I didn't agree with Dave Cieslewicz on everything when he was Mayor. I think trolleys are quaint and charming, but they might best be reserved for the "Neighborhood of Make Believe" on Mr. Rogers. And he certainly got the Edgewater debate off on a really bad foot by publicly questioning the value of the Landmarks Commission. Calling knowledgeable citizens, some trained historic preservationists, "a handful of unelected people" with power that is "fundamentally undemocratic," isn't a great way to launch a public discussion on the merits of a project.
But I've enjoyed much of his blog, Citizen Dave. I especially liked his post last weekcalling out MTI's executive director John Matthews' comment in the Cap Times regarding candidate Mary Burke's appropriateness for the school board given that she isn't a parent.
The idea that only folks who have had kids are capable of making the difficult decisions board members face is ridiculous. Board meetings are often about policy, budgeting, debt refinancing, and revenue caps. It's about skill sets and the patience to wade through a forest of spreadsheets and proposals -- I'd be beyond terrible at it. Compassion and empathy, while important, are not enough.
In some ways, I think it's entirely possible that not having his or her own children could make someone a very effective school board member. As a parent, it's sometimes difficult for me to separate my own children's needs from those of other members of their classroom communities. I can't even imagine having to extrapolate this out to the 25,000 kids in the district. We parents are a caring breed, and I admire the mothers and fathers that have stepped forward to serve or consider serving on the board. But it's more than just mother or fatherhood that will make a candidate, and the board, successful.
With three kids in the district, I am pleased that there are two contested races for school board this spring. The discussions these campaigns are stirring up are ones I need to be involved in as the city of Madison is only as strong as its public schools -- both perception and reality. But I don't want to limit my chance to get to know the four candidates to what gets dropped off at my door.
Fortunately, there are forums scheduled all over town, 10 more in total, so that anyone who is interested in getting a chance to speak with the candidates can do so in person. I'm planning on attending the discussion Isthmus Publishing and Sustain Dane are co-hosting on Monday, March 19 at the First Unitarian Church. It should be both informative and refreshing to hear the candidates' take on green practices as well as other vital issues for the district.
I'm looking forward to a discussion that will help me to better understand the candidates beliefs and differences beyond the biographical info, parental statuses, and endorsements I can read on their websites.
I need to be engaged in person. And because I'll be home in Madison, I plan to vote the same way. But if you're travelling, remember to request your absentee ballot [PDF] . The School Board election takes place on Tuesday, April 3 -- right smack in the middle of spring break.comments powered by Disqus
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.