Limiting our focus to outcomes data has not created the change we want to see for our young people and has actually reinforced race and class disparities. We must create the conditions that will foster engagement, collaboration, and the type of learning that sustains people throughout their lives. To do that, we must think holistically about the student experience.
The people who work in schools every day are the people who know what has to change. I will listen to staff, students, and families when they talk about what is needed in Madison schools because informed decisions cannot be made by people on the outside looking in. I will be a bridge to help the BOE understand how board-level decisions have classroom-level impacts.
Young people are very clear about what they want: to be treated as individuals; to access affirming and creative curriculum that is connected to their lives; and to be the drivers of their own experiences. Flashy initiatives and technical fixes do not support this type of learning--instead, they reallocate public funds to private hands. Our curricular decisions must reflect a commitment to sustainable, engaging educational experiences for our students. It takes experience in classrooms to know the difference between a good sales pitch and what is actually good for students.
Schools are collective community projects. Parents and non-parents alike pool our resources to support and care for the children of our city, in service of our whole community now and into the future. Schools are one of the earliest and most formative experiences that children have with being in community. Schools shape what children imagine is possible for themselves in a community, it is also a powerful experience for children to know how they are treated by their community. When children see schools that are under-resourced and disconnected from the community, they notice and take this in. I want to see the community involved in our schools not only because schools are an important use of our resources, but because schools are vital to the health of our community across generations. My dream is to see robust engagement from the whole community, including, but not limited to, parents.
Budget for What Matters
Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions. Teachers, students, and families have known for ages that small class sizes with well-supported staff are fundamental to quality education. Schools need to be grounded in this foundation, and instead we've been budgeting for everything except this. Teaching is complex, difficult, interpersonal work, which means that staff can't support learning without time to plan, collaborate with colleagues, and connect with students. Students struggle to learn without a stable and consistent learning environment. Our school budgets need to prioritize what works in education: educators and staff in our schools.