Race Creeps In

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Posted by panchmaster from pool0436.cvx24-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net ( on Monday, October 14, 2002 at 10:34AM :

+++Lifted from beth

September 24, 2002
İDaily Tribune 2002

MADISON HEIGHTS - When DiAnne Cagle Leitermann voted to open Madison School District boundaries to outsiders in 1996, she thought it was a good idea.

Today, the long-time Board of Education member isn't so sure about schools of choice.

"We were cautious and we have been watching it," Cagle Leitermann said at a special schools of choice study session Monday night. "Now when I look back, it was a bad decision."

Cagle Leiterman and her fellow board members called the special meeting to brainstorm alternatives to the controversial but lucrative program.

About 100 citizens gathered in the new auditorium at Madison High School to air their concerns.

Madison has come to rely on its 450 schools of choice students for $3 million, or 20 percent of its annual budget. Madison opts into two Michigan programs -Schools of Choice 105, which accepts students from other districts within Oakland County, and Schools of Choice 105c, which accepts students from districts in adjoining counties, including Wayne and Macomb.

But some parents worry that schools of choice students bring a special set of problems - some of them racial - to Madison, a predominantly white school district. They asked whether caps could be put on the number of schools of choice students allowed in, or if the students' academic or disciplinary records could be reviewed prior to acceptance.

Some parents said schools of choice students are taking classroom space, textbooks and even chairs away from kids who live in the district.

Some said rumors are circulating that schools of choice gangs are picking fights after school.

"Our kids are scared to death. There's a set of rules for schools of choice students and a set of rules for ours. It's getting old," said one parent who declined to give his name to The Daily Tribune. "We got to get them out of here. I'm sick and tired of it."

Amanda Degain, a senior at Madison High School, said she agrees with schools of choice, but said some questions need to be asked.

"We bring in all these students and none of them want to be a part of anything else," she said. "It's pointless to bring in people that are going to bring down the school. It's a drain on the system ... maybe we should make it that if you mess up one time, you get the boot. We don't need to keep these people."

Ashley Harper, a Madison High School junior, said there have been a number of fights between schools of choice and in-district students.

"Last week there was a problem in my fifth hour between the Caucasians and Chaldeans. They talk their language and say things that are inappropriate to people who don't understand their language," she said.

"There's a lot of racism that goes on in our school. I think it's an issue with the open-door policy because there's a lot of problems coming into our school."

-- panchmaster
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