Jana Winter, Fox News, May 6, 2010
An elementary school principal in Michigan is under investigation for authorizing a field trip last week for 30 black students to meet with an African-American rocket scientist. Students who are not black were excluded from the outing–a possible violation of a state law that bans racial favoritism in public schools.
The principal, Mike Madison, who is black, said the trip was part of an effort to close the achievement gap between black and white students. But some parents whose children were not included say it clearly was illegal.
The controversy began last week when the 30 students, members of an African-American academic support group, were taken to hear the rocket scientist, Alec Gallimore, speak at the University of Michigan, where he is an aerospace engineering professor and propulsion lab director.
The goal of the trip, Madison said, was to close test score gaps and inspire the students to consider careers in the sciences.
But parents of students who were excluded protested, and the children who went on the trip were booed by their classmates when they returned to school.
But district spokeswoman Liz Margolis said that bridging the gap in test scores between white and black students was a serious issue that legitimized the trip. Plus, she said, the field trip was paid for by a private donation.
[Editor’s Note: An earlier story about this trip can be read here.]