Racial disparity…in the city of Madison, in the county of Dane, in the state of Wisconsin, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our prisons…is a national disgrace. The latest in a seemingly endless string of reports came last week showing the state’s achievement gap for fourth and eighth graders in reading and math is the highest in the country.
First of all, we have to be very, very careful that we don’t become numb to the idea of an “achievement gap.” Schools leaders have not. The Urban League has not. United Way has not. But we worry the general public which must support needed change to close the gap might think it’s being taken care of.
Which leads to an even bigger problem. What we have in Wisconsin, in Dane County and in Madison is not just an achievement gap. We have a race gap. We have an ugly, festering, totally unacceptable race gap. And it must be part of every civic, political, philanthropic, entrepreneurial – you name it – conversation we have. Because if we don’t get to the bottom of this, and fix it, this state, county and city are sunk.