We know that the hope and promise of the start of each new school year in Madison is tempered by the reality some of our children are not going to do as well as some other children and others aren’t going to do as well as they should and for the most part neither is acceptable. To Madison’s credit the community has rallied around the achievement gap and created a shared commitment to closing it. That has taken the form of volunteer tutors, class size changes, teacher training and more. Many of these efforts are rooted in the United Way of Dane County’s 15-plus years of Schools of Hope.
This year, United Way and the Madison School District have partnered on a new initiative to address a major barrier to school achievement, and that’s not being in school. Simply put, we have to increase attendance for students of color. The new campaign is called I’m Here and you’ll be hearing more about it. It kicks off with volunteers at every Madison elementary, middle and high school Tuesday morning to greet students and welcome them back to school. This is the year we make sure every child says I’m here every day.