Isthmus Take Home Test (Nichelle Nichols & Arlene Silveira):
WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE ON THE MADISON SCHOOL BOARD ? WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STAKE IN THE MADISON SCHOOLS?
Our school board must be a governing body that is effective in setting the direction and priorities of our district. We need to elect board members who are honest about our current realities and who share a fundamental belief that we must make bold changes in order to better educate all students. Our students, families and taxpayers deserve it.
I bring a future-oriented mindset to the table and a commitment to solutions. Our heart-breaking graduation rate for Black and Latino students eloquently testifies that we do not fully understand the dynamics of poor student performance or the educational changes required to remedy it. I am personally and professionally committed to making systemic changes to close the racial achievement gap. It is time for defenders of the status quo to step aside.
I am qualified as a parent, as an engaged community member, and as a professional who has worked the last 15 years in community-based organizations throughout Madison. I bring a critical perspective from the service delivery level focused on equity for those who are most disadvantaged. As a woman of color, a parent of African American sons, and through my work at the Urban League, I am immersed in the realities of our minority students, yet in touch with the experiences of all students and parents. I am informed beyond the constraints of the boardroom.
I have a personal stake in the Madison schools that spans two generations. I am a Madison native who attended Longfellow Elementary, Cherokee Middle, and graduated from West High. I have a B.S. from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University. I am the mother of four African American sons. My eldest graduated from West High School in 2011, which leaves me with three yet to graduate. Based on the 48% graduation rate, the odds are that two of my sons won’t graduate. This is unacceptable.
My experience transcends the experience gained from currently sitting on the board, because where we must go will not rely strictly on what we’ve always known. I welcome the challenge.
Our schools face multiple challenges, and board members must have the backbone to focus on what is most effective in helping all children learn and achieve. We must prioritize initiatives that provide the biggest bang for our buck. When there are hard choices to be made, we owe it to the children we serve to engage in respectful debate in order to find solutions.
That is my record on the school board. My commitment to public education, to Madison’s 27,000 students, to our outstanding teachers and staff, and to staying in the fight for good public schools are the reasons I am running for re-election.
My belief in public education has roots in my personal story. I am the grandchild of immigrants, the daughter of two working class parents, and the mother of a child of color who graduated from the Madison schools. I have a degree in secondary education, biology and chemistry from Springfield College (Massachusetts), and a masters in molecular biology from the University of Connecticut.
I have seen first-hand the advantages public education brings and the equalizing effect public schools have in our society. I have seen first-hand the struggles a child can face in the schools. I am a businesswoman who works at a global scientific company. I know the need for an educated workforce, and I know that good schools strengthen a city because they attract businesses and families.
I am also a taxpayer. The state funding system for public education is not sustainable. We must find a way to better fund our schools, not on the backs of taxpayers. I will continue to advocate for fair funding.
The skills I use on a daily basis as Director of Global Custom Sales at Promega Corporation are also skills I use as a board member — budgeting, communication, evaluation, facilitation, negotiation and project management.
In short, I approach the board’s complex work from many perspectives: parent, businessperson, taxpayer, and advocate for public education. I will continue to fight against assaults on public education and advocate for what is most effective for all the students we serve.
Isthmus Take Home Test (Mary Burke & Michael Flores):
WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE ON THE MADISON SCHOOL BOARD? WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STAKE IN THE MADISON SCHOOLS?
When I began tutoring two brothers on Madison’s south side, I saw how tough it is for children with serious challenges at home to learn and thrive in school. School was a refuge for these boys, and education was the best way for them to build a better future. I have worked with teachers striving every day to meet the needs of each student, to challenge the gifted child and the one just learning English. In the past 13 years, I have mentored five youth, have seen great things in our schools, and opportunities to do better.
I care about our children. My broad experience in education, non-profits, government, finance, and business will make me an effective school board member. After receiving an MBA from Harvard, I was an executive at Trek Bicycle, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce under Governor Doyle, board president of the Boys & Girls Club, and co-founder of the AVID/TOPS program. AVID/TOPS is the district’s premier program to address the achievement gap, and has 450 students across all four Madison high schools. For those in the program, grade point averages are 30% higher, school attendance higher, discipline issues down, and 100% of seniors have gone onto college. I’ve served on the boards of United Way, Madison Community Foundation, Evjue Foundation, and Foundation for Madison Public Schools. One current school board member said, “Mary Burke stands out. Mary may be the best-qualified candidate to run for Madison School Board in quite a while.”
Success in school for our children is important to me and to our entire community. Our public schools shape our future neighbors and workforce. Success in school is a leading factor in whether a student is on the path to UW-Madison, Madison College, or the county jail. Nothing is more important and critical to our city’s future than our public schools.
I have been a catalyst for positive change in Madison. On the school board, my focus will be bringing our community together to ensure students learn and thrive — taking smart action for them, for our neighborhoods, for all of Madison.
I have real world experience. I am part of a minority group and have walked the path that a number of our students are encountering. I have worked since I was 14, and supported myself from the age of 17 on. I have worked as a bank loan officer and small businessman, and know what it means to face budget constraints. My training as a paramedic has made me skilled in high emergency prioritizing and urgency in decision-making — skills that will translate to the work on the school board. As a parent and member of this community, I have a vested interest in education.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.