Wisconsin State Journal Endorses Maya Cole and Lucy Mathiak

The Madison School Board can no longer afford to do business as usual.
More to the point, families in the Madison School District can no longer afford a school board unwilling to take bolder action.
For that reason, voters should elect to the board on Tuesday two candidates promoting change: Maya Cole and Lucy Mathiak.
From Wisconsin State Journal, April 2, 2006
At stake is the School Board’s ability to pull the district’s budget out of quicksand, address shifting demographics, narrow the achievement gap between minority and white students and restore the public’s trust.
Cole, 43, is a stay-at-home mom with three sons from 6 to 9 years of age. She has been involved in a variety of school and political organizations, from the Franklin/Randall Parent Teacher Organization to Mothers Acting Up, a group encouraging mothers to be politically active on behalf of children.
Mathiak, 50, is an assistant dean at the University of Wisconsin’s College of Letters and Science. She has two teen-age sons, and her husband has two older daughters. She has been involved in several East High School organizations.
Cole and Mathiak come to the school board race from different backgrounds. But both believe that challenges closing in on the Madison schools demand action that the current majority on the School Board is failing to take.
They are right.
Their opponents, in contrast, are far too comfortable with the status quo. Running against Cole for Seat No. 1 on the board, being vacated by Bill Keys, is Arlene Silveira, 47, a marketing director for Promega Corp. of Fitchburg, and president of the Cherokee Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization. While Silveira would bring a welcome business perspective to the board, she lacks Cole’s drive to change the board approach.
Mathiak’s opponent for Seat No. 2 is incumbent Juan Lopez, a board member for 12 years who is too wedded to the way things have been done.
The Madison School Board is in an unenviable position. Outdated and unproductive state school financing rules have put school districts like Madison in a perpetual financial squeeze.
Meanwhile, the makeup of the district’s population has been shifting. Minorities compose a greater proportion of the student population, and the population is shifting from where the schools are to where they aren’t. In addition, the achievement gap between minority and white students continues to suggest that Madison’s schools are failing to deliver for too many students.
The board has cut, combined and conserved to hold costs down, and it has made some encouraging progress on closing the achievement gap. However, the board’s majority continues to shrink from new approaches, preferring to blame the state for a lack of money.
Yes, the Legislature should address school funding. But waiting for a magic solution from the Capitol only compounds the problem. Rather than looking to the state for answers, the board should look to itself.
The times require bold action. Between the two of them, Cole and Mathiak have some enlightened ideas, including plans to make the school budget process simpler, improve oversight of the budget and curriculums, reach minority students with more effective teaching and fairer discipline, challenge students with higher standards and consider the consolidation of administrative staff in the district’s central office.
A year ago the State Journal endorsed incumbents in two school board races on the belief that the board would continue to set priorities and address challenges. But since then, a lack of public trust in the board contributed to the failure of two out of three questions on a school referendum, and the board’s majority appeared to stick its head in the sand during the budget process.
It is obvious now that change is required.
Cole and Mathiak can supply new direction.