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Maia Pearson seeks to increase collaboration, seize opportunity to address inequity on Madison School Board

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Maia Pearson plans to provide a unique perspective on the Madison School Board as both a parent and former MMSD student. After running nine months ago, she decided to campaign for Seat 1 when current board president Gloria Reyes announced she would not seek re-election.

“I am a third generation Madisonian raising the fourth generation of my family here in Madison and we’ve all been through the schools,” she said.

Pearson, a single parent, also owns her own business, Sweet Sorrel LLC, which provides culturally relevant greeting cards and art. Her experiences also include serving as the Director of Organizing for Wisconsin Rise, a student-led non-profit fighting for college affordability at the state and federal levels. 

“(Running for school board) has been something I’ve been wanting to do not just for myself but for my community,” Pearson said. 

She brings both a diverse background and skill set which includes reducing costs and improving efficiency. Pearson worked as a Revenue Agent with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and took on several roles at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County where she worked with parents, teachers, and community members. She thinks collaboration is an essential aspect of community relations for MMSD.

“I think the district does do a great job of collaborating, but we could hold our collaborations to a higher standard,” she said.

This includes encouraging partners to invest more of their time and resources, deepening partnerships. She cited MMSD Black Excellence Think Tank’s partnership with Urban Triage to coordinate a collection of workshops and youth engagement activities focused around supporting Black families as a great example. 

Pearson also said leveraging community partnerships and resources would help alleviate some of the difficulties families face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins reaffirmed MMSD’s commitment to the social and emotional needs of students. 

“Right now, I think the board is doing a decent job at addressing issues, working and collaborating with Superintendent Jenkins,” Pearson said.

However, she believes dealing with the effects of the pandemic will require a multifaceted approach. This is something the district cannot do alone.

 “The one thing that does stand out is being open to all the different avenues we could use to help alleviate these problems,” she said.

Pearson thinks both the board and administration have been intentional about making sure safety measures are in place before schools return in-person. She would like schools to reevaluate how they treat children and be creative in the way they assess their knowledge, finding methods outside standardized testing.

“It’s a perfect time to address some of the issues our district has with equity and with reading so when schools open back up we’ve addressed some of those issues we have underlying,” Pearson said.

She hopes to inspire students and the rest of the community to get involved with the democratic process through her campaign. Pearson is currently unopposed in the April 6 Madison School Board race.