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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mathias and Woodward Want Your Vote on April

Hardin’s district will have a new MPS board representative

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Voters in the city’s North Side and Riverwest neighborhoods will have a chance on April 7 to elect a new representative to the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) board of directors. The Fourth District’s longtime MPS board representative, Charlene Hardin, is not on the ballot.

The challengers, Michael Mathias and Annie Woodward, both say that they’re hitting the doors in the district to talk about how they want to reform MPS and improve student performance. Mathias, who works in the development office of the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Woodward, who retired from the county’s social services office and has volunteered for MPS as a tutor, spoke to the Shepherd about their plans:

Michael Mathias said that he’s encouraged by the amount of interest in MPS’s future direction. He said a strong board is key.

“I am concerned that we haven’t risked enough, that we haven’t gone far enough to solve the problem, from discipline and security to literacy, reading and math in particular,” Mathias said. “It always seems as if we’re catching up.”

He said the next board will hire a new superintendent, and that his ideal candidate will be someone who has already held that position elsewhere. “I’d like to get someone who has a track record of raising student achievement and follows up on innovative ideas, someone who knows how to work with the community—everyone in the community,” Mathias said.

The voucher program seems to be here to stay, Mathias said, but his focus is on “the 86,000 children in MPS, many of whom are special-education students, or with disabilities, or who really need our support. We need to have people on the board who are going to fight for them.”

He said Gov. Jim Doyle’s proposed budget was “very encouraging” because “there was a potential solution for the funding flaw” that was created by the voucher program.

For more information about Michael Mathias, go to mathiasforschoolboard. wordpress.com.

Annie Woodward said she’s been talking about the issues with voters—school funding, the next MPS budget, and “bringing together a board that is not divisive and ready to work together for the education of our children.”

She said MPS can get more funding from the state if stakeholders lobby the state Legislature for it. “I believe it’s going to have to be with the superintendent, the mayor and the community getting behind them going to the state to get the funding we need to educate our children,” Woodward said.

Woodward said she has not reviewed Doyle’s proposed budget for its impact on MPS. She said Rep. Polly Williams, the chair of the education committee in the state Assembly, should get the community involved when it’s needed.

To learn more about Annie Woodward, go to www.arwoodward.com.

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