• Emily Berry

I'm in.


Shorewood, welcome to campaign season 2019! This year I'll be on the ballot as a candidate for school board, and I'll be knocking on doors over the next several weeks asking for your vote.


Sometime between now and election day on April 2, I hope every village resident takes just a moment to envision the future of our school district that you hope to see. Then consider who can best help steer us there. I hope that no matter who wins your vote, that you make an informed choice and take the time to learn about the issues at hand.


I don't think it's an overstatement to say this may be the most important local election day for the village in a generation for the village. There are serious issues facing our district, especially the clear need to do better at fighting racial inequity in our schools. And of course, the anticipated referendum question, the outcome of which will affect every village resident, whether you have children in school or not. Two seats on the board could potentially have new occupants, and two new voices can make a huge difference on a board of five people.


The district is working on addressing some of the racial inequities in our schools, partly by continuing work that was already underway, like professional development for staff, and partly by considering changes in both policy and curriculum. Making progress won't be easy, and will require a commitment to doing hard work to address long-standing problems, and to do it now. That commitment and push that must come from the school board and administrative leaders. I have been working on educating myself and being part of community-based solutions since this past fall, and understand I still have much to do. I want to make sure that work around race gets more than lip service. We must ensure our curriculum is culturally rich, that our teachers feel equipped to talk about race, and that non-white students feel safe and know that they are at home in our schools.


When it comes to the referendum questions around facilities spending, there are two potential outcomes that both create a need for focused, diligent and responsible leadership. Voters will decide on the answer -- the board will be responsible for ensuring that what follows reflects the community's wishes, makes responsible use of taxpayer money, and most of all, that any work we do on buildings ultimately serves our kids' education.


Who do you want at the table then, with all of the important work facing our schools? I hope you'd want someone well-versed in how the school board has been working over the last few years -- someone familiar with the policy work but also familiar with the way things are operating on the ground in our schools. I hope you'd want someone curious and thorough -- skeptical but not cynical. I hope you'd want someone who isn't afraid to ask questions, to talk to students, families and teachers. I hope you'd want someone brave enough to break out of her social circle and knock on a stranger's door -- maybe your door -- to find out what's important to you and to take those concerns to heart. I can be that someone.


If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I ran for school board in 2017 and came up short. Since then I have been taking my time and making sure I would be the most prepared and qualified candidate I can be when I felt ready to run again. I didn't stop caring about the school district just because I didn't win the election -- I continued to write on this blog about what the board was up to and where I thought they and the administration had made mistakes or done the right thing. I offered ideas and asked questions of the board both at public meetings and over email. I studied the same documents and reports the board received ahead of each meeting.


I've been to all but a handful of school board meetings since fall of 2016, and have continued to volunteer with the Lake Bluff PTO, as I have since my daughter started school there as a first grader in 2012. I work full-time, as does my husband, so like a lot of families, our days fill up quickly between working and caring for our kids and managing our household. We have a 6th grader and a 3rd grader at Lake Bluff Elementary, and for what feels like 9 months of the year, our second home is Spector Field, where both kids play baseball and my husband coaches.


Like so many people I talk to, we chose Shorewood because of its reputation as a progressive community and because its school district was so well-regarded. Since I started paying close attention to what happens at each school board meeting -- and maybe more importantly since I started really asking and listening to what my neighbors said about our schools -- I've realized we aren't as exceptional in quite the way I thought. We have the same challenges as our neighbors across Wisconsin and as many other school systems across the country. But Shorewood's families are exceptionally supportive of public education, and we understand how important healthy schools are to maintaining what we all love about living here.


Because of that spirit, that I've seen shine through in even the worse of times, I am proud to live here and to send my children to school here every day. I would be proud to serve on our school board, and I hope I can win your vote.


Stay tuned more on the issues I see as most critical to our schools' future. Thank you to those of you who have encouraged me to run. Check back for more about how you can support my campaign and help me win in April.

© 2018 by Emily Berry

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Emily Berry

Shorewood, WI 53211

emily@berryschoolsblog.com