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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Courtesy of Joe Gothard

MMSD superintendent Joe Gothard speaks on importance of community during first press conference

Thoreau Elementary School hosted new Superintendent Joe Gothard’s first press conference to discuss his goals for the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Newly elected Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Joe Gothard met with students, staff and community members at Thoreau Elementary School on Thursday morning to discuss his goals for the district. 

Gothard was appointed superintendent by Madison’s school board in February 2024 after previously serving as superintendent at St. Paul Public School District in Minnesota. He is a Madison native and a former educator and principal at several MMSD schools, including his alma mater La Follette High School.

Gothard emphasized the importance of people, purpose and pride in his remarks. He said MMSD revolves around community and “is an organization of people.” 

“In order for us to be effective, we have to get to know one another and value each other in the way we work,” Gothard said.

Gothard’s commitment to the community was at the center of his remarks and responses to the press. He said he plans to address opportunity gaps within communities of color.

“You will not address achievement gaps, opportunity gaps, unless you know your community and know what assets lie within your community,” Gothard said. “That's where it has to start.”

For schools to fully know their communities, Gothard said they should address opportunity gaps for students of color, students with disabilities, English language learners, students experiencing homelessness and more. 

Gothard also said public schools in Wisconsin are not funded enough to provide students with the resources needed to succeed, especially for students in marginalized groups.

Gothard reflected on his time in Minnesota to reaffirm his belief that community is valuable in education. In Minnesota, he said advocates were able to raise $22 million to cover structural deficits.   

Gothard said he hopes to inspire the Madison community to take action to make the MMSD school system work for the student’s needs.

With the constant growth of the Madison population, Gothard said this is an opportunity for everyone, including the community, to make MMSD change for the better.

“How can we innovate to make the MMSD the destination school district not just in Dane County, but the state, so that when new families are considering coming here, they know the Madison Metropolitan School District will have its doors open and produce a high-quality education?” Gothard asked.

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