Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Have you ever seen the television show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things” hosted by Bill Cosby? Since becoming elected to the Madison school board, I have had students say all kinds of the “darndest” things to me. Here are a few examples…

During my school board campaign last year, I visited Randall Elementary School and talked with a 5th grade class. One of the students asked, “Who’s place are you taking on the board?” I replied, “I’m running for the seat number 4, that Ray Allen has.” Another student replied, “I really liked Ray Allen, too bad the Bucks traded him.” The student was referring to the former Milwaukee Bucks basketball star (and movie star in Spike Lee’s “He Got Game”) that was traded to the Seattle Supersonics. Who says that students know their elected officials?
A few weeks ago, I was invited to walk several blocks with students at a Sherman Middle School. This school wide program helped to promote good diet and exercise. After returning to the school a student asked me, “Are you Art Rainwater?” I replied, “No, I’m not Art Rainwater, he’s far better looking than me!”
On Monday night, a student spoke during public appearances and testified about the importance of fine arts to the district. After his speech I was totally caught off guard when he stated to the full auditorium that I had come to his classroom during my campaign and said regarding saving the fine arts, “I would take care of it.” While I don’t remember that specific conversation, I was caught so off guard that for one of the few times since being elected to the school board, I was speechless!
Finally, I received the brutal honesty and truth about being an elected official. On Tuesday afternoon, I made an unannounced visit to the Open Classroom program at Lincoln Elementary. I was given a tour of the classrooms and met many wonderful students, teachers, staff and parents. I was even given a rap performance by some of the children about the importance of the Open Classroom. As I prepared to leave, one kindergartener rushed out to the hallway to see me. He yelled, “If I have to go to a different school next year, you better get a new job!”
Out of the mouths of babes…

3 thoughts on “Out Of The Mouths Of Babes”

  1. You know Johnny, when I was explaining to my 8 yr old daughter about the potential NE side school closings this past February, and how they were based on the lack of kids in this part of town, she replied: “So dad, why don’t people just make more babies?”…to which I retorted “I’m happy to do so but you’d better check with your mom first!” The greatest thing about kids is that they ALWAYS cut to the chase!

  2. Golly. Politicians say and do the darndest things, especially at election time. Cute li’l Johnny Winston, he made the rounds of a lot of schools shaking hands, probably kissing a baby or two, and certainly professing his love for Madison’s schools (including the value of he arts, judging by poke in the eye he got from a sharp high school student last Monday.) He expended a lot of energy wooing MMSD employees and got the MTI endorsement. But now, out of the mouth of this BOE babe comes a lot of talk about closing a NE side school. It comes across as being rather spiteful in the wake of the lost referenda, as if he is looking for someone to blame rather than taking a long hard look at the dysfunctional, arrogant and opaque way that MMSD administration and the BOE has been dealing with the Madison community and the abyssmal way that the referenda campaign was run. (Don’t get me wrong, I voted “yes” on all three questions and was disgusted with the people who reveled in the loss.) Mr. Winston’s comments are not funny and not cute. Maybe the kids are really the ones with their fingers on the pulse of what this community wants.

  3. Ms. Grindrod:
    The Madison School District is facing a fiscal crisis. Every single year this district will have to cut between 5 and 8 million dollars.
    I don’t think that this school district or community has come to grips with this scenario. For years the school board has said that they’ve been able to keep these cuts away from effecting the classroom – I disagree. Every cut ever made has effected someone’s child, someone’s life, someone’s education, someone’s way of life. Unfortunately, time and money have run out and so school districts all over the state have to make really hard choices and decisions.
    I was on record BEFORE the referendum that this district needed to talk about school closings. It is a matter of fiscal accountability to the taxpayers of this district and the educational welfare of all students. This district should NOT be paying large sums of rent for its alternative programs. This money should be used for instructional purposes (the classroom). Perhaps school closings are not the correct phrase, perhaps consolidation is more the term. We have schools that were built too small with maximums of 250 students. Surrounding schools have space available to take in students.
    I’m sorry that you take my comments as spiteful. They are not. Regardless of the outcome of the May 24th referendum, I believe that the school board needs to have this serious discussion.
    Just to give you some history about me, I grew up on Madison’s Northside and attended Lindbergh Elementary school kindergarten thru 4th grade. I worked in various capacities in the Vera Court, Northport and Packers communities through many youth programs in the late 80’s early 90’s. I became the Center Director of Vera Court Neighborhood Center in 1994 thru 1996. I currently am a firefighter for the City of Madison stationed on Northport Drive. I have been an advocate for this City’s youth far before being elected to the school board.
    My decisions are not based on referenda results but the hard facts (and data) that lay ahead for this community. As an elected official, I believe it is very important that I visit schools on a regular basis. This is how good decisions are made. I take my role as a member of the Madison School Board very seriously. I stand behind my decisions and I can admit when I have made mistakes.
    I appreciate you “calling me out.” The “Out of the Mouths of Babes” blog was an attempt at humor, yet recognizing the reality that an elected official is in. Written comments can be taken in many ways as I have found out through my editorial in the WSJ. Even through criticism, I strive to get better as a board member and want to get better as a board member. It is communication that allows us to find out more about each other.
    I hope by this communication, you have found out a little more about me.
    Johnny Winston, Jr.
    Madison School Board member

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