Madison Metropolitan School Board, Seat 4
Vote for one
Ali Janae Muldrow
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? Served on Dane County Board of Supervisors for 12 years, vice chair of human services committee. Former credit union president. Board member, Island Church Foundation. Newspaper reporter and editor at The Capital Times. Spokesman for Gov. Tommy Thompson and several state cabinet-level secretaries, including Workforce Development and Revenue. Parent of Memorial high school graduate. Home owner.
2. How should the school district address disparities in student achievement? By restoring discipline and high expectations to Madison education regardless of identity politics. Yes, there is racial disparity in achievement in Madison schools. No, our teachers are not institutionally racist. The kids hijacking cars and shooting up the school bus are not being turned away at the schoolhouse door. David Blaska did not eat their homework. Madison wants to help but cannot as long as we keep telling those kids they are victims incapable of making a better future. Each student participates in school maintenance: one hour a week pushing broom, shoveling snow, etc. Safe Schools = a Safe Community.
3. There has been continued debate over the school district’s Behavioral Education Plan. Should the district modify implementation of the plan, or are there other steps you would recommend? The BEP is 82 pages of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, unintelligible to teacher, student and parent. Its goal is not to maintain order in the classroom but to jigger the numbers so as to avoid the race card. It has failed to do either. After four years and dollar cost of $15 million, Madison’s public school classrooms are more unruly than ever. Suspensions have declined while “behavior incidents” have nearly doubled. Why? Because the disrupters are still disrupting. Madison’s BEP is in response to a federal directive that assumed racial discrimination if one group was disciplined more than another. Scrap it.
4. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? Pay and benefits are already among the best in the state. Affirm that teachers control their classrooms so that they can teach instead of enduring combat duty. Encourage the formation of charter schools within the district for one thousand points of light and creative teaching opportunities. The League did not ask about cops in schools. Why? My opponent Ali Muldrow wrote the educational platform for Progressive Dane. It demands cops out of schools, no more student expulsions, lawyers for kids facing suspension, and allowing kids to use cell phones even when teacher objects.
Madison, WI 53705
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? Madison has been my home since birth. Seven immediate family members finished West H.S., six more follow. I practiced medicine 21 years in Madison, 10 years in Moscow, and 6 years in Germany/Iraq. Semi-retired, I work in prisons part-time, and as a physician for addiction treatment clinics. I have been active in Rotary since 1985. I have four children, three adults, one nine years old (all US born and speak Russian). Recent study in neurological brain development and personal experience impels me to share research with the School Board. Ref. "The Teenage Brain" by Prof. Frances Jensen, 2015.
2. How should the school district address disparities in student achievement? The achievement gap results from inadequacies of the "whole village" : family, neighborhood, elementary school, and school district. The critical period of neglect is a child's first 3-5 years. A gap at age 5 gets wider as such a child progresses through grades where he feels doubly he does not belong. Bussing facilitates diversity, but disrupts a sense of belonging either in his neighborhood or in a class inappropriate for his reading level. I suggest 1. Opening schools, on Allied drive, initially, 2. Minimize bussing the youngest children away from home, 3. analyse the Montessori and one city schools. Then 4. expand what works. 5. Remedial reading.
3. There has been continued debate over the school district’s Behavioral Education Plan. Should the district modify implementation of the plan, or are there other steps you would recommend? The district has moved away from zero tolerance policies, toward restorative justice forms of discipline which keep the student in school, albeit in a class tailored to the students' problem or coexisting medical condition.The chronic disruptor can be moved to smaller settings from which he can "earn the right to return" to a traditional school settings. A move to consider would be a SEED school or Chicago's Urban Prep Academy. 100% of the graduating class of Urban Prep- all disadvantaged black boys- enroll in college. Success at preschool and K-5 will prevent development later of "at risk" students.
4. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? I would actively approach retiring professional athletes. Many have, or are close to earning, degrees. There are not many "Milton McPikes" available, but two-three others could starts to fill his shoes. Alumni of Wisconsin teams are often widely acquainted with former team members and coaches.
Ali Janae Muldrow
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I was an MMSD student from kindergarten through graduation. I have worked in education here in Madison my entire adult life. I'm currently the Co-Director of GSAFE (Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools), where I advocate for children with disabilities, LGBTQ+ youth, youth of color, and for the educational rights of all young people across the state of Wisconsin. I serve on the board of Fair Wisconsin Education Fund, and on the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Council, and formerly served on the board of the Madison Youth Choir. I am passionate about excellent education for all children.
2. How should the school district address disparities in student achievement? I support the evidence-based practices of: recruiting and retaining teaching staff of color; designing curriculum and instruction that is inclusive, representative, and responsive; establishing school culture that is rooted in self-determination and consent; and holistic education that meets all of a child’s needs, strengths, and interests. When I call for “Arts Every Day” I am calling for schools to promote curiosity, creativity, and a lifelong love of learning. Integrating arts into core curricula promotes equity, academic achievement, positive behaviors, and improved attendance for all students while supporting smaller class sizes, more planning time, and innovation in the classroom.
3. There has been continued debate over the school district’s Behavioral Education Plan. Should the district modify implementation of the plan, or are there other steps you would recommend? The Behavior Education Plan takes proactive steps to reduce exclusionary practices; this is what distinguishes it from the code conduct it replaced. The BEP itself intensely increases the workload of teachers, and can leave teachers under-supported in their focus on providing quality instruction. Fortunately, the BEP is not a stand-alone tool, but rather is enhanced by schools’ implementation of mindfulness and restorative justice practices. Children thrive when they have freedoms and responsibilities and are empowered to take agency in their own behavior; these opportunities to reflect, along with arts education, provide creative, healthy outlets for student expression.
4. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? We need to make our classrooms, schools, and community welcoming to teachers. This includes: supportive opportunities both for licensure and throughout educators’ careers; hiring and orientation processes that prepare teachers for their daily workload; and school leadership providing teachers more opportunities for growth and innovation in the classroom. We also need to provide livable, competitive compensation. Recognising that state and federal funding streams are beyond school board control, we are able to leverage local taxes, and to prioritize funding within MMSD, to make sure our teachers, students, and schools are supported with integrity.
Madison, WI 53711