A new educational standard

MATC Professor runs for local School Board seat.

by Soreh Milchtein, Times Contributor

“I’m committed to advocating for public education and believe that teachers can change the world,” are the words of Pablo Muirhead, Spanish language instructor at MATC and current nominee for Shorewood School Board.  Muirhead and his wife, who is also a Spanish language instructor at MATC, and their two children reside in Shorewood.  Muirhead is very active in the community. If he’s not busy running for school board, then he’s out coaching youth soccer or working with the American Field Service (AFS) program that gives students the opportunity to study abroad.  There are two open spots on the Shorewood School Board right now.  Along with Muirhead there are two other candidates, the incumbent Paru Shah and Emily Berry. 

Why did you decide to run for Shorewood School Board?

I grew up and went to school in Shorewood.  My children attend school in Shorewood.  My background in Shorewood is educational, as a former middle and high school teacher. It’s something I had talked about doing for many years.  Until now, I’ve been very supportive in recruiting other people to run for school board. But, someone who had been on the board for a long time was stepping down, and I was asked by a lot of community leaders to finally step up and do it myself.

How do you think this run for board will affect your duties as an instructor at MATC?

That’s a great question, will it take extra time? I mean yes, but if it’s not this, then it’s my involvement in other things that I do in the community. Will this pull me in other directions? Yes, but I’m always being pulled and stretched. Overall, I think it’s just going to be a natural piece to complement what I already do. Just like what I do at MATC is going to complement what I will hopefully be able to do on the board.

Why do you think you’ll make a better candidate and eventual school board member than your opponents?

Here’s what I want to say, there’s three thoughtful candidates.  We each have our own set of skills that we’re going to bring to the table. We all have different bits of expertise that we bring to the table. For the community, it’s going to be, that they’ve got three good choices. I believe in myself as a candidate, but I also feel that our schools will be okay regardless of who makes it on the board.

Let’s say you do get elected to the school board, do you plan on moving up and running for another position in a couple of years?

No, no. I’ve always been of the mindset that you don’t run if there are good people that are representing you, you support them. David Bowen is not only my representative but a good friend. He’s endorsed me in this race, I would never consider running against him. My hope is David would consider moving up and running for other positions in the future. Maybe U.S. Senator.

What do you think the importance of post-secondary education is?

I think college is great. And students have a lot of options as to what they want to do after high school. The last couple years coming out of Shorewood, as many students that went to UWM, went to MATC.  As the president of the AFS board, I do a lot of recruitment of students to study abroad. I wrote a blog about the importance of taking a gap year.  Many students have done nothing but school from age 4 through 12th grade and they go straight to college because that’s what society expects.  Many students need to experience the world outside the structure of school. 

What is your opinion on teacher unions?

I’m a proud member of a Local 212. I was very active in protesting Act 10. In the aftermath of Act 10, a group of parents became very involved and very vociferous at school board meetings. They lobbied for the district to work in conjunction with the teachers and the community administrators to write a teacher handbook that was collaborative. The union has remained intact in Shorewood. 

Who do you think should have the final say on what goes on in the classroom?

I think a lot of it is coming down from the top, from the federal and state government. I think teachers need to be empowered to make decisions that take place in their classrooms and have a strong degree of autonomy. But I think the community in which they work needs to be part of that discussion as well.