you are Caucasian, you have had (and still have) many privileges that you don't even recognize as privileges by virtue of your membership in the Dominant Culture Club. I'm not talking about socio-economic status; I'm talking about skin color and how you identify yourself. Of course, this is changing in the USA as we speak. I agree with the comments that think a good way to bridge this divide is to have meaningful exchanges with those outside of your group.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:35 a.m.

When I was at Slauson Jr. HS during the post civil rights era, there was a big divide between black and white students. Sadly, forty years later, I still see this divide in our Ann Arbor schools. White privilege? A white person's view of the world is seen through the lens of a dominant culture, with power, and with privileges. I am white and I have learned about how privileged I, and those of my race, have been. Such comments as...if it were *white kids only on the field trip*...if it were a *white principal taking white kids* etc. are an illogical comparison. How can you compare apples to oranges? How do you compare a tornado to a gust of wind? I believe in Mr. Madison's efforts to educate and mentor a group of children in our community who have not experienced the benefits of privilege. This is not insulting; it is insulting to ignore this fact. Have any white parents on this forum given a thought to what Madison might be demonstrating to their own children? Maybe that there is an adult educator in these kids' lives who really cares and believes in them? Give it a thought and calm yourself. It's OK; your kids will be all right. Teach them that not all people have had the privileges they have had. Thanks to Mr. Madison, people are talking again. Let's converse with civility, and with open hearts and minds....and some kids got to visit a rocket scientist who had skin the color of their skin. I am very happy for them.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:18 a.m.

I notice some covert assumptions fed by a white liberal racism. That of ALL blacks as uneducated, disadvantaged, people who need the help of the Father(the government) to lift them out of their doldrums. It isn't that far off to how abolitionists in the 1860's viewed blacks. Here is a news flash: NOT ALL BLACKS ARE POOR! Most of these kids are middle to upper middle class. You'd have to be in order to live in expensive Ann Arbor. Those flapping their gujs about "white privilege" need to step out of their world of theory and into the real world. There is no such thing as "white privilege" for those with pale skin who have to work to make a living. We aren't like those Ann Arborites who spend all day protesting agaisnt uinjustice and then have a latte at some coffee house because they don't have a day job to go to. Africa Americans face many issue serious issues-some of which are do to yes, racism. But you don't deal with those issues by using divisive action that only further highlight the differences between people with brown skin and those of a lighter hue. It irritates me to no end to see people who say they hate racism all the while exhibiting signs of a prejudiced and bigoted mind. Many people on both sides of the political spectrum and of every ethnicity, do this. It is high time people stop making simplistic assumptions by other peoples lives and start evaluating THEIR OWN.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:17 a.m.

1. AAPS is now the national poster child for HOMESCHOOLING. Don't have to worry about racist principals there. 2. Many moons ago when I was in high school, my English teacher made all of the kids partner up. The 2-person teams had to do homework together, present reports together, and turn in a final paper together. The teacher selected the teams and placed the highest functioning students (academically) with the lowest functioning students. I was very unhappy to be teamed with a student who was barely able to pass any subject. However, I knew that if I wanted a good grade, he had to get a good grade, too. Worked my butt off with him and, 30 years later, it's one of my best high school memories. Perhaps AAPS could have study halls during the day where they team up students with each other by ability and not by race, as the lunch bunch does.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 12:01 a.m.

I think it is futile to try to reason with a racist. Despite all the best thinking the only way to combat racism is to expose racists for what they are. This man is obviously one and the only solution is to stop him from spreading his poisonous teachings to another generation. The non-black children obviously saw through his farce. Well intentioned? Dr. King is rolling over in his grave.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:47 p.m.

How about emailing us why our posts are being deleted, so we will know what offense we are committing?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:45 p.m.

Is it really so wrong to complain about the complainers who complain about the complainers?

lk carter

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:44 p.m. keep deleting post, while their reporters pick and choose what is racist? how many black folk are employed by what should you call someone who hates, discriminates, looks down, on another person or group, based on their race? or a website/paper that prints or post picture of any black person being accused of a crime, before being convicted?

Cendra Lynn

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:34 p.m.

Racial and ethnic groups that are not mainstream white live in a parallel world which is invisible to the mainstream. Until enough mainstream people try to learn about these other worlds, these misunderstandings will continue. Right now it seems to be that only those whites who are thrown into an alternate culture by marriage, friendship, or other forces which bring the two worlds together are able to recognize that there actually are parallel worlds and begin to learn about them. Rather than a one-race lunch bunch, small group activites of mixed race and culture can break the walls between the parallel worlds.

Olan Owen Barnes

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:30 p.m.

If he knowingly violated the law he should be fired as a law breaker is a bad role model for our children - and yes I pay Ann Arbor school taxes. There appears little question he violated the law and good intentions just lead to hell - so they say.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:26 p.m.

The teacher's are all under a gag order! The teacher's that were in the classroom did not attend because they weren't going to lie to keep their jobs. Madison is a dictator to his staff.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:08 p.m.

Good grief, AnneB: "This brings up a critical problem with No Child Left Behind - teachers and principals - public schools have the burden of solving all the societal problems of racism and poverty without the resources or tools to do it." NCLB does not put the burden of solving the racism and poverty issues. Golly, I thought that responsibility rested on all of us, not our schools. And exactly what resources and tools are they being deprived of to do so?

Lynn Stephanopolis

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 11:04 p.m.

This is the most disgusting horrible thing I have seen done in any school anywhere in this day and age. Dr.King stood for EQUALITY FOR ALL PEOPLE! It appears as though this Principal has forgotten that. There is nobody alive today that lived in slavery many years ago in the South. Each and every black child has the exact same opportun ities that every white child has, IF THEY CHOOSE TO MAKE SOMETHING OF THEMSELVES. Had this been a white Principal and strictly white children that were a allowed on this field trip, boy would there be lawsuits out the hind end. Give it up Mr.Principal! You obviously made your way in life so stop bringingOLD issues to the forefront. YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING IN EDUCATION ANYWHERE AND SHOULD BE FIRED IMMEDIATELY FOR BREAKING THE LAW! YOU'RE A PATHETIC INDIVIDUAL!


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 10:51 p.m.

And after the diversity course, they should take a course in cultural sensitivity.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 10:25 p.m.

I think that everyone who is saying that this is a racist thing must be racist themselves. All the man did was take a group of students to see a famous person. I bet if it were a white principle who took the black kids than it wouldn't have even gone this far. All of you are just jealous to see a African American man doing successful in a career and is just trying to bring him down. I know for a fact at my school that their has been many all black kids taking a trip and you have never seen this happen before.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 10:21 p.m.

It is not and was not racism, guard your tongues. It could be discrimination.. then the question is "Was it fair discrimination" Didn't Madison get grief for being to harsh on AA kids at Forsythe, now he's too generous? Seems to me the problem is parents and children with too much sense of entitlement in both situations. I would be curious to know if the some (not all) the same people would have complained if their white kids were forced to attend an event directed toward AA students. It is suspiciously magnanimous of those who are concerned about all non-black students - specious attempt to both hide behind and call out the race card. Also, there is a well documented achievement gap based on race - across the nation - Ann Arbor is no exception. Of course, there are many black students who perform superbly and white kids who don't, but the trend is undeniable. The problem can't be addressed if there aren't some special measures taken to target specific groups that schools are bound by NCLB to help. This brings up a critical problem with No Child Left Behind - teachers and principals - public schools have the burden of solving all the societal problems of racism and poverty without the resources or tools to do it. This can be a learning opportunity for all us OR it can be a time to rehash the past, punish a well intentioned deed and committed educator and set a poor example of for our children. PARENTS - especially need to be more accountable to work to SOLVE the problems. Finally, perhaps in HINDSIGHT, Madison should have allowed students of all races who were interested to attend. It would have called the bluff of the entitled who merely resent their teensy loss of privilege, and the truly interested non-black students may well have benefited from the experience in many ways as Sandy Sammons points out. Challenge to all: Dig deeper into the context in which this occurred. Make this a learning experience. Realize the shortcomings of your own points of view. Solve this as a community not as warring factions. The


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.

It is not and was not racism, guard your tongues. It could be discrimination.. then the question is "Was it fair discrimination" Didn't Madison get grief for being to harsh on AA kids at Forsythe, now he's too generous? Seems to me the problem is parents and children with too much sense of entitlement in both situations. I would be curious to know if the some (not all) the same people would have complained if their white kids were forced to attend an event directed toward AA students. It is suspiciously magnanimous of those who are concerned about all non-black students - specious attempt to both hide behind and call out the race card. Also, there is a well documented achievement gap based on race - across the nation - Ann Arbor is no exception. Of course, there are many black students who perform superbly and white kids who don't, but the trend is undeniable. The problem can't be addressed if there aren't some special measures taken to target specific groups that schools are bound by NCLB to help. This brings up a critical problem with No Child Left Behind - teachers and principals - public schools have the burden of solving all the societal problems of racism and poverty without the resources or tools to do it. This can be a learning opportunity for all us OR it can be a time to rehash the past, punish a well intentioned deed and committed educator and set a poor example of for our children. PARENTS - especially need to be more accountable to work to SOLVE the problems. Finally, perhaps in HINDSIGHT, Madison should have allowed students of all races who were interested to attend. It would have called the bluff of the entitled who merely resent their teensy loss of privilege, and the truly interested non-black students may well have benefited from the experience in many ways as Sandy Sammons points out. Challenge to all: Dig deeper into the context in which this occurred. Make this a learning experience. Realize the shortcomings of your own points of view. Solve this as a community not as warring factions. The


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 10:16 p.m.

I have a solution. All AAPS principals and the superintendent must attend diversity training. WCC can set it up.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:58 p.m.

the meeting was a well-orchestrated production. everyone played their part brilliantly, even down to one of the "booing" victims. well played, aaps, well played.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:45 p.m.

Not all whites are privileged, and not all blacks are underprivileged. Why not treat each person as an individual and seek to uplift those that are less fortunate? Maybe the privileged people of all races that have a lot of time and money on their hands could volunteer to support the very kids that are not achieving. If you started in the early grades, these kids would have a real chance in life. You could volunteer your time if you have some, or money if you make a lot but have no time. This way if you truly feel guilty about what you have, you can provide resources to those less fortunate, regardless if they are white, brown, black, or yellow. Contact your local neighborhood school and tell them you would love to setup a program for underachieving kids by tutoring them! I think this would be much more positive than segregrating by race, giving them pizza, art and basketball, and generally creating a poor social climate for all students.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:44 p.m.

What happened at the meeting? Were there admissions and apologies or is the school continuing its assertion that because their intentions were pure, obviously so were their actions?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:27 p.m.

I was very disappointed and surprised to read about the Dickens school field trip which was only for one racial group. Mr. Mike Madison is hired to be a principal for all students of his school and not just one racial group. He is responsible for educating all students and not just students of one racial group. To allow this type of behavior as part of official school policy is simply wrong ethically, morally and legally. Wouldnt all of the children have benefited from meeting accomplished scientists and engineers of a diversity of races? That would have set a far more effective example. Why is public school funding going to any group which only allows membership from any single racial group? That Mr. Madison feels that he can make this type of decision and justify it is really frightening. How can we ever move ahead of racism if officials within the school system abet it?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:23 p.m.

MLK would be proud? are you kidding? what part of "...not by the color of their skin but the content of their character" do you not get? the scariest part of this article to me was: "school board member Christine Stead said...'The intent of the program seems to be in line with what we expect.'" um, really? you expect that children will be segregated by race and certain groups will be privileged? that's an odd sort of goal for a school district. one wonders how much of the achievement gap they might have erased with the $350K the "consultant" has collected--so far. look, good citizens of Ann Arbor, I'll make it real easy for you: if someone discriminates against somebody solely on the basis of their skin color, it is wrong, and it is illegal. good intentions don't enter into it. Madison--and possibly a large portion of the school board!--should go.

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:16 p.m.

@s: Thanks for posting the email address. Email the entire Board at: Very few people vote in school board elections, unfortunately. Hopefully the memory of this incident and the school board's response won't have died before the next election. Since so few people vote I'm not sure I'd expect people on the board to take the possibility of being voted out of office seriously, but I guess we'll see.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

"Those of you who want to make this world Black or White, get a box of crayons and color ALL of the students in this school district the colors you have used to discribe them." Sorry, but race exists, I don't see a need to hide it. I'm assuming your comment suggests that it shouldn't be acknowledged. I think it should be acknowledged, although unlike an Ann Arbor elementary principal, I don't think people should be treated differently because of it.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

S, I don't know why you keep harping on the fact that Madison violated federal law. The Constitution is only a piece of paper. And for all you know, maybe he is just not familiar with the law or school district policy. He's a principal, not a lawyer! -madashell Are you serious? igorance of the law is no excuse. He should have had the commonsense to know "black only" was wrong, if he, as a principle or even, as a black man, doesn't get that than there is a big problem in his thinking. Furthermore, what a great lesson him losing his job would be to the children. That racism, in any form, from any person will not be tolerated, that the preference/treatment/inequality on the basis of color will not be tolerated. That you can be black or white and become a rocket scientist, if you study hard and work hard, regardless of the color of your skin you can achieve much (GEE, sounds like the American Dream!)


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:04 p.m.

Mick, I agree with your post. I have had many great black students in my classes throughout the year. From what you say, it sounds like your children are the type of students that try hard, respect their teachers, and generally seek to better themselves. I don't agree that there is a race achievement gap, but I do feel the data would likely support a strong correlation with socieconomic status. White kids fail too. I haven't seen any evidence of institutional racism within the district. If we accept institutional racism, then we must accept that the vast majority of teachers are willfully sabotaging their black students. It would also imply that no black students do well, which from experience is clearly not the case. Do some black students perceive racism? Sure. What I typically see in my classes are the high achieving, focused black students get along with teachers as well as their white or Asian counterparts. These are the students that go to good colleges and have career aspirations, much like their white/Asian counterparts. However, other black students that don't come to class on time, are off-task in class, I am sure their experience mirrors that of any other student (of any color) that has a similar approach to education. In my classes, the only students that I have issues with are those that are disruptive, demonstrate poor behavior, and take no responsibility for their actions. This has nothing to do though with the color of one's skin. The biggest issue with the achievement gap is some students are not invested in their schooling (this is true for ALL students). Students in this group typically have a lower skill set, sometimes trouble dealing with authority, and more likely to be defiant in class. Usually they have little idea of what their future holds, and little interest in achieving when there is no desire for something concrete in the future. In regards to what goes on outside of the school, this is a huge part of the problem. Some parents are very poor role models. Some of the schools do a poor job of enforcing expectations. The reality of Ann Arbor is the students that come from stable families and firm expectations, they function well in an environment that has a low threshold for consequences. Students that are not invested in school and have a low level of intrinsic motivation would do better in an environment where there are consequences for nonattendance, work completion, achievement,behavior, etc. Schools need to raise the standard for what is expected for everyone, and in many cases, specifically for the students. Disrespect should not be tolerated and students should be expected to follow reasonable expectations. I can tell you this clearly is not the case in some buildings. From what I have seen, these expectations in some buildings are not enforced with any regularity. My experience shows that central administration analyzes data, but has no clue about what goes on in the day to day operations of the district. I feel they are a large part of the problem. I believe that they are more interested in correcting the data than the issue. They have made the building administrators cautious of detentions and suspensions for fear of angering central administration and being branded a racist building due to a disproportionate share of black students getting detentions, suspensions, and referrals. I would love to see Todd Roberts spend a week in one of our buildings and really form an opinion of what goes on outside of the data they collect. We don't need Singleton and his "expertise." Why not take a good hard look at the district with our eyes open, looking at the data but also looking at it from the lens of the building. There is definitely room for improvement. As far as PEG (and Glenn Singleton) is considered, I feel it is almost grand theft what is going on. Google his name and you are bound to read about lawsuits and others' take on this race "consultant." In a (simplified) nutshell, I think the main reasons for the achievement gap are as follows: - home environment - social progression in the K-8 structure (you don't do the work you still can pass till you hit 9th grade. Where in life does this approach truly work?) - low consequences in many buildings for poor behavior/lack of respect, attendance, tardies, achievement, etc. - fear of racism leads to conscious decision-making at the building to show improvement in data, but not necessarily in "real" improvement.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:57 p.m.

Mr Madison, I was on the Tappen site committee that hired both you and Dr. Corbett. I have followed your sojourn in the A2 Public School system for years and hope you still remember the comments I gave you about the residents of A2. You still have my support and prayers. Stay focused, keep on your mission. Those of you who want to make this world Black or White, get a box of crayons and color ALL of the students in this school district the colors you have used to discribe them. White, Black, Red, Yellow, Brown,... THERE IS BUT ONE RACE ON THIS PLANET, HUMAN.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

Regarding the comment made by a contributor who felt that MLK would have been proud of the principal's actions, I respectfully disagree. I believe that MLK wanted all children to have equal opportunity to achieve, regardless of the color of their skin. He wanted to see all children be able to go together hand-in-hand, not one race go together while all others were excluded on the basis of their skin color. I don't believe he would have approved of low-achieving or uninspired children of any race or ethnic background being excluded from that trip or group on the basis of their skin color.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:41 p.m.

Agreed! Where is the School Board on this? From their website: Email the entire Board at: Let's hear what they have to say - Email the board if you feel like they need to speak up.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:39 p.m.

@ magnumpi : Thanks for the little up-date about the meeting tonight. Would like to know more about what transpired and the general attitude of those who attended. If you can - post a summary of the meeting from your perspective on the community wall.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:33 p.m.

Adlai Reinhart said "I say good for Mr Madison. The aim of the field trip is to give the black children equal opportunity. Is there something wrong with that? Each individual of the earth should be have the right to learn to read, write, and operate successfully in the American community. I think MLK would be proud to have the principal of an elementary school uphold the achievement right of black children attending the school. So why, Ann Arbor, are we creating a controversy out of this?" How can you say good for Mr. Mdison? How did he give the "black children" equal opportunity? He showed a racial side that is against the law in Michigan. MLK would not have been proud of the principal of an elementary school who did not uphold the rights of black children but instead showed them the ugly side of racism, by segragation! What this man did is plain and simply a crime and should be punished. The statement that he was "following" the suggestion of a consultant is BS. IF the consultant told him to paint the halls pink and make the "white children" or the "hispanic children" or the "purple children" wear pink clothing to school would that be acceptable and would he follwo their reccomendation? This man is a paid professional and he should be capable of making valid choices and should take responsibility for his actions.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

magnumpi answered my question: "Invitations for the lunch bunch were only given out to african american students. in answer to a question at the meeting tonight, the principal said he would like to continue the lunch bunch but will now extend it to anyone who wants to join" -If this source is completely legit, then the original intention and the African American Lunch bunch is technically illegal under Proposal 2 which was approved by the citizens of the State of Michigan by vote in 2006. It's unfortunate that Mr. Madison is being put through this (again), but he did break State and District Law. Opinion Wise: It's an idea that seems good at first, but in the end people complain and laws are broken and all the sudden you got Community Walls that are like what I see above. If I was in that situation, and if I wasn't allowed to go, then I would have been very upset. My best friend in elementary school was African-American, and I had a bunch of friends who were African-American. I would have also probably wanted to join that group... What Mr. Madison did was with good intentions, but in the end, no one is happy. And to those who say the system is corrupt: A) There is no system that ISN'T corrupt, and B) AAPS is a great district, compared to others around the country, because we are actually doing things right here. I was a student, and I had a good run through it. Although there were instances where they did something or disciplined someone just so they didn't get sued (in my opinion), the district is a success, which I believe is still trying to create a more perfect district. Just look at the districts around it, and how well we're coping with the financial difficulties of the State. However, I don't want this to ignite a flame war against two sides, but that's my opinion.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:24 p.m.

"As long as he had good intentions, he's A-OK with me!" Is it possible to have standards that are any lower????


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:22 p.m.

Taken directly from Superintendent Todd Roberts public bio page: INSIGHTS Best way to keep competitive edge: Listen to what people say. There are a lot of good comments floating around here. I suggest you also share them with Superintendent Roberts:


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

All the rocket scientists in the world cannot compensate for the greatest role model of all: A father.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:08 p.m.

I really think Mr. Madison and certain other administrators around the Ann Arbor area need to reconsider their approach to closing the "achievement gap." Does it ever occur to these people that sorting out students purely by race may actually do more harm than good? Special programs for students based on their actual performance I would support. But special programs for students based solely on race, to me, would seem to actually support the idea that black students can't do as well and need extra help. I mean think about the messages these kids might be getting. The black kids are hearing "you're special because you're black, regardless of your individual life experiences," and doubtless they're also hearing over and over again "black students have more trouble than other students and that's why you're entitled to extra help and support." Meanwhile the non-black students are hearing "you don't deserve these privileges because you don't have it as hard as black students." The whole system just seems backwards to me. I'm all in favor of special support programs, but if they want to help students succeed they need to stop classifying them by race and telling them that their race makes them fundamentally different from each other.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:03 p.m.

Stunhsif wrote: "As for Mr. Madison, do the investigation and then fire this guy." Then what's the purpose of the investigation? Talk about a high-tech lynching!

PE #1

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:43 p.m.

Also @2Bee (Sorry for the late post) does one only apologize, when one goes as far as verbal assault? I don't know about you, but I apologize when I accidentally bump into someone in the hallway at school. That certainly isn't as serious as verbal assault. Madison probably was apologizing to the children for taking up their class time. Anyone see a tiny bit of racism in this chain of events?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:42 p.m.

Well, I can only imagine what things would be like if it were only a bus full of white students that got to go see a rocket scientist!

PE #1

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:37 p.m.

I say good for Mr Madison. The aim of the field trip is to give the black children equal opportunity. Is there something wrong with that? Each individual of the earth should be have the right to learn to read, write, and operate successfully in the American community. I think MLK would be proud to have the principal of an elementary school uphold the achievement right of black children attending the school. So why, Ann Arbor, are we creating a controversy out of this?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:29 p.m.

ONLY black children were allowed in the lunch bunch. ONLY black children were members of the lunch bunch, including black children who are neither economically underprivileged nor academic underachievers. Membership based exclusively on color. Ask any parent in that school, since those are the people with firsthand knowledge. Principal Madison yelled at a young Muslim girl who tried to articulate her experiences with racism with a condescending tirade about how she didn't know racism like a black person knows racism.


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

Invitations for the lunch bunch were only given out to african american students. in answer to a question at the meeting tonight, the principal said he would like to continue the lunch bunch but will now extend it to anyone who wants to join.

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:20 p.m.

This isn't just one mistake; it's simply the worst recent example of an entire corrupt philosophy endemic in the corrupt educational system. Just the tip of the iceberg!


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

Again, if this group was open to ANY STUDENT, and ANY STUDENT who was the member of the group was allowed to go on the trip, then this is completely legal. I'm just using the BSU/L as an example. Also remember I asked the question to admins, staff, or people, if the group accepted students from any race as members, and if those students, if they were in the club, would have been allowed to go on the trip.


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

Congratulations to abc. I think that this is the best piece of writing today and I wish I had had the insight to write it. Personally I don't think Mr Madison should be fired. I think he needs a good talking to, made to read abc's writing and put on some sort of probation. Assuming that this is his first "mistake" would you wives and mothers out there appreciate it if your husband was fired for his first mistake (that is not fatal)?

Left Coast Lawyer

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

The argument revolving around the diversity student unions is merely a straw man argument because (and I merely draw from my own experiences with the diversity student union groups that existed in my own schools) the unions accepted all comers. I attended several of the Asian American Pacific Islander Association activities. They were fun, nobody ever said "You're not Asian or Pacific Islander, you must leave!" This group appears to exclude all non-black students. Thus... Unconstitutional! The End.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:03 p.m.

Okay, seriously guys, you haven't hit the one crucial question that could have made this trip totally legitimate. Now, I am asking an administrator or a Staff member of this, so I don't want to hear anyone else. My question is- "Did you have to be African American to join the Lunch Bunch, or was it like a Black Student Union/League, in which it was directed toward African American students, but any member of any race could join if they wanted to?" -If this is the latter, then that means that ANY student of ANY race or religion or cultural background could have join the group, which would have let them be eligible to go on this trip, unless Mr. Madison denied those particular members of going on this trip. -If this was only for African American Students, then this trip and this group, for that matter, violate the law of the State of Michigan, and what Mr. Madison did was illegal. HOWEVER (don't jump at me yet), I have yet to know what happened before and what happened afterwards in this situation, which as of right now is still being solved. I am right now only analyzing the trip and the group itself, but not the parts after the trip where he reportedly "yelled" at the students who didn't go. This could be a totally legit case, but the trip could have (by State Law) been illegal. ****I just read the Detroit Freep article about this, and Freep claims that although it was geared toward African American students to improve MEAP scores and grades, any student of any gender, race, religion,economic or cultural background could have joined. Sounds to me like it's like the BSU/L, which had special field trips that were for the members of that group. Even though the only people who were members were African-American, if any student could have joined, it doesn't break any rule. From the Freep: "It was just one of many efforts the district has made to motivate the group, called the Lunch Bunch, a peer-support group to help students struggling academically. The club was created to help improve African-American students' MEAP performance but is open to any student. But currently, only African-American students are members." Aside from the story: I do remember Mr. Madison when he was at Forsythe Middle School. He was a pretty good guy, and he did a good job at that school- until he was relocated to Dicken for other allegations (this was about 5 years back).

Left Coast Lawyer

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:58 p.m.

Odd that Mr. Roberts didn't instanly receive his answer upon requesting legal counsel's analysis of the entire AALG. I could have answered this in my first year of law school. The special activity group which has 1 qualification (skin color) violates federal law. Thus, one need not look to whether State law was violated, or whether this violated the school district charter as both are pre-empted by the federal law per the supremacy clause.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:51 p.m.

As taxpayers, we have a right see the "private donation" paperwork for the field trip taken during school hours, as well as exactly when it was received. We deserve to know if Principal Madison reimbursed the cost of the field trip AFTER this drama broke out. He has admitted to some that he paid for the trip (after allegations of racism) and now needs to explain how this was an appropriate event on one hand, but one which he felt compelled to distance from tax funds on the other hand by creating an fake "anonymous donor". What he has done is hurtful and most importantly -ILLEGAL.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

Bottom line, even it if was well intentioned, racism is racism. This school run group excluded other races for prefered treatment (Even if that prefered treatment may or may have not been well intentioned). As one would point out, if this was a white only group with prefered treatment even if well intentioned, half the nation would know about it right now and there would be screaming of civil rights violations. One must also point out that it wasn't just white students excluded but every race. You can't tell me that there weren't non-black students that also needed a leg up or shown how studying, dreaming and hard work can lead to great things. This isn't based on the color of a skin, a religious belief, a different way of thinking, or any other thing that shouldn't make a difference. We need to teach our children correctly from day one that none of that should matter even if you disagree with someone else. AAPS shouldn't be passing any other message along to them than that. They have a responsibility to uphold these beliefs as we've created our government to do so. Bottom line. The government, government funding, etc has very strict laws on prefered treatment on any of these basis and I can ONLY HOPE AAPS takes this seriously. NO ONE in our school system should allow these sorts of things to happen, no matter how well intentioned. It's not the values, we as a society as a whole, choose to conduct ourselves and any school system or governmental agency needs to be held accountable for anything but the values we intend to live by and pass on to our children.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:40 p.m.

Diversity isn't separating black kids from everyone else. It is showing examples of successful blacks to the entire student body. President Obama just came and spoke to the entire graduating class at UM, not just to a black-only group. And, he should be trying to break down stereotypes. Lunch bunch is for black boys to play basketball and the girls go do crafts. What rock did this guy crawl out from under? Lunch or after-school activities can be exclusive to an interest: chess, jump roping, Keith Hafner visit, magic, outdoor adventures, etc. Some may look like they are race- and/or sex-based, but they shouldn't start with that as the criteria.

Art Vandelay

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:33 p.m.

So the AAEA and some people support this because he's helping an under-represented minority. Does Dicken have a Hispanic Lunch Bunch and what special privileges, lunches, and field trips have they had? Madison has one of the more highly paid jobs in the district. He is paid as a professional and should act like one. In the private sector there would be nothing to discuss. He would have been fired last week.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

I find it quite ironic that citing statistics on the "achievement gap" using race as an independent criteria is acceptable when justifying the use of public resources to close that gap. Yet, it is unacceptable to cite the same data when concluding that whites are smarter and more successful than blacks because of race alone. In my opinion the entire existence of a club that promotes exclusion and segregation for the purpose of coddling kids that are predisposed by race to underachieve is insulting and racist.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:17 p.m.

I think the excluded student's civil rights were violated. So the man had good intentions, so what. That doesn't seem to be giving the Arizona Anti-Illegal Immigration Law a pass, does it?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:12 p.m.

Maybe he ought to have looked into the legality of di"But as I reflect upon the look of excitement, enthusiasm and energy that I saw in these childrens eyes as they stood in the presence of a renowned African American rocket scientist in a very successful position, it gave the kids an opportunity to see this type of achievement is possible FOR EVEN THEM (emphasis added)." Nice. Way to not put too fine a point on it.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:07 p.m.

Mike Madison made the comment that the trip was not a wasted venture because one day one of his kids could be standing on mars. he forgot the part"one black student will be standing on Mars. Another point for Mike, would you be ok if some of your students wanted to have a American Arian lunch brunch and wanted to go see a famous white person. lets face it racism comes in all colors and sometimes its taught to our kids by teachers. In a day in age where all is looked under a microscope being the principal he should of known better and should be dealt with. unpaid time off or a new job will help in this. And saying the bus time was paid by another person shows that this was set up with leaving the white kids out. I bet the person who paid for the bus was black. shame on you Mike Madison. but thank you for reminding us to watch what your school is doing!! they may not have the same wants for your child as you do. they may even see them as the enemy.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:05 p.m.

What nonsense. This trip should have been for ALL students. When will the principal get it into his thick skull that such discrimination only serves to further disadvantage black Americans - these children are 100% American, no way are they African - they haven't a clue of what makes an African tick (I've been in close contact with many, so I have a small inkling). Many, many white parents are struggling to raise their families with sound moral beliefs in straitened circumstances. If a child has it in him, with dispassionate teaching, it will blossom. If not - then help that child to be the very best he can be. Life isn't a Soap Opera - we deal as best we can, while keeping the commandments and loving God and our fellowman.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:55 p.m.

Still no word from Jesse or Al about how the principal's message was that "even they" could become a rocket scientist? This isn't just some Ann Arborites whining either. This is wrong on so many levels. I would also like to hear how long this AALB group had been happening. Shame, shame shame...


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:50 p.m.

Where are the good Reverends Al and Jessie? I thought this Dynamic Duo always showed up when there was a racial injustice! (sigh...)


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:20 p.m.

Mr. Madison is not preventing racism... he is teaching racism. No person should ever be excluded from an activity based on the color of their skin. Shame on you Mr. Madison.

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

I just love this quote from the Fox News story: "But we also have to have better education for our parents so they know why it's being done," [Liz Margolis] said. How incredibly arrogant and insulting. Obviously people are outraged because they're too stupid to understand the reasoning behind the segregation and racial discrimination! According to Lizzy here, their reasoning is just so superior and flawless that no educated person could possibly disagree with it. It's amazing how all the little people out there can even function, huh? If this doesn't prove my point about intellectual corruption in the school system then I don't know what will.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 4:41 p.m.

I have been hearing of the "achievement gap" for many many years. Ten, fifteen maybe. I never thought the AAPS was a racist school system. One poster here, Davidian says yes, it is. My kids who are black, had no problem they did very well. No racism, great grades, no Huron High however. I disagree. If the AAPS is racist, I think we would be hearing about it a lot more. Mr. Roberts makes an interesting statement referring to the consultant's work, "things we can control in the school." Does this imply there are things outside the school contributing to the gap? And how big are those things in re to the gap? PEG has been on board for 4.5 to 5 years. Making progress? Apparently this program flew in under the radar eh? What do the teachers think? Do AAPS teachers discriminate against black students? What do they think the reasons are for this gap?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 4:24 p.m.

I know that there is an achievement gap, and I believe the school system must do what they can to address it. However, targeting the efforts to close the gap solely on african-american students is wrong. There are african-american students at all levels of achievement, just as there are students of all races/creeds/colors at all levels of achievement. This "AA Lunch Bunch" by its name alone (whether or not its true in practice) excludes children who might need help, and denigrates those african-american students who are excelling. It sends the message that african-american students need more help, which is harmful not only to the students in the group, but to the rest of the school community. We're cheating all of the students by perpetuating this myth. Focus on closing the gap, not segregating a subgroup of students who are in it.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

This is clearly illegal under the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), so not only should the Principal be fired for violating the law and putting the entire district in jeopardy for criminal and civil action, but also, it brings into question the whole state of Michigan vis-a-vis enforcement of the MCRI. What good is it to have laws on the books if they're not enforced? This should be a major issue for current Attorney General Mike Cox, who is hoping to be the next governor of Michigan. If he's not been enforcing our state's laws, then IMHO he has been negligent in his duties and should not be a candidate for governor this November. As for the achievement gap, if this principle can conduct blacks-only events to address the racial achievement gap, then what next? Boys-only events to address the gender gap in education? Try that and see how the community reacts...

R williams

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

There are too many irritating points in this article for a simple summary. But in the third to last paragraph I would suggest they should hire teachers that know how to work with individual students that are struggling (or is helping kids learn outside of the union contract?)


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

@bmaloy. let's not forget the cost incurred by hiring subs so the teachers could chaperone. i wonder if that was privately funded also???


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.

"Roberts said a private donation paid the time for the bus, which was the only cost of the event." If Mr. Roberts really said or infered that the only cost of the trip was the bus then we are all really in trouble. Mr. Madison obviously spent time setting up this outing. I'm quite certain he's drawing a handsome salary. Certainly we can't forget about the $350k paid to the consultant to come up with these bright ideas. If Mr. Roberts can't see the additional costs (outside of the bus) then it's no wonder why our school system is in such awful financial shape.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 3:14 p.m.

I wish the AAPS administration would listen to the voices of its community. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but historically, didn't African Americans have to fight to go to school and become educated, and didn't African Americans have to fight to integrate schools and attend the same programs and classes as Caucasian students? And now AAPS sees no problem with exclusively grouping African Americans for lunches and enrichment trips as a viable means of addressing the academic achievement gap? Seems to me that they are going in the reverse direction! Somehow their actions are implying that African Americans can't achieve within the current school structure without additional support, motivation and incentive. How insulting! Take a good look at your curriculum, text books, required reading, and class material for it's cultural diversity before you start separating students based on race or ethnic demographics.

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

@"Brit Satchwell" Your statement is absolutely morally reprehensible. This is just typical of the corrupt organizational culture that has rotted the core of public education. Public education is need of some serious reform that actually addresses the corrupt organizational culture that has developed. This means undertaking difficult tasks like firing large numbers of administrators, not just some lame standardized testing that isn't going to accomplish anything when there's still no real accountability.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

I, too, wonder why the children were taken to see the speaker rather than the speaker coming to the school to talk. The opportunity to meet a rocket scientist in the flesh is something that ALL students could benefit from, regardless of race, gender, religion, what have you. When you're a kid the idea of a "rocket scientist" sounds like something out of science fiction; imagine how all those young imaginations could be sparked by actually MEETING a rocket scientist and realizing, "Hey, that looks like something I could do, too." I don't care if the scientist was black, white, yellow, or fricking rainbow-colored -- the important thing is that he is a SCIENTIST, and children of all backgrounds need that kind of inspiration to pursue excellence in math and science. Too many children are of the mindset that, "Math is hard and science is boring," and they get locked in their own self-fulfilling prophecy. Get them excited about math and science when they're young and just WATCH them bloom. As for the booing -- come on, we're talking about fifth graders. They weren't booing because the kids were black; they were booing because their classmates got to spend part of the day OUT OF SCHOOL on a FIELD TRIP, while they were stuck in class memorizing their reading, writing and 'rithmatic. I'd be grumpy, too!

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

The people suffering from white guilt need to realize that there is no such thing as "positive segregation". White guilt doesn't help anyone. I hope the people who are suffering from it will take a hard look at themselves and realize that it doesn't help black people, it doesn't help white people. It's essentially a dysfunctional coping mechanism and it no better than any other dysfunctional coping mechanism. When we treat people differently based on race, even if you think it's some sort of "positive discrimination", we set up a thought pattern than racial discrimination is OK and the whole thing can easy flip flop from being "pro-black" to "pro-white" because who you're discriminating for or against is a minor detail in a much larger thought mechanism. Perhaps this will help the white guilt sufferers understand the situation better: Forget about white people for a second. What about the discrimination that occurred against hispanic, asian, and other minority students? What message does that send?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

One of the other things that stuck out in my mind in the description of the "Lunch Bunch" is that the boys are sent to the gym to play basketball, while the girls are sent to the art room. To me, that's a perpetuation of a tired gender stereotype. What about the girl who wants to shoot hoops or the boy who wants to paint? The Supreme Court decided a long time ago that "separate" is inherently unequal. I think it's time for the district to thank Mike Madison for his years of service and put him and his ideas on gender, race and equality out to pasture.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 1:17 p.m.

additionally, also agree with others in regards to what causes the achievement gap. It would be socio-economic. However wouldn't want to give this current gov't another reason to take more money from those that have earned it to those that did not.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

so ann arbor is voted fourth for the best place to live yet we have this happen? lovely I say fire him. Why? because this group AA Lunch Bunch has been going on for months, for only African American kids way before this field trip. he should have known it was illegal. furthermore "passionatly" discussing it with the kids= being yelled at from a childs point of view, no kid thinks they can have a fair discussion with the principle. get rid of him and give someone else a shot at the job.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.

Well, if this was a whites only situation Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be in Ann Arbor on the heels of Obama leaving. This teacher needs to be fired...period. There is no excuse for this. The assumption being whites would not get any value from hearing the speaker and blacks do. That attitude should be purged from our public school system.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

While I would agree that poor academic performance can be better tied to socioeconomic status rather than skin color, there is no shortage of scholarships for those who qualify to receive assistance. Weather it be free lunch to relieve some economic burden or funds used from the PTO coffers so ensure all students get the opportunity to participate in field trips or other educational / motivational events there are plenty of systems in place to ensure equal opportunity in the school regardless of economic status. What the schools can not do is attempt to be the parents of or compensate for lack of parental responsibility. I would be interested in seeing any data that shows free pizza and field trips increase motivation of underachievers. Skin color and economic status are not learning disabilities. There is no amount of resources that the school can put into overcoming lack of support from the home. Should they be expected to? There needs to be some kind of effort / reward system rather than this unobstructed flow of time and money. It's too bad we can not allow our schools to do what they were designed to do and provide opportunity for the best education possible and leave the responsibility of taking advantage of that opportunity to the parents and individual. While I believe the public education system should be subjected to performance evaluation, when the teachers spend so much time prepping specifically for the MEAPS is it really an accurate reflection of overall education. I don't doubt that Mr. Madisons efforts were well intentioned however I do question the growth and sustainability of a system with mis-guided efforts and unreasonable responsibility. The system which supports these actions should be under more scrutiny than this individuals actions. Let's look deeper and address the real problems with our system and perhaps redefine expectations.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

This was such an opportunity lost... but not for the reasons many might assume. Educational moments can come in many forms and some of the most effective are when people in authority admit fragility, a failing, a mistake, etc. made sometimes by themselves, or society, or history, and then make it better. Imagine if upon returning to Dickens, Mr. Madison sat with the children who booed and said, So are you disappointed that you too could not go with us? Well this is what we are going to do. Those students who attended the trip will each make a small 2 minute presentation to you and the scientist, who we will ask to the school, about what they learned and how it may make them better students. We will then ask the scientist to discuss how accurately those students absorbed his message and how that message applies to all of us. We will also have a discussion about why we should, or maybe should not, have trips based on this criteria in the future. Maybe the above is not exactly right on target but if you knew the students, teachers and the scientists presentation I have no doubt that there was a way to turn this into an advantage for all. One tool is to make those who got the special treatment work now for those who did not, extra work. Another is to put the problem right on the table and talk about it objectively. The aftermath here is the problem. Educators who are really trying will have ideas which just do not work out the way they intend. The question is how you handle those moments. Imagine being confronted by half of a class of fourth graders who missed out on a trip to talk to a scientist; who cared enough to want to meet this man too. Does anyone think they booed because they didnt want to see their classmates achieve? I think not. I think they booed because they also wanted to go. Realizing that others thirsted for this opportunity should have brought an educator to his or her knees, not to their soap box. That, in my mind, was not a moment for passion; it was a moment for humility. Mr. Madison missed a teachable moment when he responded with passion instead of understanding. This is a classic case of two wrongs not making a right and an educator should be able to see that from a mile away and should be happy to compare and contrast inequities of the past and present, and how dealing with those inequities can and will affect us all in the future. There was a way that this particular problem could have been used to make a number of really wonderful points about the how people have treated each other based on differences and similarities but those who could have taken that opportunity did not see it. I am not certain that it is too late to try.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

My my my..this conversation is very telling of the overall attitude of society as a whole..with many racist overtones. So many disparities in the minority communities...and even more so in the black community. What this principal did was flat out wrong. As an African American who came through the achievemnt gap, my hope was to be included and not separate from peers. This trip gave the impression to the black students that went that they are somehow separate in their struggle while giving the other students the impression that they are not special enough to attend. I feel sorry for both sides... the children that went and the ones who didn't. But anyone who wants to pretend that blacks are better off than whites is living under a rock...and with the comments being made by parents...its easy to see why minorites need different treatment. the racism within some of you is a part of the reason that many minority students fail. there is always an underlying racist tone..whether its coming from the black principal who in my opinon is highly partial..or coming from you all..the parents..and commuity. we need and open dialogue. the achievement gap comes from years and years of systematic racisim and segregation. and it will take years to fix. but pretending there isn't a major problem is no help to the minorites...or the white people they go to school with everyday. im surprised..and shocked at the comments. im saddened..saddened that people are so desperate to fix a problem they know nothing saddened that they choose to comment on an issue they know nothing saddened that through our anger and misconceptions and judegements..our children are caught in the crosshairs... my bottom line is...if it is unconstitutional...NEVER DO IT. why leave these children out of something so exciting. and who are the parents of the children who booed. you raised then wrong. awful to boo the students who had nothing to with the policies in place. and i don't believe for a second that this principal didn't berate these children..and for him..we've gotta do a Donald Trump.. YOUR FIRED! and if any one of you wants to really know what its like to be a product of the gap, feel free to email me. there are lingering and life changing results to this problem.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

WOW. The AAEE comment is an incredibley illogical statement wreathed in flowery rhetoric. Translate as: "We can't help everyone, so it is okay to help a select group even if it is to the detriment of others because, darn it, we are trying." Never mind the legality. I think the AAEE may need better leadership.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

Did Brit Satchwell really just suggest that breaking the anti-discrimination laws is fine as long as your efforts help the minority students??? As the parent of two minority students, all I can say is, "WOW."


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

WOW. The AAEE comment is an incredibley illogical statement wreathed in flowery rhetoric. Translate as: "We can't help everyone, so it is okay to help a select group even if it is to the detriment of others because, darn it, we are trying." Never mind the legality. I think the AAEE may need better leadership.

Tess Thomas

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

Dear "averagetaxpayer": "What a bunch of whiney, overreacting school parents there at Dicken." How dare you make such a subjective, presumptuous statement. I am a parent at Dicken and I have not whined or overreacted. I have followed due process in contacting Mr. Madison and the AA Board of Education to request more information about the incidents before jumping to conclusions. I am giving Mr. Madison the benefit of the doubt until I can hear FACTS about what actually occurred. And I have every right to those facts because my child walks into those doors everyday, and her education and her daily experiences are influenced by Principal Madison. For all of the derisive remarks you make about me and my fellow Dicken parents... it seems like you are just as willing to pass judgement upon us as you contend we are doing regarding this incident. If you do not have a stake in this scenario, I respectfully suggest you keep your hurtful inaccurate comments to yourself


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

At the least, Mr. Madison is guilty of poor judgement. At worst, of racism. I do think his reasons fall somewhere in between. While I applaud his efforts to shrink the achievement gap at Dicken, excluding any student is not how I'd like to see a principal act. I question his ability to lead a school of diverse ethnic populations and diverse abilities. I'm sure there were other ethnic groups who would have benefited from seeing an African-American scientist and aspired to someday be a scientist or astronaut.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:32 a.m.

Mr. Madison needs to be disciplined for this violation of rights. The Ann Arbor School District (of which I am a product) needs to to the right thing and admit it was wrong-and not try to justify it with "he had good motives". It shows a serious lack of wisdom on Mr. Madisons part, and demonstrates that anyone can encounter discrimination, not just minorities. The acheivment issue usually stems from a lack of support at home, and that is somthing parents have to fix. Kids need parents to take an active role, not leave it to the government to correct the problem.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:31 a.m.

Questions for David Jesse - 1.) Is the Ann Arbor school district working with the Pacific Educational Group voluntarily or as part of a settlement agreement with the Office of Federal Civil rights that a commentor mentioned in an earlier story? The civil rights complaints is occasionally mentioned in comments, but none of the education articles reference that the district was told or ordered to address the achievement disparities. 2.) Also, were there non-African American kids at Dicken who wanted to join the Lunch Bunch club prior to the field trip who were denied inclusion in the club? Or did the complaints about the racial make up of the club occur only after the field trip? Is there a plan invite the scientist to Dicken before the end of the school year so all the kids in the school can benefit from his advice to the Lunch Bunch group?


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

These actions are so wrong on so many levels. How has achievement ever accurately measured based on race? How is excluding students by race going to help a minority get along in this world? This is such a shameful event for AAPS.

Brit Satchwell

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

Mr. Madison, I want you to know that you have and will have AAEA's support for your equity initiatives. "Minority" by definition means "not all", so there is no way to always serve everybody in every instance in a wholesale manner without, by definition, giving minorities less than our educational mission requires to address their individual needs. Therefore, you truly leave no child behind when you address individual needs... you are inclusive, not exclusive. I support your inclusiveness and that of your academic interventions and supports, focused as they sometimes must be (!) according to individual needs. It is our job to educate all students to the benefit of each student as well of society as a whole. It is the law's constant job to catch up and stay abreast of society's needs. Stand tall, Mr. Madison. Your field trip exhibited inclusive leadership, and I am proud of your efforts in this regard. Brit Satchwell AAEA President


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

barefootdave is close - research shows that the achievement gap is directly related to poverty, which happens to come in all colors.

Danah Greer

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

I think this field trip should have been open to all students, but I'm sure it would have attracted mostly Black American students. The whole idea of exclusion is; I'm sure is what prompted the formation of the African American Lunch Bunch Program. As a Black Mother of two sons, I think the Ann Arbor school system has been supportive of my son's developement, but I also made sure that they were included in everything. Booing is never welcomed, and that should have been discouraged. Lrets move on to activities that would include ALL STUDENTS!!


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

I am sizzling... For "even them"? Really?? Did he actually say that? I have a huge problem with "african american lunch bunch". How is this "closing the gap"? This crap about calling anyone black "African Americans" is a joke. Why not call me "French American"? What about the large number of people who are ACTUALLY from Africa, but are not black?? I have had it with all this. Treat the kids the same. If you want to organize a group to see a black rocket scientist-do so off of the school clock if it means that much to "see it in their eyes". Teach the kids how to read!!! Teach them mathematics and science! QUIT singling them out as if they haven't got a chance. Duh! When you single people out----they feel different than others!!! Aren't you educated enough to see that?? Ask any junior high kid how to hurt another---ignore them, single them out. I am usually on the side of the underdog when it comes to people being protected in their jobs. But this? I really think that some kind of demotion is in order. If your thinking is that skewed, you really shouldn't be in that position. I am so ticked off, I gotta go take a walk.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

I think the problem is more with AAPS's attempt to close to achievement gap based on skin color rather than achievement. The districts attempts to "bring their numbers up." Strictly based on color is the root of the problem that needs to be addressed, but since they are looking into it themselves I'm doubting they we see this.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

This man broke the law. Period. He should have known better. The exclusion of children because of race is a no-brainer regardless of how well intentioned he was. All persons, regardless of race, ought to agree he set a bad example, and that you cannot break the law and not face the consequences. He needs to show the children that no one is above the law, not even him.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

This is a very important discussion. The achievement gap is real, and the consequence for the kids who don't succeed is that these kids go on to the school of hard knocks. Mike Madison is a basket case about this because of what is at stake. Understood. Still, you can't just care about something, and then go off and do dumb, hurtful things trying to right other hurtful things. You have to right things,smart things, things within the law. What kind of consulting firm is this? When there is a lot of diversity, there can be much freedom of thought, people get a chance to view things a new and different way, and it leads to interesting discussions, and it's very enjoyable. or it can get ugly and move into it's an us or them mode. AAPS has a choice and it needs to move in a more positive, inclusive direction. If they can. t

Andrew Smith

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

Mike Madison is a nice guy, and generally a good principal. This particular situation is, however, a mistake (as he stated in his letter to the parents). Madison simply carried out to a logical conclusion many of the trends and activities exemplified by PEG ( and other similar organizations. I waded through one PEG document last year, which alleged interest in promoting achievement of all children, but focused exclusively on African-American and Latino students. I'd say that the trends in the educational consulting sector are as much to blame as Madison is.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

Madison: Passionate, that's good. Short-sighted, that's bad. Not really ready for a management job, but *if* he learns big from this, he'll be a better administrator in the future.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

>> This is about kids seeing role models No, this is about a select group of kids, based on their race, getting to see role models.

L. C. Burgundy

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

AAPS is going to be in damage control mode for this one for quite a while. Civil rights violations tend to get people into a lather, and this has all the outward appearance of being a pretty odious one.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

Community, please drop this issue. I do not believe this principal was deliberately trying to alienate anyone--he was just being directed by the Pacific Group-high priced consultants AAPS hired to help with the achievement gap. We are loosing focus on the achievement gap. Give me a break and move on! The more important issue is our teacher's union gave $1.8 million in concession with is $1.4 in an automatic raise they will not get (step increase) and another $400,000 which really works out to $333 per teacher. Plus, they get another 2 days paid leave during the school year which equals $150 in substitute pay. Sounds like they are making huge sacrifices-NOT.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:53 a.m.

Is it possible to find out the criteria the school used for sending out the information about the meeting tonight? Nothing was sent in backpacks and some parents from the class in question did not get an email notification. This meeting sounds important enough that all parents should know about it.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

From the prevous stroy that was on Ann the other day I gathered that the principal actually excluded the girls who had planned to go due to the size of the bus. If that is the case, he clearly discriminated based on gender. I can understand the intentions he had associated with the achievment gap and improving it, but his mens rea was in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:49 a.m.

Mr. Roberts - isn't it important that all cultures, races, etc. see Latino and Black artwork? Part of the achievement gap is an understanding of each culture by all the other cultures. When we single out one or two groups we do nothing to educate the others. Black and Latino cultures need to be emphasized with ALL students.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

Hear, hear Susan. Now let the powers that be do their work.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

I'm sure Mr. Madison's intentions would good indeed but if this were the other way around; CNN would already be in A2.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

Once upon a time, students who could recite their multiplication tables got a star by their name, students who ran fastest in P.E. got a ribbon, and students who worked hard to achieve good grades got their name posted on list which was displayed in the hallway for all to see. Nowadays, it seems the rewards go to the under achievers with the obscure thought that unearned praise will encourage these students to work harder...WRONG! The principal at this school is teaching his students that as long as society views you as "under priviledge" or "inferior" you will be rewarded with special treatment.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:41 a.m.

This article states " Much of the work PEG is doing centers on things we can control in the school Roberts said. That includes making sure black and latino students see artwork in classrooms and read literature that reflects their culture". Hopefully the literature they read does not include the over abundant negative self inflicted ghetto rap and gangsta rap influence that their cultures seem to put up on a pedastal. Notice also, this article used caps for "Latino" but did not do so for "Black". As for Mr. Madison, do the investigation and then fire this guy. He needs to go, racism at this level cannot be overlooked!


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

As an aside - Davisian, you are spot on and I applaud you for indicating the real problem. As my earlier post alluded to, all of these "minority" organizations along with political correctness propogate the race problem because everyone is afraid to speak freely about racial issues due to fear of being labeled - or have become so angry with the whole process that they become stuborn in their views and do not see how illogical it has all become. There are either equal standards or there are not. Kudos Davidian.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:32 a.m.

Does anyone think the ACLU will be ready to represent the non-black students? (cricketts chirping... ) LOL. I thought not.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

Susan - don't all kids need this support, or is it just "these kids". Ann Arbor will start making progress when they understand that all our kids are "these kids".


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

You can't have it both ways. Either he is discriminating in violation of the law, or he isn't. You can't make exceptions for kids that "aren't reaching their potential" while excluding other kids too. Equality--either we want it or we don't.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:27 a.m.

When I came to Huron High School in 1990, I came from a small town that had a lot of Black and Latino folk. For the most part, at least at that age, we got along, but there were problems with racial tension. I had long heard about Ann Arbor's wonderful "diversity" and thought they had solved everything. Not so. What I learned right away was that race relations were FAR worse. I have never in my life, before or since, been targeted or discriminated solely for the color of my skin like I had at Huron High--by other students and faculty. I have yet to witness racial brutality (student on student) like I witnessed at Huron in the early 90's. I attribute this in part to various minority and quasi-religious organizations that started out with good intentions but further segregated and alienated students from one another. I also attribute this to the sense of entitlement that was preached and encouraged at Huron. And a key player in all of this....was none other than Mike Madison.

Annie Zirkel

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:26 a.m.

Beyond the questions about segregation, achievement gaps and reverse-discrimination lets not forget the realities of life. I can only imagine that Mr. Madison, as a black educator, seeing this group of very real students not reaching their potential might be more personal. I have met him and believe his intentions to help these children feel special in a way they likely don't often experience in our society was an attempt to reach these kids. I'm not saying it was well thought-out and unfortunately his actions and reactions alienated others which takes things a step backwards. But can we at least keep in mind that when you are trying to correct a huge inequity you need to think outside the box. Kids need a lot of support to reach their potential. And the reality is that being white gives you advantages in this area. As a principal it sounds like he screwed up. But making mistakes is going to happen as we try to figure this stuff out. At least his actions are getting us to talk about some important issues.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:25 a.m.

Susie Q. you must work for the district..shrug what's the big deal, let us handle it, no more questions comments, input, we know what we are doing...No, that is not an acceptable response. How the kids are treated now is directly related to how they will be when they are adults. There are laws in place and people even AAPS administrators have to follow them.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:24 a.m.

Oh for Petes sake, leave this guy alone. He is trying to do right by these kids, who need all the support they can get.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:21 a.m.

Mr Madison may have been well intentioned but that still does not excuse blatant violation of discrimination laws.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

Booing is not bullying it is a form of free speech indicating disapproval. Perhaps we should inact a law banning booing from all sporting events because it will result in physical violence? Absurd. As for everyone being considered Americans - tell that to everyone who still supports affirmative action. I'm looking at you UM Law School! This is the type of action that propogates racial problems.

Susie Q

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

I HAVE known Mr Madison for almost 30 years and have had the pleasure of working with him when he was a teacher and since he has become an administrator. I have worked with him in two different buildings and two different levels. He was an excellent administrator and while I did not always agree with him on every issue, I found him to be a thoughtful, caring person who has worked to see ALL students succeed. While this field trip and its aftermath may have have been handled better, it sounds as though folks are making a mountain out of a molehill and blowing this all out of proportion. Let Dr Roberts handle this as he sees fit and stop talking about firing, reprimands, etc. Fix the problem and move on.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

Question: When the children returned from the field trip, why did the white, asian, and muslim students feel so comfortable greeting them with Boos? What was the role of the classroom teacher and/or other adults in the classroom? Isn't the Booing a form of bullying? And, isn't bullying suppose to be against school rules? Well, perhaps in this instance, the bullying was justified because those doing the bullying was white, asian and muslim students and those being booed was black students who received this special treatment. So alls fair. Maybe the parents who are so upset about this incident need to look at their own behavior and the behavior of their children before they caste aspersion on others.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:11 a.m.

>> Why don't we just think of ourselves as Americans That's just it. People do. Except for this principal.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:09 a.m.

The law has clearly been broken and lawsuits will be filed. The National media will be watching and this incident will be political fodder for the 2010 elections. Mike Madison is a hot potato and I pity Todd Roberts.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

There is so much being said about black people VERSUS white people. Why don't we just think of ourselves as Americans - white, black, yellow, brown whatever. The way I read this story is that 30 people from the bottom of the class were sent to the speech to receive an encouragement which these kids absolutely gained from. The kids from the top of the class probably have the intelligence to research these jobs themselves, the lower ones need help. Of course, the perfect situation would be that the speaker could come to the school, but the financial climate may not make it possible.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 7:05 a.m.

Let's just flip the races depicted in this incident. Presume it is a white principal with only white kids that went on the trip while black students and others were excluded. This would become national news as everyone began to cry out against racial prejudice. What is good for the gander is good for the goose. The principal was clearly in the wrong in this case and the law was clearly violated.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:59 a.m.

It appears from both this article and the Freepress article that the funding for the trip is also a major issue regarding the legality of this activity. I just hope the school board goes further and finds out who has been paying for the past months pizza and pop for all of the members of this segregated group. What a shame this entire thing is. All that supposed brain power in AAPS and they have to fork over $340k to help them.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:57 a.m.

People caring about how their children and their feelings and caring about fairness and good leadership so they grow up to be kind upstanding citizens is not whiney. It's called good parenting.

David Briegel

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

Oh the laments and indignation of the majority that have never, ever experienced discrimination of any sort at any time. Why are we expecting the AAPS to achieve something that our nation has yet to achieve? Equality and non-discrimination. We still make excuses for the "good ole boys", the stars and bars, Bob Jones Univ., and all kinds of mainstream inequalities and discrimination that exist in our everyday lives. We still have Governors celebrating the Confederacy as though it was something of which to be proud. Again I ask, why is there a gap? What has been accomplished to narrow the gap? What can be done in the future to make things better? I agree this man needs a counselling but termination is a waste. Everyone needs guidance. We all need to calm down.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:46 a.m.

What a bunch of whiney, overreacting school parents there at Dicken. For the sake of the school hoping its a vocal minority. Ok, so the principal probably didn't handle this in the best possible manner but cut him some slack, his intentions were good. If I were him I'd be working on bringing a world class scientist to school, there are probably plenty here in AA willing to help him out, and making things right for the deprived little ones that were left behind. As for the parents making a big deal over this, they are dissapointing as well as an embarrassment. Is this pouty, woe-is-me attitute really how they want their kids to react to life's unfortunate situations? Unfortunatly it appears the answer is yes so we'll now have another generation of this behaviour. They make a great case for private schooling.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:46 a.m.

how can anyone think the principals interntions were well intentioned? he EXCLUDED children and not just white children but everyone that was NOT black. That is racism. he should be removed from being a principal and leading others.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:42 a.m.

boith the group and the trip the principal did was racist and divisive. quit pretending to care about diversity when you have groups like this in your school and people llike this man leading it.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:30 a.m.

It's amazes me how anti-discrimination laws seem to only apply to non-african american races. Equal will only be equal when opportunities are available to all without regard to race or national origin. What lesson is this Principal teaching his black students when he segregates a group of students and gives them specail priviledges.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:16 a.m.

This whole incident just reflects badly on our schools, and it seems every time the district says something it just makes it worse. Who, exactly, at AAPS said "thats not the case and called Madison passionate in his discussion with the students about race."? I see no reason to trust Mr. Madison's account of what his tone was in the classroom incident. I also don't think we can necessarily trust the teacher in this case, who answers to the principal in question and knows full well the principal's opinion. So if more than one child in the classroom says the incident was intimidating, then the incident should be assumed to be questionable. This isn't a court, it's an employment question. A school principal shouldn't be talking to a classroom of children in an intimidating way. Like it or not, that law is fairly clear, and it looks pretty likely at this point that the district broke it. Why wasn't the field trip membership based on test scores/grades?


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

I have no doubt that Mr. Madison had good intentions. There may be disciplinary action, but firing is extreme. The bigger issue is why does Ann Arbor allow all these segregated activities? Why is it necessary to have clubs and lunch groups for black students only? Why are there Black Student Unions (and asian, etc.)? Each school has ONE student body, everybody should be eligible to join all groups based on interest and/or skill. The inspiration of seeing a black scientist is appropriate for all. Ann Arbor needs to end the segregationist practices that have gone on for years.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:09 a.m.

The worse comment about the whole thing comes from Madison himself, who " gave the kids an opportunity to see this type of achievement is possible for even them." How hurtful!How he sees his world is encapsulated in that sentence. Administrators, please make sure the people who work with all children see the them as all equal, as the saying goes, between God and men, or failing that, before the law.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:06 a.m.

I understand the attempts to close the achievement gap. This has been an ongoing goal. However, would the schools even consider a "white only" field trip? Of course not. I agree that the speaker should have been brought in to speak to all students. All students need to see that no matter what race or ethnicity you are there are many possibilities for your future. If a white principal had planned a field trip for white students I can only imagine the magnitude of the uproar. What message are we sending students? This takes me way back to the early sixties. We've come too far for this. The issue is students---not white or black.

Sandra Samons

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

I think it's unfair to say that, just because the principal is black, he would give special treatment to black students. Since I don't know this man, I will assume that his motives were probably well intended, but I think his thinking was skewed. Black students are not the only ones who need to be exposed to successful black role models. White students need this too. What better way to combat racism and negative stereotypes of African-Americans in both black and white students than to provide this exposure? Otherwise it is like saying that only black students have a problem and only their thinking and their attitudes need to change. THAT is unfair.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:58 a.m.

2bee: Does one only apologize for things they say when it reaches the threshold of a "verbal assault"? Some interesting lessons being taught or children in all of this (and on other blogs): when all you know is what you hear from children, by word-of-mouth, and what you read in 4 or 5 paragraphs in a "newspaper", lash out in wild-eyed anger at all concerned. Great lesson, that. I think that this is what Justice Thomas once called "a high-tech lynching


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:48 a.m.

To Superintendent Roberts, the consultant firm you are working with has given you some bum advice...find someone else to help the district manage the problem. Give real professional developement to all your staff, administrators included. Stop looking at race/language/culture and just look at solving behavior and academic issues. There are universalities to good student management, real positive behavior support, real accountability and feedback on academic performance, making sure the student teacher ratios are manageable etc and making sure your staff is doing what they claim they are doing.


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:47 a.m.

"The parents allege Madison then came into the classroom and harangued the students. District officials said thats not the case and called Madison passionate in his discussion with the students about race." If Madison did not verbally assault these children, then why did he come back to the class the following day and apologize to them? These children did not make this up. Each child came home telling their parents that they were unduly berated by Madison. He then sent the school psychologist into the room to discuss race issues with the children, among other things. The parents were not notified of this. Please note that Liz Margolis is spinning this as Madison "hearing the commotion (booing) and running down to the classroom" which is absolutely untrue. The field trip and "booing" took place on Wednesday. Madison's rant took place on Thursday. He had a full day to think about this, plan out his tirade and of course notify the parents which he chose to not do. Also for further info, there are 32 kids in that class, 13 of whom went on the field trip. Those left behind were not just the "white" kids, they were Hispanic and Muslim and Indian as well. And remember, these are 10/11 year old children we're talking about. Note also that there were at least 2 other staff members in the room at that time, neither of which are talking to the parents about what happened. My child was in that room, and was subjected to Madison's verbal abuse. When I asked about the incident, the response: "If Mr Madison actually apologized for it, then you know it wasn't pretty." How well our children know their principal!


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:46 a.m.

the Freep picked it up. Sounds illegal based on and how the Freep laid it out. "Leon Drolet, former chairman of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which successfully amended the state constitution with Proposal 2, said that the trip "absolutely" violated Proposal 2."


Thu, May 6, 2010 : 5:35 a.m.

hmmm, of course, a black principal would support black students. If I was one of them white students, I would be crying and upset because how often does one meet a rocket scientist. This principal needs to be reprimand or fired. I thought the principal was supposed to get permission from the Superintendent or the school board before granting a field trip. In my district (Crestwood), we need approval from building principal and superintendent. If Superintendent Roberts had known about this, I bet he would have said "no" or includes the white kids.