In 2017, our community and our school district face challenges new and old. From our federal government, we can expect a further push to privatize public education. On a state level, our schools are being underfunded, and teachers are leaving the profession, or leaving the state. These issues are very concerning to me, and as a School Board member I will fight against these threats and work to keep our schools well resourced.
When Gov. Walker came for the teachers union, my students at East High School were some of the first to occupy the Capitol. On Jan. 21, as our nation’s new president was taking his oath, I stood before close to 100,000 people with a bullhorn chanting: “Show me what democracy looks like,” as a reminder that we will not accept his policies without a fight.
The time is now to take bold local action to ensure a bright future for our young people.
While other candidates may also raise their voices in opposition, few know our schools like I do. I went to public school here in Madison, from kindergarten through high school graduation. I know exactly what it means to be black, labeled learning disabled and living in poverty while going to school in this city.
I will never forget the feeling of terror that consumed me any time I thought I might have to read out loud in front of my classmates, or how embarrassed I felt being singled out with one or two other students to work in another room at a slower pace.
I will always remember the teachers who made me feel smart, capable, and loved at school. The teacher who gave me the opportunity to act in "Raisin in the Sun." The after-school tutor who taught me to never give up on a problem and who to this day roots for me in all that I do. The courageous English teacher I had freshman year who responded to a homophobic remark made by my classmate by coming out to our entire class.
Going to school here in Madison is what compelled me to become active in our schools. Before the Casey Foundation and other studies pointed out to the greater Madison community the alarming racial disparities in our schools, I was well aware that many black students were not graduating from high school in Madison. Less than half of my black classmates graduated.
I knew that I wanted to make my community better and I knew that I wanted to work with youth. I began teaching spoken word poetry as an after-school club at East High School. Before long, I was invited to teach at West, Memorial, and La Follette. For the last three years, I have been working with the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools. I created the curriculum for foundations of leadership, an advanced learners course that I teach weekly to high school students on the UW-campus. I also created the New Narrative Project, teaching young people to embrace their own identities and leadership potential at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center.
Our schools are a defining characteristic of our community. The way we treat our children and each other's children says so much about who we are.
I am a mother of two beautiful young daughters and my partner is an elementary school teacher in the dual-language immersion program with MMSD. We believe in this community, and know we are capable of coming together to innovate our schools through empowering teachers to innovate and students to be celebrated.
I am honored and grateful to be supported by a diverse community of parents, teachers, former students, and some of the most forward-thinking leaders in Madison — from Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg and Rep. Terese Burceau, to School Board members James Howard, Ed Hughes, Michael Flores and Anna Moffit. See a full list, and read more, at alimuldrow.com.