By Karen Vieth
As I walked into the school gymnasium, I was greeted by the sounds of giggles, music and children enjoying each other’s company. At school dances, I always marvel at how quickly my students grow up and I embrace the time I can spend with them while they are truly being kids. Walking across the floor to greet a student, I was startled by a tap on my shoulder. I turned in the direction of the tap, expecting to find one of the kids executing a practical joke. Instead, I found myself face to face with the DJ. Only, this wasn’t just any disc jockey; it was school board candidate Michael Flores. He greeted me with a friendly “hello” and quickly reclaimed his post behind the DJ table. Watching him interact with the kids was truly refreshing. It became immediately clear why this firefighter became a small business owner of Dos Amigos, a company that was currently bringing entertainment to our packed gym. He laughed, danced, and listened to the students’ requests. Not only was he at ease with the students and this informal school environment, but he seemed to fit right in. It is obvious to me that there is more to this school board candidate than can be displayed on a piece of literature or a yard sign.
Michael Flores is running for school board because he believes in all of our students and knows that we need to promote positive change. As a minority student who grew up in poverty, Michael understands the tremendous challenges that our children face. Not only does he comprehend the startling statistics of Madison’s achievement gap, he has fought against them on both a personal and community level. This is evident with his time spent as a volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Dane County, as well as his involvement in the education of his own children.
Michael has three kids in the district who attend school at Nuestro Mundo, Frank Allis and Sennett. It is obvious when you ask him about his own kids that Michael is an active, loving parent. Being a parent in the district gives Michael a perspective that is important for our families. He understands the importance of community involvement, school funding and effective programming because he experiences these outcomes first hand. He knows the importance of expanding opportunities for each individual student.
Michael Flores’ energy and enthusiasm is clearly contagious as he challenges others to take action alongside him in events such as the upcoming Polar Plunge. Michael Flores is a natural leader whose actions speak for him. Most importantly, he is a leader who will unite families and members of the community to create positive change in our schools.
Times are tough in an educational system that has undergone 18 years of budget cuts while poverty has become more prevalent. Madison’s board members have made some difficult choices, but the most difficult are yet to come. Because of this, each vote cast in the April 3rd school board election is invaluable. The scene I witnessed in our school gymnasium was a reminder to myself of what it is going to take to build success for all of Madison’s students. It is going to take leaders who understand our children, our community and our schools. Michael Flores doesn’t just understand our community, he is a part of it. He doesn’t simply know the statistics of poverty, he has lived it. He is someone who will do what is right, because he believes in our children, our school and our future. Michael Flores has my vote, but most importantly he has my trust.
For more information or to contribute to Michael Flores’ campaign, please go to www.floresforschoolboard.org or find Michael Flores for School Board on facebook.