School and government find common ground
The school board is looking to collaborate with Representative David Bowen to actively oppose or support bills that would affect the school district, similar to the resolution passed which opposed Assembly Bill 469, which discriminated against students who are transgender.
Representative David Bowen serves District 10 – Milwaukee and Shorewood – in the state legislature.
School Board President, Paru Shah, is leading the charge, and says she hopes this will bring positive effects to the district.
“I think an ability to have things that are important to us at the state level … [we want] to have our voices heard,” Shah said.
Abby Schill, sophomore, believes this collaboration would be beneficial.
“If you have a person in the government saying ‘I don’t want that; they don’t want that’ it would help our voice be heard,” Schill said.
“The whole idea is that we will meet more regularly … We have similar interests,” Shah said. “He has interests in education moving forward.”
John Jacobson, social studies department chair, feels strongly about state legislature addressing education concerns.
“The state legislature operates in a manner that’s quite frankly hostile towards public education … the Shorewood School District functions in a way that’s healthy for public education,” Jacobson said. “I hope that they’ll listen to us and I hope that they will start to function in a way that’s more responsible for educating children.”
Shah and Bowen have met once and had preliminary discussion about collaboration.
“We met originally to combat some of the stuff that’s coming out of our state legislature currently,” Shah said. “We talked about things that he wants to push forward that Shorewood I think would be interested in.”
Such items included the future of the Chapter 220 program and restorative justice. Rep. Bowen would like to draw from Shorewood’s experiences to further his plans for legislation.
“Shorewood is one of the few school districts in Wisconsin that has taken [restorative justice] on,” Shah said. “He would want to have more conversations about us: ways that we’ve implemented, things that we’ve seen.”
Overall, Shah believes this will be a program that will develop to become something effective.
“We just saw this as two groups – school board and him – thinking about ways we can work together to move legislation forward that benefits us,” Shah said.
“It would be beneficial to have someone from the state legislature helping our school, and school board and school district get our views into the state legislature,” Schill said.
Jacobson believes the school board can be very effective.
“The current state legislature needs all the advice it can get from the voices that are quite loud on the Shorewood School Board,” Jacobson said.
“We’re a small district but we can be very vocal,” Shah said. “We’re a kind of community that if we felt very strongly about something we could mobilize very quickly … that’s something he’s interested in.”
by Maya Schneider