Four candidates are vying for Seat 4 on the Madison School Board after incumbent Dean Loumos decided not to run for re-election. The top two vote-getters in the Feb. 19 primary will advance to the April 2 election. School Board terms are three years. Candidate Laila Borokhim did not respond to requests for information.
Address: 5213 Loruth Terrace
Family: Married with one son, who graduated from Memorial High School
Job: Former newspaper reporter and editor; former aide to Gov. Tommy Thompson and cabinet officers at the departments of Revenue, Workforce Development and (the then) Health and Social Services
Prior elected office: Served on the Dane County Board from the Southwest Side of Madison for six terms, 1994-2006
Other public service: No response
Education: Sun Prairie High School graduate; bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Oshkosh
Albert Rahr Bryan
Address: 4302 Hillcrest Drive
Family: Four children, three of whom graduated from the West High School; married to Helen since 2009
Job: Physician, 21 years practice in Madison, 10 years practice in Moscow
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: 32 years National Guard and Reserve, six years active duty (Germany, Iraq)
Education: West High School graduate; bachelor’s degree in Russian language and premed from UW-Madison; medical degree, McGill University, Faculty of Medicine; Command and General Staff College (U.S. Army)
Address: 1966 E. Main St.
Family: Married with two daughters who attend Isthmus Montessori Academy
Job: Co-executive director of GSAFE
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: 2018 Madison and Dane County Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award winner
Education: Attended Emerson Elementary and Sherman Middle School; East High School graduate; attended Madison College
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
Blaska: I am only candidate demanding teachers be put back in control of their classrooms — not central administration. When the School Board can’t keep order at their own meetings, imagine the chaos in our classrooms! My opponent, Ali Muldrow, literally helped write the Progressive Dane platform on education, which demands cops out of schools and lawyers for kids acting out.
Bryan: I am the only candidate, except for Kaleem Caire, who advocates a greater emphasis on preschool training: nursery school, Montessori school, preschool of the arts and One City school. The attention given to white children ages 1 to 5 years is more intense than that available to most children of color. Remedial courses fail to compensate.
Muldrow: I would bring to the board skills and experience that no others have. I was born here, attended Madison public schools, and have worked in education for the last 12 years. We can bring Madison from last to the forefront of inclusion, bring innovative ideas to the classroom, and make our schools places that teachers, students and parents are proud of.
What is the most pressing issue facing the Madison School District and how would you address it?
Blaska: The overly bureaucratic Behavior Education Plan is both symptom and cause. After four years and $15 million, suspensions have declined 15 percent but “behavior incidents” have nearly doubled and the racial disparity remains unmoved. Worse, our district-wide Department of Public Instruction achievement score dropped to 58.2 from 60.6 in 2015-16.
Bryan: The achievement gap in the ability to read. Busing a child in the elementary school so he can sit in class with more intensively trained peers fails to close the gap, as was expected 30 years ago when the paired schools and busing kids away from their home neighborhoods were instituted.
Muldrow: We urgently must change schools into places where students enjoy learning and treat each other with humanity and respect. Currently schools are under-funded, teachers are overworked and students are less than inspired. I would bring innovation and arts every day to our schools promoting better behavior and academic performance.
What steps would you take to close Madison’s racial achievement gap?
Blaska: Our classrooms must be safe for teachers to teach and students to learn. Demand discipline and performance, accept no excuses. Quit treating students of color as victims, powerless to change their lives. Our teachers are NOT racists! Invite charter schools like that once proposed by Kaleem Caire. If we keep our schools safe our whole community will be safer too.
Bryan: A: Emphases on the preschool experience. B: Reopening small neighborhood schools and reducing the busing of elementary school students to a strange district will enable “a sense of belonging,” of having a “home town.” Diversity is fine but not without reading. C: Saturday classes of the Madison Russian School prove that language exposure is beneficial for all children.
Muldrow: We need to hire more teachers of color to reflect our student population; make our curriculum inclusive, representative and responsive; and provide a variety of learning environments that recognize and value the diversity of needs, strengths and learning styles of our students.