With departures and a vacancy, five of the nine seats on the Milwaukee Public School Board will be on the ballot when voters go to the polls this spring.
A total of 11 candidates are running, including several parents, union and community activists, as well as current and former educators.
Five of them are campaigning in a poorly organized team, and four of them have been recruited by the Wisconsin arm of the Working Families Party, a national coalition of progressive organizations that have more and more of them. more influence in the selection of left-wing candidates in the country.
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"We want to elect education champions," said Rebecca Lynch, acting director of the nonprofit group, who helped elect four board members in 2017 , including newcomers Tony Baez and Paula Phillips.
"It's not just about voting in a way that supports public schools, it's about electing people who are deeply connected to schools and the community, who will be vigorous advocates … and who will use their pulpit of intimidation to go to Madison and tell them what Milwaukee Needs. "
Three council members are not candidates for re-election: the council chair, Mark Sain, in the 1st district, Carol Voss, in the 8th and Terry Falk, in the chair. The 3rd district seat released by Michael Bonds last year is also up for grabs.
Voters will go to the polls on April 2, with a primary on February 19 to reduce the number of District 8 candidates to three.
Here is an overview of these races; More detailed profiles of the candidates will come later:
In what is probably one of the most prominent races, Bob Peterson, former president of the teachers 'union and former president of the teachers' union, and Stefanie Dugan, long-time volunteer and parent activist, argue over the position currently occupied by Falk. Falk served two terms on the board, first in district 8 and then in the senior executive seat.
Shyla Deacon, a former teacher of MPS parents, will face Marva Herndon, a retired computer scientist well known for her work defending public schools and her efforts to stunt the growth of independent chartered and charter private schools.
Erika Siemsen, a retired teacher with the MPS, is looking to replace Wendell Harris, his first term.
Sequanna Taylor, supervisor for Milwaukee County, and Catrina Crane, mother of MPS, recruit and coordinate the program for the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership.
Megan O 'Halloran, mother of MPS and activist, Kathryn Gabor, teacher of Montessori and mother of MPS, and Derek Beyer, former teacher of MPS and community activist.
Peterson has by far the deepest pockets, raising more than $ 21,200, according to his campaign finance report tabled last week. Five other people who filed their application at maturity raised between $ 116 (Gabor) and $ 5,154 (O & # 39; Halloran).
Working Families supports Peterson, Herndon, Siemsen, Taylor and O. Halloran. And these candidates are likely to gain the support of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, which is expected to announce support next week.
Opponents are touting their own brands, including Deacon, who is backed by Common Council Chair Ashanti Hamilton of 9th Ald District. Chantia Lewis and Larry Miller, Board Member. Dugan has the support of the People's Committee of AFSCME.
Harris, who had received support from the teachers' union in 2014, is expected to lose support because of his support for the Carmen School of Science and Technology.
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Influence of the Working Families Party
With Baez and Phillips elected in 2017, a sweep of the candidates would give the Working Families Party a significant influence on the board of directors. The party supports a host of progressive issues, including the living wage, racial and social justice, and universal health care.
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It also opposes any privatization of public schools through vouchers and charters not managed by public schools. This would likely affect the board's position in the negotiations with charter operators, some of which did not deliver the expected results when they opened.
Elections are coming at a difficult time for the MPS, which has struggled for years against declining enrollment, an aging system of buildings that is not adapted to its needs, tight budgets and projected deficits ranging from 13.4 to 108.5 million. dollars over the next five years. But this also follows the election of Governor Tony Evers, who is committed to making public education a priority.
And that, said Working Families Party Lynch, could have a huge impact on the Milwaukee public schools.
"For the first time, we are approaching a cycle of elections to the school board with a governor in charge of public education.And we see incredible potential to put more money in." in the classrooms, "she said.