With election day only one week away, candidates for two positions on the Madison School Board discussed their visions for the city’s educational future at a forum hosted by University of Wisconsin’s College Democrats Tuesday.

Nicki Vander Meulen, running for Seat 7, would be the first board member with autism to hold a seat. She said she would use this opportunity to create educational support and  behavior education plans for all students.

“I am running to be a voice for the voiceless,” Meulen said.

With a background as a juvenile criminal defense lawyer, Meulen said she would work on lowering the expulsion and suspension rate and add job-readiness training programs into schools.

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Ali Muldrow, who is vying for Seat 6 against Kate Toews, said she wants to focus on diversifying not only the school staff, but also allowing for people “not in power” to help with making decisions and providing input.

Having worked in the the school system since she was a young adult, Muldrow said she is running for her “love of learning.

With respect to closing the achievement gap between white and black students, Muldrow said the education system needs to aim for something that seeks to cultivate the intelligence of all young people.

“Education is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” Muldrow said. “We should want the world to look at us.”

Muldrow said her number one priority is closing the achievement gap and making sure the Madison community is actively engaged in conversation about schooling.

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With two kids currently in the public school system, Toews said now is the moment to participate in making Madison one of the best public school systems in the country.

Like Muldrow, Toews said she would focus on the diversification of staff and educators and closing the achievement gap.

“We just have to be better,” Toews said.

The general election will be held April 4.