Madison Metropolitan School Board, Seat 6

3-year term

Vote for one. Top two vote-getters will appear on the April ballot.

Cris Carusi
Ali Janae Muldrow
Kate Toews


CrisCarusi.jpg

CRIS CARUSI

Madison, WI 53705
crisforschools@gmail.com
http://crisforschools.com
Facebook: Cris Carusi for Madison School Board

Watch the Know Your Candidates interview with Cris Carusi.

1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office?

I have been a district parent for more than a decade, and I believe strong public education is the foundation of a healthy democracy. I’ve been active in classrooms and PTOs, and have attended school board meetings. My professional career has centered on sustainable agriculture, including support for farm to school efforts connecting kids and healthy food. I have been executive director of a nonprofit and currently lead a communications program, including budget management. My community work has included: treasurer, Wisconsin Cooperative Housing Association board; founding member of School Community Alliance for Public Education (SCAPE); Peace Corps in Nepal.

2. Voters recently approved a referendum question to allow the Madison Metropolitan School District to exceed the state-imposed revenue cap. What criteria will you use to authorize spending of these funds?

I’ll focus on equity, strong neighborhood schools, and retaining and supporting our teachers. I will direct resources to classrooms and schools. I will prioritize reducing class sizes, particularly in elementary grades—a proven strategy to close achievement gaps. My decade of experience as an involved district parent has taught me that learning increases when we invest in creating conditions that foster positive relationships among students, staff and the community. To strengthen these relationships, we should expand restorative justice and nurture respectful schools free of bullying and harassment. Ultimately, spending criteria must be subject to an inclusive public process.

3. What do you see as the pros and cons of the Personalized Pathways program for high schools, which will begin implementation in 2017–2018?

Pathways reminds us that we must be careful to protect the things that are working as we make changes, and include all our families and staff in planning. I share the goal of engaging students through hands-on learning. At the same time, I have reservations about 8th graders committing to a career focus in this changing economy. I’m equally concerned about impacts on fine arts classes, electives, advanced courses and special needs students. An inclusive process could have reduced turmoil and built public support. As Pathways is assessed, I will seek broad input, and carefully consider positive and negative impacts.

4. With fewer journalists dedicated to covering education issues, what do you see as your role in advocacy with the community?

Clear communication and advocacy are crucial components of school board service. On the board, I will listen to the ideas, concerns and expertise of students, parents, teachers and community members. I will foster relationships to enhance communication, reach out to people who are often not represented, and create opportunities for diverse community members to provide direct input to the board. However, input is only effective when championed by strong advocates. I have spent a decade standing up for public education and will work to ensure that our democratically-elected school board speaks for the community when making difficult choices.



KateToews

Kate Toews

Madison, WI 53711
kate@katetoewsforschoolboard.com
www.katetoewsforschoolboard.com
Facebook: Kate Toews for School Board

Watch the Know Your Candidates interview with Kate Toews.

1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office?

I have three young children. Their future – our country’s future - depends on fighting off attacks on public education, and I have the experience in education and management to do it. MMSD spends more than $400 Million annually and has 4,000 staff, so we need a School Board experienced in managing large organizations and budgets. I was the CEO of a successful startup and spent my last decade in the business world working with large organizations to make change and using data to make decisions. I also worked for several years in education as a mediator in public high schools.

2. Voters recently approved a referendum question to allow the Madison Metropolitan School District to exceed the state-imposed revenue cap. What criteria will you use to authorize spending of these funds?

MMSD spends more per student than most districts in the country, but our teacher starting salary is among the lowest. This results in high turnover and unnecessary difficulty recruiting great teachers – particularly teachers of color, bilingual, and special ed teachers. I believe Madison has the right ingredients to provide an excellent public education for all – if we prioritize our resources right. I will vigorously prioritize the classroom environment by bringing MMSD teacher and principal starting salaries up to competitive rates, continuing equity-based budgeting for schools, and providing other classroom support based on feedback from educators.

3. What do you see as the pros and cons of the Personalized Pathways program for high schools, which will begin implementation in 2017–2018?

Pros: Many families are excited about Pathways because of the opportunity to learn with context. Linked learning can help students form a deeper connection to material and graduate with a vision for the future. Madison also has many academic and business partners that can make Pathways successful.
Cons: Communication has been late and limited, and families are worried that the program may prohibit students from taking electives or classes required for college admissions. We must continue to offer a well-rounded education that gives all students the flexibility, support, and preparation needed for college if they want to.

4. With fewer journalists dedicated to covering education issues, what do you see as your role in advocacy with the community?

Madison is a tight community and communication between schools, families, teachers, and MMSD should be stronger. At a time like this, we need to stand together – not divided among us. With a background in mediation I will communicate with and listen to the many diverse voices in our community. As a parent of three young children, the oldest in elementary school, I will particularly focus on elementary age communication (only one current School Board member has elementary age children). K-2 is where MMSD focused first to close equity gaps, so this is also where we need more advocacy.