The school district is the most important institution in Madison. Yet, the race for the one contested seat on the seven-member board has been, to be charitable, somewhat low-profile.
Two people have stepped up to run for Seat 6, Badri Lankella and Blair Mosner Feltham. Anyone who comes forward to offer to do these difficult, poorly compensated and pretty much thankless jobs deserves our appreciation. But as voters, we have to choose. I’m going to vote for Lankella.
My main reason is that he holds at least some promise of having a different perspective than the one that dominates the Madison School Board at the moment. He’s an engineer by training and he works for the state Department of Natural Resources as a software programmer. He has two children in Madison schools.
Mosner Feltham looks to be more of the same. She is the “equitable multi-level system of supports site coordinator” at Sun Prairie East High School. I do not have a clue what that is, but in every forum that I’ve been able to find she leans heavily on her many years of experience inside public schools. Some of that kind of experience is good on a school board, but we already have plenty of it. A different perspective, coming from someone who is engaged as a parent but who isn’t a public schools insider, would be valuable.
Worse, at a recent forum Mosner Feltham charged, without evidence, that, “schools are the product of white supremacy.” That kind of unsupported and irresponsible comment is not what we need more of on our school board. Frankly, we already have more than enough of that kind of perspective.
But I won’t just be voting against Mosner Feltham. I’ll be voting for Lankella because he recognizes that Madison is in competition with non-public schools and with public schools in surrounding jurisdictions, and that right now we’re losing too many students. “That is the number one goal that I have is to make the school system more competitive,” he told the Cap Times. He means that in two ways: to encourage competition among students to prepare them for a competitive world and to make our district more competitive with other choices that parents have. And, in truth, they are part of the same strategy. Parents want schools that will prepare their kids for the future.
To me that’s the central issue facing the district. Lankella is not shy about seeing this as a competitive environment and he has at least two strategies for dealing with it. He recognizes the need to attract the best teachers, as fewer people are choosing that profession. And he talks about “advanced learning opportunities.” That suggests to me that we’d have at least one school board member who is interested in high-achieving kids.
Lankella also has a good answer to the racial achievement gap. In that same Cap Times story on his candidacy he says, “This issue is all about identifying each kid has a specific potential. The achievement gap is not one solution for all.” That may seem like an unexceptional answer, but it could be a strong counter-point to the current board majority, which wants to see every issue in terms of privileged and victimized groups, instead of individual students and their families.
Hands down, Lankella is the best choice.
In person absentee voting is open through March 31st. You can find more information here.
8 thoughts on “Badri Lankella For School Board”
Complete agreement on Lankella for the same reasons you specify. Voting for more of the same, which has an unequivocal record of failure, is insanity.
I will be voting for Gloria Reyes for similar reasons. Plus her apparent willingness to listen to the people first, rather than SRC’s top-down we-know-what’s-good-for-you approach.