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
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.