School’s in session. And the students are in charge.
Ahead of Tuesday’s school board election, we asked MPS high school students to tell us what they like about their schools and what changes they would like to see. (Here’s an explainer to prep you for the election.)
Here’s what they said:
Joya Headley, a Milwaukee School of Languages senior:
“One thing I like about my school is that it is diverse in not only students but in minds. A lot of people think differently and they have different priorities and … a lot of students do care a lot about their future.
“One thing I don’t like is that it’s not as diverse in staff. Some teachers can’t relate to the students’ experience.”
“I also wish that there were more resources for students who are often targeted for behavioral issues — more restorative justice, more opportunities for students to do community service.”
Alannah Jones, a Ronald Reagan High School sophomore:
“One of the things I love about my high school is how diverse it is in cultures and ethnicities.”
“The main thing I would like to see changed is for the school to pay as much attention to mental health as they do to physical health and have more qualified therapists involved in school and not just a nurse or an adviser.”
Greta Garcia Jalil Melendez, a senior at Milwaukee School of Languages:
She loves the opportunity her school gives her to build her German language skills, a passion of hers since preschool.
She would like to see her school building repaired — broken floor tiles are exposing students to asbestos, she said — and old, worn-out textbooks replaced.
Eliedith Camacho, a South Division High School junior:
“I like that the students are from many different cultures — Muslims, African-Americans, Mexicans, Asians. I like that I can learn about their cultures.
“There is nothing I would change about my school.”
Shayla Velez, a South Division High School freshman:
“I have a lot of friends here. Some of the teachers are nice. Some of them are kind of mean, but most of the teachers, they’re nice and they’re there for you.
Like all but one of the South Division students interviewed, Velez objects to the school’s phone policy, but added, “There’re a lot of good things about the school.”
She also wants to see the bathroom policy changed. “We can’t go to the bathroom for last hour most of the time. We have to stay stuck in the class,” and that makes it hard to concentrate on schoolwork.
Sean Cardona, South Division High School junior:
“I don’t have any problems with South, to be honest. I like the sports, especially tennis, golf and soccer.”
Amir Hamza, a South Division High School junior:
Hamza, a Muslim immigrant, said the school offers ESL classes and a multicultural club that’s fun and good for his community.
He would like students to be given their phones at lunch because not having them “is boring — we can’t go anywhere and there’s no TV or anything.”
Also, for students like himself who cannot eat meat, he would like to see more lunch choices. “I’ve been eating PB & J (peanut butter and jelly) every day since I was a freshman.”
Jonheim King, a South Division High School junior:
“I like that they’ve got all types of sports. I play basketball, football and golf. I like some of the teachers.”
King would like to see the school’s cellphone policy changed.
SCHOOL BOARD BASICS
Who’s running for the school board?
Among the candidates are parents, teachers and former teachers, community activists, a former teachers union president and professionals in other fields.
Stefanie Dugan and Bob Peterson are running for the at-large seat being vacated by Terry Falk.
Shyla Deacon and Marva Herndon are running in District 1 for the seat being vacated by Mark Sain.
Erika Siemsen is challenging incumbent Wendell Harris in District 2.
Catrina Crane and Sequanna Taylor are competing for the vacant District 3 seat.
Kathryn Gabor and Megan O’Halloran are competing for the District 8 seat being vacated by Carol Voss.
The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, the teachers union, has endorsed Peterson, Herndon, Siemsen, Taylor and O’Halloran. Read this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story for more on the issues.
What you need to know to vote:
All polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To vote in Wisconsin you must:
- be at least 18 years old
- live at your current residence for at least 10 days
- register to vote
To see if you are registered to vote, to find your polling place and hours and to see a sample ballot, click here and enter your name, date of birth and address.
If you are not registered, you may register at your polling place on election day. To register you must show proof of residence.
To vote you must show a photo ID. Although you often hear the term “voter ID,” there is no specific voter identification card. Instead, voters must show one of the forms of identification listed here.
MPS by the numbers:
2018-19 budget: $1.17 billion
Per student spending: $10,122 (latest figures are for 2017-18)
Approximate enrollment: 75,000
Economically disadvantaged: 82%
Special education: 20%
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