Well, so much for that.
Despite our repeated urgings here at YSDA, few candidates have stepped up to run for Madison School Board. At yesterday’s filing deadline only four candidates had filed to run for three seats. That means two seats will go uncontested. Four other board seats are not up this year.
Board President Ali Muldrow will run unopposed as will Nichelle Nichols, who ran for a seat back in 2012, but lost that race. She will replace Ananda Mirilli who declined to seek a second term. The only contested race will be between Laura Simkin and Shepherd Janeway.
I was hoping for candidates that would moderate the current board and get back to basics with an emphasis on reducing violence and disorder in the schools. Muldrow will continue the current policies and emphasis and Nichols’ background suggests that she will support that course as well. Nichols works for the National Equity Project, which is described as an organization that supports equitable learning practices and outcomes. It’s not that that’s a bad thing, but there certainly is no lack of that perspective on the board right now. Janeway is focussed on transgender issues, again something not lacking on the current board.
Simkin works for an organization that provides city accreditation for in-home learning. It’s not clear from the State Journal story what her priorities might be.
What’s discouraging is that none of the candidates demonstrates a sense of urgency about violence and disorder in the schools or seems to want to emphasize personal responsibility over group grievances. Late last year there were two melees outside of East High School and an assault outside of West while a student brought a loaded gun to La Follette. I think it was a mistake to remove School Resource Officers from the high schools, but none of the candidates is making that an issue, at least in their initial interviews.
Look folks, they say showing up is 90% of everything, and so I respect anybody who shows up to run for local public office. It’s a poorly compensated job in which your good deeds go largely unnoticed while you expose yourself to harsh criticism when something goes wrong. So, my purpose here is not to criticize any of the four candidates who stepped up to put their names on the line.
I’m also not going to be a whiner. If people who share my views and my concerns didn’t want to run, well, that’s on us. We can only conclude that the community as a whole supports the current direction of this board. I’ll have to continue to be a member of the loyal opposition, but I can’t say that that direction is illegitimate. If enough people felt strongly enough that a change in direction was needed we’d have hotly contested races for all three seats. The fact that we don’t speaks volumes.
But as a citizen and a taxpayer who views our public schools as the most important institution in our community and who respectfully disagrees with the priorities of this school board, I’m disappointed in my choices — or lack of them — in April.
Welcome to the 321st day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!