Madison school board candidates speak at forum less than two weeks ahead of election day
MADISON, Wis. — We are a little over than a week away from the spring election. All six candidates vying for three seats on the Madison Metropolitan School Board spoke at a forum on Madison’s east side Sunday night. News 3 Now caught up with the candidates ahead of the meeting.
Kaleem Caire and Cristiana Carusi are running for seat three. Carusi previously ran for the school board in 2017. She currently works at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. She said she’s running again because she wants to fix the achievement gap.
“We know there is no one silver bullet that’s going to fix things, but if we look at things like smaller class sizes, experienced teachers in front of the classroom, teachers of color and early childhood education, if we do all these things together, maybe we can see our numbers improve,” Carusi said.
Running against her is Caire . He is the founder of local charter school One City Schools. Caire unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the school board in the late 1990s . If elected, he would like to implement some of the things he’s done at his current school into the district.
” We have two teachers in every classroom at our school 4K and kindergarten; we will have that again for first grade. We are designed to serve children with high needs but every kid benefits when we have that. We need things like that in our schools, ” Caire said.
Ali Muldrow and David Blaska are running for seat four. Muldrow is the co-executive director of the Gay and Straight Alliance for Safer Schools, known as GSAFE. She said creating a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ students, students of color and students with disabilities is a top priority.
” I am also really interested in bringing arts every day to our core curriculum. So giving young people opportunities to express themselves, giving them opportunities to dance and move and participate in theater because when you’re a little kid your creative thinking is your critical thinking, ” Muldrow said.
Blaska , a former Dane County Board member, wants to see more school resource officers in the district.
He’s spoken up at heated school board meetings supporting the need for police presence in Madison’s high schools.
” I’m coming out of retirement to do this, simply because nobody is talking about the things that need to be talked about. I guess I’m tired of talking about race, and I want to talk about behavior. I want to look at the child and not the externalities. I want to look at the person as an individual, ” Blaska said.
Running for seat five are Ananda Mirilli and TJ Mertz . Mertz is the only incumbent and has served on the board since 2013. He said he wants to see trust and transparency between the district and community restored. He believes that will improve student achievement.
” We need to have more shared decision-making. I don’t have the answers; the administration doesn’t have the answers. The answers need to come from our community and our educators, who know the children best, and we and need to open ourselves up for to that, ” Mertz said.
Mirilli had a failed run for this seat in 2013. She is now an equity consultant with the Department of Public Instruction. She said as a parent of a student at La Follette High School, resolving some of the violence surrounding the school is extremely important to her.
” I’m the former director for the restorative justice program for the YWCA and was responsible to expand restorative justice throughout Madison and Dane County, and to me, those issues are close to my heart. I want to make sure that I help foster school safety while addressing racial disparity, ” Mirilli said.
Election day is April 2.
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