Editorial: Gloria Reyes best choice to protect, improve Madison schools

March 21, 2018 GMT

Gloria Reyes has a clear position on keeping police officers in Madison’s high schools.

“I support EROs in school,” Reyes told the State Journal editorial board this week. “I don’t need a committee to tell me that.”

That’s different from the view of her opponent, Anna Moffit, in the April 3 election for Madison School Board. Moffit, who has served on the board for three years, initiated a district committee to study “educational resource officers” and whether they should stay in city schools.

Moffit told our editorial board she’s not comfortable removing the officers “at this point,” meaning a contract with the city for police services won’t be terminated next month. Yet Moffit is vague on her intentions beyond that. She sits on the committee studying officers in schools and sounds like she’ll support whatever recommendations it makes to the School Board in May.

Given the rash of school shootings across the country and heightened concern about fights and disruptions in Madison’s high schools, Moffit’s ambiguous position should concern voters. On Tuesday, a 17-year-old gunman shot two fellow students at a Maryland high school before a school police officer quickly confronted and stopped the violence.

Moffit also sounds skeptical of a state plan to give local school districts money to improve security, while Reyes strongly favors “beefing up infrastructure” and making sure protection procedures are followed.

“If we can’t ensure safety for our kids, none of this other stuff matters,” Reyes said.

The State Journal editorial board endorses Reyes in the April 3 election for Seat 1 on the School Board.

Reyes offers district voters more than her background as a Madison police officer with expertise in security issues. Reyes now serves as the city of Madison’s education liaison, so she’s well versed on lots of school issues. She’s also an East High School graduate with children in the district.

Growing up in Madison as an English language learner who struggled with hunger, homelessness, misbehavior and trauma, Reyes said she understands and credits the impact of city schools for much of her success. The daughter of migrant farm workers now serves as a deputy city mayor focusing on public safety, civil rights and community services. She will bring needed diversity to the board and better understand struggling students.

Moffit, a former teacher, works hard advocating for students with special needs. Her dedication and knowledge are impressive.

But Reyes’ keen focus on school safety and minority achievement make her the stronger candidate. Voters should support her April 3.