Six of the nine people running for Madison School Board would support a return of full collective bargaining rights for teachers, according to a Madison teachers union questionnaire, and most oppose charter schools not authorized by the local school district.
Responses to the 30-question Madison Teachers Inc. questionnaire, posted online Wednesday, were not surprising in a liberal school district known for its support of unions and traditional public education — and where MTI’s endorsement can mean winning a seat on the School Board.
But candidates also touched on issues including how to hire more teachers of color, the achievement gap between white students and students of color, and the relationship between the School Board and district superintendent.
The questionnaire revealed support among most candidates for higher teacher pay and for the goals of the district’s 5-year-old Behavior Education Plan that seeks to reduce suspensions and the disproportionate rate at which students of color are disciplined, although they questioned some of plan’s details and implementation.
A question about funding priorities revealed that most preferred directing more money for front-line staff such as counselors and education aides and less toward administration, travel, consultants and other expenses not directly related to the classroom.
Only conservative blogger David Blaska said he didn’t support the repeal of 2011’s Act 10, which all but eliminated collective bargaining for most public sector workers. Amos Roe and Albert Bryan did not provide an answer.
Only Kaleem Caire offered explicit support for charter schools not directly controlled by the Madison School District. Madison currently has only two such schools, Isthmus Montessori Academy, and Caire’s One City Schools. Both are publicly funded nonprofits chartered by the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Educational Opportunity.
Caire said he supports “only those that have produced higher levels of student outcomes and attainment, and schools that are designed to meet a particular need that traditional public schools either struggle with or do not offer.” Blaska offered support for “consumer choice” in schools and said the school district “must meet and beat the competition instead of outlawing it, Soviet style.”
Ali Muldrow said she was “not a supporter of private charter schools, school vouchers, or any form of privatizing public education,” although her two children have attended Isthmus Montessori Academy. She declined to say whether her children still attend the school.
Ten names will be on the Feb. 19 primary ballot for three School Board seats, with the top two vote-getters moving on to the April 2 general election:
- Seat 3: Caire, Cristiana Carusi and Skylar Croy, who dropped out of the race shortly after filing papers to run but too late to have his name removed from the ballot.
- Seat 4: Blaska, Laila Borokhim, Bryan and Muldrow.
- Seat 5: TJ Mertz, Ananda Mirilli and Roe. Mertz is the only incumbent running to retain his seat.
Roe did not submit responses to MTI’s questions or sit down for an interview with union leaders Wednesday. He told the Wisconsin State Journal on Thursday that he didn’t have the time for or interest in responding to the questionnaire. Bryan didn’t answer several MTI questions, including whether he was aware of the district behavior plan and how he would increase staff pay.
All of the candidates who responded to the MTI questionnaire, except Blaska, asked for the union’s endorsement.
Madison School Board elections are unlike most other school board elections in the state in that candidates must opt to run for one of the open citywide seats on the seven-member board. As a result, if there is no competition for a seat or if the vote totals for that seat are especially low, a candidate for that seat can still be elected to the School Board over candidates for other seats who get more votes.