Madison School Board Members on President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan’s 11/4/2009 Wright Middle School Visit

The elected Madison School Board will be present at Wednesday’s visit and rightfully so. There will be plenty of other politicians, but these people truly deserve a bit of time in the spotlight.
Love them or loath them, we should all be thankful for the time and effort our board members devote to that most important public expenditure: public schools. It is truly an essential but thankless job. I believe boardmembers are paid $4,000 annually.
I emailed our board and asked for a quote prior to the President’s arrival. Four responded thus far:
President Arlene Silveira:

“How exciting for our students at Wright. To meet the president of the United States is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope his visit awakens the civic responsibility in all who attend”.

Ed Hughes:

We’re honored by the President’s visit. I’m pleased that the visit will shine a positive light on the great work the Principal Nancy Evans and her staff have been doing at Wright, and that we’re able to provide Wright students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If the President is able to find the time to visit one of our Madison schools, I hope that any Madison parents who have questions about what’s best for their kids will similarly make the effort to visit their neighborhood schools and see for themselves what we have to offer.

Beth Moss:

The President’s visit to a Madison school is an honor for our entire community. Nancy Evans, her staff, students, and the Wright Middle School families deserve to be recognized for their success in creating and maintaining a school community worthy of the President’s attention. This is an experience that none of us will forget, and we should be extremely proud that we have been chosen to host a presidential speech on education.

Marj Passman:

President Obama and I may not always agree about what is best for education
but I am very grateful that he has returned the importance of education to
center stage. It is an honor to have been invited to meet him.

It will be interesting to observe the Board when and if President Obama discusses mayoral control of schools in Milwaukee, as Alexander Russo muses.

  • david Cohen

    What does the MMSD Board of Education have to do with the MPS situation and WHY will it be interesting to observe the MMSD BOE if the MPS situation is brought up in Obama’s speech? I don’t buy that there’s any relationship whatsoever.

  • Jim Zellmer

    The theory that mayoral control solves any number of problems is an interesting pitch, in front of an elected school board.
    The President could certainly have flown to Milwaukee to discuss those issues. I’m thinking this visit is largely about the 2010 Governor’s race.
    The benefits of diffused governance – when we have a “representative” board – are significant. Last night’s Madison School Board meeting discussed a proposal from the City of Madison to use some of the MMSD’s proceeds from a TIF District for street improvements, rather than simply disperse the funds as they normally would.
    http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/pdf/2009/10/1122009mmsdtif.pdf
    How might such a scheme play out under mayoral control? Once mayoral control happens via the legislature, will other Districts be far behind Milwaukee?

  • david Cohen

    I think it’s pure speculative folly. The crisis with the Milwaukee Public Schools is far different than it is anywhere else in Wisconsin. All this line of thinking does is garner more blog “hits”. Does anyone reasonably believe that Madison would EVER allow the Mayor’s office to run the MMSD? What makes anyone think the Mayor’s office would even WANT to run the MMSD?

  • Jim Zellmer

    Mayoral control in Madison is certainly unlikely in the near term, BUT, current trends certainly point toward never ending federalization (centralization). We should be going in the other direction, via smaller governance bodies (charters, breaking up large districts, more choice, more opportunities for students).
    A cynic would find the legislative activity around Milwaukee/mayoral control fertile ground for the lobbying crowd…. A quick look at Wisconsin’s current school finance system (revenue limits, arbitration without consideration of economic conditions, QEO gone) and the oft criticized WKCE for its lack of rigor does not comfort.
    From my perspective, let’s just hire the best teachers and get out of the way.
    Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out the legislative hurdles to doing just that in a recent Madison Rotary speech:
    http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2009/08/the_madison_sch_4.php