In Response to Chris Rickert’s Column

Posted February 13th, 2012 @ 8:08 AM by

Mr. Rickert, of the Wisconsin State Journal, does not appreciate the work that Madison lefties (including me specifically) have been doing to expose the right-wing connections of Madison Prep:

They came, as such things usually do, via that great information dumping ground known as the Internet.

“The Ideological Lineage of Madison Prep: If you haven’t seen this, you really should: History, Not ‘Conspiracy,'” read the Feb. 1 tweet.

Included was a link to a Jan. 27 blog post that in 1,776 words has Kaleem Caire — head of the Urban League of Greater Madison and the main backer of controversial Madison charter school Madison Preparatory Academy — connected to more than a dozen conservative causes or leaders, including such bogeymen of the left as the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

Well, OK …

Call me naive, but I’m always a bit puzzled by this guilt-by-association tactic, so common in politics and a favorite tool of those who opposed Madison Prep.

There is ample evidence that the Madison Prep school is based on shaky ground, and that should be reason enough to reject the school. In fact, the lack of evidence in support of the Prep model should be reason enough to not even propose Madison Prep. But here we are debating the proposal. So we can oppose it on evidence level. I even have some new evidence: For example, Madison Prep is going to be segregated by gender. But where is the evidence that this is a good idea? There isn’t much:

While no reliable data exist, proponents have estimated that there are between 300 and 500 single-sex classrooms, up from 11 in 2002.

Fortunately, Pedro Noguera, director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University and a respected researcher on education for children of color, chose option C. In an article recently published in Education Week, Noguera explains that “no research supports the notion that separating young men is the best way to meet their academic and social needs.” He adds that “none of [single-sex education supporters’] claims about innate learning differences have been supported by neuroscientists who actually study the human brain, and their ideas about the types of teaching strategies that constitute ‘best practices’ for boys are also unsupported by scientific evidence.”

Or this one that might indicate it’s better to think about economic class and not race: Racial Education Gap Narrowing, Income Education Gap Growing

So there’s plenty of evidence, but we all know that political debates are not always settled based purely on evidence. In a political sense, it is good to supplement the evidence against Madison Prep by noting its ideological lineage.

Not only that but at some point, considering the lack of evidence supporting the McPrep model, people need to start asking about the intent of the the Madison Prep school. See, sometimes policies agreements aren’t clear cut between a correct choice and an incorrect choice, but rather between two different sets of values. How do we determine the values behind Madison Prep? Well we can look for groups and people we recognize and who’s values we know and start to reach conclusions from there. I mean, why else are so many right-wingers hanging out with Kaleem Caire?

Not only that but Mr. Rickert seems to think that ideology matters a lot. For example, here is Mr. Rickert dismissing an argument merely because it came from me:

@forwardourmotto I admit, I didn’t read your analysis. What’s the point? Such clear biases undermine credibility.

Huh, considering that line of thinking, I would think Mr. Rickert would think the right-wing lineage of the Madison Prep idea is relevant…

Anyhow, here is part II in Allen Ruff’s series: The Company One Keeps: Kaleem Caire’s Rightward Connections, Part #2

Categories: | Education | Madison | Media

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