James Howard Endorsed for the Madison School Board

The Capital Times:

Across decades of interviewing candidates for the Madison School Board, the members of The Capital Times editorial board have talked with dozens of able contenders — and a few not-so-able ones.
We have endorsed liberals and conservatives, friends and foes of the teachers union, veteran board members and newcomers — always in response to a basic question: Which candidate would make the most valuable contribution to the seven-member board that sets the direction for what has been, is and we hope will always remain one of the finest urban school districts in the nation?
With this history providing a sense of perspective, we can say without a doubt that we have rarely if ever encountered a first-time candidate as impressive as James Howard.

Wisconsin State Journal:

James Howard is best prepared for the challenging job of serving on the Madison School Board.
Voters should support him in the April 6 election.
Howard, 56, a research economist, says he’s trained and committed to analyzing data before making decisions. He’ll bring that strong trait to a School Board that has sometimes let emotion get the best of it.
A good example is the difficult issue of consolidating schools with low enrollments to save money during tight times. The School Board backed down from its smart vote in 2007 to consolidate elementary schools on the Near East Side.

4 thoughts on “James Howard Endorsed for the Madison School Board”

  1. this is disconcerting to say the least…another hopeful candidate is really just a stooge for the old administrative ideas to consolidate and close schools instead of tackling MTI’s stranglehold on wages and healthcare and the glut of mid-level managers at Doyle. Data is great, but don’t forget there are human beings behind every piece of your precious “data”…as well as property values and communities that rely on intangibles outside of “data”. James Howard is a nice guy. Perhaps he should ask some northside teachers if they’d prefer to be unemployed or keep their schools open and take a pay/benefits cut. Just sayin’…

  2. Closing a school is traumatic. I don’t think that closing schools to save a relatively small amount of money is ever a good idea and to do that only because of a budget crisis is very short-sighted. But schools do close and open in response to changes in population and building age. So I guess his suggestion to look at the data and see if closing a school is a good idea is one that I might agree with. I agree too that intagibles should play a role in such a decision.

  3. The decision to keep or close schools is a difficult one. The problem, however, is that when the only “objective” data available are lines in a budget document, the decisions are skewed.
    There is no objective data available for the “intangibles”, not because the intangibles are immeasurable, but because education has not produced good data to balance the “objectivity” of the financial reports.

  4. No doubt we’re in a pickle, and kudos to both these guys for running for the most thankless political job in town….but the sooner we stop blaming the state finance system and start really looking hard at pure waste/inefficiency, the better off we’ll be. Not because the state finance system isn’t to blame, but because it won’t change. I used to think it would, but now I realize it won’t. As much as I adore my kid’s schools and teachers, something has to give. It’s like state employees unions taking 3% cuts…if they can hack it, so can MTI and MMSD administrators. If educators love their jobs, they’ll continue to work. If they don’t, there are plenty of good teachers waiting….and maybe if we’re lucky, the educators who see it as just a “job” will bolt, leaving a higher quality workforce for our kids. This is happening in many professions in these down economic times…cream always rises when times are tough. Good luck to whomever winds this race….you’ll spend a lot of time listening to yourself pontificate, but you are doing a valuable service.

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