The debate also featured discussions about how high-density developments affect Madison Metropolitan School District’s student population and whether it is time to bring police back into schools.
Reyes said there is concern among some residents that large housing developments taking place all over the city are pricing some families out of areas and diminishing school enrollments. She said that as mayor she wants the school district to be represented on Madison’s Plan Commission so that schools have a voice in development proposals.
Rhodes-Conway pointed out that there already is a slot reserved for the MMSD superintendent on the Plan Commission but that no one from that office has ever decided to serve in the position.
“We have asked repeatedly to have the school district appoint someone to the Plan Commission,” Rhodes-Conway said. “They have declined so far, which I think is really disappointing. In the meantime, we need to listen to what the district has told us, which is that we need more housing.”
Reyes, who was Madison School Board president during much of the pandemic, said she did not see collaboration between the school district and the mayor’s office during her tenure.
“This is the first time I’ve heard that there was a relationship between the school district and the mayor’s office,” Reyes said about Rhodes-Conway meeting with the superintendent. “During the pandemic we were on our own and did not have the support of the mayor.”
“It’s possible the superintendent didn’t keep my opponent informed of his calendar, but we met every week during the pandemic about how we could keep schools safe, keep kids fed and do virtual learning for kids who could not learn at home,” Rhodes-Conway replied.
On the topic of school safety, Rhodes-Conway pointed to the city’s Community Alternative Responsive Emerging Services, or CARES – a unit dedicated to deescalating tensions during a mental health crisis – as a program that could help school safety. CARES started in September 2021 during Rhodes-Conway’s first term as mayor.
Reyes said she believes it is time to consider whether to return school resource officers to school beats. Reyes, a former law enforcement officer, voted against removing police from schools prior to the pandemic during her tenure on the School Board, but then reversed course in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and voted to remove the resources officers from Madison schools.
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.
“An emphasis on adult employment”
Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]
WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators
Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.
No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?