Farley vs Howard, School Board Race Update

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Well past time to catch up on the James Howard/Tom Farley contest.

First, a couple of forums.  The first is Saturday, March 20.  Here is what the State Journal has to say:

A Madison School Board candidate forum with simultaneous translation in both Spanish and English will be held at 12:30 p.m. on March 20, at Centro Hispano, 810 W. Badger Road.

Topics will include Latino student progress, possible expansion of Nuestro Mundo Community school, charter schools and the school district’s equity policy. Audience members may also pose questions.

The event is sponsored by Centro Hispano of Dane County, Communities United, Latinos United for Change and Advancement, Latino Education Council, Nuestro Mundo Inc., and the Wisconsin Charter School Association.

The other is March 25:

25 March 2010
Community Forum- Involving the Candidates of the April Madison School Board Election; 6:00-7:30 p.m., THE NEW Urban League Center for Economic Development & Workforce Training, 2222 S. Park Street, Madison, Wisconsin || Sponsored by the African American Communication and Collaboration Council (AACCC)

Both candidates weighed in on MMSD budget issues in the Wisconsin State Journal and have guest columns up at the Cap Times: James Howard; Tom Farley.

I have seen nothing in he ay of a ground campaign from either, no lit drops, no yard signs…maybe I’ve just missed it.

I’m not going to go through these statements line-by-line, you can read them yourself.  I am going to point put a couple of things about each.

Tom Farley:  In the State Journal article, Farley said he “favored dropping the district’s plans to institute four-year-old kindergarten in the 2011-12 school year.”  This is the exact opposite of what he said when asked directly about this at the Progressive Dane Forum (and here).  Beyond that the recent things from Farley are filled with empty buzz words about innovation and transformation, ill-informed criticism of the recent work of district,  a misunderstandings about how schools and districts function (here is a hint, classrooms and classroom teachers do not stand alone, they need supports), and seeming reversals about the need to fund education.  Charters have become more and more prominent in his campaign.

James Howard: Howard has touted his knowledge and experience, but by beginning his Cap Times piece by proposing and rejecting another operating referendum when anyone who has paid attention knows that a referendum would do nothing to help the current situation in Madison (they have most of the necessary the tax authority, the choice is whether to use it) he creates real doubts about how deep that knowledge is.  At least he has been consistent in supporting 4K and on school fiance issues (some waffling on school closures and consolidations). Like most candidates, Howard is also not immune to empty buzz words.

At this point I’m leaning Howard, between the two and leaning toward writing in Art Rainwater overall.

Thomas J. Mertz


Filed under Best Practices, Budget, education, Elections, finance, Gimme Some Truth, Local News, School Finance, Take Action, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Farley vs Howard, School Board Race Update

  1. I can understand why no candidate would want to make a definite statement about closing schools. Being forced to close schools due to a funding shortage always seems like a bad idea. However, the Madison BOE has closed and sold schools because they were old or because the population changed. I wonder if maybe at some point the school board ought to come up with criteria for closing schools that is not dependent on funding.

  2. You’re right; almost a month ago I did voice my support for 4-K and a desire to see it implemented. More recently, after far more information regarding the budget situation has come to light, I’ve come to realize the difficulties and costs to current programs this will cause. My support and belief in 4-K remains strong. Unfortunately, it now seems that a phasing-in of 4-K may be more prudent.
    Also, I wouldn’t characterize my thoughts on how schools and districts function as a “misunderstanding”. It would be more accurate to say that in seeing how they operate, I am dissatisfied with the status quo, and wish to see it changed.
    Finally, it is clear that many in our community do not fully understand the benefits of charters – especially to the district itself. There is still the false belief that charter schools mean shifting funds away from traditional education. While supporting charters, I would also continually lobby and challenge legislators to act on education reform.

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