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Posted on Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:35 p.m.

Field trip for black students sparks controversy at Ann Arbor elementary school

By David Jesse

An Ann Arbor elementary school principal used a letter home to parents tonight to defend a field trip for black students as part of his school’s efforts to close the achievement gap between white and black students.

Dicken Elementary School Principal Mike Madison wrote the letter to parents following several days of controversy at the school after a field trip last week in which black students got to hear a rocket scientist.


Principal Mike Madison is shown at Forsythe in this 2005 file photo. 

“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.”

A handful of parents have complained to district administrators about the trip, the group and Madison. More than a half-dozen parents contacted to raise the complaints, but none would agree to talk on the record, citing concerns of reprisals to their children by Madison.


While there’s no clear agreement between the two sides about exactly what happened, most of the controversy centers on a field trip taken last week by the Lunch Bunch for African American boys and girls to hear a black rocket engineer talk.

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said after the trip was over, those who went returned to their fifth-grade class and were greeted by boos by those who didn’t go on the trip. Margolis said Madison, who is black, heard the boos, and went to talk to the class. She said he and the class had a “discussion” about race issues.

“He wasn’t yelling at them. He was very passionate about it,” Margolis said.

Parents have complained he was yelling at the class and belittled a Muslim girl who said she also had experienced racism and discrimination.

The program itself began earlier this year after the school received its latest achievement results. Margolis said the Lunch Bunch came from the school’s School Improvement Team and is tied to that team’s goals. She said several other schools in the district have similar programs targeting specific subgroups of students who are at risk.

According to meeting minutes, Madison introduced the club to the PTO in February as part of the school and district’s equity work.

Parent Vicki Haviland, who is white and has three children at Dicken, said she is supportive of the overall program. Haviland is the secretary of the Dicken PTO and has filed papers for the open school board seat.

“I think the African-American Lunch Bunch is totally in line with the district’s equity work,” she said. “I think the field trip was a fine idea.”

She said she hopes the school and the district would “do a better job in talking about (race in education). Clearly there are people who don’t feel heard about it.”

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



Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:59 p.m.

wow. its 2010 right? thought so.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:43 p.m.

My two cents. Fact: There are more poor white people in Ann Arbor than poor black people. People can give the percentage argument but if the issue is poverty it should be color-blind. Opinion- I think white asian latino etc. kids would have benefitted just as much as the black kids if they talked to a black rocket scientist. This would also destroy stereotypes at a very youn age. Opinion- The principal made an enormous error in judgement. It appears fueled by his own agenda. Opinion - I am not white, but I would never send my kid to that school.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:43 p.m.

I attended Holmes Elementary School in Ypsilanti Township. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Beck. Mrs. Becks husband worked for NASA and on occasion he would address the class and explain to us just how important space exploration was and assured us that if we studied hard maybe one day we could grow-up to work for NASA or maybe even become an astronaut. I will never forget the time back in 1962 Mrs. Beck brought a TV set to our classroom and allowed us to watch John Glenn blast off into space and circle the globe three times in Friendship 7. That was very exciting and I remember it to this day some 48 years later. The fact that my teacher made space exploration a big deal made it very real and very important to me also. That classroom experience helped shape my life and made science important to me. Its unfortunate that the Principle of a school would choose to deprive any student of such a wonderful and life altering experience.

Stephen Landes

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

I'm afraid a PS is on order: While it is useful for black children to see successful black professionals it is just as useful for children of other races and backgrounds to see the same thing. All children regardless of race, ethnicity, etc benefit by knowing that our Country is a place where all people regardless of their physical traits can achieve their dreams. It is just as useful for a black child to know something of the life and successes of a black professional as it is for, as an example, a white child to have the same experience; to know that being white isn't a requirement for achievement.

mike from saline

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

first of all, there is no such thing as "reverse discrimination". It's either discrimination or it's not. And discrimination is sup-posed to be against the law. 2nd, It's obviously a mistake [considering the amount of comments], that white people won't talk about race! They most certainly will if their comments can't simply be dissmised as racist.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

What I hope the AAPS administration and school board hear from this controversy is that parents have grown weary of the decades long focus on one, and only one achievement gap. For one thing, it never seems to change. For another, there are many kids that need help and support and that are excluded in the schools. Some of them are white, some Asian, and some black. There are risk factors other than race but we never hear about any support for kids in those categories. Many of us who have tried to get our kids included have found dealing with AAPS to be an exercise in utter frustration and closed doors (and minds).


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:15 p.m.

No one has explained how free pizza and basketball were supposed to help the black kids do better academically. I think the "achievement gap" refers to performance in subjects like math and english, not basketball and pizza. why were scarce school resources wasted on something frivolous when those resources could have been used to pay for math tutoring or computer instruction?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.

Hey Madison, its called the No Child Left behind Act.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:02 p.m.

Oops - left out that there are different cultures for poverty, middle class, and wealthy. It would behoove all of us to understand all three cultures - it would really help us all get along...


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 2:01 p.m.

Whoa! We do not try men in newspapers. We try them in legitimate forums with the capacity for the taking of evidence. By definition, everything we read here is hearsay. But lets look past that not-so-technical legal problem for a moment and consider what facts we have. In 150+ comments, I think I see three potential sources, and precious little in the way of fact or context. What this means is not one of us really knows what happened, but here we all are with our opinions. Make no mistake: I am not defending Mr. Madison. I am not advocating any cover-up. As a community, we should demand a proper investigation, whatever form that takes. And once we have the facts, it is our responsibility to draw some hard conclusions. But do not cheapen our democracy by trying a man in the newspapers. Hold your piece and keep the peace until you have facts to support your prejudgment. Have the courage to toss your prejudgment out the window when it does not accord with the actual facts. Better yet, have the self-discipline not to prejudge. Think youre up to it? This is real-time democracy in our community: you had better be. Our kids will be watching.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:59 p.m.

There are two ways to become better in this world. First is to educate yourself and excel. Second is to hold others back, allowing for you to rise up as the average drops. Giving any group extra opportunities will by sheer circumstance make them more well-rounded, more well-educated and well, smarter, than the others. It's a pure chame that in 2010, the only way minority students in Ann Arbor can "get ahead" of their white counter-parts is to hold the white kids back. Heck, if we don't permit the white kids to take Algebra until their senior year in HS, the disparity between black & white test scores will decrease, won't it?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

Oops, I'm the one who used caps - sorry! One More Time: Ruby Payne, in her book, "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" makes an extremely strong case that the "achievement gap" is not racial it is family income based (long term, not "newbies who are newly poor in this wonderful economy). In other words, students living in poverty tend to perform poorer, wealthier kids tend to perborm higher. Blacks and Whites in the same income range tend to score the same. The gap is not racial, it is poverty vs. wealth. In all black or all white schools this is obvious. Think Ann Arbor will ever give us test results sorted first by income then race? It's really not about black and white, it's about green. Also, no "all-one-color" clubs or groups should be allowed. We learn form each other - what is it that people of one color should know and another people of another color should not? This seems so obvious...


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

TIGERS68 said: "If this had been a "whites only" field trip you'd have Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and every other noise maker heading to Ann Arbor screaming racial injustice and demanding that the person or persons involved in arranging this field trip be relieved of their duties. Why is it when it's the other way around, nothing is ever said or done???" Because of a history of racial inequality and discrimination in our country. That's why you have Black Student Unions but not White ones, for example. But can you really complain about that? We're the majority. Almost anywhere you go in our country you won't feel excluded or underrepresented. If you're not aware of that privilege, it's probably because you're White. But--obviously in this case something is being both said and done, otherwise there would be no article because no one would have complained. In fact, I would disagree that nothing is ever done. Usually there is some kind of a backlash like this in similar situations, but people still complain that "nothing is ever done." Regarding this story though, I feel that Madison's intentions where noble. Although, I'm not sure excluding other students was a good idea. I'm also surprised he didn't see the reaction coming. It's a tough road to walk because this issue is so heated. I agree with his initial intention, but I agree with others who have said the way he carried it out could have been done better, though I understand what he was trying to do


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:54 p.m.

to me the most disturbing part of this story is the following reported exchange between Mr. Madison and the students: "April 29: Madison, upon learning of this, went to the classroom and proceeded to yell at the kids. Yes, YELL. There was no "discussion". Per my son: "Do you have a problem with me taking children of my race on a special field trip?" Little Muslim girl, who mustered the courage to speak: "Well, as a matter of fact, I do" Madison cut her off and loudly yelled: "I SAID DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH WHAT I DID????" so, we have the principal, the man in charge, making it clear that "his" people are the black students and all the other students are second class in "his" school. Does anyone need any further evidence that the AAPS have taken identity politics way too far and that Mr. Madison has no place as an educator? Imagine an educator from any other group doing and saying the things that Mr. Madison said and did. He would not last a week as principal. Racial bias, poor judgement, AND verbal aggression to the children who questioned his favoritism. Three strikes and you should be out.

Jake C

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

I don't think the parents are necessarily afraid of retaliation from the principal, but from other parents and the community at large, given the level of vitriol coming from the comments so far...


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:48 p.m.

Honestly, who put this guy in charge of anything? Taking only "his people" and yelling at 10 years old who cross him? My goodness. The Board needs to take action on this. Seriously. what a bad experience for all the kids involved. Why does the district allow such a poorly thought out and executed idea happen? Who okayed something like this? Are there other such groups out that only for one race? that should be taken care of right away. The board should know that this would never work out, and this isn't a good plan from start to finish. Of course, the achievement gap needs help being closed, but this isn't the way.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

It disturbs me when I hear parents say they are afraid to come forward and be on record, for fear of retaliation against their children. What kind of principal is this?!?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

Keep commenting in here to let know this is a big deal to the community. They should do a followup story on this and investigate deeper. However, people that really do feel against this need to contact the media. Local tv stations, national media, cable news, etc. Anyone that you can think of, let them know. This is no different than a teacher telling a black student, "whites only." Discrimination works both ways. People need to go the the school board meetings and speak up. A protest should be organized so the people can express their dissatisfaction with this situation. The voices of the people need to be heard. We can no longer just ignore the problem. We can no longer hope someone else will address it. Stop being armchair advocates, and start taking ownership of these issues. Taking overship can be as easy as picking up the phone and calling the school board, speaking with others candidly regarding how you feel, and calling your government leaders. Make sure they hear you. If they don't, vote them out. If elected school board officials don't listen, vote them out. Tell your local government, if they ignore you or disrespect you, vote them out. Our vote is our key to our destiny. Stop wasting it on useless leaders just because of a party affiliation.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

This is NOTHING new in the AAPS. When I had kids in middle school they promoted programs for girls only. I asked at a meeting for a particular "girls in science program" why they didn't include everyone. You would have thought I was spewing hate speech from the reaction I got. I have a son and daughters and a daughter in middle school at the time. Leaving any particular group out is discrimination, illegal and wrong! Highly unlikely anything will be done. The AAPS has an agenda and you dare not speak against it.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:15 p.m.

why couldnt this trip/project have been done on the principal's own time /dime?? some of most constructive and high minded things are done outside of people's''day jobs'. as it is more harm than good was done, as the previous comments attest....and having white kids meet a black rocket scientist has no downside to it... madison appears to have showed very poor judgement, based on what was reported.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:14 p.m.

oops the locker room bath room comment was ment for males females not race or any other reason


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:14 p.m.

I think that the principle should have just taken the kids who were below average, no matter their color, and then there wouldn't have been any problem. What about the Chinese kids who can't read and write? Are we going to have to take them to a laboratory next? We can create all types of groups to separate folks from each other. Were there any parents who didn't sign the consent forms when they found out it was for black children only? This trip was a dumb idea.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

@ ed thanks, i will be very supprised if you come up with any studies that say segregation based on race is the right approach or even works to achieve the goal of balnce. this is segregation and outside of locker rooms and bathrooms i can't see how this achive a noble goal. to bring down troden or struggling students along or give them speical help is always a good thing. when you make that help race based it isn't.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.

This is an absolute disservice to all that fight discrimination. This was a judgement solely based upon the color of someone's skin. I think anyone that is outraged about this should contact any media outlet they can find. Contact the local news and national news. Let them all know about the discrimation that took place. Expose this act to eveyone and put the pressure on the school board to do something about this!


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

As an African American, a product of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and a parent who has children in these same schools, I'm well aware of the achievement gap that plagues the school system. However, this incident was just not the correct decision that Dicken school principal Madison should had made. Whatever his good intentions a red flag should have gone off somewhere. What troubles me more is that there wasn't another person within the school who suggested anything to the contrary to what he proposed doing. Who was there to question his authority? Did all involved suggest this was the correct thing to do? I'm sorry, if the board, superintendent doesn't fully investigate this matter further, I'd have serious doubt as to Mr. Madison's leadership abilities. As someone who was raised to understand the importance of an education and to strive to do their best, race was never a consideration for failure. Sadly, Mr. Madison has sent a very troubling message to ALL students at his school.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:52 p.m.

ok so i ask if anyone can post a link or cite some information on the benifits of programs like this that single out on group for race reasons, and takes it down? so can anyone point me towards information to back up the claims that this is anything more then racism?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

@ aamom: Totally agree with you. Our school hosts 'Academic Olympics' for all the kids to attend. They have fun, learn and socialize. @ Macabre Sunset: I also agree with you. There is NO differing brain function based upon one's race. The academic disparity probably has more to do with family support than what is being taught in school. Which brings back to mind the 'school head count day' - I recall some school district handing out prizes to get children to attend so that they had a good head count for funding. If a school must give out prizes to get kids to attend for that one day - it really makes you wonder about the families (parents/guardians) of those students. If they don't encourage the kids just to go to school - it's probable that what or how they are doing in school isn't all that important.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

Posted below is the Non-Discrimination Policy of the AAPS, taken straight from their website. I'd be very curious to hear how Mr. Madison and the AAPS Administration would rationalize how the Lunch Bunch club adheres to this policy. Non-Discrimination Policy of the Ann Arbor Public Schools (Board Policy 2050) No person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any educational program or activity available in any school on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, creed, political belief, age, national origin, linguistic and language differences, sexual orientation, gender expression, socioeconomic status, height, weight, marital or familial status, or disability.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

I think people are missing the point just a bit. I am the mother of "the little muslim girl". My daughter when given the opportunity, very respectfully asked why the other children couldn't go? She is 10 years old. Mr. Madison, then yelled at her in a very belittling manner several times. Being the educator that he claims to be, is this how the AAPS teaches and trains their principals to talk to and engage the children? These are children. He claims he wants a "legacy" in his letter? He definitely has left a mark on these children and when asked, do you think they would speak up again? Who does he think he is, speaking (or I should say, yelling) to my daughter like that. We have written a letter to Todd Roberts and LeAnn Dickinson. I did receive a phone call from Todd Roberts making excuses and stating the "Acheivement Gap" as reasons. His response has not been satsifactory yet. Really: do they all not get it? Oh, they do. But they are the Ph.D's and know better than all of us, meager parents.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

I would totally pay for that busing thing. But then again, I voted for the millage too....... I am not necessarily against the lunch bunch idea. I understand one might feel more free to learn when they aren't worried about what others think of them. I'm just curious why the pizza and basketball? And why every Friday? I'm guessing these kids aren't falling behind in socializing with other African Americans. I think a better idea might be to meet every Friday and play some math games (we host a math night at our school with games that the kids love - doesn't need to be boring), or maybe a quick spelling bee? If academics are what they aren't doing well, figure out a way to practice while still having fun. I think then people might get it more. It's hard to justify pizza and basketball every Friday as a way to eliminate the achievement gap.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

I'm saddened that someone in a position of responsibility with our children could make such a poor decision. He's teaching white children that any black person's success is irrelevant to them. He's emphasizing exactly the values we've been seeking to eliminate for the last 50 years. Why can't a rocket scientist be a role model simply because he's a rocket scientist? If there's an increasing achievement gap despite an emphasis on eliminating it, then one of two things are happening (because we know genetically, there's no difference in how the brains work). So one (or both) of these factors is at work here. 1) Efforts to close the gap are misfiring badly. 2) Parents aren't doing their part.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

>>Furthermore, why do so many parents think that if one kid get something, every kid should. Hmm. I thought that was exactly what integrating schools was all about. To me it just seems that you can't have it both ways. Either all kids get treated equally, or they don't. All kids should be given the opportunity to see the scientist or not. The minute you start treating anyone differently based only on race, regardless of history, you are just looking for trouble. And based on the comments on this board, it sounds like Ann Arbor Public Schools is going to have legal trouble on their hands. As the Stereophonics say "one tree can make many matches, but one match can destroy many trees". I hope the foolish acts of one out-of-control public school employee/match hasn't set the entire district back decades.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

I came to Ann Arbor to attend college over 30 years ago. At that time, the AAPS was talking about the achievement gap. They are still talking about it and doing what they can to close it. In my opinion, the real tragedy is not that Mr. Madison took the kids on this trip presumably to help boost the esteem of the African American children. The real tragedy is that this gap still exists at all. Yes, there are other factors involved that impact it, but the kids are the ones that pay the price for it. I wish all the passion involved with this debate could be channeled into helping to solve the achievement gap. See, the children can read what you write also and I cringe to think how some of them might feel reading some of this discussion. Suggestions about the reverse discrimination that occurred ignore the reality of a society that sorts us all by skin color, class and sex(to name a few) every day of the week. I don't feel that he handled the situation well, but efforts to improve the self-esteem and performance of African American children must continue.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

Time for action, folks. This is horrible! If it were the other way around, this would be a national story. This guy, and everyone that were involved in this, needs to be fired!! It's time to hold our kids out of the school count day next year. That's the day funds are decided for schools based on student count. Hold them out on recount too. Don't give me the " it will hurt our kids". Look at what they are teaching these kids. Stop the funding to destroy the Union! It's time to start over! If we defund these idiots, maybe we can start over with teachers with common sense. Keep your kids home!!!!


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

"And it's why black children and other minorities who consistently perform lower academically than their white counterparts need additional types of encouragement as well." I maintain that all children regardless of race who are not performing to academic standards should be given help and encouragement. Please do not assume that all of the African American children at Dicken are not performing to academic standards since this is simply not true. The participants of Lunch Bunch and this field trip were chosen based solely on race, not academic performance.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:25 p.m.

I wonder how the kids of mixxed race are handled in this group and for this schools "feild trip". Does 1 white parent and 1 black parent make a child black enought to join? Any program, is our public schools, that states its starting criteria as your race is wrong point blank. Are the strugglings black students in ann arbor school more inportant then white students who are struggling(say from the same background with parents and money at home)? How can one justify being a racist now because people have been in the past. My child should be discriminated because people in the past have been? After talking to A2 superintendent it is clear that this is a non issue for the A2 schools.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

Just a thought for those who have commented about the white parents being upset that their children were not included in this field trip: I would think that the black parents would be just as offended. Not only did this school draw a racial line between their students - they defined that line by creating an intellectual barrier between the children that are black and the children that are white. By sending only the black children to see a rocket scientist because they are as 'academically successful or academically challenged' - where as the white children ARE; they are sending a message to the kids that black kids are not as smart or capable as white children. A totally false pretense that I believe most blacks would like to see wiped from our history and from the racial bigotry that - apparently still exists, even under the guise of being 'forward thinking and progressive'. I'm not black and I feel bad that a school would point out an entire race as not being as capable as another race. A step backwards for all of the children involved.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

Hey Jake and Frank C. Are you saying that being black is a learning disability?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:20 p.m.

Since everyone here seems to be steadfastly defending equal access to all school resources, I'm sure you won't mind paying to bus minority and white elementary students around the district to make sure all students have equal access to all educational resources. Because the elementary schools are not identical, and it is possible that a student at one school does not have access to the same resources simply because the student lives in one neighborhood versus another.

Andrew Thomas

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

Paula and Stefanie, As a frequent critic of's "comments" boards, I would like to thank you for doing a very good job of moderating this discussion. I was on the point of flagging several posts, only to see you had already taken care of them. Also, it was a very appropriate decision to close down the thread last night when things were starting to get out of hand.

Jake C

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

Frank, that was a very insightful comment, thank you. We can't stick our heads in the sand and pretend that racial inequality has disappeared merely because we have a black president. The whole American system of education is based on the principle of Freedom of Opportunity, and that doesn't mean simply treating everyone the same. If children with autism or LD need extra assistance from a school psychologist or a reading counselor, we provide them with that. And we understand the children without autism don't need the same treatment, because it would be both expensive and superfluous. It's why girls in high school need extra encouragement to follow science and engineering educational paths, since the Computer Science and Engineering departments at many colleges are already 90%+ male. And it's why black children and other minorities who consistently perform lower academically than their white counterparts need additional types of encouragement as well. To claim that schools should have a "Whites Only" club to provide a fair balance is just ignoring the reality we live in. Maybe the principal at Dicken didn't handle the situation in the best way possible. I wasn't there, so I won't pretend that I know exactly what happened. But I'm willing to believe that his intentions were good and that these sorts of programs need to continue in Ann Arbor as well as across the country if we're going to continue to thrive as a leading nation in this next century.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

This guy's free ride on the labor union driven automatic pay raise based on attendence (and not performance) matrix is over.. If he's not fired Ann Arbor schools will eventually go down the toilet as well....

Frank Martin-Buck

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:46 a.m.

Furthermore, why do so many parents think that if one kid get something, every kid should. What kind of preparation is that for the real world? You are adults, you know that in the real world things are almost never fair. Other people will get things and you won't, that's how it goes. If you baby your kid every time he or she whines about someone else getting to do something that they don't, you are only setting them up to be completely unprepared for adulthood.

Frank Martin-Buck

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

I just want to say, all the people who advocate suing the city, county or school district are being incredibly selfish and short-sighted. How does taking money away from an already cash-strapped public service and putting it in your pocket help anyone but you? African American children are at a disadvantage when it comes to school. I think it is largely due to a culture that does not promote and often actively discourages academic achievement in African American students. Any program designed to fix that, by nature has to be somewhat racist. If you want to have a program to help autistic kids, it seems pointless and counter-productive to allow non-autistic kids to participate. Programs like this will probably further segregate kids based on race (which they already very much are), but I think they are a step in the right direction for changing the anti-academic culture among a lot of African-American youths.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

To all those who have gone through the mental gymnastics and plain rationalization adults are prone; those kids in the classroom knew with absolute certainty what they were experiencing. You can't fool children. They haven't learned to equivocate yet. And you simply cannot condone what these kids went through. The children who attend this school for the most part don't give a rip for the past mistakes made by our society. That comes much later, when they have a broader vision of life. What they care about is what they are experiencing at that moment in time, and what they were experiencing what horrible, abysmal, shameful, and undefendable.

laurie in ypsi

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

Wow...what a firestorm this guy set off! I don't think there is any reason to sue...there is however a lesson to be learned and a right thing to do. The school system needs to fire a warning shot over the heads of any educator who thinks this scenario on ANY level was a good idea from the inception of the lunch bunch to the field trip to the classroom tirade by calling a special parent conference and firing the principal right there on the spot in front of every parent. Consider it educational capital punishment.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

What is interesting on the part of the principal is that white kids might end up respecting/believing in the intellectual ability of their African American classmates if they too were included in a presentation by an African American doctor, astronaut, scientist, etc. In fact, on Saturday, the first African American president of the United States spoke at the UM commencement. It was open to all, not just the non-white students.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

"he wasn't yelling at them, he was very passionate about it" ~ I interpet that as he was ranting. I bet he was passionate about it, nothing like an adult being called out by a bunch of children (who were RIGHT)

Kathy Griswold

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

I do not disagree with the article, but it is a "slice of the truth" leading to divisive, inflammatory comments. Now has a responsibility to take a comprehensive look at AAPS's policies and practices for race, ethnic and religion-based groups in order to put the Dicken School story in perspective. It is not appropriate to assume the readers will develop the "big picture" perspective in the comments. At the BOE study session last Tuesday with longtime consultant Glenn Singleton from the Pacific Education Group (PEG), some Thurston School staff described a similar club and reported on a trip with the principal and some staff members to see a movie -- I assumed the trip was outside of school hours, but I questioned whether it was the best approach. Significant improvements in student achievement will require an accurate diagnosis of the problems and causes, them appropriate corrective action to create an effective educational process for all students -- years of hard work. Until recently the practice in AAPS has been to hire "gap" consultants and implement add-on programs. That said, I am optimistic that this discussion and the achievement discussions last week -- at a study session, BOE meeting and community forum -- will encourage the AAPS leadership to sharpen their focus: high achievement for all students within one effective educational process.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:54 a.m.

Yes, the principal should be fired. The fact that the other kids understood the racism involved shows that the adult principal was in the wrong. This type of behavior by the adult only serves to promote separation and animosity amongst of the ethnic groups.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

@aaparent: Only African American kids are in Lunch Bunch. Non African American children were told that his is only and exclusively for black children and therefore non African American students are forbidden to participate. It is 100% race-based and discriminatory.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

I remember Mike Madison as a teacher at Tappan Junior High and I admit to not being a student of his either, so I have no first hand knowledge of actually sitting through his class. I did interact with him in the hallways and what not. another well known local figure, Coleman Jewett, was a principal there at the same time and I can wiothout a doubt say the two of them were both eclectic individuals, Mr. Jewett pulling up in his pickup truck painted with cartoon charecters and Mr. madison pulling up on his motorcycle in chaps. I did have a lot of interaction with Mr. Jewett and if Mr. Madison was trying to emmulate Mr. Jewett and the way he was able to connect with every kid, it clearly was not done. Mr. Jewett would never needed to explain his actions.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.

wow, so many comments... well first someone asked "if this is a club than why are so many people upset that people were excluded" you can have a group like NAACP, Black student groups, Black Fraternities, other minority groups, etc. But I never here about white clubs. additionally, if there is an achievment gap during K-12 than field trips won't help. Students get the same instruction while at school. The fault lies elsewhere. those that booed had every right to, children don't like to see special privledges given to any one unless by merit


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:41 a.m.

Is Lunch Bunch a club that all students are free to join? If it is, then the club going on a field trip is the same as foreign language classes in middle schools or high schools going on field trips exclusive to participants in the class. If all kids at Dicken were free to join the club, but chose not to because the participants weren't in their friendship group, where is the basis for the complaint that Mr Madison excluded kids vs kids who later found out about the trip were upset they weren't invited? Not every field trip in every school building is open to all students. This is nothing new in the Ann Arbor schools at all levels. If I am misunderstanding the facts, please explain.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

My Bad. I thought that there were studies that had been conducted and data that had been presented that demonstrate a relationship between an individuals race and an individuals achievement. I guess race and achievement have nothing to due with one another.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:37 a.m.

One more thing: Please stop blaming the parents. Ruby Payne does an excellent job explaining how the CULTURE is different with people in poverty. Does anyone really think parents of underachieving students don't love their children? That is an insult and just untrue (there are some parents who don't love their children, but they are spread out over all incomes). Joe Dulin realized the importance of getting parents involved and also realized how low-income parents did not feel welcome in our schools. We need to actively involve parents and families and we need to understand cultural differences.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:35 a.m.

@Tigger...I agree. Unfortunately, inequity starts with the color of your skin, eyes, hair, height, weight etc. That is what people need to wrap their brain around. I also love how the 'telephone game' is still in existance..."I heard from"... fill in the blank. PARENTS weren't in the class when Mr. Madison spoke, so I suggest you believe nothing of what you hear and only 1/2 of what you see as no matter how much you flatten a pancake, there are always 2 sides. Finally, "Life Ain't Fair...DEAL"


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:35 a.m.

"Advanced Placement courses are based on achievement." Have you ever heard of Kumon? Suzuki Violin? Private swimming, tennis, golf clubs? These are a very common path to "achievement" in many school programs. The highest performers (usually those with the most training) get in and those that can't compete -- for any reason -- are left out. It happens every day in every school. There are many achievement gaps and this is one of the ways that they are created and sustained right under our noses.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

" 'The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.' - Chief Justice Roberts" John Roberts, of course, having been a victim of discrimination throughout his life and, in his career on the bench, a staunch supporter of civil rights initiatives. NOT.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:29 a.m.

Mr. Madison made a mistake. He is not evil. People need to get over this and move on. As I have explained elsewhere, the achievement gap is not as simple as black and white. It is much more based on socio-economic factors, basically family income. You have to be careful not to include, on the low end, middle class or higher families who have fallen into the low arena recently due to job losses, etc. My point is, the field trip would have benefitted whites as well because they need to see that blacks can be successful as much as blacks need to. A good teacher, or principal, will discuss race with everyone. Ruby Payne makes the case for poverty and it's relationship to the achievement gap - can't remember the name of the book... Back off of Madison. He's a good man with an excellent track record. We don't need lawyers every time someone makes a mistake.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Gotta love it: a bunch of (presumably) white parents complaining that their precious and darling are being discriminated against. Wow. Talk about "Alice through the Looking Glass"


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

Mothers that openly admit to raising our daughters and loving our sons are admitting that their children will fail to succeed. Field trips and pizza can not undo the damage done by absentee parents.

Patti Smith

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.

Charter schools discriminate, just in different ways. They cherry pick the best students and the rest are shown the door (after Count Day, of course). Yes I realize that not all charter schools are like that but at the end of the day, they exist to make a profit and I don't abide that. Whew! Got my anti-charter school rant in. I can move on now...I can completely understand the anger felt by folks, but I am coming from a somewhat different viewpoint. I teach special ed in Detroit Public Schools (relax, I have today off and I'm not goofing off on school time). My special ed kids (blind, visually impaired) have been excluded from field trips for years. The prior teachers just bent over and took it but I don't play that way--discrimination is discrimination and that's not how I live. I fought all year with a particular teacher, including having the BEST CONFRONTATION EVER wherein I called her on not taking the special ed kids (when she was taking all the other 5th graders) and I might have smirked at her and she started sputtering and spitting and going, "Stop LOOKING the way you LOOK!!" Right in front of our principal. Awesome day. Anyway, she took two of the special ed kids on the last field trip and it was fine and the kids had a great time. I am so proud of her that I don't know what to do. Nevertheless, I understand the anger at certain kids being left out. The whole point of inclusion--and I mean Brown v. BOE, special needs, gender--is for everyone to be, you know, included.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

I think that these same concerns should be raised when an Advanced Placement class goes on a field trip.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Wow. Get a grip. Go to the middle schools and see how the poor preparation of African-Americans plays out. Then try to tell me how this trip wasn't justified.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:56 a.m.

Things like this have been going on for a long time in Ann Arbor. They are just ignored. We wonder why charter schools are growing.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

This type of discrimination against white and Asian students has occurred in Ann Arbor Public Schools before, and Mike Madison has been part of it before. Do none of you remember the African American Academies at the elementary and middle schools? Same deal with pizza parties, special field trips, and release time from class. The district has been repeatedly criticized and sometimes sanctioned by the Federal Office of Civil Rights for developing lunch hour and after school programs which are inherently discriminatory, usually as part of their efforts to fix the Achievement Gap. Discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity are forbidden by AAPS policy, state and Federal law, but it seems that many African American staff members in AAPS think they are above the law and that those policies shouldn't apply to them. They have repeatedly lost in court when a parent or community member has pursued the matter, but those people remain employed by the district and are still convinced that they were and are doing the right thing for the children of their race. On the other hand, AAPS has also been penalized by the Federal Office of Civil Rights because African Americans are disproportionally enrolled in Special Education. Special Education is the mechanism public schools have to give students who are struggling the sort of individualized, intensive work on core academic and inter-personal skills that might help them close that achievement gap. Or it might be, if the schools were doing a good job of including and celebrating the achievements-under-adverse-conditions of their students with disabilities. Or if more of the classroom teachers were trained to address the ways disabilities manifest themselves in the classroom and strategies to help those students learn. But AAPS has spent almost all of their available Professional Development time and money on training teachers to deal with the issues of African American kids. The rest has involved training on software for school / home communication which many teachers use very minimally. Cultural sensitivity, inclusiveness, and support for students to achieve to the maximum extent of their capabilities is much, much more than hiring more African American teachers, and fast-tracking them into administrative posts beyond their education, experience, or demonstrated capability. How long will our tax dollars be wasted hiring lawyers to defend against can't-win lawsuits over this type of discrimination? How long will AAPS trample on the civil rights and self-esteem of some students in order to give others a boost?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

I find this reverse discrimination quite offensive. Principal Madison should have invited this scientist to the school to allow the entire school to be educated that it is not the skin color that makes a person, but that positive role models are available in every race, sex, creed, color, sexual orientation, etc. Instead of educating all the children, and presenting a positive African-American role-model (in this case), he chose only to educate a small section of his school. This does not sound like a person I would want "educating" my children. Burns Park recently had a female Olympic Fencer, who is Jewish, come to talk to the children about fitness before the Burns Park Run this past weekend. What if Principal Morhouse decided only Jewish Females could attend this presentation? I know the community would be outraged. Educating people should be the priority of all educators (Teachers, Principals, etc). Whether it is providing a positive role-model to one group of students while, at the same time, inspiring other students for possibly seperate reasons, we, as a community, must show that it is not a single part that matters, but the sum of our parts and that at the core we are all people. In conclusion, Principal Madison should reflect on his goals as an educator, because if this type of segregation continues, I would venture to guess that he will not be principal for long.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

Repeatedly insulting Mr. Madison's intelligence does nothing to elevate this dialogue. My impression is that some of those writing are reaching all of their conclusions based on the posts (opinions) of other readers.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

I have read the comments on this story and am appalled at Mr Madison's behavior toward the booing classmates after the field trip. Although I disagree with his decision to take only black children on the field trip I can accept the fact that he may have thought he was doing the right thing. His behavior, as described here after the field trip, towards the students left behind, is inexcusable: especially as an educator. How can a man in his position believe that such behavior is acceptable. If these descriptions are accurate, Mr Madison is clearly in a position that he is not qualified to handle. I hope the Ann Arbor School Board and his superiors will thoroughly investigate this and take action against him to prevent other class room children from having to experience this.

David Briegel

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

Racism and discrimination exist in our everyday lives 150 years after the abolition of slavery and 50 years after Civil Rights legislation had to be enacted in order to prevent further and continued segregation and discrimination. Why? I only hope everyone who posted here will examine their daily lives on their jobs and in their social circles to make certain they are exhibiting the positive types of behavior and speaking out about the fact that true equality, fairness and integration have yet to be achieved in our society. Instead of so much anger at Mr.Madison, consider the fact that his intentions were noble. As for "lunch bunch", when you walk into most cafeterias you will already find they are still mostly segragated. Should we expect higher standards for Mr. Madison than we do for ourselves? Why have our efforts to date been less than successful?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

Thomas Sowell's latest article is relevant to this topic: The presumption that a student, by virtue of his/her skin pigmentation, requires "special" treatment is racist. Pretending that all students are equal in ability is fantasy. And placing heavy emphasis on "role models" of appropriate pigmentation rather than competence is dangerous. All you can do is push all students as hard as you can and see how far they can go.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

When in comes down to it, the kids in the class that weren't invited / allowed to go missed out on the opportunity to hear from a brilliant person. Instead all the kids in the class got stuck in the middle of a race debate. That is the real shame of this thing. Poor decision. Poor handling of the situation that happend after the trip. Poor school administrator. One more thing, regardless of your race or gender, it plain hurts to be left out. No one seems to have taken that in consideration.

Tammy Mayrend

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

My children do not go to Ann Arbor schools but here are my ten-cents. I don't understand why any single group of children would be called out for a "field trip"; it seems anyone, regardless of race, color, religious affiliations or otherwise would benefit from meeting a successful rocket scientist. It seems to me that this should have been an after-school activity if it was limited to a certain group, much like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts do their events AFTER school hours.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

The biggest obstacles to learning and school success are Poverty and Specific Learning Disabilities, in that order. Students with these challenges are routinely excluded in our schools. In high school, many programs require try outs, auditions, or tests and main stream learners with sports, music, and academic training OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL completely dominate entire programs. Our schools are very excluding and it affects certain groups more than others.

Andrew Thomas

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

@ Mary Dooley, First, thank you for identifying yourself and weighing in under your real name. There are far too many unfounded and unverifiable allegations being thrown around by anonymous bloggers. Second, thank you for providing a very balanced assessment of the situation. Would that everyone took the same approach. Third, thank you for taking the initiative of actually sending a letter to Dr. Roberts and Mr. Madison expressing your concerns and observations. This will help the district sort out fact from fiction. As for the many individuals who have made allegations about Mr. Madison's character and history, you need to come forward, identify yourselves, and register formal complaints with solid information to back up what you say. All this hearsay is getting us nowhere.

Mary Dooley

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Wow. First off, I'm totally on the record: this is my real name, and I have a student at Dicken. I'm not afraid of reprisal, because I've already had more than one disagreement with Mike Madison, so I don't believe my feelings are a mystery to him, anyway! I sent Mike Madison a letter (copied to Todd Roberts), already. My point was, essentially, whatever good you meant to do, by doing it the wrong way, and failing to communicate with students and parents (how many of us attend PTO meetings?), the "club" basically did more harm than good. We had "African American History Month," the "African American Wax Museum," and so on, all to the end, in part, of increasing the understanding of non-African-American students of the oppression, injustices, etc. borne by AAs in this country's history. I suspect that any compassion and understanding that had been created has been undone, by engendering resentment in the non-included kids. Yes, my daughter came home complaining that she wanted to be part of the pizza-eating lunch club in her class, but was told she couldn't be, because she wasn't African American. I thought, yes, I get it-- blacks were told they couldn't be included in clubs for hundreds of years in this country. I tried to explain this to my daughter, but she didn't really accept the logic of it. After the field trip, she complained that kids (being kids-- let's remember, we are talking about kids) who went on the field trip bragged that they got some sort of souvenir, and, ha-ha, of course the other kids didn't. Seriously, kids aren't going to handle that sort of thing well! (Many adults don't handle it well, either.) My grandparents and great-grandparents were immigrants, and the Irish, in particular, weren't exactly welcomed to this country with open arms, so I understand the value of ethnic groups getting support from others of a similar background. (Maybe after school, though?) Still, this was all handled badly. We all know that it's great to have good intentions, but perception is everything. Parents and non-included students had no information about the intended purpose of the club. The kids perceived something completely different from what was intended. There was no communication (apparently, other than to the PTO) about the group, or the purpose of it, until things blew up, and then, apparently,the communication was ugly. I will keep my comments limited to this controversy, with the exception of mentioning, in reference to "santino's" remarks, that I have not been happy with two other administrative actions of this principal, so I don't view this problem as one that is occurring in isolation.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:06 a.m.

@mb. Yes it takes a village to raise a child. And sometimes it also takes a village to make a principal accountable for bullying and discriminating against children.

mike from saline

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:06 a.m.

How about we go Orwellean, and just give this discrimination a diffrent name. How's about " affirmitive Education"? It's worked before.

Duane Collicott

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

My Alma Mater has gone downhill.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

I hope those who are extrapolating facts from this brief article and the torrent of comments will keep the discussion here, this could turn into a very damaging situation if misinformation is spread beyond this conversation. The water cooler spins on this are bound to be bad enough without more rumor-mongering. As a Dicken parent I am keeping the students in mind.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

I'm Black and have a daughter and grand kids in A.A. school system one at Dickens School. We all know there are problems and have been problems in this school system forever concerning how to teach and reach the black students. Remember it sometimes take a village to raise a child and Mr. Madison is apart of the village...There are field trips all the time for the kids with high academics grade point averages or trips that parents have to help pay for that leave out the kids and parents that can't afford the trips, nothing is said "oh" and only the white parents are able to afford... I'm a rebel with a cause maybe I'll rally the black parents in support of this opportunity our kids were afforded..Who does it help if our kids are given this opportunity to grow ( don't be afraid of our growth) it only strengthen our community!!!And EmilyA2, there are always white only affairs,your eyes aren't open to reality A2 schools have been racists toward black student to the extent the teachers had to take special classes in-order to relate to our children and had to hire more black teachers to even the playing field..And guess what the school system have yet to comply...I'll be going door to door in the black community in support of this opportunity today..Mr. Madison we got your back!!!!Mbass Annisa R. Grandma

mike from saline

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan have a long, proud, tradition, of tolerating, and rationalizing, race discrimination. Old habbits are hard to break.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

To the Girl and other two boys who stood up to a bully (Madison) your parents should be very proud. To Madison, you could have prevented all this but you did not and chose to differentiate, segregate and isolate. You Sir have deep issues and should have never made it this far. I dont blame you, I will give this honor to the people who reviewed your performance and kept pushing you ahead, and maybe you are the result of performance gap. Madison and Ann Arbor Public school managements be ready to see a lot of parents in your face, your behavior and actions will not be tolerated


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

Unbelievable This man should be fired now or at least sued but if you sue the school will have to pick up the tab every adult in this district should demand his resignation. if i lived in this district the school would be picking p the tab


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

You are all wasting your breath. AAPS will do nothing about this. Lee Ann Dickinson-Kelley will create a parent/ teacher task force to look into ways of improving the environment, then select the easiest and least effective changes proposed, perhaps shuffle the principals around to quell this fire. She might even tell you the districts hands are tied due to collective barganing agreements. In 6 months all will be forgotten. Not only that every single person who expresses outrage over this will be labeled as a racist to help discredit them. I've seen it before.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:44 a.m.

"Hurray!" for all of the students at Dicken Elementary! The administrator, and any staff who supported the lunch group and field trip, could learn a lesson from these students. As shown by the black students who were uncomfortable in being singled out in this way, and by the remaining students who "booed" when the black students returned, all of them understand that racism is wrong! It would have helped to have a teacher or staff member, enlightened in diversity, talk to all of the students afterwards so that they could understand that the "booing" they did, and received, was in reaction to the racism inherent in the field trip and not toward the students themselves. This is also true with the discomfort felt by the black students who didn't want to go on the segregated field trip. The students are trying to teach the adults so much! Listen to them!


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

So let's look at the high school level, in one particular AAPS high school there are the following clubs: African American Diaspora Conference, Asian Pacific Educational Exchange, Black Expressions Dance/Step Team, Indian Student Union, Korean - American Student Association, Muslim Student Union, NAACP, Native American Awareness Club, Persian Club. How would it go over if there was a White Student Union or European Student Union???


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

I hope those who are extrapolating facts from this brief article and the torrent of comments will keep the discussion here, this could turn into a very damaging situation if misinformation is spread beyond this conversation. The water cooler spins on this are bound to be bad enough without more rumor-mongering. As a Dicken parent I am keeping the students in mind.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

I commented before I read the comments. I apologise for saying that the Lunch Bunch was a label put on something that happened naturally. I did not realize they got preferential treatment. Is Mr. Madison tenured? I would assume so if he has just been moved around instead of losing his job.

Edward R. Murrow's ghost

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

OK, lets understand something about the achievement gap. The achievement gap exists across all socio-economic levels. In general, the higher the familys income, the better the individual student does on standardized tests, no matter the students race. But, at every income level, there is a significant gap between black achievement and white achievement. What is its cause? Numerous studies point to cultural issues being important in this gap. The bottom line: Its white to do well in school, and because there is significant cultural and peer pressure among young blacks not to be white, young blacks (especially males) fall behind in school at an early age and stay behind. How to address? To show black children that success in education is black and white, that there are role models out there beyond Michael Jordan and Ice-T. Taking all school children might have served this purpose, but it's not hard to imagine that taking just black children on the trip was an effort to remove entirely the "stigma" of success in school = white. Whether or not this field trip violated state or federal law, or AAPS policy, I will leave to REAL lawyers as opposed to the Cracker Jacks prize-in-a-box wannabes on this site. But to pretend that this achievement gap is not important is foolish. For numerous reasons, some we understand and some we dont, an entire generation of black children is falling further and further behind. Solving this problem serves them and our larger societal good. Its called the general welfare.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

Mike Madison obviously has his own agenda. Although I applaud the idea behind this field trip, it should not have been segregated. And I wonder if there were more girls than boys invited? Is that why only girls were uninvited? That doesn't seem fair to me. Isn't there a push for girls to get interested in science? And then for him to be so 'passionate' in 'talking' to the white kids makes me think he lost control, hmm? As for the 'African American Lunch Bunch', they just attached a name to something that happens naturally anyway thus making it instantly controversial.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

The school administration needs to get involved visibly and in a big way NOW, NOW, NOW. This is a disaster that something like this could take place in a PUBLIC school which is supposed to be OPEN and EQUAL to all. It appears that discrimination took place not only on the basis of race, but on the basis of sex as well. Is the view here that black girls are of less value than black boys??? You need to involved EVERYONE to understand struggles, hopes, aspirations, and achievements. I cannot fathom how a person in such a position could have done something so wrong!!! Again, administration -- please get involved NOW, NOW, NOW and stop this principal from ever doing this again!!!

Feat of Clay

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:25 a.m.

How do you teach your children to approach problems? It appears that there can be lessons learned from this; perhaps with a collaborative approach to addressing the concerns of everyone, the school situation can be improved for every child and parent. All can gain and benefit and the classroom, the school, and AAPS can end up the better for it. Or, you can just run screeching to a lawyer and try to sue, sue, sue. Legal action ought to be a last resort only when it is demonstrated beyond a doubt that the situation cannot be resolved through mutually constructive actions. But given what's a stake here, I would instead do the hard work of getting to a place where parents and the principal can respect and understand each other, and children feel like they are all working together to succeed.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

Golly... I was under the impression segregation based on race in PUBLIC schools was no longer legal. Guess that stuff in Little Rock Ark a few years ago did not mean anything. Why is "reverse' segregation considered ok?. What a great teaching moment was created.... for which group? Must be all of the laws and polices passed in the last few years can be selectively applied. In my opinion this is not a well thought out strategy.... in plain english... a very dumb teaching approach. One could go on and on about this but I think I expressed my point of view on the issue.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:21 a.m.

Just another of the many examples of Obama's policy of racial profiling. By continuing to single out black children as "needing" special treatment sends the message that America believes them to be deficient because of race and has no regard to them as people. Separate and unequal is not an ethical idea. I suppose the next step Ann Arbor school's will pursue is to segregate black students in all black schools so they can overcome difficulties in the education process. Not.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:21 a.m.

In this article the quotes are from a spokesperson. Why does a school need a "spokesperson"? Can't this principal speak for himself? And where is the superintendent? Can't that person speak either? Wow, no wonder public education has tanked, as administrators hire spin doctors to baffle taxpayers.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

As a parent of two young children not yet in school I enjoy watching them come into contact with people of other races. They don't treat them any different, they are just people to them that look a little different than they do. It is not until kids come into instances like this example that they learn to be racist. No child should be treated differently based on race, period.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:17 a.m.

@SemperFi: based on what I'm reading here, it would beat letting him have contact with students.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

@ MADasHell: Madison is perfectly aware of the illegality of his actions -- he just doesn't care. He used precisely the same tactics to exclude children from sports at Forsythe and enrichment activities at other schools...I personally advised him of the legal ramifications of allowing one group privileges over others through a PTO meeting -- way back in 2006.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

Obviously if he does not want to include everyone then no one is benefiting. Why bother having the program at all. :)


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

I'm pretty sure that the AAPS will put Mr. Madison on "paid, administrative leave" while they investigate, then after a cooling off period will move him to the Ballas building and give him an administrative position like "Achievment Gap Director." That's the way things go here.

Val Losse

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

How sad that race and gender were a factor for who went and who did not go to the field trip. Mr. Madison missed an oppurtunity to show everyone that American-Africans to achieve great careers. Every race should understand that they all have the chance to be whatever they want to be and that all barriers have disappeared. Even the "Lunch Bunch" should include all races so that everyone gains an understanding of who everyone is and where they come from. By the way why weren't there enough buses for everyone to go? Girls can be rocket engineers just like the boys.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

I think the white (and Asian, and Latino, and whatever) kids would have benefited from meeting a Black rocket scientist too. In a lot of ways. What's wrong with this guy?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

I am a parent that agrees with this program. I went to Pioneer High and they had a camp for children that were abused. They also had spanish club, latin club. I dont see the problem with this program. There are black children that have many more struggles than other races. At my sons school the Principal's are both black and they are much harder on the black kids then white. Which I think is great since my son is mixed. Parent's are teachin children this crap at home and now it's a problem towards our children. Thank you to the schools that are helping children..


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

Having been a kid once myself, I guarantee that kids who went on a field trip to see a famous person while the others were left out...when returning to class would get a hearty "boo!" For me, that fact that this principal lectured those left behind in a "passionate" manner regarding race was reactionary and immature. You chose to leave a group of children behind based on their color and then lecture them about race? Why? My dear, you need the lecture! Grow up! President Obama has made every attempt to teach people that we should be inclusive. But if you choose to be divisive, you need to look at private education and leave the public sector. There's no room for racial separatism in public education.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:08 a.m.

When will we realize in this country that using skin color as the criteria to "qualify" persons for extra bebefits (or disqaulify) only causes further division. All this has done for these children is conveyed to them that black students ARE different from the rest of you. They will view black students in this light, and now have to overcome this barrier. They need to focus on the fact that they all are created equal and create activities to unite, not divide.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

I never said to sue the school sue Madison. Someone in Ann Arbor has the cash.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

The achievement gap is real. But this is not the way to fix it. We have a case here in Ann Arbor that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Mr Madison has been here long enough to remember that. We don't need more lawsuits, we need solutions. There are legal ways to achieve the goal of closing the achievement gap. Some of them might be: 1) Take children who are in single parent families and offer them more support 2) Look at household income levels and offer additional support to the children of low income households (AAPS gets federal money for just such programs) 3) Create study groups by test scores on standardized or class wide tests. 4) Create groups for children who transferred into the school this school year (The military does this in the DOD schools). 5) Look for other legal methods. In my grade school we were grouped in each subject by our current ability. Reading and Math were the two key subjects. All the classrooms had Reading at the same time and all had Math at the same time. Students were grouped by their current ability level. If you were reading above 9th grade level, you went to the library with one teacher's aid and had free use of the books in the library for reading time. The same for Math. Students with lower levels were put in smaller groups and their age or grade level did NOT matter. So they got more instruction help at their current level the lower it was. Many 1st Graders were reading at the 4th or 5th grade level by the end of 1st Grade. Students who moved into the district typically made 2 or 3 years progress in the first year. Students could move between groups every 4 weeks, so no one was stuck in a group, but moving was based on testing and teacher observation. The principal and the teachers all enforced the idea that people who tried could move up and that children in higher groups were responsible for encouraging and helping those in lower groups. The best at this were allowed to return to the elementary school starting in 9th grade to help with K and 1 reading and math groups, adding to the level of help that was available. It took no more teachers, and no more staff, but focused help where it was needed. AAPS could do this easily and be very legal in getting more help to those students who need it the most. We need to work together to craft answers, not create divisions in the community. This incident is unfortunate and potentially costly. Please let us move past it and find a better path to achieve the goal of everyone's success.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

What the principal did was not right,it was illegal, even if he was trying to do a good thing, he hurt other children in the process, and he is in charge of all the students in that school.

E.J. Westlake

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

All these cries of reverse discrimination are ludicrous. The legacy of racism has given us an uneven playing field (yes, still), and extra activities to boost the self-esteem of disadvantaged youth - including African Americans, Latino/as, and young girls - simply serve to give those children a leg up. There are already plenty of "whites only lunch bunch clubs" in our society. So why are people whining that we need yet more advantages? As a white mother of an African American son, I saw what racism (subtle though it may have been) did to my son's self-esteem as he was continually ignored and excluded by his white classmates. He's a smart kid who had done well in school in Germany, but I saw his grades slip here. It wasn't until he enrolled in a summer college prep program for African American and Latino/a students that he began to feel like he was worth something. I think Dicken's program is an excellent idea.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

Boy, this is a can of worms. Let's try to be civil and rational, and for crying out loud, enough with the lawsuit talk!


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

"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." Isn't it just as important for the white children to see that an African-American can become a rocket scientist? The quickest way to end discrimination is for everyone to see that anyone can become anything with hard work and education.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:53 a.m.

I have a child in the Dicken 5th grade class in question. Every single parent of those kids heard the same story of yelling and intimidation by Madison. Let's start with Lunch Bunch. While it may sound like it's a lunchtime opportunity to help kids academically, tutoring, homework, etc, it's not. Lunch Bunch is a weekly arrangement for ONLY African American kids to have free pizza, the boys go to the gym to play basketball and the girls go to the art room for activities. All non-blacks are forbidden to participate. There has never been communication to parents on the purpose of Lunch Bunch. To the kids, it means that every single week the black kids get a special opportunity for a pizza and basketball party. While Madison may have announced it to the PTO in February, if memory serves me Lunch Bunch started in Dec. The non-black kids at Dicken have been dealing with this discrimination week after week, every week, for 5 months. On April 26, Madison announced over the school-wide PA system that the Lunch Bunch kids were going on a special field trip. No communication was sent to parents. Ironically some of the African American kids expressed discomfort at this field trip, citing that they felt it was racist. In any event, the black children left on this field trip on April 28 at 12:30pm and returned at 2:30pm. The class in question is a fun class, and frequently do good-natured booing to eachother, such as: no outside recess today b/c it's raining! "Boooooo!" When the black kids returned to class the kids who were left behind booed. April 29: Madison, upon learning of this, went to the classroom and proceeded to yell at the kids. Yes, YELL. There was no "discussion". Per my son: "Do you have a problem with me taking children of my race on a special field trip?" Little Muslim girl, who mustered the courage to speak: "Well, as a matter of fact, I do" Madison cut her off and loudly yelled: "I SAID DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH WHAT I DID????" Madison, looking at the white kids: "You kids are LUCKY! YOU DON"T HAVE PEOPLE LOOK AT YOU WALKING DOWN THE STREET THINKING YOU'RE GOING TO STEAL SOMETHING!!!" Stop me when this starts to sound like a meaningful "discussion". After berating the kids, he left the room. The kids were a mixture of confused, crying, shocked and frightened. The school psychologist heard what happened and ran down to the room to do damage control. Meaningful discussion, right? On April 30 he apologized to the class. Still: no communication to parents. The school board needs to step up and handle this immediately. This should not be playing out in front of 10/11 year olds. To Lunch Bunch, to special field trips, to Mike Madison and to all who judge others based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character, I say: boooooooooo


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.

How are lawsuits going to help? All they do is take away money from our already financially strapped schools. Things may have been handled poorly but not criminally.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:47 a.m.

Well, looks like Mr Madison has been promoted beyond his level of competence.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:47 a.m.

Given the information above, all the children experienced segregation and exclusion based on race in this instance. Wouldn't it have been a much better lesson in achievement, diversity and inclusiveness, to have had all the children, from every racial and ethnic background, learn from the black rocket engineer?

Top Cat

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

It is a shame that so many children were denied the experience of meeting this scientist and being inspired by him. And that they were denied this experience solely because of the color of their skin.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

If this is a school club that went on the field trip why is there any issue regarding students not being invited. The band choir or chess club all go on field trips that students who are not a part of these groups are not invited on. While the students in question were of only one race, that is do to the nature of the club and not a desire to hold others back. EmilyA2 you are more than willing to sue because your child was not involved that does not help in any matter to open up avenues for your child to be involved in something that will help with their education, it just takes much needed money away from a strapped district to help you get over your issue. If you want to see your child go on field trips why not work to start a group for underachieving kids, find funding and parental support, and then research and find an appropriate field trip for your group that allows your child to go but keeps students who are not a part of your group from going. Maybe then you will feel your child is getting what they deserve. Whether or not you agree with the group created by the Principal the idea that every student has the right to go on every field trip is ridiculous. Every day groups of particular students across the country go to events like this and exclude other students. Next you will be complaining that Skyline should not have magnet programs because not everyone can get in them.

Blue Eyes

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

Non-black students would also have had the light of excitement in their eyes if they'd been permitted to go on the field trip too! As an educator, especially in Ann Arbor, who does Madison think he is to engage in segregation of any kind? The school board needs to look at whether or not this is the kind of "teacher" we want for our children and not condone this kind of deliberate racism. Madison needs to go - now!


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:41 a.m.

I'm not sure if this is off topic but I'm curious to know if the scientist knew white students were going to be excluded


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

Those adults who are writing in support of Mr. Madison have never worked with him at Forsythe, Open, Pioneer, or Dicken. There is a reason he is continually moved around...the fear of reprisal against a child is justified and has been experienced by more than a few families, including my child several years ago. With appropriate displinary actions, we would have been rid of him years ago, but he plays his race and gender cards very, very well. Meanwhile, he is shifted from school to school...


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

>> Rather than sounding the alarm of indignation at reverse discrimination, Technically, there is no such thing as "reverse discrimination". Discrimination is discrimination, regardless of what ethnic group is involved. Someone or some group is either discriminated against, or they aren't. As soon as people realize that, the better.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:37 a.m.

What happen to M. L. King's "I have a Dream" speech where people were judge by what they did and not their color? We should outlaw all racial groups and just be AMERICANS!


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:36 a.m.

So why could they not have this field trip in a larger location accommodating all the children? They could have also had it at the same location at multiple times even over multiple days so all children could attend. SUE SUE SUE!


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:27 a.m.

Here are some questions I have that were not answered in last nights letter from Mr. Madison: Who pays for the Lunch Bunch? It is rumored that they have pizza. Who paid for this Field Trip? Why did Madison remove only the girls after he discovered the bus was too small? Why did his "discussion" with those children left-behind last an hour? And how could a thoughtful discussion cause the children to cry? This is the third letter of explanation/ apology received from Madison this school year. His other letters were equally as outrageous and poorly written. Mr Madison's Modus Operandi goes thusly: 1) Do whatever you want because you think it's a good idea. 2) When asked about said decision, joke around and give non-answers. 3) Wait for it blow over, meanwhile parents are getting extremely frustrated by the lack of information. 4) Finally, write a letter to the Dicken Community explaining how the decision you made was RIGHT and that any negative comments were made by people who do not have the best interests of the school at heart. This methodology for dealing with people is highly flawed! As with this current situation, it only spreads rumors and creates a divide between parents who want to help as much as they can with their school and a principal whose only care is his resume.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 10:17 p.m.

Sue the County???? Sometimes the lack of understanding and knowledge here is overwhelming...


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

He did yell at the children, for quite some time I might add.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 10:04 p.m.

EmilyA2. U need to ease up. Madison's a good guy. I doubt he yelled at the kids in the manner described in this forum. That's not his style. I agree he used poor judgment but come on. Everybody makes mistakes. I'm no bleeding heart liberal but I understand why he did it. If u sat down and asked him to explain it to you i bet you would get it too. Madison's a class act who made a decision that I'm sure he knew he would take some heat for. I wish more of our educators would go out on the edge to get a point across. By the way, ronaldduck comment is absolutely "right on"


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 10:02 p.m.

I think all parents should join hands and and formally and peacefully protest the school, and then take a class action lawsuit againts # 1 the county. # 2 the school, and #3 Mike Madison! This is a blatant abuse of his powers and he is no less guilty!

Elizabeth Nelson

Mon, May 3, 2010 : 10 p.m.

I don't interpret any bad motive on the part of this principal, the intent was clear enough, it's not like he was passing out lollipops selectively or picking and choosing who gets to go to a circus. The logic of why and how it happened is clear enough. I can see how the principal might have been a bit exasperated if he was faced with a roomful of students so oblivious to reality that they actually thought this situation was a good excuse for whining (i.e. "He got to go and I didn't WAAA!") Does anyone else remember, in grade school, when the girls were segregated out and we were taught about periods/menstruation? This strikes me as not too far different from that, trying to direct a message/lesson to the most appropriate group. My only concern might be that the non-minority (non-black, or whatever "everyone else" category here) would also benefit from these role models, understanding that not all great leaders in this world are white. That part bothers me a bit... I would rather that the whole of a student body benefit from this kind of thing (isn't it a bit stigmatizing to the select group who are chosen, like marking them out as "You're the unfortunate ones in need of this"?). If parents and students did choose to whine about this, then you really do have to worry about the negative impact on the kids it was intended to benefit.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:56 p.m.

And lest anyone believe otherwise, there were black children on that field trip who come from financially-privileged families.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:43 p.m.

If white students had been invited to go they would have had a chance to see that a black man could achieve things that they might only associate whites. The school missed a very good opportunity to help break some racial stereotypies. Seems like a wasted opportunity.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:42 p.m.

can you imagine the fallout if whites only were taken on a field leaving black kids behind.Jesse Jackson,Farakon,Al Sharpton etc.would be here in 12 hours flat with their mugs on national tv.That being said the parents who complained but refuse to be named are spineless.Way to stand up for your beliefs.I hope you sleep well and are proud of yourselves.Lame excuse given too.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:40 p.m.

EmiliyA2, My reply to your first comment was," ok, I see what you mean." THEN and it's a BIG THEN you just go on to rant. Did you notice you are author of 7 out of first 8 comments? Before you answer and say it's because I'm passionate about this issue. How about you write a letter to the school board? Instead of cluttering up the whole article comment section with your view. If you feel so enthused against RACISM, why don't you voice your opinions about the Muslim girl who was beaten along with her brother because she was wearing a scarf. There is VIOLENT RACISM in AAPS can you show some equality of your JUSTNESS and show the same support all across the board? PLEASE Don't get defensive, I'm just encouraging you to go FURTHER! :) p.s. I said not to get defensive.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:39 p.m.

This is what it looks like when a school system is circling the drain. What you folks in Ann Arbor have to consider is that Willow Run was a decent school system a long time ago.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:37 p.m.

This reminds me of "take your daughter to work day". After a couple years, it was all changed to include boys, losing the whole point of it. I think we need to grow up a bit about this. There are all kinds of kids in Ann Arbor with tremendous educational advantages. Somewhere along the line the schools do need to try to level the playing field. Maybe it was handled poorly?


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:36 p.m.

If this had been a "whites only" field trip you'd have Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and every other noise maker heading to Ann Arbor screaming racial injustice and demanding that the person or persons involved in arranging this field trip be relieved of their duties. Why is it when it's the other way around, nothing is ever said or done???


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:35 p.m.

Vicki Haviland writes, I think the African-American Lunch Bunch is totally in line with the districts equity work, she said. I think the field trip was a fine idea. I will not be voting for someone who supports the violation of the school district's Anti-Discrimination policy and state law.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:32 p.m.

Andrew Thomas: I agree with your sentiment, but there are other ways to think outside the box and to accomplish these goals without engaging in blatant discrimination.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:29 p.m.

Madison starts to apologize and acknowledge he messed up, but catches himself and writes, "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." But Madison, why did only the black children get to have such a wonderful experience? I wish you could have seen excitement, enthusiasm and energy in my children's eyes.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:23 p.m.

Madison just doesn't get it. Closing the achievement gap is a noble cause and I fully support it. What I don't support is excluding children out based solely on the color of their skin. Madison has created an extremely hostile and divisive atmosphere at Dicken Elementary School. P.S. Madison, you didn't apologize to all the children who weren't invited. My children did not get an apology from you. The only children who received an apology from you were the ones you berated and bullied for voicing their displeasure at being excluded, the ones you brought to tears, the ones who needed to be counseled after your angry tirade (because they are not black).

Andrew Thomas

Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:23 p.m.

Mr. Madison has taken, and will continue to take a lot of heat for this effort. In retrospect, it is easy to label this particular initative as a bad idea, at least in the way it was implemented. But let's cut him some slack. The achievement gap is a persistent problem, one that calls for special attention and out-of-the-box thinking. This was a sincere and heartfelt attempt to provide African American students with a unique opportunity to meet with a strong positive role model. Rather than sounding the alarm of indignation at reverse discrimination, let's look at this as a learning experience about how to introduce the issue of race (which people are very reluctant to discuss openly and honestly) into the classroom.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:15 p.m.

Madison also wrote in his email message to parents this evening, "Even though I am the principal of Dicken school, these strategies and interventions were not made in isolation by myself. The entire staff at Dicken decided that we needed to do something different." Embarrassing attempt by Madison to "share the blame" for HIS ridiculous decision to give special privileges to children based solely on the color of their skin.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:07 p.m.

Michael Madison's actions are also in direct violation of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative which states that a "public college or university, community college, or school district 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."


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

By creating and sanctioning both the "African American Lunch Bunch Club" and sponsoring the "blacks only" field trip, Madison is in direct violation of the Non-Discrimination Policy of the Ann Arbor Public Schools (Board Policy 2050). That policy reads as follows: No person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any educational program or activity available in any school on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, creed, political belief, age, national origin, linguistic and language differences, sexual orientation, gender expression, socioeconomic status, height, weight, marital or familial status, or disability.


Mon, May 3, 2010 : 9:03 p.m.

Madison writes, "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." But the field trip was by invitation only and only black students were invited to attend. Madison used skin color as the sole criteria for determining who could experience this special field trip. When there wasn't enough room for all the black children to attend, he "uninvited" some of the black girls. I wonder what Madison would have done had there not been enough room for all of the black boys? Sent the light-skinned black boys back to their classrooms?