Family: Spouse, Karin Schmidt; sons ages 17 and 23.
Originally from: Evanston, Ill.
Lived in MMSD since: 1995
Education: BGS and MA, History, Roosevelt University; A.B.D, History and Educational Policy Studies, UW-Madison
Occupation: Adjunct College Instructor (semester-to-semester)
Employer/job title: past, Edgewood College (semester-to-semester, none at this time); Senior Instructor, Education and History
Political experience: MMSD Board of Education since 2013, Chair MMSD Board Instruction Work Group, Member MMSD Equity Task Force (2006-7); lost Madison District 13 Alder election, 2011.
Other notable affiliations: Former Co-Chair Communities and Schools Together (CAST); Former board member, Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools
Why are you running for school board, and why should people vote for you?
I have been a parent of MMSD students since 2000, and have served on the MMSD School Board since 2013. I have taught history and education at the college level. Public schools are how we create a better future; I have dedicated much of my life to improving them.
What are the most important issues facing the district?
Trust and accountability. Providing our students with the education they deserve requires repairing the collapses of trust within our schools, and between our families and our schools. We need to exercise respect for one another, and work together with honesty and hope. Building trust and accountability require practicing trust.
What do you think of the district’s Community Schools program, specifically the implementation at Leopold Elementary School?
Disappointing. Of the two initial schools, Mendota has made progress, but after much time and money devoted to planning and start-up Leopold paused last year, and essentially restarted this year, and the limits of the commitment to shared decision-making were revealed in the principal selection process.
Should there be police officers in MMSD high schools? Why or why not?
Whether we continue the Educational Resource Officer program or not, there will regularly be police in our schools. I believe that continuing under the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee which providing clarity on the roles of officers, training requirements and increased oversight is the best way forward.
How has the district handled the rollout of its behavior plan over the past few years?
I am frustrated. Most days, in most schools and classrooms, it is working with most students. The exceptions impact too many students and staff members. A staff survey overwhelmingly called for expansions of special education staffing, mental health services, alternative programs and options for consequences. I support all of these.
How should the district move forward with the Personalized Pathways program?
Cautiously, in a more open and inclusive manner. Initial planning was done behind closed doors with only invited community representation. Communication has improved, but inclusion, openness, and shared decision-making still lag. Resources, student and staff time are limited; each proposed expansion demands careful consideration of what is being lost and gained.