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First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Please limit discussion in this area to local and state politics.

First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby Donald » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:07 am

"120.42 (b) School board members in a unified school district that
encompasses a city with a population greater than 150,000 but less than 500,000 shall be elected at large to numbered seats."

This state law needs to go before we can have any discussion about reforming the Madison Metropolitan School District board election process. There is no reason to have this in state law, and it prevents needed reform. Repeal it now so that a real discussion about how to elect school board members can begin.

Many people believe electing school board members from assigned geographical areas would make for a more representative board. Certainly it would cost far less to run in an apportioned district than to run district-wide, which would attract a wider range of candidates.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby ArturoBandini » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:48 am

I agree. There is no need for state law to determine how school districts elect their board members.
Donald wrote:Many people believe electing school board members from assigned geographical areas would make for a more representative board. Certainly it would cost far less to run in an apportioned district than to run district-wide, which would attract a wider range of candidates.
Couple of things - do you think that a more representative board would significantly improve school performance? Based on what reasoning?

Also, is the cost of running a school board election campaign even remotely near the core of the issues plaguing our public schools? Maybe you think so, but I'm curious to know your thought process. My loosely-informed opinions on public school dysfunction are that the problems are systemic or institutional, not something that can be fixed by tweaking the personalities on the board. Maybe I'm wrong though, this isn't an area where I have a lot of background knowledge.

Anyway, screw the state law. Bring on the experiments.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby david cohen » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:02 am

How do folks propose Madison gets divided up into districts for this type of representation? North, East, Southeast, Isthmus, Northwest, West, Southwest? By some type of demographic population density formula? By some combination of aldermanic districts?
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby Human » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:11 pm

david cohen wrote:How do folks propose Madison gets divided up into districts for this type of representation? North, East, Southeast, Isthmus, Northwest, West, Southwest? By some type of demographic population density formula? By some combination of aldermanic districts?


I would expect school board districts would get drawn up in the same way we create aldermanic and county board districts -- group adjacent wards together to create districts with roughly equal population. You can't just combine aldermanic districts, because some parts of the city are outside the MMSD, and some areas outside the city (e.g. northern Fitchburg) are inside the school district.

It would take some work, but it's not all that hard.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby Detritus » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:44 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:I agree. There is no need for state law to determine how school districts elect their board members.

More specifically, there is no need for state law to determine how MMSD elects its board members--Madison is the only city in the state that fits the population requirements (between 150K and 500K), and will remain so for the foreseeable future unless Green Bay suddenly bloats or Milwaukee suddenly deflates.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby jjoyce » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:04 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:Also, is the cost of running a school board election campaign even remotely near the core of the issues plaguing our public schools?


I mapped the current board members here:

http://goo.gl/maps/BjS7s

The current members are blue pins, the candidates running this spring are pink (they're approximate). I couldn't find Packnett's address, but he's a La Follette graduate.

I was actually surprised at how spread out they are. But notice which area of town is conspicuously unrepresented by the current board. I don't know the boundaries for each of the high schools, but it looks to me like you've got three East, three West and one Memorial. Zero La Follette. The so-called under-performing schools are underrepresented, at least geographically.

I've been in each Madison high school at least once in the last two years. There's a difference. Each has its own unique set of demands based on the population served. And each of those populations deserves a voice.

In particular, kids who live in the Lake Point Drive area (formerly Broadway-Simpson) go to Glendale Elementary, which is definitely not a neighborhood school for them. Sennett MS is even farther away. There's nobody on the board who lives over there.

Wayne Strong is the director of the Southside Raiders football club (http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/art ... icle=23674), so he's obviously familiar with kids in that part of town. Of course, the south side is where Ananda Mirilli lives, not far from Penn Park.

A better system might have a mix of geographic districts and at-large seats. That's how it was where I grew up.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby TheBookPolice » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:25 pm

Detritus wrote:Madison is the only city in the state that fits the population requirements (between 150K and 500K), and will remain so for the foreseeable future unless Green Bay suddenly bloats or Milwaukee suddenly deflates.

This is, I think, the most interesting part of that section of statute. A state law regulating the activities of one city? What was going on when this statute was written?
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby Detritus » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:28 pm

jjoyce wrote:I mapped the current board members here:

http://goo.gl/maps/BjS7s

The current members are blue pins, the candidates running this spring are pink (they're approximate). I couldn't find Packnett's address, but he's a La Follette graduate.

Thanks for that--interesting.
In particular, kids who live in the Lake Point Drive area (formerly Broadway-Simpson) go to Glendale Elementary, which is definitely not a neighborhood school for them. Sennett MS is even farther away. There's nobody on the board who lives over there

This is an old story with both minority/low income schools and also desegregation efforts, which usually end up with the minority kids spending way more time on the bus than their majority peers. Lincoln School neighborhood kids, for example, who get to ride buses for all but the first couple of years of their schooling, while the Randall kids get to walk to high school as well as half of elementary.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby Donald » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:17 pm

I'm not sure what the purpose of the statute was, but I vaguely remember school board members in the 1970s being elected at-large without numbered seats across the district. I think this statute was an attempt to fix the problems of unaccountability you get when people run as a slate, rather than being held individually acountable. It may have been a reform at the time, but it is now just not good enough.

Jason's map isn't as bad as the one I did back in the early 2000s. Then you had 6 of 7 board members in a small band stretching from the near east side to the near west side.

Running in geographical areas means a person who has been active in school matters can run without having to curry favor with one or another of the political machines in the city. You get candidates who are more likely to want to solve problems in education, rather than kowtow to a political line.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby snoqueen » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:05 pm

What about a school board seat for each of the high school attendance districts?
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby david cohen » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:43 pm

Sno, that would result in 4 board seats apportioned geographically, 1 apportioned city-wide (Shabazz), and the other 2 would be apportioned how?
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby jjoyce » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:49 pm

david cohen wrote:Sno, that would result in 4 board seats apportioned geographically, 1 apportioned city-wide (Shabazz), and the other 2 would be apportioned how?


Have those others be at-large as well.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby david cohen » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:02 pm

so basically a mix of 4 geographical and 3 at-large...that wouldn't be half bad. my only concern would be this: how do you make sure there is minority representation on the board and would it be ANY different than it is at present. I guess what I am getting at is, if we ended up with an all white school board, wouldn't folks bitch at the "new" method? SOrry just playing devil's advocate because, well this IS Madison.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby jjoyce » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:08 pm

david cohen wrote:so basically a mix of 4 geographical and 3 at-large...that wouldn't be half bad. my only concern would be this: how do you make sure there is minority representation on the board and would it be ANY different than it is at present. I guess what I am getting at is, if we ended up with an all white school board, wouldn't folks bitch at the "new" method? SOrry just playing devil's advocate because, well this IS Madison.


Who cares about the malcontents (Do you really think Dave Blaska is going to stop complaing? Constantly? About everything? That's his job!)? Just work to make things more fair and keep going.

I think a lot of people want improvement. It took a completely irresponsible, anti-democratic act on the part of one selfish individual (who is likely being heralded as a martyr in some circles, by the way) to make people take notice.

What happened here is that even those who are likely to side with MTI and other local political institutions are starting to ask some questions and examine the record a little. We are not the city we want to be when it comes to education and racial equality and the systems in place which have brought us to this point need to be changed. I've honestly been pleasantly surprised that the discussion has been solutions-based as opposed to the typical mud slinging.
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Re: First Step For School District: Get 120.42 (b) Repealed

Postby grumpybear » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:58 pm

I'm an outsider on this topic, no kids, etc. However, I've got one burning question. How does electing school board members by area or some other criteria, make the things better? Maybe I'm being contrarian but I think if you elect school board members by area they will only work for the good of their area. They will fight for money for their schools at the expense of other areas of town. Shouldn't the school board be looking at the entire district and hence be elected from the anywhere? Would "districting" make it any likelier for different opinions to be heard?
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