Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins outlined the district’s goals in the State of the District address last week.
Riding the riptide of the COVID-19 pandemic and balancing in the ambiguity of inflation, Jenkins stressed the importance of empathy, equity, investment and preparation in his speech to faculty, students and community members. Jenkins said the school district is still strong heading into its post-pandemic future.
“MMSD is healthy, is strong and is forward thinking,” Jenkins said. “We’re moving in Madison.”
Diving into the struggles the district faced and the plans in store to overcome them, Jenkins emphasized how MMSD reflects the nation's disparities, with families experiencing “more of less” and not all students finding success equally.
“When we say all, we must mean all,” Jenkins said.
The issue of inequality relates closely to another of Jenkins’ concerns — the lack of consistent state funding for public education. He highlighted the district's enthusiasm to invest in staff and facilities. Additionally, he said the district is planning for future infrastructure maintenance and possible advancements.
“Money is not the most important thing, but it’s right up there with air,” Jenkins said.
MMSD aims to create a space where all students in the diverse district will find representation among faculty, according to Jenkins. He related this to his goal of ensuring “[all] students graduate ready for college, careers and the community.”
Jenkins said he believes that by improving reading proficiency, students will be more informed at the polls, find more flexibility in their careers and have greater access to higher education.
Jenkins said the school district will aim to provide students with a diverse curriculum that allows them to develop multiple skill sets that prepare them for college or a career after graduation.
“Every class will leave the district in 2027 with at least one Advanced Placement course, one dual-enrollment course, one skill trades course, one entrepreneurship course, one finance course or one arts course before graduating,” Jenkins said.
This new academic standard is set to work in tandem with the district's new prioritization of social-emotional learning and equal representation in classrooms, which aims to provide more funding for mental health services and develop a curriculum that builds relationship skills in students.
“As a district, we’ve been very much committed to saying how we’re going to build on a culture of excellence, equity and inclusion,” Jenkins added.
The superintendent concluded the address with hope and ambition for the future of the school district.
“They just put the pen in your hand,” Jenkins said. “We get the chance to write the next chapter — so it’s not over yet.”