Meet the Candidates for Madison Board of Education

During the primary campaign we asked candidates running for the Madison Board of Education the same five questions to understand their vision for education in Madison. For the general election, we took a different route and asked the candidates a set of questions to understand where and how they would focus their energy if elected. The election for Madison Board of Education takes place Tuesday, April 2. Candidates responded to our questions through email or over the phone. We only publish direct quotes from candidates responding to the following questions:

What is the biggest challenge facing Madison schools?

Demeter Foundation to Host Wellness Workshops Aiding Women Transitioning from Incarceration

The Demeter Foundation will be hosting a four-week workshop series starting next week entitled “Creating a Healthier Lifestyle: Holistic Wellness,” for women with the lived experience of incarceration. The registration deadline for the series is Thursday, March 21. Participants can sign up by completing the registration form and submitting it to the Demeter Foundation. Each of the series’ eight sessions will focus on one of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Eight Dimensions of Wellness, such as environmental, financial, and emotional wellness. Participants will also have the opportunity to share their experiences and connect with others who have experienced incarceration.

Mifflandia Project Guides the Future of Mifflin Street Neighborhood

The City of Madison began laying the groundwork for updates to the historic Mifflin Street neighborhood with its 2012 Downtown Plan, but from then until 2018, not much happened. Plans were made and forgotten, sometimes conflicting with each other along the way. But in the fall of 2018, the city launched the Mifflandia project, a planning initiative aimed at creating a real, viable plan for the area by engaging neighborhood residents. Organizers hope aspects like free food and a relaxed atmosphere can attract residents who would otherwise have little interest in the planning process. The first meeting last October, for example, offered donuts as attendees were polled on topics like housing styles, affordability, sustainability, and business types residents would like to see in the Mifflin neighborhood.

Finding Success As a CEO of Tomorrow

Amara Stovall is an eight-grade student at Wright Middle School and student writer at Simpson Street Free Press. Amara has launched a business intended to change the lives of survivors affected by police brutality. Her business dream is now a reality. At the age of 13, Amara Stovall joined a High School program called CEOs of Tomorrow. The program helps students create businesses that solve social issues.

Kaleem Caire

Kaleem Caire is running for School Board Seat 3

What is the biggest challenge facing Madison schools? “Madison’s 53-year achievement/opportunity gap is its greatest challenge right now, but retaining teachers and principals, engaging families more deeply in our schools and the education of their children, and holding all of our students to high expectations are tied for second place.”

Why are you qualified to help fix this problem? “As the founder and leader of a public charter school in Madison, and the only person who would serve on the Madison School Board that has more than 25 years working in education from preschool through college, I have direct experience and success addressing these issues. We are closing the gaps at One City Schools, have more than 80 percent engagement from our parents and families, and are building a strong culture of excellence among our children and staff at our school.”

When it comes to fixing this problem, what’s more important to your vision: finding consensus (making everybody happy), reaching compromise (everybody gives up something), or sticking to principals? “None of the above.

Cris Carusi

Cris Carusi is running for School Board Seat 3
What is the biggest challenge facing Madison schools? "We need inclusivity and grassroots to narrow achievement gaps. We need to better at bottom up grassroots solution. We need more teacher voice on school based leadership team and we need to give them more flexibility to respond to unique cultures to the kids they teach. We need adequate staffing and more time to collaborate to share ideas on creative solutions to narrow gaps and students need voice to come up with solutions and described the challenges they face."

David Blaska

David Blaska is running for School Board Seat 4

What is the biggest challenge facing Madison schools? "Restoring discipline in the classroom.  Start by maintaining order at the school board meetings." 

Why are you qualified to help fix this problem? "I’m the only one with the courage to talk about demanding accountability, not playing identity politics." When it comes to fixing this problem, what’s more important to your vision: finding consensus (making everybody happy), reaching compromise (everybody gives up something), or sticking to principles?

Ali Muldrow

Ali Muldrow is running for School Board Seat 4

What is the biggest challenge facing Madison schools? “The largest challenge facing the school district is how to address racial disparities in terms of student outcomes.”

Why are you qualified to help fix this problem? “In talking about the achievement gap, one of the things I’ve been telling folks is that we create the achievement gap in elementary school and we address it in high school. One of the things I’d like to see us change is our approach to early childhood learning, [which] means investing in 4k (four-year-old kindergarten) so that young people are getting exposed to routine and play and the relationship-building tools that they need to be successful in an educational community at an early age.”

“It’s also closing the gap in terms of the arts: who gets to take piano lessons, who gets to dance, is often very specific to a young person’s income or the education of their family. And shifting that to make sure that all young people have the opportunity to dance, participate in theater, and be creative at school everyday is something that I think would greatly transform our racial disparities within the district...young people who dance at school and play at school and have greater artistic and creative freedom at school like being at school more, and behave better at school.”

When it comes to fixing this problem, what’s more important to your vision: finding consensus (making everybody happy), reaching compromise (everybody gives up something), or sticking to principles?

TJ Mertz

TJ Mertz is running for School Board Seat 5

MC Staff: What is the biggest challenge facing Madison schools? TJ: “The Academic progress and well being of the students. This is what the schools are charged with: educating and helping our students grow into being contributing, healthy, curious well people. Where we have gone wrong with trying to address this challenge is we become too top down and inside out.”

Why are you qualified to help fix this problem? “I know our district.

Ananda Mirilli

Ananda Mirilli is running for School Board Seat 5

What is the biggest challenge facing Madison schools? “Definitely racial gaps, and differentiation in how students of color experience our schools and the ways in which both students’ families and staff are experiencing health and experiencing. school safety.”

Why are you qualified to help fix this problem? “I have worked most of my adult life to address racial disparities in education. I have academic background in education leadership from UW-Madison and undergrad [degree] in human services and psychology.