n a partnership described as “the Wisconsin Idea come to life,” the UW-Madison School of Education will be working with the Madison Metropolitan School District to improve the quality and diversity of teachers and principals to help close the academic achievement gap.

“We all agree in terms of schooling, the most important thing is for a student to have a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every school,” Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education, told Madison School Board members last week as they approved the partnership. “We want to partner with the school district to make sure that that happens, and to close the opportunity gap for all children in this district.”

In a news release announcing the partnership, Forward Madison: A Collaborative for Learning and Leadership, the multi-year project is described as having three main components: intensified support for new teachers and principals, efforts to improve diversity of the school district workforce and commitment to continued professional learning.

Such a close partnership is long overdue, school board member T.J. Mertz said.