- Are political parties involved in this election?
- Are we running a campaign backed by the Democratic Party or its subordinates?
- Why isn't there a forum for all candidates?
- Who is running?
- Is there something I can print to remember the names?
- Why do they have to run?
- How, where, and when do I vote?
- Why haven't the candidates spoken up for themselves?
- Did Akram Khan vote to close schools?
- Was Akram Khan a beneficiary of schools closing?
- Does Akram Khan have a conflict of interest being on the school board?
- Why is the Coalition running the campaign and not the candidates?
- What will the ballots look like? Will it say Incumbents?
- What happens in April? Do they all run again?
- The Germantown Board voted on Covid protocols, why didn't Mequon-Thiensville?
- Did MTSD hire CRT consultants to advise them on the curriculum?
- What is Critical Race Theory?
- Why the controversy over CRT?
- What is the MTSD school board's position on critical race theory (CRT)?
- Is MTSD really in academic decline?
- What happened with the Homestead High School ranking in the U.S. News & World Report list?
- Can someone remove their signature from a recall petition?
- Why should I attend the board meetings and how do I do so?
- If I'd like to speak at a board meeting, how do I do that?
Are political parties involved in this election?
Yes. Despite the recall / restore MTSD group's claims that their candidates are completely apolitical and non-partisan, the Ozaukee County Republican Party is actively working for the recaller candidates' campaigns. So is the Rebecca Kleefisch gubernatorial campaign. As is the Jonathan Wichmann gubernatorial campaign. According to this post, Restore MTSD is also actively working to corrupt the Manitowoc School Board.
Are we running a campaign backed by the Democratic Party or its subordinates?
No. We have not accepted any donations or support from the Democratic Party or ANY political party to underwrite any of the work we are doing. There will be no outside activists working on our behalf going through neighborhoods or knocking on doors. We are not and will not coordinate with anyone doing so. Everything we are doing is entirely funded by our own efforts. We all live here. We are absolutely humbled by the overwhelming response of support!
There was a question raised about a postcard that originated from out of state. A local group called Grass Roots Northshore had approached us and asked us if they could write and send postcards to a list of their own supporters, whom they felt would be interested in our message. We provided the postcards, made sure the messaging was appropriate, and paid for the postage. For more information, click here.
Why isn't there a forum for all candidates?
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization whose mission includes unbiased education of the electorate tried to organize one. The recall / restore MTSD candidates refused to participate. This is the statement from the League of Women Voters:
The League of Women Voters of Ozaukee County reached out to the 4 incumbents and the 4 challengers in the school board race to participate in a candidate forum. Amber Schroeder responded on behalf of the 4 challengers saying that they were unable to attend and because of this the forum was cancelled.
Who is running?
The four board members that have been recalled are running in this recall election. They are Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, Chris Schultz, and Wendy Francour. The recall / restore MTSD group will put forth four candidates from their group.
Is there something I can print to remember the names?
Yes! We have a printable card with the incumbent names, and other flyers that have critical facts, the mayors' letter, key facts about MTSD educational results, and key facts about MTSD financial performance. Download, print, and give to your friends and neighbors!
Why do they have to run?
The recall petitions were certified. The recalled officials are automatically on the ballot unless they withdraw their name.
How, where, and when do I vote?
Check your registration at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/My-Voter-Info. You can register here for an absentee ballot, which will be mailed to you mid-October. Early in-person voting runs from October 19 to October 29, weekdays in Mequon City Hall or Thiensville Village Hall. Check your City for times. Regular voting occurs at most regular polling places throughout the City on Tuesday, November 2.
Why haven't the candidates spoken up for themselves?
The Coalition believes they received advice not to speak, as they were still elected officials and not candidates up until the recall petitions were certified. Wendy Francour has now issued a statement and Chris Schultz has spoken to the News Graphic.
Did Akram Khan vote to close schools?
No. He voted on the decision making framework that administration would use based on the covid burden at any given time. It was never the board's decision to go virtual. MTSD Board of education governs through policy Vs operationally. The district presented a pandemic mitigation plan in summer 2020 in anticipation of the upcoming school year 2020-21. The Board approved the Pandemic Mitigation Plan, not how it would be operationalized.
Was Akram Khan a beneficiary of schools closing?
No. Per Mr. Khan, "I also closed in-person classes at my center for the entire months of September and October 2020 as a pandemic mitigation strategy."
Does Akram Khan have a conflict of interest being on the school board?
No. Per Mr Khan, "Before agreeing to serve on the Board of Education, I had clarified with the administration and the Board president at that time , whether my business www.kumon.com/mequon would present any conflict of interest. I was told that there was no conflict present, because I do not offer what schools offer in curriculum and attendance. To clarify, www.kumon.com is an after school supplementary program that offers only two subjects for students who attend the center 2 days a week -Monday and Thursday, for 30 mins each. We do not offer all classes or academic day care.
Why is the Coalition running the campaign and not the candidates?
We're not. Each candidate is campaigning as they see fit. However, they cannot discuss or coordinate their campaigns because it could constitute a walking quorum. However, the Coalition can use all four candidate names and make a unified, concerted effort to re-elect them, which can be less confusing to voters.
A “walking quorum” is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum. A walking quorum may produce a predetermined outcome and thus render a publicly-held meeting a mere formality. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has commented that any attempt to avoid the appearance of a meeting through the use of a walking quorum is subject to prosecution under the open meetings law. Furthermore, the requirements of the open meetings law cannot be circumvented by using an agent or surrogate to poll the members of governmental bodies through a series of individual contacts. The series of gatherings need not be face-to-face. For example, phone calls, email exchanges, and other electronic messaging may suffice. Source: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/office-open-government/ask-the-oog/what-walking-quorum
What will the ballots look like? Will it say Incumbents?
No, the word incumbent will not appear. The ballot will be very unbiased, and will be a one to one listing for each position based on term. The following pairings are accurate, but the order was determined by drawing straws, and could be flipped from right to left. You need to know the names of the incumbents - bring a picture of a yard sign with you, or stop by an info table to grab a business card.
Terms expiring April 2022
Scarlett Johnson vs Chris Schultz
Akram Khan vs Kris Kittell
Term expiring April 2023
Wendy Francour vs Cheryle Rebholtz
Charles Lorenz vs Erik Hollander
What happens in April? Do they all run again?
Each recalled official will have a separate election, but all four elections will be shown on the same ballot. This means there will be a 1:1 decision for voters for each position, so that it is clear which elected official is fulfilling which term. In April, two spots will be up for re-election as usual. The terms of Akram Khan and Chris Schultz expire in April 2022.
The Germantown Board voted on Covid protocols, why didn't Mequon-Thiensville?
The difference comes down to policy. From the Germantown School District communicable disease policy (po8450):
"In order to protect the health and safety of the students, District personnel, and the community at large, the Board shall follow all State statutes and Health Department regulations which pertain to immunization and other means for controlling communicable disease spread through normal interaction in the school setting."
Compared to the Mequon-Thiensville communicable disease policy (8450):
"In partnership with state and local public health officials, the District will establish and maintain appropriate health standards for the school environment and educate students, families, and staff in disease prevention methods, as well as health practices and protocols."
Germantown's policy clearly states that the Board is responsible for following state laws and health department regulations, whereas Mequon-Thiensville's policy places that responsibility on those handling the day-to-day operations of the District. As discussed on the Why Support MTSD page, the MTSD School Board places responsibility for operational issues on the experts running the District and focuses instead on high-level policy, which is a best practice.
Did MTSD hire CRT consultants to advise them on the curriculum?
No. The following consultants were hired for the purposes described below. None of them had anything to do with adding CRT to the MTSD curriculum.
- ICS for Equity – Dr. Elise Frattura, one of the owners, is an expert in the field of special education. She focused on training our teachers and staff about how to provide education equality and equity for our students receiving special education services.
- Donovan Group, LLC – This is a communications consulting group. Joe Donovan, the owner, has been used for marketing and communications work in the past.
- Mindsteps – This company was hired using grant money from the DPI to work with our building administrators (principals and assistant principals) on educator effectiveness, such has how to appropriately and effectively evaluate educators, as well as some smaller projects – building growth plans, for example.
- Blaquesmith Consulting – in June of 2020, the district worked with Dr. Ramel Smith of Blaquesmith Consulting and Dr. Alisia Moutry to offer a webinar to our school community (parents and guardians) on the topic of privilege and race. Based on the positive feedback from that event, the district engaged with Drs. Smith and Moutry in January of 2021 to discuss educational equity in the district. Neither of these events were training for staff – both of these events were offered to MTSD parents and guardians.
What is Critical Race Theory?
The term Critical Race Theory (CRT) refers to a long-standing scholarly theory that aims to explain why America is still wrestling with racism, discrimination, and inequities. CRT is a post-colonial theory influenced by postmodernism thought, focused heavily on how legalized policies affect both majority and minority groups.
The term 'systemic racism', a phrase often associated with CRT, suggests that America’s problems go beyond individual people judging others for their background or skin color. The term systemic racism suggests that the policies, daily practices, rules, regulations, and traditions of organizations can create disparities in how people of differing backgrounds fare in society.
Discussion of CRT and systemic racism has led many to believe that to finally eradicate racism in the United States, Americans need to examine their institutions -- government, legal, educational, and corporate -- to gain an understanding of why the country has not made more progress toward the vision of a united America.
For decades, hundreds of writers, philosophers, historians, sociologists, and other scholars have published articles and books on the subject of systemic racism, sometimes in direct correlation to the particular theory known as Critical Race Theory.
Why the controversy over CRT?
Whether people agree or disagree with CRT, Americans, in general, tend to be wary of any form of instruction that may equate to indoctrination; however, they also tend to oppose censorship. While adults wrestle with contemporary problems and try to find solutions, tension can arise between these two important, deeply held values. Guided by both values, parents seek to protect their children.
The purpose of a theory is to try to make sense of a seemingly inexplicable occurrence. To many, it seems impossible that a democratic society, a society that believes all people are all created equal, should still have ongoing racial conflict. Those who embrace CRT insist it is time Americans examine the systems that are perceived to have failed to create an America where “liberty and justice,” opportunity, and upward mobility unquestionably applied equally to “all.” They argue that CRT creates a necessary framework for discussion of the question of why America still has documented racial inequities.
To understand the concern over CRT, people must acknowledge that a contrasting theory exists: In general, this theory claims that progress has occurred, that the Civil Rights Movement was sufficient, that all can achieve the American dream through hard work, and that ongoing discussion of so-called systemic racism is counterproductive to the pursuit of unity and equality in our nation.
Those in favor of CRT value the way looking at American systems can encourage leaders to make predictions about human behavior, challenge commonly held assumptions, and chart a path forward based on a deeper level of understanding of how structures and organizations impact marginalized groups.
Those who oppose CRT are concerned that examinations of law and other systems through a race-related lens could further divide our nation, assign unfair blame to or vilify White people, and may ultimately discourage patriotism. Proponents consider this a false interpretation, saying the inherent focus of CRT is to bring positive change and greater unity through a broader understanding of how race has impacted American history and contemporary society.
The recent national uprising against CRT can be seen as occurring, in part, as a reaction against a widespread public outcry for curricular reforms not directly related to CRT. In addition to the Black community, many Americans consider curriculum that informs students about American chattel slavery, the WWII Holocaust of millions of Jews and other enemies of the Nazi party, the history of Native American Indian tribes, and other historical events in America’s history incomplete and inadequate and have advocated to have schools include a more comprehensive overview of history. Often, this call for a comprehensive history curriculum is falsely equated to a call to teach CRT.
What is the MTSD school board's position on critical race theory (CRT)?
The Mequon-Thiensville School District has not and does not plan to take a stance on CRT. There are many theories that inform education programs and practices across the district and MTSD does not subscribe to any single theory. Our administrators, specialists, and teachers focus work to implement effective, relevant, and best practices in the classroom while ensuring that educational practice is not directed by ideological and political concerns and instead educational principles.
Is MTSD really in academic decline?
Academic decline is an alarming statement to read or hear about and has gained people’s attention, which is understandable. However, data can be manipulated, and it takes time and effort to dig into data and understand what it means.
As one might expect, COVID was a disruption for MTSD as it was for all schools in the world. There were declines noted in the 19-20 school year during which we had to move to virtual school for the last trimester. It is concerning, but not unique. For the purposes of a more accurate comparison, it would be fair to compare data without the COVID impact. Here are the metrics from 2015-2019:
- Early Childhood Reading: -5%;
- Reading Scores (3rd-8th): -5%;
- Math Scores (3rd-8th): No change;
- ACT Benchmark Attainment: -11.5%;
- Success in Advanced Coursework (9th-12th): +4%;
- Student Engagement (4th-12th): -6%
Clearly, there is an empirical downward trend in some areas. However, without pandemic data, the change is far less significant than some are claiming. Even the ACT scores, with its 11.5% decline, can be put in context when compared to other districts. Other districts have exhibited a similar negative trend, but MTSD is still ranked highly compared to other peer districts.
- Incomplete data for 2020
- No scores yet available for 2021
- Relative population across these districts varies
MTSD has been very transparent about our milestones, the levels of achievement, and the historical trends. There is a plan to address each milestone. Are there declines? Yes, there is no disputing that some metrics are trending negatively. The district has acknowledged there is work to be done. However, it is disingenuous to distort declines to make them appear steeper by comparing older end of year data to mid-year pandemic metrics or misrepresenting a small percentage as a large one in an infographic. It’s also worth noting that other measures have trended positively. There is no finish line in education.
What happened with the Homestead High School ranking in the U.S. News & World Report list?
The U.S. News and World Report ranking for Homestead High School was a mistake that MTSD has worked diligently to resolve. Below is the timeline of events:
- 4/27/21 - Rankings were published; MTSD immediately made multiple emails and phone calls to US News and World Report to seek information about the rating, knowing it was in error. MTSD was directed to College Board, the org from whom US News and World Report obtained the data. MTSD then immediately requested a review with College Board.
- 5/13/21 - After continued follow-up by Dr. Joynt, MTSD was put in touch with a College Board rep.
- 6/11/21 - After repeated follow-up by MTSD and exchanging 11 emails, MTSD was informed that HHS did not have an assigned National Center for Education Statistics ID at the time that AP data was mapped to schools. This caused the AP data to be left off of the rankings. MTSD immediately responded to ask who is responsible for assigning the National Center for Education Statistics ID.
- 6/30/21 - After additional repeated follow-ups and exchanging 7 more emails with College Board, MTSD received a message to contact the National Center for Education Statistics Directly.
- 7/1/21 - MTSD reached out to the National Center for Education Statistics to follow-up. AT THIS POINT, College Board has advised that "any updates to school information (like this ID) after files are delivered would not make it into final rankings, in accordance with the policies set by U.S. News and World Report."
- SUMMARY - the ranking was a mistake. MTSD has worked diligently to resolve this. It is an error by omission of data which was not in MTSD's control.
Source: MTSD district office, U.S. News and World Report
Can someone remove their signature from a recall petition?
No. The petitions were submitted on August 20, 2021. Once submitted, a signature cannot be retracted. However, if someone has come to the realization that they signed the petition in error, they can certainly make sure to:
- Vote for the 4 incumbents
- Display a yard sign supporting the incumbents
- Evangelize truth from misinformation
- Encourage friends to do the same
Why should I attend the board meetings and how do I do so?
The board holds regular business meetings that you can attend virtually or in person. To see the schedule and register to attend vertually, please visit https://www.mtsd.k12.wi.us/board/meetings. To attend virtually, you must register at least 2 hours ahead of time.
If I'd like to speak at a board meeting, how do I do that?
Public comments are allowed during certain portions of the agenda of the regular board meeting. If you would like to speak and are attending in person, you can fill out a comment card when you enter the room, before the meeting begins. If you would like to speak and are attending virtually, at the onset of the meeting, community members who wish to speak on any topic must fill out a virtual registration card using the “Chat” feature in Zoom. Submit notice using this feature to Amanda Sievers. Notice should include community member's name, address, the name of the group represented (if any), and the subject to be covered or the issue to be addressed.
*Please learn more at this website. https://www.mtsd.k12.wi.us/board/meetings