Run For School Board

Three of the seven seats on the Madison School Board are up this April. It’s important that voters get the chance to choose a new direction.

As of Wednesday candidates could start circulating nomination papers. The minimal number of signatures can be picked up easily in a few days, so there’s plenty of time before the filing deadline just after the first of the year. If you’re a sensible, left-center moderate who cares about the future of your community, you not only qualify in my book, but you could win.

You could win because it seems to me that there is growing unease with the direction of this School Board. I’m among a growing number of Madisonians of all political stripes who is concerned about what’s happening in our schools. I’ve already written about the dangerous, mass disturbances at East High School. This week the Wisconsin State Journal reported on two more very troubling incidents.

Yesterday a La Follette student carried a loaded gun to school and had to be taken from the building by Madison police. The interim principal exercised some poor judgement in trying to deal with the student — a young man with a long, violent criminal record — before police arrived. As a result of the incident schools were closed and a basketball game between La Follette and East was cancelled. Police Chief Shon Barnes said that this was a case where a School Resource Officer could have played a decisive role.

This School Board voted unanimously to remove SRO’s from all high schools in 2019.

The open seat left by Cris Carusi gives us a chance to nudge the school board in a better direction.

And earlier in the week it was reported that charges of substantial battery had been filed against another student for an altercation outside West. That one demonstrated some of the dysfunction of the district. Their spokesperson denied that anything had happened at the school because, technically, the incident, which involved students enrolled at West, occurred on a sidewalk that wasn’t part of school property.

Board member Cris Carusi announced yesterday that she would not seek reelection, which means that at least one of the three seats will be open. Board President Ali Muldrow is running again. The third seat is occupied by Ananda Mirilli, who has not announced a decision.

I have a lot of respect for people who step up to run for local office, particularly school boards. The pay is low, the hours can be long and the responsibility is enormous. And these days the job can come with nasty conflicts and even physical threats. Here in Madison, the radical activist group Freedom, Inc., disrupted board meetings and protested at the home of at least one board member over the SRO issue. In other parts of the country it’s conservatives who are acting like bullies over things like mask mandates and Critical Race Theory.

So, even though I strongly disagree with this board, I’d say we owe them our thanks and respect for just being willing to do a job that needs to be done. Nobody should be disrupting their meetings, threatening them or even being rude, for that matter. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

But we shouldn’t hesitate to speak up when we think our elected officials are taking us down a bad road. If you’re as concerned as I am, and you have the time and a strong backbone to suffer the slings and arrows of candidacy and local office, please consider running. Your community needs you.

(Note: A few people have suggested that I should run. I won’t for three reasons. First, I spend about half my time in the Upper Peninsula. Second, we don’t need to recycle our politicians. There are plenty of smart people out there. And third, I’d like to see a candidate who can actually win.)

Welcome to the 288th day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

One thought on “Run For School Board

  1. Why was it poor judgment for the principal to confront the student? If it’s because he had such a long history of criminal behavior, I think he shouldn’t be allowed in school until he’s renounced violence. There should be special schools for people with a history violent behavior.


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