I am a lifelong Madisonian, a graduate of Madison’s public schools, co-director of a youth advocacy nonprofit, a statewide youth educator, the partner of a bilingual classroom teacher, and the mother of two incredible children. I bring all these lenses as I seek a seat on the Madison School Board, for the love of learning. Every child deserves an education that unlocks their potential and empowers them to pursue their dreams, and MMSD can provide that.

Madison has some of the best schools, but also some of the worst racial disparities in the country, and I know that we are a community of learners willing to embrace the work of addressing our shortcomings while maintaining our strengths. I've witnessed it firsthand; when I was 5, kindergarten was half-day, and I saw MMSD commit to young learners by expanding to full-day kindergarten. I know we have the drive and the talent to ensure that every student succeeds, every teacher is supported, and every school is a great school.

In order to be ready to learn, students need to feel safe at school. Safe from violence, safe from harassment, and safe from judgment and discrimination as they express parts of themselves that set them apart from their peers. Schools that are safe do not rely only on the Behavior Education Plan, but also promote a culture of responsibility, self-determination and consent, utilizing best practices in restorative justice and mindfulness integration. We can build on our success in this area by creating avenues for students to take greater agency for their behaviors, and to prepare for the freedoms and responsibilities that will greet them in their college, career and community experiences.

Once children feel safe to learn, they must be inspired to learn. I support educational innovation that allows for a holistic approach to education, meeting 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 curriculums 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. This embrace of innovation will give teachers the freedom and the tools to deliver curriculum and instruction in the ways their students will best receive it, including by acknowledging and addressing the intersecting challenges faced by our most vulnerable students.

I currently serve as co-director of GSAFE, the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, and also direct the organization's youth programming and inclusion activities. In this capacity, I developed and taught foundations of leadership, a districtwide advanced learning course rooted in the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth of color. Through partnership with MMSD, I founded the GSAFE New Narrative Project in the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, providing the youth with clear channels to academic success, civic engagement, and self-determination. I sit on the board of Fair Wisconsin Education Fund, and was recently appointed to Gov. Evers’ Criminal Justice Reform Council. In 2018, I was humbled to receive the City-County Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. Every day I am privileged to work with MMSD teachers, the city’s talented students, and their supportive families.

As a School Board member, I will leverage my personal experience, my professional expertise, and my community relationships established through both, in order to bring about the changes our students need. This spring election, I am asking you to vote for safe, healthy schools, an embrace of arts education and teacher creativity, and a district committed to inclusion and innovation.

Ali Muldrow is a candidate for Seat 4 of the Madison School Board.

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