Election 2017

Madison School Board candidates advance to general election

Tuesday’s primary narrowed down candidates for two different Madison School Board races. Ali Muldrow and Kate Toews will compete for seat six; Ed Hughes and Nicki Vander Meulen will vie for seat seven.

In Tuesday’s spring primary, candidate pools for two different Madison School Board seats were narrowed down to candidates who will advance to the general election.

Madison School Board, Seat Six

Ali Muldrow and Kate Toews are set to vie for seat six of Madison School Board in the upcoming general election, after defeating Cris Carusi in the spring primary Wednesday.

Toews beat Carusi by a .3 percent margin, securing 30.2 percent of votes. Muldrow led the race, polling at 40.2 percent.

Addressing disparities and the achievement gap in the Madison Metropolitan School District has been a focal point in the candidates’ campaigns.

Muldrow, a former student in the Madison Metropolitan School District, said the school board needs to look at how school faculty provides opportunities for people of all backgrounds. According to Muldrow, confronting disparities head-on and advocating for the needs of students with different abilities is key to addressing the achievement gap. If elected, Muldrow said she plans to make MMSD the “forefront of inclusion.”

Toews takes a different angle when addressing the achievement gap. Toews, who has children in the district as well as a background in business, said her primary concern is attracting a high-quality and diverse set of teachers. Toews believes more diverse teachers will narrow the achievement gap between white students and students of color in Madison.

Carusi said decreasing the student-faculty ratio throughout the district is a priority in efforts to narrow the achievement gap.

Madison School Board, Seat Seven

Incumbent Ed Hughes and opponent Nicki Vander Meulen also advanced to the April general election, where they will compete for seat seven of Madison School Board.

The two beat Matt Andrzejewski, a university professor whose campaign stressed improving teacher morale, in Tuesday’s primary.

Vander Meulen trailed closely behind Hughes, who drew in 38.6 percent of votes. Andrzejewski received 24.2 percent of votes.

The nominees for seat seven have focused their campaigns on keeping students in the classroom by addressing behavior issues, as well as the prevalent achievement gap in the district.

Hughes, who has held seat seven for nine years, believes that maintaining an adequate level of funding will ensure high-quality teachers and programs—components he said will keep Madison competitive with other school districts. Hughes said addressing the achievement gap is essential but doesn’t mean starting special programs for certain groups of students, because the district needs to make the classroom experience better for everyone.

Vander Meulen, a juvenile attorney in the area, would create a behavior plan to address the achievement gap, if elected in April. Instead of a disciplinary system in which students would listen to the advice of teachers, Vander Meulen said she thinks students are more likely to listen to peer-to-peer guidance.

The general election is set for Apr. 4.

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