OUR ENDORSEMENTS: Christina Gomez Schmidt and Wayne Strong for Madison School Board
OUR ENDORSEMENTS: Christina Gomez Schmidt and Wayne Strong for Madison School Board

OUR ENDORSEMENTS: Christina Gomez Schmidt and Wayne Strong for Madison School Board

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With a pandemic closing schools, protesters disrupting board meetings and a new superintendent starting June 1, the Madison School District needs stability and experience.

That’s what Christina Gomez Schmidt, seeking Seat 6, and Wayne Strong, running for Seat 7, will provide on the Madison School Board.

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board endorses Gomez Schmidt and Strong in the April 7 election.

Our editorial board last week interviewed by teleconference the four candidates in the two competitive School Board races.

Gomez Schmidt and Strong highlighted deep involvement in the district and community. They would focus intently on improving reading skills, particularly for struggling students, which is key to closing achievement gaps.

Gomez Schmidt said the public wants action to boost learning. She would demand the district’s reading curriculum be “rigorous and relevant,” and informed by the latest research. She called for strong support of teachers and staff, and greater effort to keep and attract educators of color who serve as role models and expand school culture for an increasingly diverse student body.

An enrichment director for a tutoring company and mother of three, Gomez Schmidt understands the need to challenge all students to keep more families in the district. She also stresses transparency to build community trust.

Strong, a retired police lieutenant who served as a school-based officer and coached Southside Raiders football, has been a role model for countless African American boys. He’s right that reading starts at home, and would accelerate promising efforts to get fun books into the hands of young, disadvantaged children and their parents.

Gomez Schmidt and Strong want to ensure that everyone has a right to be heard — and to hear what’s happening — at School Board meetings. The board wisely voted to keep a single police officer (most of them black men) in each main high school.

Strong is a parent of two district graduates and speaks eloquently about the value of school officers befriending students and deescalating conflict. He also pledges to work intently on reducing the high percentage of black students who receive out-of-school suspensions. Gomez Schmidt similarly appreciates that officers in schools reduce the need to call outside cops when trouble occurs.

We like incumbent Nicki Vander Meulen’s advocacy for students with special needs. An attorney, she is a clear communicator and has learned a lot during her first term in Seat 7. But Strong, her challenger, offers a broader skill set, more collegiality and pragmatism.

Gomez Schmidt’s opponent for Seat 6, Maia Pearson, is a mother and state revenue agent. Pearson is eager to serve and stresses that students learn in differing ways. But Pearson fails to offer clear positions on issues such as police in schools. She seems unconcerned with protesters interrupting and cutting short board meetings and decisions.

Gomez Schmidt and Strong deserve your vote.

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