I have over 10 years of experience working with families, students and educators in Madison. I have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to serving all students, with a specific focus on students of color and students receiving special education services.

As part of this commitment, I completed my master's degree in educational leadership policy at UW-Madison. I have worked as the restorative justice director at YWCA Madison, as the family, youth and community coordinator at Madison Metropolitan School District, and currently as the educational consultant at the Department of Public Instruction. I am also a parent, a volunteer, and a dedicated community member.

Communities thrive when youth and families engage with schools. Engaged students are more likely to have higher academic achievements and graduate on time.

Creating a system of belonging and equity, where every student receives equitable access to the opportunities available in our schools, is necessary to address racial disparities in student achievement.

I have proactively worked to address violence in our schools while reducing racial disparities. As a board member I will prioritize facility updates to ensure our students and staff feel safe as well as strengthening our school community. When elected I will also support:

• Investing in teachers and support staff to increase schools’ capacity to engage and deepen relationships with students and community partners.

• Strengthening implementation of racial equity, restorative practices through an equity lens.

• Increasing comprehensive resources to make mental health and counseling services available to all students who would benefit from access.

• Reducing exclusionary practices that have disparate impacts on students of color and students receiving special education services.

• Equity for teachers. Teachers will have support conditions needed to perform their jobs, and they will have the resources to embed equity practices in the classroom.

• Community schools focusing on student and community well-being to address the complex needs of all students. Investing in the school community is the best long-term solution to address disparities and inequities.

Racial equity benefits all students. Once elected I will support educational equity and implementation of a racial equity tool. Teachers and staff will will lead equitable practices and elevate the great work they have already committed to do.

Our district has struggled with adopting a racial-equity lens in conversations, practices and policies. The focus on "equality" rather than "equity" inevitably leaves behind students with the greatest needs. Sometimes fairness is not about making sure everyone has the same services, but rather about distributing resources according to greatest needs. For example, a student who is gifted and talented and perhaps bored in their classes has different needs than a new immigrant who is also very bright but is just learning English. To give them both the same services in the name of equality actually is a disservice to both students. To address racial equity, we must go beyond equality to a place where every student has an opportunity to get what they need to thrive.

Everyone benefits when students and staff feel a greater sense of belonging! School climate improves, behavior referrals decline, and staff feel connected to their workplace. It’s imperative that all students and all teachers experience healthy schools and healthy communities!

My life’s work has revolved around ensuring Madison is an equitable and inclusive place for all residents. I am looking forward to working collaboratively with our Madison teachers and community partners to serve our students while supporting MMSD leadership to ensure they have the financial and human resources necessary to fully live their vision where every school will be a thriving school that prepares every student to graduate from high school being college, career and community-ready.

Ananda Mirilli is a candidate for Madison School Board Seat 5. www.voteananda.com