School board elections take place on April and in District 8 there are three candidates and, therefore, a primary on Feb. 15. In order to help you make a more informed decision at the polls in this race, which often flies under the radar, we’ve asked each of the 11 candidates — running for five seats on the 9-member board (there are eight regional districts and one at-large seat) — to respond to a list of questions and we will run them in the weeks leading up to the election.
OnMilwaukee.com: Tell us about your background and how your experience will be an asset to the Milwaukee Public Schools board.
Gerald Glazer: I have taught math at the college level, so I know something about education. I also have substantial experience in real estate and finance, which will be useful in dealing with the financial aspects of school governance.
OMC: Are you a graduate of MPS or other public schools? Do or did you have kids in MPS?
GG: I am a graduate of Milwaukee Washington High School, class of June 1960.
My children — all adults now — did not attend MPS.
OMC: What do you think is the biggest issue facing MPS and what is your plan of attack?
GG: The biggest issue is our abysmal graduation rate; only about half of all ninth grade students ever graduate. We must learn from other large urban school systems that do better.
OMC: What is your opinion on talk of expanding the voucher and Milwaukee Parental Choice Program?
GG: Before even considering expansion of school choice, the state should do three things:
- Change the funding formula so that choice and charter students are counted as MPS enrollees when allocating state aid, before deducting the actual cost of the programs.
- Eliminate failing schools (based on test scores) from the voucher program.
- Include qualified suburban private schools in the program.
OMC: Is there an opportunity for MPS to hold on to students and even draw some back via expansion of specialty schools or other means?
OMC: How will you work to engage parents in their schools?
GG: Ask the PTA groups for suggestions on this.
OMC: How do you think MPS can best expand on the successes in the current system?
GG: Give more public recognition to students who succeed.
OMC: There has been much discussion lately of vacant MPS buildings. What is your opinion on the future of these buildings?
GG: They should be sold or leased to private schools, unless the superintendent has a specific plan to use certain buildings within the next two years.
OMC: Finally, do you think spring school board elections are problematic? Do they guarantee low turnout at the polls?
GG: No. If we want larger turnout at school board elections, schedule them at the same time as those for mayor. Elect all board members for the same 4-year terms.