Why are you running for elected office?
I am running for Madison School Board for all the teachers, principals and staff who never gave up on me and helped me to be who I am today. I am the product of Madison public schools. My parents were migrant farm workers with a 3rd grade education, despite the challenges of poverty, language barriers and behavior issues MMSD never gave up on me.
I am running for School board to give back to the community who invested in me and my family. It is because of MMSD I was able to overcome many barriers and was afforded many opportunities I am an example of what we do right in this community.
I bring hope of what is possible but with all of the challenges that our schools are faced with today, we need someone who understands those challenges from a personal, professional and leadership perspective. I have been there and I have overcome the many disadvantages and challenges that our students are faced with both inside and outside the classroom. I have been able to transcend those experiences to serve and lead our community.
I'm running for Madison's School Board because of my commitment to public service. After serving our community for over 20 years as a police officer, board president of Centro Hispano of Dane County and now as a public servant in the mayor’s office, I have seen how a strong public education is the foundation of our City’s success.
My son and I are East High School Alumni and I have three more children in public schools. I believe in our public schools and I want for every Madison children, regardless of race, economic and immigration status to access the opportunities they need to succeed.
What are your 3 biggest areas of concern with MMSD, and what would you like to see changed to address these concerns.
If I am elected as a school board member I will elevate the urgency on behavioral health, response to intervention and safety of our schools. Violence and trauma in our schools can impact the overall health and well being of our teachers, staff and students. Violence prevention and intervention has been my primary responsibility as Deputy Mayor to Public Safety. I have established strong connections with our faith community, residents, organizations and Dane County in working to reduce violence in our community. I have established partnerships on a national level in establishing best practices on reducing violence in our community. I have worked with Public Health to understand the root causes of violence and will bring these experiences to MMSD.
We know that youth are more likely to become victims of violent crime than any other age group. For many students, schools are their respite and safe harbor, we need to continue to make that explicit and provide a supportive and safe environment for them.
Madison has a wealth of organizations many in which are currently MMSD partners. Continuing improving and strengthening connections with community and organizations for collaboration and increase well being and sense of belonging for our teachers, staff, students and families.
Enhance the focus on workforce preparation through collaboration with higher education institutions I.e. Madison College and industries in particular in skilled labor and STEM field.
Please read the enclosed draft education platform. What recommendations do you have for additions and what pieces of the platform would you want to work on?
I the education platform, I am interested in wrap around services for youth who are experiencing difficulties. We have to support students during difficult times and it has to involve wrap around services that tackle what the student is faced with both inside and outside the school.
I would like to see a language access plan for your platform. I believe that the School District has a plan and provides interpretation services for meetings. I am sorry if I missed it in your platform.
Evaluate the issue of transparency with the way the School Board currently operates, what problem areas do you believe need to be addressed and how will you work to address them?
I am in strong support of holding public hearings and committee meetings out in our community for better accessibility. I have worked to make that happen within the City Committees that I oversee. The MPD Policy Review committee was a process that I oversaw and encouraged the the committee to move the meetings out into our community. We made the same decision with the Equity in Entertainment taskforce. I would encourage more meetings out in our communities that allows for better accessibility and participation which increases transparency in process and decisions.
I would promote the use of the Racial Equity Analysis tool more in the decision making process. This process will allow us to examine any unintended consequences and impact on our underrepresented communities by engaging with communities directly impacted. The result is bringing in community that allows for a transparent process.
What is your position on Educational Resource Officers in the Madison Schools?
I understand the importance of School Health and Safety. My experience in Law Enforcement and in my current position in the mayor’s office I recognize that Law Enforcement can’t solve all of our issues surrounding safety. We need key partners Identifying root causes of school violence. Examining the data to develop strategies for increasing school safety, and evaluating innovative school safety strategies to ensure we are on the right path. To do this we need community partners, behavioral/mental health professionals, social workers, parents, teachers, security staff and law enforcement. We need to examine violence prevention through a public health lens. I am in support of Educational Resource Officers in our schools. However, we need to examine how we have utilized their response to school discipline. Entering students into the criminal justice system should be the last resort. As an officer I have been a part of restorative justice practices to resolve conflict in our schools. I understand the concept while understanding the implementation of restorative justice that brings accountability and healing to an incident. I am in support of examining how we use officers and changing policies that support a safe environment for all.
What strategies do you favor to address the achievement gap?
There are many strategies that will take to address the achievement gap however I believe that community schools outlined in your platform is an excellent strategy. We know that to address the achievement gap, we will need a wrap around approach that includes community. Our public school teachers and staff need our community support.
Do you support charter schools? What can the school board do to protect against the constant pressure of privatization?
I am in support of instrumentality schools such as Nuestro Mundo, I will not support any school that does not meet the same accountability as our public schools and or drain public dollars from our district. If elected I am committed to lobbying at the state level against policies that support and shifts resources to private school, as well as organize against and expose the threat of privatization especially among the most fragile communities. I am also connected to national organizations such as the US Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities who I would seek support when advocating against privatization.
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8. What are the unique qualities and perspectives that you will bring to this office?
I have led our city through challenging times having to react quickly and respond to growth and the constant changes in our city. I have experience in collaborating and establishing partnerships with community organizations, stakeholders and elected leaders to work together in finding solutions and a path forward.
I understand the challenges that our students and families are faced with. I know this from a personal perspective having faced many of the same challenges. I also know that we have great teachers in our schools who are faced with having to teach to a divers group of students who are experiencing challenges both inside and outside the classroom. I am connected with our communities of color having biracial children in our public schools understanding first hand the issues of racial equity.
I also have a broad understanding of how our public schools are the foundation of our cities success. I see it and experience it everyday. My experience brings value to the school board and brings my community relationships and connection and professional relationship to work towards a thriving public school and community for all of our students.
In what ways are you currently active in your district and the community at large
I am active in immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) challenges. This involves working with community leaders in advocacy, speaking against anti-immigration bills, sharing information to community about pending legislation on immigration and working with other cities and national organizations on fighting against anti-immigration policies at a local level. I started the immigration response team that activates when Immigration Customs Enforcement conducts raids in our community.
I am also on the Board for United Against Hate, a group of professional fighting against hate at a national and local level.
I am a training instructor at Madison College Law Enforcement Academy teaching cultural competency
I am connected to neighborhood associations all over the city and speak on public safety issues and hear from constituents of their concerns related to city services and city government process.