Contextually, it’s worth noting that Black teachers make up only 7 percent of public school teachers nationwide. The US has never fully recovered from the Black teacher exodus following Brown v. Board. We must be intentional, strategic, and exhaust all options in this challenging environment. I believe in investing heavily in grow-your-own programs, scholarships, student loan debt forgiveness, and stipends to incentivize our students to pursue degrees in education and teach in Madison. Additionally, working with our recruitment team, we should proactively recruit teachers from HBCU’s and other Black and Brown educator associations. Finally, like many institutions in Madison, we have to improve the climate and culture for Black professionals in MMSD.
Disproportional results for Black and Brown children
When I speak to students about justice, I talk about the world we inherit and our responsibility to make it better. Like many educational spaces in America, we inherited a school system that was not created for Black and Brown students to thrive. This is especially true for our Black and Brown students with special needs and/or disabilities. As someone who graduated from MMSD with an IEP, I know how important student support services and school psychologists are to a student’s social-emotional and academic growth. Fundamentally, we must prioritize investment in mental health services and wrap around services rather than punitive punishment systems. Just as critical is fully investing in quality early childhood education such as all-day 4K and even birth-to-three programs. All day 4K benefits all children, and it particularly benefits our students from disadvantaged backgrounds. MMSD’s partial-day 4K classes have proven results in closing literacy gaps and better social emotional outcomes. Moreover, we must continue the work of implementing a new science-based literacy curriculum with substantial input from teachers on which materials we purchase and professional development that makes sense. Fortunately, an avalanche of new research, “The Science of Reading,” has helped guide our thinking in this undertaking.When we talk about restorative justice, we cannot limit the conversation to alternatives to discipline for Black and Brown children. We must embrace restorative justice as a way of life and concept to heal the injustices in our education system perpetrated on Black and Brown children. I am working on the creation of a city-wide Black Student Union (BSU) so the school board will clearly hear their voices. Our educators and staff are committed to justice and educating all of our students -- we need on-going, comprehensive restorative justice training for all district staff and administrators and support they need.
Community participation in district governance and transparency
The school board is not your average governing body; it deals with sensitive subjects close to people’s hearts. Students, staff, parents, community partners, and constituents deserve more voice and opportunities to engage in board decisions. As such, I recommend forming a citizen task force to provide recommendations on how we improve transparency and engagement with community members, especially Black and Brown parents.