Madison Metropolitan School Board
Two 3-year terms
Anna Moffit, incumbent
Mary P. Burke, incumbent
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? As a former Law Enforcement Officer and current Deputy Mayor to Public Safety, I bring a strong public safety background to the school board. I spent most of my career working with youth in the areas of restorative justice and public safety. As the Mayor’s Liaison to Education, I serve on the City’s education committee and UW Madison’s Education Partnership. I also serve on the Leadership Staff Team for Northside Early Childhood Zone and on Dr. Cheatham’s leaders of color group. I recognize that a strong and safe public school is the foundation of our City’s success.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? There is not one solution that will address the disparities in student achievement. We have to focus our efforts in a variety of areas from 4k early childhood to increasing graduation rates and everything in between. I believe that community schools will help as we recognize that our schools can’t do this alone. We need to increase diversity of our educator workforce. Students do better when they have teachers who look like them. The achievement gap is connected to socioeconomic disparities. I will advocate and support our students to ensure success outside the classroom to eliminate barriers within the classroom.
3. Many parents and staff express concerns about student behavior and the district’s current plan to address it. How can the district improve and modify implementation of its Behavioral Education Plan? I believe that conceptually the Behavior Education Plan provided a foundation for MMSD to move away from exclusionary practices of discipline such as expulsion, and the district’s suspensions and expulsion rates dropped significantly. Much work is yet to be done in the areas of safety of our students and staff and I have many years of professional experience to lead this work. I understand the safety concerns in our schools. I support programs that provide for accountability and teach life skills to help students succeed. I support evaluation of the BEP to get input from educators and those most impacted.
4. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? We need to develop pathways for our youth into education at an early age. Recently MMSD implemented a teacher training program called the Tomorrows Educators for Equity, this is exactly the kind of program we need to support. We need teachers who represent the diversity of our student body. I worked on implementing strategies of increasing diversity within the Madison Police Department and the City of Madison through the Black and Latino youth academies and other innovative strategies. We need to start opening the doors to a career in education as early as middle school and continue into High School.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I came to the school board well-prepared by my experience as a public school teacher, an advocate with Wisconsin Family Ties, and an active parent of three MMSD students. In my three years on the board, my knowledge has deepened, greatly enhancing my effectiveness. I have seen under-served, struggling students and have found ways to help improve their experiences and outcomes. As the board’s vice-president and legislative liaison, I have defended our schools, students, and families at the state and national levels. I am deeply committed to the changes needed to serve all children equitably in quality neighborhood schools.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? The outcomes for too many of our students are shameful, and these are overwhelmingly students of color, English Language Learners, students in poverty, and students with disabilities. We need multiple strategies and actions within our classrooms and in our community. The approaches I have supported include small class sizes to allow for more individual attention, stronger relationships, and learning; de-emphasizing standardized tests and standardized curricula, while empowering educators to exercise their professional knowledge; expanding public and community partnerships for direct services like mental health care; and support for nondiscriminatory affordable housing, living wage employment, and accessible healthcare.
3. Many parents and staff express concerns about student behavior and the district’s current plan to address it. How can the district improve and modify implementation of its Behavioral Education Plan? I share parent and staff concerns. The goals of the plan are important. Shifting from punitive measures towards restorative approaches and social skill-building can strengthen community, while interrupting racism and the school-to prison pipeline. However, the BEP has been unevenly implemented. The lack of adequate staffing and training, along with insufficient support structures within schools, have created challenges we must address. I authored budget amendments that increased funding for Intensive Support Teams and Natural Circles of Support programs. I will continue to support high-quality staff training on social-emotional development, trauma-informed practices, and restorative justice.
4. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? Yes! We have alarming staff shortages in some specialties, and too little diversity. Turnover rates are nearly 25% for special education and bilingual teachers. Furthermore, 12% of special education positions and 44% of bilingual positions are filled by under-qualified teachers. Our actions must counter the rhetoric and policies that have made teaching unattractive. Along with better compensation, this means treating our educators like the professionals they are, respecting their knowledge, and providing more support. Expanding initiatives like the Grow Your Own programs, along with “Rise Up” and TEEM Scholars, will increase the diversity of our workforce and address teacher shortages.
Mary P. Burke
Madison, WI 53703